by Daniel Montero
When we have a day, we love to wander along Washoe Lake's shoreline. We have done it in many seasons and with many different water levels from bone dry to, well, see our kayaking videos! With a Saturday afternoon upon us, we decided to revisit it.
Even with this miserably dry winter, the levels are still astoundingly high! We walked on the lagoons behind the lake a little, and then along the dunes, but in most places there was almost no beach to stroll, just a narrow line of sand between the dunes and the water.
Washoe Lake. It is so familiar, and so foreign. Floating on the Black Rock, down the Quinn River, and on the upper meadows of Washoe Lake, ephemerality has been on my mind a lot. Walking on the shores of a brimming Washoe Lake in an otherwise dry looking snow year. Seeing wave wash along with the mountains mostly barren is a striking juxtaposition and powerful reminder that without replenishment, our waters will disappear, until the rain and snow refills us to overflowing.
From our annual January camping trip last weekend. We stayed on the west side of the playa with shining light and wonderful company. Just the best!
By Renee Aldrich
Dan and I aren’t gearheads. We don’t have the latest and greatest outdoor gear. We use what we have on hand, but when we need to we spend money on a bit of gear that we know we really need like warm sleeping bags or a good stove we will.
With that said there are a few items that we really love. Below are two items that I (Renee) found myself using over and over again in 2017 and I thought I would share them with you.
We are not paid to promote this gear, it’s just gear I really like. If you like, you should be able to buy these items through our affiliate links below.
I absolutely love my buff I wear it all the time when I'm playing outside. I wear it in the summer and in the winter. I use it to protect my neck from the sun, but then can pull it up over my ears and head to keep warm. It is so versatile. Once I even used it with some gauze as a pressure bandage on a small but bloody head cut!
2) Columbia Women's Tamiami Long sleeve Shirt
This shirt is great. It's light weight, form fitting and it has pockets that are form fitting and not bulky. I love it for spring, summer and fall hiking. It keeps the sun off my arms and is super comfortable. I also love it for horseback riding in the heat, because I can wear it and keep my camera/phone handy in my pocket and I can keep snacks for longer rides in the pockets as well. I wore this shirt so much in 2017.
The Quilici Ranch Rd section of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway is one of our favorite places to go when we want a fairly flat, shaded place to hike or ride our bikes. It has great views of the Truckee River and even though the trail’s fairly close to I-80 and the train tracks it still feels like you’re out in the wild. You will likely have a train pass by every once and awhile, which we think adds to the fun!
And a modest proposal
By Daniel Montero
What a difference a year makes! Marlette Lake Road climbs from Carson City’s Lakeview neighborhood up to Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. The road might not even be called Marlette Lake Road, on Google Maps it is labeled Tanks Road, and meets up with Franktown Creek Road, and then higher still, there is a Marlette Lake Road mentioned, but I am going to call it all Marlette Lake Road, because, well, I can. I stumbled across it by chance, although Renee spent her teenage years here and remembers the road as the hardest mountain biking road in the world.
Last winter on a Sunday afternoon I decided to go down to it and see how far I could walk just in snow boots, without my snowshoes. It was a sunny, but windy day, and the fresh snow blew in swirls and gusts all around me. I climbed up as high as the first meadow (around 6,200 feet) where someone else’s snowshoe track I had been following filled in and I decided to turn back to visit Washoe Lake State Park.
This past weekend I decided to return to the road. This time I embarked in sneakers and decided I would turn back wherever I made it to snow that was higher than my shoe. I passed the place I had turned back last year with nary a snowball in sight, and only reached the first road drifts at 7,600 feet, and this hard packed and only in spots. This year, I also have a companion, Larry, and despite the dryness of the season we walked together in companionable high spirits. We had lunch in a sunny glade alongside Hobart Creek Reservoir in what I have decided to call a “late, late Sierra fall.”
After lunch, we climbed the granite point east of the reservoir, a point on my Topo Maps that is called called “point 8208,” but that I think deserves a name, being the highest of the rocky outcrops on this far eastern ridge of the Carson Range. So, without further ado, because his father’s sheep camp was in the area, I propose it as Robert Laxalt Peak. If there is another Robert Laxalt Peak, well, then, my apologies, but I like my name, especially thinking about these rocky knolls and ridges being the places where he would drive around looking for his father, maybe he clambered up here looking for Dominique, or just for the heck of it.
We sat on the little summit for a little while, watching the afternoon advance from a sunny and warm place in the granite fortress.
"It was late afternoon and the shadows long when I started the walk down to my car," Robert Laxalt, Sweet Promised Land.
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Sweet Promise Land, Robert Laxalt
Written by Renee Aldrich
As I mentioned in a previous post, we're not peak baggers, but we do like to climb mountains. One of the great thing about exploring desert peaks, especially those without trails, is that many times you don't make your intended destination. It can happen for a number of reasons, there may be unforeseen obstacles that don't show up on maps, unexpected changes in weather, and sometimes there may even be *gasp* human error, such as getting a late start, starting at the wrong location, or forgetting gear--just to name a few.
This past weekend we hiked up Dogskin Mountain north of Reno. It's a relatively easy hike, with a jeep trail most of the way up and the last little stretch that isn't on a trail is fairly smooth, without many obstacles.
Even though it's a relatively easy hike, it took us three attempts to reach the top. The first trip was December 2016. We made it most of the way up, but near the top there was quite a bit of snow. The snow was up to our knees and went back and forth between soft and icy, which made walking in it difficult, We decided we didn't want to deal with the awkward and frustrating walking conditions so we decided to called it.
The second trip was December 2017. We parked and started hiking up the canyon. Roughly an hour or so into the hike we and by we I mean Dan, realized that we were in the wrong canyon. A fire had come through the area since our last attempt and things looked quite a bit different. The canyon we were in was just past the canyon we were supposed to be in. However, it took us quite a bit out of our way. We got up to the ridge, where we had great views of the Petersen Range and surrounding desert, but unfortunately Dogskin Mountain was bit farther off than we had time for.
Our third try, January 2018, we finally made it to the tope. There was a bit of ice and snow down low in the shaded canyon, but up high there was not much snow at all. We parked at the right spot and headed up the right canyon. Conditions were great, a sunny bright day and sitting at the top we had great views and a nice snack and really enjoyed it. And, because we had to work extra hard to make it to the top it made the top all the more enjoyable.
And, as our inside joke goes, "At least we don't have to go back there again!"
Haha, it's a great hike and just an FYI, this is a OHV area and there is a likelihood you'll run into some OHVers. We ran into a few friendly ones on our January 2018 hike.
Our first attempt, December 2016.
Our second attempt, December 2017.
Our third attempt, January 2018, success!
From our Barlett Peak Peak walk the day after Christmas. Can you spot Larry clambering down that rock?
For the most part we had a great 2017. Lots of Kayaking, hiking, riding, friends, family and more! We hope you had a great year and enjoy this video of our year. It's roughly 11 minutes long and even though it's mostly silent, the videos have some noise or us talking in it.
By Daniel Montero
“Up and down the rugged mountain side I searched, with always increasing interest and always augmenting gratitude that I had come to Humboldt and come in time. Of all the experiences of my life, this secret search among the hidden treasures of silver-land was the nearest to unmarred ecstasy. It was a delirious revel.” Mark Twain, from Roughing It. While in this passage Twain is really setting up a joke, I can’t help but feel what he feels in this passage when I am in Nevada’s desert mountains.
Especially in the two Renee and I visited in the late spring of 2016: Star Peak in the Humboldt Mountains and King Lear Peak in the Jackson Mountains. Both of them are true guideposts to this vast part of Northern Nevada and had long beckoned us, especially the imposing volcanic rock faces of King Lear. I grew up looking at it across the desert valley. It always was there on the periphery of my life and with its imposing faces and with its suggestive and romantic name, it always lit my imagination.
Star Peak, and the Humboldt Mountains, was famously visited by Mark Twain and written about in Roughing It. While Twain had only comic luck in his prospecting attempts in the mountain, the mountain did have important mineral discoveries, and it was from the heart of this, the ghost town (well, not even really a ghost town although there are some mining remains and stone foundations) was where we started the hike, going past the big tailings, pits and shafts of the Queen of Sheba Mine. It was a beautiful spring day and we climbed the mountain in grand fashion and high spirits, with Twain’s “unmarred ecstasy.” On the descent it was hot enough that we shed our shoes and soaked our sore feet in the cold rushing water of Star Creek. Many many stars on this one!
After a rest day in between, we set out with a friend to climb King Lear. It is a glorious majestic and steep climb (well, Star Peak was no slouch in that either). We approached it from its western face, off of Jackson Creek Road, and despite sneezing fits with the newly emerging summer pollen, we also climbed it in grand fashion, especially the breathtaking cliff faces of the upper summit climb was, as Twain wrote, “a delirious revel.”
From the summit the vast Black Rock Playa spread out below us and peaks ringed us, including, off to the southeast, Star Peak, but peaks, peaks all around. King Lear is of course, a literary reference. But why King Lear? In Nevada Place Names, Helen Carlson refers to its Shakespearean origin, but to me that only begs the question. Why among all of Shakespeare's hundreds of characters, why King Lear, why the betrayed father driven mad? I don’t know the answer to this, but in the imagination of Gloucester, who, blinded, believes he will jump from the heights of the cliffs of Dover, there are descriptions that do seem to fit King Lear Peak:
“There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
Looks fearfully in the confined deep:
Bring me but to the very brim of it,
And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear
With something rich about me: from that place
I shall no leading need.”
And later, Edgar’s description to the confused Gloucester:
“Come on, sir; here's the place: stand still. How fearful
And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:
The fishermen, that walk upon the beach,
Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy
Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge,
That on the unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes,
Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more;
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.”
I can feel some of King Lear in these descriptions, but I don’t know. Does anyone out there have any ideas?
We started down into the afternoon and, as a writer for the WPA Guide to Nevada wrote in the 1930s about the Jacksons: “At sunset in this silent land, light changes so swiftly that one evening may be filled with 100 variations of color and pattern. Occasional quivering mirages project themselves against the hills.”
Books In This Post
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