A RENO, NEVADA, VISIT January 8, 2009

After a fine walking year, hiking some 2,100 miles just about town and on the river parkway, right from home with no driving, I figured I had better start on my travels for 2009. Only bagging 11 peaks last year, that was my worst year for numbers, ever since I started this. Although some of those peaks were, for me, in distant locales, like the Rockies and the Washington Coast Range.

Hoping to make a multi-purpose trip, I left home and motored eastbound on Interstate 80, running into low clouds or fog as I passed through Auburn, CA. I heard from the forecast that a front would move over during the late morning, and it was to clear in the afternoon. So, the roads would be fine for driving. Getting gas at the Foresthill Exit at 1.899, I hoped that the weather would be as predicted.

Stopping at Yuba Gap for some photos, I noted the snow pack along the highway averaged about three feet. I used the Donner rest area and noted the snow-free summit block on Castle Peak. Stopping again at the Donner Lake vista point, I saw the clearing skies to the east and hoped for a fine day. Mt. Rose looked beautiful, in the sun, with a good snow covering.

Shopping at my favorite outdoor clothing store, I left some things for repair, with a lifetime warranty. Picking up some clothes at a good price, I motored over to nearby Mayberry Park and hiked the Truckee River Trail, then the Tom Cooke trail, to the top of my oft-hiked hill with its view of Reno and the Mt. Rose massif. A new cairn was built on top, with some painted lettering, perhaps some memorial.

It was a bit windy, and then it began to rain. The trail was already icy and muddy, and when I got back to my car, my boot soles were caked with mud. I changed into my sneakers and drove to the downtown Reno area.

Parking in a garage, I walked into the three casino complex that is my favorite, and saw what was new. Some remodeling had been done, and I had a half mile walk seeing the sights.

Dining at a cafe, I had an excellent lunch special, with exquisitely done asparagus beef and fried won tons. I was thirsty, and the waiter gave me lots of water and diet soda. Making sure to leave a good tip, I saw the sky had cleared and blue sky and sun lit up the hills about Reno.

Driving east, then south, on the freeway, I came to my second hike, in the Huffaker Hills. The trail is rocky and gravel, so hiking here served to scrape off the mud on my boot soles. Better than with a brush and water! I hiked up the trail to the top of Twin Peaks, which took about 20 minutes. The sun and views of the town were glorious. Jets flew into the airport, and I felt glad for the travelers coming here, perhaps to gamble and enjoy. The air was so clear!

I snapped photos of the views and liked the rock ring with a folding chair left inside. I declined to hike the other bump, then started back down. I'd be home early tonight. If I had the time to wait, there was a GBG meeting this night, but they end late and I'd have to drive home in the night. I feared for ice developing on the Interstate at one bridge, although it wasn't that cold.

Two other hikers walked their dog, and I saw a hiker on Rattlesnake Mountain, across the way. It was about 4 p.m. I took the U.S. 395 freeway back past the other casinos, then back west on I-80.

The sun was low, in my eyes as it set to the west. My windshield was a bit dirty, so my vision ahead was a bit obscured by glare. I had no water to clean it off, but I managed to see well enough till I got into the Truckee River Canyon, where the sun was blocked by the mountains.

Thinking to stop in Truckee, CA, I thought it would have been better to stroll back about Downtown Reno during magic hour, with its neon and busy colors. But then, I did that last year or so. I would have liked to see what was new on South Virginia Street, too, but I wanted to get back home.

Gas at Verdi, NV, was a dime more than in Auburn. I used the highway rest area, and had gained the sight of alpenglow on Castle Peak. The road was fine, with light traffic, and me easily doing the speed limit of 65 mph.

Shortly back to Auburn, I had a double cheeseburger, and encountered more fog. Needing to get a new coffeemaker, I got that before pulling into my parking.

Driving then 288 miles total, I had hiked about 4 miles with maybe 500' gain. I shot 290 images, and even won about a dollar at the slots trying to win a Hummer. The Interstate was great for travel, and the snow was always good to see. I thought that I had a couple people interested in a carpool and peaks to climb, but I guess I'll be doing more travel and hiking, solo.