While it may be 90 degrees on Carson Street, it's a smart move to think of snowsports right now. At Heavenly, the season ticket low-price ticket sale ends today, so waste no time if you plan to hit the slopes next winter. At $299 for an adult season pass, you can pay it off in six trips up the hill on the new gondola.
Also offering a new deal are Sierra at Tahoe and Northstar at Tahoe (both have dropped the hyphens in their names). In a combo deal, you can pick up a pass to both areas for any day adult for $599, $399 if you are willing to skip the holidays. All kinds of other season tickets are available at bargain prices. Call Sierra at (530) 659-7453 or Northstar at (530) 562-2267.
Season ticket sales are important to ski resorts during the off-season as they supplement other minor cash flows from bikers and hikers. At Kirkwood, for instance, the Cornice quad runs on weekends, taking hikers up to the trail to Thunder Mountain, a most pleasant hike along tree-shaded trails and to a memorial to a skier who didn't make it to the snow but landed on rocks. Check with Kirkwood to make sure the lift is running at (209) 258-7339.
Heavenly is fortunate in having the gondola in place right on Highway 50, which at $20 a head makes a significant contribution to the resort's health. Incidentally, no work on what Vail plans to do with Heavenly in upgrades this summer, but the two time-share/hotels currently finishing construction will be ready for the next season.
If you haven't given the kayak a try you might want to join the Sporting Rage people this Sunday for a cruise in Emerald Bay. The usual details apply: all gear, kayak, instruction, continental breakfast, lunch apply. Call the Rage at 885-7773 before 6 p.m. Saturday to reserve a spot.
Hikes on tap
Saturday, Peterson Mountain Hike. Southern approach with the high meadows and mountain mahogany-covered ridges as the goal. Panoramic views and spectacular alpine wildflowers should abound. Portions of this hike are steep. Over 10 miles round trip and 2,000 feet gain. Carry plenty of water and lunch, and dress in layers. This area is a potential wilderness study area. Leaders: Sally Lyon (530-582-4943), Lucretia Belancio (775-747-4824).
Sunday, East Washoe Hills. A leisurely hike of about 7 miles, with 1,000-foot gain. Partially trail and partially cross-country loop through hills above Washoe Lake. Old mines, wildflowers and great views! Leaders: Pete Gaspers (775-786-1246), email@example.com, Marsha Rowse (775-849-7650).
Wednesday evening Conditioning Hike. A fast-paced, short hike to get into condition for longer weekend outings. About 2-4 miles round trip, with 500-1,000 foot gain. Boots, water and windbreaker recommended. Leader: Holly Coughlin (775-331-7488), Trudy Miller (775-787-9010). Call for time and meeting location.
If none of the above treks interest you, you might want to consider a run up Horsethief Canyon off Highway 88 past Hope Valley. I tried this one recently and found it just as steep as I remembered. It matches Mt. Ralston for uphill travel. Follow Highway 88 past the Woodfords turnoff and up the valley. About 4 miles past the turnoff keep an eye peeled for a sign on the right side of the road, with the legend Horsethief Canyon Trail, just as the road turns left. Plenty of parking there and as a matter of fact you can instead of doing the canyon follow the old road at the end of the parking area up a short trail to where Snowshoe Thompson allegedly stopped en route between Placerville and Carson City in the winter.
Horsethief trail follows the side of the mountain with plenty of small streams crossing it. About halfway to the end you reach the meadow which apparently made the canyon attractive to horse thieves. But plug along and soon you'll come to a sign which proclaims the end of the maintained trail.
Surprise! There's a road on the left which you could have taken and saved all the labor, but that's no fun. You can continue on to Job's Peak, but that's another hike and a half.
Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.