by Daniel Montero
In my last post I introduced my dear readers to the whirlwind that has been the grand ol’ month of me, February. When I last left you, Larry and I had just hiked up into the twisted rock gardens I call The Pillars.
Feathers and a Day with My Mom
The next morning we were due back in Reno, but were in no rush to make the drive back, so we dawdled about in the morning, seeing about helping with clearing old dead willows and junk, but mostly just finding peacock feathers. My mom then came and asked if we would go out and do a little scouting in preview of the upcoming winter gather, so we piled into her truck: my mom, Belle and Sissy on the blanket behind the seat, Barney in her lap, Renee in the middle with Larry alternating between our laps for an excursion up Cherry Creek. My mother is not a person who stops to visit a lot, so this was a really unique opportunity. She has spent her entire adult life (really more even, she was just 20 when she arrived a new bride at the ranch). There is not a piece of this mountain that she has not traversed and most of it has stories: stories of wayward cattle, lost horses, errant children, faithful dogs. So driving the range with her is not only crossing landscape, but also traveling through time. But time does move and we got back to the ranch and packed up for the drive back to Reno.
Larry Gets a Hair Cut
Larry (and, some would argue, Dan) has been in need of a haircut for a while, so it was a super treat to my birthday month that on Monday Renee was able to make him an appointment (same day, no less, lucky for us). We have never really seen him with short hair and it’s been really shaggy this winter, so it was a wonder to see him all cleaned up. You can tell he is happy for the change and is just so adorable and cute that the amount of hygge in our household has gone into super overdrive.
Nighttime walks on Rattlesnake Mountain
This one goes back, really, to Valentines Day, when Renee made a special delicious crock pot meal. Before she got off work we took off from our house and climbed Rattlesnake Mountain in the dark, and then she met us and we did the Huffaker Hills loop before going home to have a great home cooked meal. But throughout the month Larry and I have been going back to walking up there in the dark, three times I think, including tonight, when we visited what I call the Peace Shrine on the northnermost edge of the summit ridge.
An Evening with Willy Vlautin
On Friday a different kind of exploration, to our favorite local bookstore, Sundance Books and Music, to see Reno native author Willy Vlautin read from his new novel, Don’t Skip out on Me and sing songs and just generally put on a really great performance. We were a little late so squeezed up on the staircase, but there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and later we got him to talk with him just a bit about, of things, Robert Laxalt’s boxing days.
Into the hinterlands in the cold and some snow
Some work days and the last weekend of the month was upon us. It has been bitter cold in Reno and while we really wanted to get out and explore, setting up our tent just did not sound fun, so instead we decided to really rough it, on Saturday we called and reserved a room at the Cold Springs Motel in Cold Springs on Highway 50. We had never tried it before and a chance to explore some parts of Nevada that we haven’t. We drove out in the afternoon. In no rush, we just stopped along the way, including a stop at Sand Mountain. Usually a bustling hive of off-roaders, the cold wind had caused a lull and for a short space we had the entire shifting sand to ourselves.
That night, lo and behold, it snowed, we enjoyed dinner at Cold Spring and woke to a white wonderland. We spent the day exploring along Highway 50 and then south along the highway from Middlegate to Gabbs.
by Daniel Montero
It's my birthday month! I turned 44 earlier this month and, while I'm not generally a giant birthday celebrator, there is something about 44 that has really inspired me and it has been a whirlwind month. So much has happened that I want to write about more, but I'm still in media res and so haven't had the time to really focus on one thing above the other! Here are some highlights of the month so far.
This wasn't technically in February, but directly before I had to go to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for work I took a day and made it to the top of Purgatory Peak in the Selenites. It awesome but quite a challenge, especially navigating the icy rocks and thick brush at the top with Larry.
The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
I had to go to this for work, where I watched over a booth selling Basque books and emceed a presentation in which I read from Joan Errea and shared the stage with other Center authors. It was quite an adventure being in Elko for this event and I treasured every moment of it. I also, of course, brought my Surly bike, Reggie, to ride around Elko--No way I was going to a Cowboy Poetry Gathering without my steed!
Through Central Nevada from Elko
On my way back from Elko I decided to avoid the freeway and back road across a little part of central Nevada. So I turned south through the Crescent Valley and to Highway 50 near Austin.
Riding to Black Rock Point
My mom had asked if we could come up and help with some major work, during the next week, so on my actual birthday week I decided I'd try to ride my bike to the ranch to help them out. I drove to Gerlach, packed up with Larry riding in my BoB trailer, and set out, but soon changed my plan (which was pretty malleable anyway) and instead of heading toward Soldier Meadows I turned out toward the Black Rock Point. Despite spending so much time in and around the Black Rock, I'd never been out there and it seemed like a perfect birthday celebration. And it was, such a beautiful ride, then night in the shadow of the Black Rock Point. The next day lollygagged around the springs and riding back to Gerlach, where I then drove to the ranch. Then, of course, I had a flat tire in the Subaru on Jungo Road driving to my family's place, haha, but that was nothing to mar this adventure, which I will definitely write/post more about.
Then it was the ranch, where we helped out with one of the hardest days in a year that is full of hard days, running cows through the chute. Not a lot to say about this one, but we made it through with smiles and not too much in the way of mishaps, so all good!
Closing Gates and a Night Under the Stars
The next day, we worked again, this time taking 4-wheelers up and closing the gates so that the cattle won't drift up into the high country too early. It is sort of our annual job, and we pretty much zipped through it, and then afterward we went out into the desert and spent a wonderful night under the stars before making it home to our warm bed.
Hiking the Cliffs
Looking toward Pine Forest from the southeast face, one of the most striking features is The Cliffs, a landscape of granite cliffs and spires, and on the next weekend, visiting my family again, we snuck off for a hike among them. It is an awe-inspiring face, and it was Renee's first time climbing all the way through them and to the very top. The wind was cold and the day bit into our clothes, but we found a sunny glade out of the wind for our lunch and had a great day!
This is my name for a place that is very special to me, in the Black Rock Range. I have wandered this rock garden many times before, but am always able to make it a new hike. It blew icy, dry snow into our faces all day, and Renee, still fighting a cold, stayes home for this one. I think Larry wouldn't have minded staying home either, he looked like an icicle for a good part of the hike, but it was still a great time.
And beyond! The month is still not over and the explorations are sure to keep coming! With Renee feeling better this week and with some days off maybe we’ll head somewhere south and warm(er) ... it’s definitely chilly in Reno this morning!
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!
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.”
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By Daniel Montero
My next excursion into the black was also my first excursion into the white of 2017. In late September I took a day off from work and ventured out to Stateline Peak, the high point of the Fort Sage Mountains east of 395 around Doyle, California. The mountain is one of the farther ones from Reno that can be seen from places in the Truckee Meadows and of course it has an interesting name and an interesting position on the stateline, but also wedged between the Sierra front toward Susanville and the Virginia Mountains bordering Pyramid Lake. An island of a mountain.
I had climbed up on its flank when I rode to the ranch with Coco a few years back, and had caught it just at dusk before plunging on a dark ride into the Fish Springs Valley and my meeting with Grub, but that is another story altogether. When I passed there, the peak had seemed very close, and thought that the road I had followed out would give me good access, so I drove out along Fish Springs Valley and found my road without any problem.
It had stormed the night before and there had been snow on the summit, which I admired as I drove north on 395 and around on Fish Springs Valley road.
What I hadn’t realized was that this side of the mountain had burned in the summer and then had been heavily rained on, so my access road was more of a wash than a road, especially in the Subaru. I went as far as I could but it was definitely testing the Subaru limits more than I like. The day was threatening as well and the summit was white, if I made it high enough I would be in the snow. Why wouldn’t I make it high enough? Well, I felt like I’d parked OK, but it had been a place that washed, so if it started raining, I was definitely booking it back to the car and getting out!
After that, the climb was straightforward, an old mining road wound up a ways to a cool old mine shaft and then it was just climbing along the ridge. The black had had enough rain that it showed lots of signs of green. The mountain is beautiful granite as well, and the sky show was tremendous, and the darkest of the storm clouds stayed over west, along with a great thunderstorm out over the Smoke Creek Desert.
And then, higher, the first specks of white, and then the world transformed, the wind picked up, and we left the black. The top fringe of the mountain had escaped the fire.
On the way down we detoured by a single juniper adorned with snow like a frosted Christmas Tree. Fire comes, the black is created, I walk through it today, rain and snow come and then green returns, tracks of some critters, shelters among the skeletons of the last fire. Life always returns, the black is only temporary, as total and all-encompassing at it seems to walk through.
By Renee Aldrich
I love the area we live in, Nevada, it is great in so many ways, one way is that it is the most mountainous of all the states in the U.S., containing over 300 mountain ranges. Dan and I love playing in these ranges and, on occasion, climbing their peaks. We don't consider ourselves "peak baggers" even though we enjoy climbing peaks. our propensity is to explore. We go there, to the mountains, for so many reasons, much more so than simply making the peaks. Sometimes, when we don't make the peak, we really enjoy the chance to explore and learn about the area we are in.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to climb two very unique peaks within a few days of each other. The peaks are very different, one is in the Carson Range on the edge of the Sierra Mountains and one is in the Lake Range east of Pyramid Lake. One has a well kept trail with many daily visitors, the other has no trail and likely only sees a handful of visitors a year. One, you hike through lush meadows with a waterfall and, during the right time of year, wildflowers galore. The other, there's very little water and was recently burned over so badly it was like hiking on Mars--it's no wonder they call an area moonscaped once it has been burned so hard that there is very little left but black ground and barely a stump to be seen.
Both of these mountains are beautiful in their own way and are great examples of the broad spectrum of landscapes Nevada has to offer.
Tohakum, Lake Range:
Tohakum is the tallest of the peaks in the Lake Range at 8,182 feet. It's a desert peak, which makes spring or fall the best time of year to hike this peak. The hike has great views of Winnemucca Lake and the Selenite Range to the east and once you're up on the ridge you have great views of Pyramid Lake and the Virginia Mountains to the West.
Below are thumbnails of the pictures in a gallery click on the picture to see it at it's full size, then you can scroll through the photos.
Mount Rose: Carson Range
Mount Rose is the 2nd tallest mountain in the Tahoe Basin at 10,776 ft. It is a very popular hike attracting many hikers. It's a great hike throughout the year. hiking spring summer and fall and snowshoeing in winter. From the peak you have great 360 degree views. With views of Lake Tahoe, Jobs Peak, Freel Peak, Jobs Sister, Mount Tallac, Lassen, Bocca and Stampede Reservoirs and so much more!
Enjoy the slideshow!
Written by Renee Aldrich
In August 2015, Dan and I headed out on a 10-day journey. The plan was to spend the 10 days biking around eastern Nevada. But as life and journey would have it we spent five 5 days biking and 5 days car camping due to an injury that would flare up while pedaling. It was a gorgeous, fun and challenging 10 days. We stopped at recreation areas, wilderness areas, state wildlife management areas, state parks and national parks.
The photos below are in separate galleries when you click on one picture in a gallery it will show the full sized photo. You can than click through all the photos of that gallery in their full size. The photos you see in the boxes below are thumbnails and some of the photos are cut off.
We hope you enjoy!
Day 1: Reno to Ward Mountain Rec. Area
We drove from Reno to Ely, packed up in Ely then biked a short distance from Ely to Ward Mountain Recreation Area. The campground at Ward Mountain is gorgeous, well kept, and when we were there pretty darn empty. We highly recommend it!
Day 2: Ward Mountain to Wayne E. Kirch WMA
This day was a long and rough one. It was a 70-mile day, but we weren't too worried about it because it was mostly downhill. However, we ended up having a huge headwind that annihilated any downhill advantage we had. It took us way longer to get to Kirch than expected, but we made it. We didn't quite make the spot we intended on camping at, but close enough for a short ride into the main campground in the morning.
Written by Daniel Montero
I love Mount Rose. Our Lady Rose, watching over the Reno skyline. At least from its Reno aspect, she overlooks the city in a rather gentle, unassuming way, sort of like a saddle thrown across the high ridge lines, rather than the normal craggy peak we associate with great mountains. (This just from Reno, once you hit Washoe Lake or the Mount Rose Highway, it has a more classic profile.) I love mountains like that, unassuming mountains that hide parts of themselves and that require your complete attention to understand their grandeur. So over the course of my time in Reno I’ve spent many days on Mount Rose or contemplating it from its immediate neighbors.
So having Labor Day Monday free, I decided to explore it from a new direction, climbing up its broad "saddle" aspect via White’s Creek and Church’s Pond. This Labor Day Monday started very hazy with wildfire smoke from somewhere blowing from the south and west. L.P. Larry and I started up the Whites-Jones Loop under this pall and almost immediately I was reminded of another climb I had made of Mount Rose a few years before, the year of the big Hetchy Ketchy/Yellowstone Fire when Reno was enshrouded in smoke for weeks (or what seemed like them) and on one of those days I decided to climb from the highway maintenance station on Mount Rose Highway. The haze seemed to unite the two climbs, and stuck with me a while together, as though time can compress and expand at will and yesterday is today and tomorrow. That day I was alone, the fool crazy enough (or allowed) to go out in air quality in which it was recommended to stay indoors.
The day I had climbed from the maintenance station I was alone all day. The air was thick enough that it felt physically heavy and that route, even starting a thousand feet above the White’s Creek Trailhead, is just a steep straight climb up the mountain’s spine. After a pause at the Galena Creek crossing, I continued upward. Moving slowly because there was no other way on a hot day with the smoke thick in the lungs. Those were our first days back in town after losing Bodie and abandoning our post on Secret Pass and I was a ghostly shadow ascending a vertical landscape. Anything could happen during those days when the smoke poured over the Sierras toward us in buckets. Days when I carried buckets of grief too, the summer after Bodie died when things just sort of seemed to lay down for me and life only had certain points standing out a flatland existence. Walking in a smoky landscape felt like that, as though I was passing along in the mists of Hades and not sure which side I was on. After climbing out of the Galena Creek drainage there is a long traverse through a brush thicket and then just around the ridge line then upward, climbing up and under the backside of the saddle’s seat. Trees coping with the unabated slope, and those dried up and withered into twisted sculptures bathed in the gloom.
On Labor Day we started with no grand pretense. Larry and I were going as far as we would go, no more or less, and I didn’t really have a massive ambition of making it to the peak. It was a hot day and while I just wanted to move and Larry is always a willing companion, but he’s black with long hair, so we more meandered than pushed on through the first climbs along White’s Creek and then the big switchbacks that cut up the ridge line toward the Church’s Pond turn and the descent into Jones’ Creek. There were many trail users enjoying the holiday. Even before the wilderness sign we were passed by a young man with a baby on his back. As I stopped to let him pass I said, “looks like you've got a good load,” and he laughed and responded and we chatted a moment. Later I passed him talking to another man with a baby on his back and we said hello again. I stopped above, where the trail leaves the creek, and ducked off a bit to see if there was any dog water, and then continued my climb. On the big switchbacks I came across the first man again, now perched on a rock, with the baby loosed from his pack, but now joined by a woman who obviously had to be mom. Passing by I quipped, “I think your family has multiplied!” to a good laugh. At least I had a good laugh at my wit. “Its a wise man who can laugh at his own jokes,” I think somebody said one time or another.
The beginning of the day with Larry was plain hot, but the smoke slipped away slowly to the east (or seemed to, which in the end is not the same thing). But at the beginning it was the heat. I had just read on the NOAA website about Reno hitting its record number of 100 degree days this summer, and while Labor Day wasn’t expected to quite get there, it was still going to be hot. So we stopped in the shade, we met three college girls who loved Larry, we passed and repassed and finally at the saddle over into Church’s pond, with Larry hot they resting in the shade, we had a stop and chat. They were as fresh-faced as cherubs and I might have thought high school still till I noticed the UNR t-shirt one was wearing, “Are ya’ UNR students?” “Oh, yeah, we’re just freshmen!” Oh freshwomen, fare thee well into college and beyond spreading your wings and taking flight from our beautiful lady Rose, fare thee well.
Church’s Pond was a pleasure to behold. In recent years shrunken to a puddle, this wet year swelled, it called to me. Where the trail turns up I crossed another long climber. He asked if I was heading to the top and I said I was headed that way, but I hope with enough doubt that he would know that my intentions didn’t go, at that point, much beyond the ridge line behind the pond, and this before taking the main trail and then ducking down on a seldom used and nearly indiscernible trail to the little shoreline meadows that ring the south side of the pond up against rippling quaking groves and looking toward the swell of the mountainside as it rolls toward Reno and the vast expanse of Nevada sky, still hazy but clearing, beyond. Larry and I descended to the lake bottom, emerging into the cool of the water, me shedding backpack and shoes and Larry shedding nothing but headed straight for the cool pond water. We waded in, neither of us testing beyond getting our legs cool but luxuriating in clear, cold water after the hot climb. We waded along the shoreline until a water’s edge boulder and hanging tree would have made Larry swim around so we turned and waded back, and then found a spot among the low, fresh aspens where we reposed for a while while as the sun climbed up overhead.
But eventually shoes back on, and up, I was determined at least to make it as far as I’d made it before, on a beautiful summer day with Renee, Dusty, and Coco, and maybe a little farther, testing the route and maybe seeing the more sure-footed and dedicated climber on his way back down the mountain.
I hadn’t really believed I would make the summit on the day years before either. I guess I’d just gone a little stir crazy on those weeks of hanging smoke. On the slope above Galena Creek, I’d had a sneezing fit that wracked me and left me a foaming and spuming mess, but had continued up the slope, through the twisted hunks until I made it up onto the shoulder, the vast made of our lady Rose climbing above me, not above the cloudy haze but neither dwarfed by it and she lifted my spirits and awakened me to her, brought me from the depths toward the heights. She lifted me and I continued upward.
It was just plain hot when we finally attained the ridge and looked down into the upper reaches of Jones’ Creek and the massive bowl-like mountainside sweeping toward the summit that I look up at during the course of almost every day in the city below. That I try to focus on at least for a moment as I go along, pedaling the river path toward a university office, walking midtown, driving south on the interstate home of toward, well, any point south. That big bowl she has where she mixes and contemplates the course of the world as she has seen it.
We rested in the shade of some big, wind-bent brush and I dried my shirt. I think until now I've not mentioned that I didn't bring any sunscreen and so I adopted even more strongly than usual a strategy of pushing straight through the sun and dawdling in the shade. I focused more entirely than I ever have on the shade on purpose, as an exercise of simply keeping myself in the moment and considering no other moment than the one that next held shade up to me.
We had a long patch of sun before the next tree line but eventually we decided to keep on keeping on anyway. But then, by the time we reached the shed and what I guess is some sort of snow measurement station, the clouds that had just poked over Rose's summit has blossomed into cover and wind without seeming to threaten too much and with the heat at bay we continued joyfully. There were some stone markers that led toward what I guessed was the route I'd taken in the smoky day (my day now with the wind and clouds smoke free) it was very steep and finally led to one of the big snowdrifts you also can still see from Reno. We skirted its edge up until we broke out on the eastern end of the high summit ridge. Now with the steep part of the climb mostly finished, we're just picking over the rocks to not roll an ankle. We also joined the route from that previous climb that had been on my mind in the morning, but by now the day had turned golden and the morning haze seemed a memory. Unlike that previous day Larry and I certainly didn't have the summit to ourselves. It was packed with day hikers, including one golden-haired Adonis “who was just back from Burning Man” flirting with a lycra’d girl whose was on Our Lady Rose for the first time. It was all nice even though I passed among them like a ghost. Maybe I really was in that day years ago.
I only stayed on the summit a little bit, it was getting late and the entire route down was before me. As long as I made it to Church’s Pond with some light I was fine, that trail is easy enough to navigate in the dark. I don’t remember much about sliding down my steep route to the maintenance station those years ago, but this time I do. I decided that I would try to cut across the bowl instead of going back the steep ridge line I’d taken on both times. I ducked down right after the first outcrop east of the summit and the trail was rocky, but is clearly the better option for going up and down, and next time I take this route I think I’d like to go all the over way over to the main approach, just to walk all the way across the bowl. It seems very doable, only scattered brush to navigate and of course rocks, but there are rocks everywhere. The rocks in fact glowed and the glades of wind-driven pines danced as I crossed through them. At the creek’s origin crowds of wild flowers waved in what was left of the breeze that had finally cooled us on the way up.
Headed down into White’s Creek again, I stopped and watched a big full moon rise and then walked underneath it all the way back to the car without barely needing the headlamp at all. And then home, my latest adventure on our lady Rose done. Until next time beautiful lady, and thanks for watching over Reno.
Post by Renee Aldrich
Even though the temp's have been in the high 90's, there's been a change in the weather here in northern Nevada, you can feel the shift in the air. It's still very warm, but you can tell fall is starting to creep in and winter is coming around the mountain.
With winter approaching and our recent trip to Highlands Lake, I was reminded of our magical New Year's escapade to Markleeville, CA in 2015/2016. It started on a whim. About a week before New Year's, Dan and I were discussing what we should do to commemorate the end of 2015 and start of 2016. Dan came up with the brilliant idea of Markleeville, CA for hot springs and cross country skiing. It sounded perfect, but how were we going to pull it off? Where were we going to stay?!
Dan called around and of course everything was booked, but at the Creekside Lodge the manager said one of the booked guests was being very wishy washy about whether or not they were going to come, so he told us he'd let us know if the guest decided to cancel. A bit later the manager called back and said, "hey I'm giving the guest till tomorrow at noon to decide and if he doesn't let me know, the room is yours." Low and behold we got the call and we got the room! Markleeville winter vacation was a go!
Dan, Coco and I pulled in to the quaint little lodge on the evening of New Year's Eve. There was going to be a live show at the bar next door to celebrate, but we got into town early enough to hit the hot springs first, so we did and it was magic! While we were soaking up the warm water under the dark night sky, it started to softly snow. Cool little flakes gently kissed us, then melted away into the warm water. It felt amazing on the skin. The juxtaposition of temperatures created a strange equilibrium that, when mixed with the quite that tends to come with snow, brought a wonderful sense of peace and tranquility over the pool.
The hot springs closed for the evening and we packed up and headed back to the lodge. When got there we could hear that the band had started rocking! We showered, changed clothes then headed over to get a drink and rock with the band. We stayed and listened for a while, but since it was still fairly early we didn't want to tire of the music before midnight, so we headed out for a stroll around town. There's a nice little loop that encircles the town so we walked that and headed back to the room. We settled in with the intention of going back to the bar around 11:00 pm to ring in the New Year, but of course we fell fast asleep and missed it.
We were sad that we missed ringing in the New Year, but we were very well rested and feeling refreshed for our day's adventure of cross country skiing. It had been years since the last time I had cross country skied and Dan had only been on skis a handful of times in his life, so we decided to start out easy. There's a lovely meadow across from the hot springs in Grover Hot Springs State Park, so we headed there to test out our skills. A nice, flat, mellow skiing area was perfect to see if we could remember how to do it.
It was great, we both got our skis under us pretty quickly and were off without a hitch. There was some tougher terrain up the trail so we decided to try that and even though we fell a few times, we were handling our skis better than I thought we would. We tooled around on our skis for a few hours, had a nice snack and break on the meadow and then decided to head back to the hot springs for another round of soaking,
No snow fell during this soak, but it was a nice way to warm up after being on our skis all afternoon. We headed back into town and noticed that the restaurant, The Stonefly, across the street from the lodge was going to be open that evening. It looked interesting and we were excited to try it out. It was apparently the restaurant's opening night for the season so we were very lucky to get seats at the bar for dinner. The food was AMAZING! So good. If you find yourself in Markleeville and the Stonefly is open, I highly recommend it. It's a little pricy but well worth it.
The next day we packed up our skis and headed to Hope Valley. At Hope Valley there are groomed trails and backcountry options. We did a really nice loop that was partly on groomed trails and partly backcountry. The part that was groomed was fairly steep, well at least steep for newbie xc skiers such as Dan and myself. We chugged our way slowly uphill. On the backcountry section we glided through meadows and forests of aspen and conifers. It was a lovely afternoon. We hit the groomed section again for the downhill back to the car and we (sorta) gracefully stumbled and tumbled our way down. Afterward we headed back to Markleeville and the last night of our sweet little vacation. After our great experience the night before we happily ate at the Stonefly again. We had a lovely evening, strolling around town, chatting and testing our our newly acquired Fitbits that Daniel got us for Christmas.
The next morning we woke early packed up our stuff and headed to Grover's for one last soak. We got there about five minutes before the pools opened. We were lucky, when the pools opened we were still the only ones there and we had the pools to ourselves for roughly 10 minutes before visitors slowly started seeping in.
We took our time heading back to reality, we stopped in at the Genoa Bar, The Oldest Bar in Nevada where there are diamonds in the mirror and Raquel Welch's bra hangs from the ceiling. Overall it was a wonderful New Year's weekend!
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