Hiking the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway Upstream from Verdi

As you come into Reno on Interstate 80 from California the freeway follows the Truckee River. Over the last few weeks Duke, Vicky and I have been hiking along the river. The trail we have been hiking is part of the Tahoe Pyramind Bikeway which will eventually cover the entire 116 mile length of the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.

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Most of the river between Truckee and the Nevada border used to be pretty much inaccessible. But in 2003 The Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway organization  was created and so far they have completed almost 75% of the bikeway.

The first stretch that starts into the mountains from Verdi to about the Nevada border is closed right now so that The Truckee Meadows Water Authority can bypass a 2,000-foot section of the existing wooden flumes with a combination of new transition flume, canal, and tunnel.

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 Our first hike was on  the section of the bikeway above the closure. Getting to this section is a bit tricky. We went up 80 to the Farad exit, got off the freeway and did a u-turn to get back on 80 going downstream. In 2.8 miles we parked on a wide dirt shoulder. From there we hiked down to a new pedestrian suspension bridge over the river and then upstream to the end of the current trail. 

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Our second hike was from Farad upstream about 2.5 miles to Floristan and back. The trail includes a bridge over the intake pipes to the old hydroelectric plant.

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It was surprising to me that although the trail is very close to the freeway and the train tracks we couldn't hear or see the freeway for much of the trail.

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Highlights of the trail were watching the trains, enjoying the fall colors and smells, getting to see the old wooden flumes up close, watching the river and the fishermen and exploring a new trail. I think this trail will be great for snowshoing. Now all we need is snow!

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Walking across the Tuckee River and Two Hikes Near Lake Tahoe

We live in Reno about 30 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe. At the outlet of Lake Tahoe where the Truckee River starts there is a six foot dam. When the lake is full the top six feet of water are part of the Reno water supply. When the Lake level goes down six feet from its maximum capacity it is at its natural rim. If the water falls below that level no water from Lake Tahoe goes into the Truckee River. This doesn't happen very often but right now the lake is below that natural rim.

Last week we went up to the dam where the Truckee river starts. There was no water coming out and you could walk across the river bed. It was pretty amazing.

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 After checking out the empty river we went about 7 miles north  to do a hike to an area called Five Lakes. We started near the Alpine Meadows ski area and hiked about 1,000 feet up and 2 miles in to the Five Lakes basin. It was bit cool and breezy but a gorgeous spot for a snack and a break.

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A few days later we hiked with Bonnie from Chimney Beach on the east side of Lake Tahoe to Marlette Lake. It was another absolutely gorgeous Fall day, perfect for hiking. The hike was strenuous, six miles  and 1,500 feet elevation gain. Although I was really worn out at the end, the views of both Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake, the Fall colors and hiking with Duke and Bonnie made it a perfect outing.

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Camping – Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park and Columbine Campground

Last week Duke and I did a two night camping trip in central Nevada. From Reno we headed east on Highway 50. Just past Fallon Naval Air Station there is sign which points south to earthquake faults. We have been wanting to explore that road so we headed south. There are some signs along the road explaining that in 1954 a big earthquake in this area uplifted the ground as much as 20 feet. Although the uplift is covered by vegetation now you can still see it. We got out and looked at the fault up close and then drove along it for a ways. In this picture the wavy line in the hills is the uplift along the  fault.

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Heading east the map showed a dirt road across the Paradise Range through Germany Canyon. We found the road  and started up it in four wheel drive but it got very steep and there were some land slides across the road. We thought we were near the top but after getting out to survey the road ahead we decided to turn around. In the picture below you can see where we stopped the truck.

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We went south a bit and took the paved road across the Paradise Range. We camped for the night at Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in the next mountain range to the east. It was a beautiful night and there was only one other camper in the whole campground.

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During the Triassic period 200 million years ago the park was under a shallow ocean. The ichthyosaur was a giant marine reptile that resembled a dolphin. Some of the ichthyosaur fossils found here were left in place and covered with a barn like structure. Last time we were at this park we just looked in the windows. It was difficult to know what we were looking at. This time the building was open and we took a tour. The giant ichthyosaur fossils are pretty amazing. The round rocks you see in the picture are vertebrae.

 
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After the tour we headed east. Our second night was spent at the National Forest Service Columbine Campground at the edge of the Arc Dome Wilderness. The campground is set beside Stewart Creek in a big aspen grove. We had a few rain showers but they didn't last long. Columbine campground is one of my favorite places to camp.

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Before heading home we hiked up the Stewart Creek Trail towards Arc Dome for a couple of hours. Some day I would like to do the whole hike. It would be an all day adventure. According to the book 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada the Stewart Creek Loop Trail is 8 miles long and has 2500 feet of elevation gain, The hike to the top of Arc Dome is 3 miles out and back from the loop trail.

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 On the way home we found another impassable road, turned around and found a wonderful four wheel drive road across the ridge top of the Shoshone Mountains. The first picture is the road in Bonita Canyon where we decided to turn around. The second picture is from the road at the top of the Shoshone Mountains.

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If you would like to see all the pictures from this trip they are on Flickr here.

Quick trip to Portland and Crater Lake

Last weekend Duke and I took a four day vacation. On Friday we drove from Reno to Portland. On Saturday we enjoyed the Elder Blogger meet up I described in my last post. The get together was hosted by Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By Blog.

From Ronni's house Duke and I headed into Portland to explore. I have always wanted to visit Powell's Books. It was packed with people and really lived up to its City of Books name. I bought several paperbacks.

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We then strolled around and enjoyed the Portland vibe. It reminded me of Berkeley. We discovered a wonderful spice store Penzeys Spices. Each spice display had a jar of that spice that you could open and smell. It was olfactory heaven! We bought a few and I picked up a free curry recipe to try.

Monday we headed south down interstate 5 and stopped to see my friends HD and Una. I interviewed HD for episode 4 of my podcast. HD and I worked together at Spectra Medical Systems many years ago. Coincidentally Una was our pediatrician's nurse when my girls were little. We had tea and scones and a great visit.

From Roseburg we drove east along the Umpqua River to Crater Lake National Park. It rained continuously. When we got to Crater Lake we could hardly see the lake because the fog was so thick.

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We stayed at Crater Lake Lodge and played cribbage and read until our dinner reservation in the Lodge dining room. The meal was wonderful. One of the best steaks I have had in months and the sweet potato fries were awesome.

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The lodge was built between 1910 and 1915 but in the 1990s it had to be completely rebuilt to make it structurally sound. It reopened in 1995. It was the fourth national park lodge I have stayed in and it made me want to make a point of visiting others. So far each one has been special.

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Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. It is 1949 feet deep. When the sun shines on it it is an amazing wonderful shade of blue truly breath taking.

I got up during the night Sunday night and peaked out our window. The rain had stopped and the sky was clear. At the more than 7000 foot altitude of Crater Lake and with very little ambient light the bigger dipper looked like it was bright enough to reach up and touch.

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Monday morning we got up and hike to the top of Garfield peak. It a a short1.8 mile hike to the top. The temperature was in the 40s while we were hiking. It had rained all day the day before and then frozen over night. The path was covered with the strangest ice I have ever seen. The ice was like millions of 1-2 inch blades of grass that had pushed up the dirt on the tail so that we crunched when we walked. Here are a couple of pictures of the ice crystals. Does anyone know what they are called?

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When we finished our hike we headed home to Reno with a short stop at Lava Beds National Monument and then Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. On the way home across the outback of northern Nevada we collected some more obsidian for our back yard.

I love exploring and meeting friends. This trip had wonderful opportunities for both.

Blue Lakes – Glacial Lakes in Northern Nevada

Northern Nevada has an amazing number of beautiful spots for exploring and camping. I often think that someone looking for adventure travel would find northern Nevada a dream come true. Exploring the outback of northern Nevada often requires driving on very bad roads, following the very thin dotted line roads on the maps, (We use Benchmark Nevada Road and Recreation Atlas), and being without cell phone coverage . The rewards are many. They include widely varied scenery, wild animals, beautiful rocks, interesting geology, and lots of solitude. 

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 Last weekend Duke and I decided to do some Nevada adventure travel for the weekend. We wanted to collect some obsidian for our back yard and we decided to check out Blue Lake which is described in 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada as follows:

"Not only are lakes in general a scarce commodity in the Great Basin, but glacial lakes scoured out of granite basins are even more unusual, which makes the Blue Lakes particularly appealing. Cradled into a cirque below Duffer Peak and dammed by a moraine, the Blue Lakes offer hikers some incredibly unique mountain scenery."

We left Saturday afternoon and drove north east on Interstate 80 to Winnemucca where we headed north and then west. The last 18 miles were on rough gravel and then very rough dirt roads to our camping spot. There were three cars at the trail head. One left with some fishermen soon after we got there and the other two cars were apparently owned by a family camping at the lake. We had the trail head camp site to ourselves.

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The meadow next to our camp site was covered in wild flowers. We enjoyed a stunning sunset and a great steak dinner. After dinner we sat around our camp fire and enjoyed finishing our wine and watching the almost full moon come up.

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Sunday morning we got up and hiked the short (.75 mile) hike to Blue Lakes which were as beautiful as they were described. The fish were jumping and we sat by the lake and enjoyed watching them for a while before hiking back to the truck, packing up and heading west.

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We explored some of the roads in Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, saw wild donkeys, pronghorn antelope and collected lots of obsidian and other cool rocks before heading home to Reno.

If you would like to see all of my pictures from this weekend they are available on Flickr here.

April 2010 Road Trip in North Central Nevada – Falls Creek Falls – Jacks Creek – Elko

A couple of weeks ago Duke and I took a short road trip through north central Nevada. When we take a road trip we like to get off the beaten track and follow the back roads. What that means in Nevada is that we often go hours without seeing another vehicle. It also means that we see a lot of gorgeous scenery and interesting wildlife.

On our most recent trip we camped the first night in the Santa Rosa Range in Falls Creek Canyon and hiked to Falls Creek Canyon Waterfall.  Falls Creek Canyon is just off US highway 95 forty miles north of Winnemucca. The camp site is about four miles east of the highway at the end of a very rough rutted road. It was a beautiful site and we had it to ourselves.

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The hike to the waterfall is short and relatively easy. We had to cross the creek a few times and I got my feet wet. Duke did better. The route is described as hike 5 in the book 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada by Mike White. We were there April 25th and there was a lot of water in the creek and snow on the peaks surrounding us. We were camped right next to the creek.

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It was a wonderful warm evening. We cooked our steaks over the fire and watched a marmot play nearby, When the full moon came up it was the perfect end to a wonderful day.

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From Falls Canyon we drove around to the east side of the Santa Rosa Range to the Singas Creek trail head which is described as hike 6 in 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada. We did a short hike and then headed east across the Owyhee desert to the Independence Mountains and camped at the Jacks Creek camp ground. Along the way we had a flat tire and had to turn around at one point when the road was washed out. Since we no longer had a spare tire and since a big storm was coming in we decided that it probably wouldn't be prudent to explore any remote back country roads. so we headed to Elko.

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We stopped to look for interesting rocks and fossils at several sites in the area including the old mining town of  Tuscarora.

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Elko is a town we stayed in on one of our road trip last year. There are four Basque restaurants in Elko. Last year we ate at and really enjoyed Biltoki. This time we tried The Star Hotel Basque Restaurant which is the oldest of the four. They were very busy even though we were eating late. We also noticed that there were a lot more woman than men. That was undoubtedly because Elko is such a  thriving mining town. The food was wonderful , the service was great and ambiance was fun.

If you would like to see all of my pictures form our trip you can see them on Flickr here.

The Retired Ladies Road Trip to Zion National Park – Part 2

My friends and I just returned from our Retired Ladies Road Trip to southwestern Utah. My post for part one of our trip is here. It covers the first three days of the trip.

On day four we hiked to see some petroglyphs at Anasazi Ridge above the Santa Clara River west of St George.

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After lunch we hiked in Snow Canon State Park to a natural amphitheater set in white sandstone.

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On day five, Saturday, we hiked again in Zion National Park. We hiked the Angels Landing Trail. It was amazing and spectacular. The first part of the hike is up, up, up a trail cut into the rock of the canyon wall. You can see my friend Amy on the trail about two thirds of the way up the cliff.

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From the first cliff top we switched back through a narrow canyon.

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And then along the cliff face and up using chains to hold on. This was the part of the trail that was scary although if I didn't look down it wasn't too bad.

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We stopped for lunch at a flat spot with a fantastic view. From there the trail goes up a very narrow crest to the top. We decided to go no further. The trail is challenging enough without adding ice and snow! The picture below is of our lunch stop. You can see the top and the crest that the trail goes up to get there.

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I think the Angels Landing  trail is perhaps the most amazing trail I have ever hiked.

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On day six of our trip we headed home across Nevada on Highway 50. It is a beautiful drive. We saw very few cars but we did see plenty of hawks, some pronghorn, and a very unusual weather phenomenon, hundreds of little mist columns coming from the clouds to the ground. It was beautifully unearthly. Here is a picture of some of the pronghorn from the truck window.

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