Sam Bauman
For the Nevada Appeal

Back to: Opinion
July 21, 2014
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Watch out for snakes in sagebrush, open areas

Nevada’s wildlife officials are warning people about rattlesnake dangers. Personally, I’ve only seen rattlesnakes twice in all my years of hiking Nevada. One was in the flatland approach to Prison Hill trail from the Silver Saddle Ranch. The snake crossed the trail ahead of me, paused to look back at me and disappeared.

Second time, was when I was on a 13-mile hike from the top of Kings Canyon National Park with a group of maybe 20 hikers, we got halfway down and then we bunched up where the trek leader held things up. A big rattler was sunning itself on the trail so we waited until something disturbed the snake and it glided off into the brush.

In both occasions it seemed the snake was as anxious to avoid us as were to avoid the snake.

We do have rattlers out in the open country and it’s best to avoid them.

Todd Duncan is the program safety manager for the Sierra Club’s Outings program and writes:

“With snake bites, keep it simple. Forget cutting into the wound, suction devices, and tourniquets; none are particularly effective, and all are potentially harmful. Getting medical treatment as soon as possible is your goal. Try to identify the snake so you can get the proper antivenin; remove constricting items like bracelets, rings, and tight clothing; and mark a line on the skin to track the progression of the swelling. Quick medical care should take priority over immobilization, unless someone can get you help within an hour.”

Beautiful place

The following Internet address will take seniors to outside Gerlach, Nev., for one of the most amazing and beautiful sights on the Black Rock Dessert. I’ve hiked up to the entry gate that marks private lands, but I never got close enough for photos. Seniors who probably will never hike the Black Rock Dessert will surely enjoy the photos. Visit

A slightly cooler hike

The Lake Tahoe Nevada State Spooner area is a widespread recreational and natural oasis. Spooner Lake, at the intersection of State Route 28 and U.S. 50, is popular for picnicking and catch-and-release fishing. It is also home to the new Spooner Summit rental concession.

For seniors, the attraction has to be the trail going around Spooner Lake, almost 3 miles. At 7,000 feet it’s a tad cooler than Carson City so the 10 miles drive up 50 is worth it.

Two entrances to hikers. The first is the main park entrance about 400 yard from the junction of the two routes. There’s a fee with $2 off for Nevada residents. The other is outside the park proper at a parking area at the junction.

It’s not well marked but push through the brush, and down perhaps 15 feet is a collection box where you can pay your hiking fee. I usual start to the right which takes you along the lake, it soon angles downward and into clusters of a shaded park bench.

About halfway around the lake you’ll come to the remains of the dam that was built to create the lake.

More park benches are scattered along the trail and before I got my knee replaced I used to happily rest on those benches, enjoying the peace and quiet of the lake.

Spooner Lake offers mountain hiking coolness at 2,000 feet above Carson City.

Burning Man coming up

The annual alternate lifestyle outing on the Black Rock Desert begins the last week of August. Tickets are already on sale and a bit pricey but worth it. It’s something seniors can enjoy, particularly if they have access to an RV.

Seniors may not think of it as something they would enjoy, but there’s so much there, everything from original art works to the happy crowds. And walking is transportation.

It’s sales-push free, only ice and coffee drinks are sold in the Main Tent, where indoor art is on display.

A must for Burners is the Temple, a non-denominational building where Burners can write messages to friends or loved ones, knowing that the night after the burn of the Man the Temple will go up in flames. Black Rock City on the playa is expecting 50,000 guests this year. Including me, happily in a comfy RV. No sleeping in tent now.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jul 21, 2014 11:23PM Published Jul 21, 2014 11:23PM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.