Hanging out with the Sierra Club

Most often when one reads about the Sierra Club it's about some kind of legal dispute over environmental issues.

Usually the club is battling the U.S. government forces such as the Bureau of Land Management of the Forest Service over an issue.

Curious about the Sierra Club local activities I dropped in at the club's picnic last Sunday at Galena State Park off the Mt. Rose Highway. About 20 members were on hand gathered around tubs of soft drinks and lunch.

"You don't have to be a members to take part in any Sierra Club activity," explained Grace Blaylock of Reno. "We don't get involved in political issues on hikes, just enjoy the scenery."

Richard Breslow of Reno, political outreach officer for the Great Basin Gatherings of the club, said that in the summer it is mostly hikes with no programs scheduled. "Hike in the summer and snowshoe, cross country ski and Alpine ski in the winter," he said. "No politics involved, just good outdoors folk getting together."

He was echoed by Holly Coughlin of Reno, a fourth-grade school teacher. She has been hiking in the area for 15 years but joined the Sierra Club so she could have friends on the trail.

"It's not good to hike alone, which I was doing," she said. "I used to be introverted but now I'm more open. I find the club members to be warm-hearted, love the outdoors and a caring group."

Coughlin, who had completed a 10-mile hike in the morning and looked ready to face a classroom of kids, is chairman of outings and is often a leader on treks.

Sherie Nugent, also of Reno, loves to hike and is considering joining the club. "I love to hike," she said with her 7-year-old daughter Ashley standing by. "So I'm looking for friends to hike with."

She's hiked the Ruby Trail Summit and Marlette Lake and is planning a jaunt in September up Mt. Whitney. "I want to get my daughter involved," she added.

Breslow said there are three chapters in Nevada: the Range of Light Reflections based around Bishop; the Great Basin Gatherings for Northern Nevada; and the Mojave Monitor for Southern Nevada. Each chapter's activities are outlined in Toiyabe Trails, a six-times-year newspaper.

The first regular program for the fall and winter is on Sept. 12 7-9 p.m. as Tim Hauserman tells of the volunteer effort that built the Tahoe Rim Trail. His new book, "A Complete Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers and Equestrians," with photos by Mark Vollmer, will be the basis of his speech.

Programs are held at the Bartley Ranch Interpretive Center, Bartley Ranch Road, off Lakeside south of Reno. The public is welcome at no charge. Information, call Pat Patera, program chair at 849-3413.

Obviously, you don't have to be a tree hugger to enjoy trails with the Sierra Club.

Heuga fund-raiser

Celebrate the end of summer with a little fun and fund-raising for the Jimmie Heuga Center during the 14th Annual Alpen Wine Fest in the new Village at Squaw Valley Sunday Sept. 1 from 2-5 p.m.

Co-hosted by the Squaw Village Neighborhood Co. and Squaw Valley Ski Corp., this happy event features wine tasting, a silent auction and a raffle.

Admission is $25 (tax deductible) and includes a souvenir wine glass, wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres. All proceeds benefit the Jimmie Heuga Center by helping to provide scholarships for people to attend the Heuga Center's various Multiple Sclerosis medical programs. Details, call (530) 583-6985.

Sugar Bowl Bluegrass

"Strictly Bluegrass ... Sort Of," a benefit for the Sugar Bowl Ski Racing Academy, will take place at Sugar Bowl in Norden, Calif., Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. The musical line-up for this one-day festival includes a very special reunion with the original Blasters (featuring both Dave and Phil Alvin, Bill Bateman, Gene Taylor and John Bazz), Noe Venable Trio, Blue Highway, Keystone Station, and All Wrecked Up.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Purchase tickets on-line at www.virtuous.com or call Sugar Bowl at (530) 426-9000.

Hiking days

With the Sierra Club, Saturday is a hike at Mt. Rose. This is a popular hike, moderately strenuous in difficulty; about 12 miles round trip, gaining 2,256 feet up to the summit at 10,776 feet. Beautiful view from the top. Hikers need sturdy boots, windbreakers, hat, sunscreen and water. No dogs. Leaders: Grace Blaylock (775) 677-9257, blaylock@intercomm.com, Lucretia (775) 747-4824.

On Sunday it's Five Lakes to Ward Peak. This hike is a classic, on the Pacific Crest Trail. It is a ridge line hike with panoramic vistas, flowers, Tahoe views, forest passages, lakes and copious blue skies. Moderate/strenuous, 12-14 miles round trip, 2,400-foot gain. Full day. Dogs OK. Leaders: Lang Milligan (775) 787-2478, Lucretia Belancio (775) 747-4824.

Also Sunday, Tahoe City to Barker Pass. This is a hike along a section of the Rim Trail that is 13 miles long and has an elevation gain of 2,000 feet or more, making this moderate to moderately strenuous. The trip will start near Tahoe City and end at Barker Pass. Views of Tahoe should be spectacular. We will set up a car shuttle for the return. Anyone for a Mexican dinner afterwards? Trip limit: 14. Dogs limited, check with leader. Leader: Holly Coughlin (775) 331-7488; co-leader: Grace Blaylock (775) 677-9257, blaylock@intercomm.com.

And the Carson Ranger District is repeating some of its outings this week. First off is a trip to the Tahoe Meadows off Mt. Rose Highway a bit past the summit for the parking area on the south side of the road. Meet there at 10 a.m. for the story of how logging fueled the Comstock mines and the effects left on today's forest.

On Sunday, join a ranger for a discussion of Snowshoe Thompson at the Horsethief Canyon Trailhead past Woodfords on Highway 88. Keep an eye out for the small sign on the right. Trek follows the route Thompson took carrying the mail between Placerville and Genoa. A short hike but sturdy shoes recommended.

Details on ranger hikes, call Dave Harrison at (775) 882-2766.


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