A NORTHERN SIERRA FALL COLORS LOOP October 11, 2004
My initial plan was to do two peaks, with an overnight stay in Reno, NV. No takers from my Net queries, so I awoke slowly this fine Monday holiday. I made the decision to just do a long drive, and see the fall colors, which I usually do each year for a photo record.
In mid-morning, I motored up eastbound on Interstate 80, and passed the various construction crews still widening the freeway. I was to endure a few more traffic slowdowns or delays along the parts of my driving route, this day.
The colors about Cisco Grove were fine. A few stands of aspen are seen here. It gets better toward Nevada, as the air gets clearer and the colors more vibrant.
I stopped at the Patagonia Outlet to find nothing my size or to my liking. I motored south on U.S. 395, with no time to stop. I took NV 431, the Mt. Rose Highway, in search of a short hike. They have now built a welcome center at the road summit, with a vast paved parking lot. The new start to the Mt. Rose summit trail offers free parking for some 50 vehicles, with restrooms. All were shuttered closed this day, although a few cars were in the lot. I explored up the new trail, and shot photos of the new signs.
Back after a quarter mile walk, I motored back down to 395 and headed south. I got a bite in Carson City, then passed through Minden to CA 88. The fall colors here are now pretty prime. The rustic resort near Picketts Junction is surrounded by aspen gleaming gold, and I sought to re-visit, for my nth time, the locations that offered plenty of red.
Bare leafed trees, with green, too, presented themselves, along with typically brilliant Sierra fall colors. My favorite grove was slightly in backlight, but the little cabin amidst the reds, and with Stevens Peak as backdrop, figured for many a shot (photo above). I drove up to Carson Pass, and noted the leaves, and colors, are largely gone from about Caples Lake.
The cold wind caused whitecaps on the lake, and only hardy hikers would go out in these conditions. The sky was clear, and the views of Round Top showed the remnants of last season's snow. I looked about the Kirkwood Resort to determine the changes. New construction was going up, and the start to my trail route to do Thimble Peak seemed obliterated or obscured. The Lodge was now completed, and many more skiers will have comfortable lodging here, now. No big restaurants were opened, but I'd expect that will change as the business moves in.
I took the Mormon-Emigrant Road to get to U.S. 50 and home. But, as I came to Jenkinson Lake, I opted for a short hike. The South Shore Trail leads counter-clockwise about the reservoir, and passes many a fine dogwood. Mostly now, the red leaves had dried up, but a few fresh ones still made for good fall photography. Other hikers and a mountain biker used the trail, with warmer temps down here. This lake-circumnavigating hike makes for easy leisure walking, with enough ups and downs to make it interesting.
After an hour's hike, I departed for home.
I had done only some 2.5 miles of hiking, with minimal gain. My drive totaled some 350 miles. I shot some 230 images and movie clips. Using about 3/4 tank of fuel, I spent 23 dollars, mostly for gas, total.
It didn't seem worth the $50 I would spend to stay overnight in Reno, to then bag, solo, the two highest peaks on the Tahoe Rim. I have hiked these summits some 10 or 11 times. Though I would enjoy taking up newbies to these magnificent views, I have to watch my money.
It seems far more practical to introduce summiteers to the peaks via the Internet. Directions and views can be freely and easily had on my website, and other websites. Physically leading hikes does incur expense, and benefits only a lucky and fit few. It was the style of the early conservationists to display photographs, so that will be part of my style. While I can't wait for the best photo lighting conditions, I can give the present day's conditions for any that choose to view or read about them.
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