Hiking is a restorative exercise. You disconnect from society and reconnect with nature and yourself. I meant what I said when I told people that I would do more of it once I relocated to this part of the country. Last year, I made time to explore a couple of different trails in the Sierras. This year, I pushed the total number to seven, including a visit to a lesser known national park where I spent hours in solitude and another where I learned a bit about local mining history that will be incorporated into a class I teach. Here are some images and details from my recent adventures into different landscapes of the West…
Turtlehead Peak in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (Nevada), April 3, 5 miles, 2000 feet of elevation gain, strenuous, 4.5 hours, 73 degrees at the trailhead (lower on the peak itself). Map. Photo: A segment of this trail is incredibly rugged and abrupt once you start climbing.
Genoa Loop in Genoa, Nevada, May 4, 8.5 miles, 1,500 feet of elevation gain, moderate, 4.5 hours, 74 degrees. Map. Photo: This ridge caught us by surprise. A mountain biker crashed below us just minutes later. There are signs warning people, but some don’t take them seriously. This is our first hike together.
Thunder Mountain in Kit Carson Country (near Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Silver Lake in California), August 7, 8.4 miles, 1,775 feet of elevation gain, moderate, 5 hours, 78 degrees. Map. Photo: The region received so much snow last winter that large patches hadn’t yet melted well into the summer.
Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park (Nevada), August 20, 8.6 miles, 2,900 feet of elevation gain, strenuous, 6.75 hours, 90 degrees at the park entrance (67 degrees at the trailhead and lower on the peak itself). Map. Photo: The trees and lakes appear so small when you’re thousands of feet above them near the mountain’s edge. I experienced a flash of vertigo at one point, but I pushed through it because I wanted to reach the summit.
C-Hill in Carson City, Nevada, October 6, 7.6 miles, 935 feet of elevation gain, moderate, 4 hours, 69 degrees. Map. Photo: West of town you can see where the pine forest of the Sierra Nevada ends and the sagebrush of the Great Basin Desert begins.
Donovan Mill with the Nevada State Parks (from Dayton to Silver City and back), October 12, 6.5 miles, 700 feet of elevation gain, easy, 6 hours (this includes a 15 minute lecture on the water pipeline from Lake Tahoe to the Virginia Range and a one hour tour of the mill itself), 70 degrees. I don’t have a map for this trail. Click here for more information. Photo: Thousands of beautiful mustangs wander around different parts of the valley.
Prison Hill in Carson City, Nevada, December 20, 5.7 miles, 900+ feet of elevation gain, moderate, 3.5 hours, 52 degrees. Map. Photo: Major snow accumulations occur up in the Sierras that are beautiful when viewed from the east side of town in the Prison Hill Recreation Area. While Carson City receives about 22.2 inches per year, most of it melts quickly so you can spend beautiful days like this outside.
As of today, I’m already planning hikes for next year. My goals are simple, yet ambitious. First, I would like increase my number of outings to nine (or more). Yes, this will be contingent upon weather conditions. The thought is that I can do at least one a month from April through December. Secondly, I want some (perhaps three) of them to be in the 10-12 mile range because I like challenges. Also, I hope to observe more wildlife in their natural habitat.