Low season pass prices available

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Yes, Heavenly got a dusting of snow the other day up at Monument Peak and with ski season about six weeks away that augers well for the snowsporters.

Equally, the $299 season lift ticket for adults is a real bargain compared to the past (about half), especially when it includes five days at Vail's other resorts in Colorado -- Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone. Teen season pass (13-18) is $229, child (5-12) is $129 and senior (65 and up) $199. As part of the deal, season pass holders get discounts on retail, food and beverage coupons as well as access to a Web site with all kinds of special deals. Also included is a kind of frequent flyer program.

That's the picture at most ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada -- lower season pass prices. Seems that the idea worked so well in Colorado last season that it is being copied in the West. And why not? The lifts have to run, overhead continues, restaurants open, ski patrol work no matter how many show up. And Sierra Nevada slopes are rarely as crowded as those in Colorado. So if you're still thinking of getting a season ducat, now's the time to act.

Seems l like lots of new thinking going on at Heavenly now that it's owned by Vail, such as $40 million in promised upgrades to come.

Hike Now!

This is an ideal weekend for getting out and enjoying the fall colors. One of the best places is Hope Valley where the aspen and other deciduous trees are flaming yellow. Just driving along Highway 88 is like entering a rainbow of colors. At Picketts Junction off Highways 88-89 you can park and enjoy some of the nice views of the valley. The Mormons named it Hope Valley back in 1849. One look and you can see why they picked the name. You can hike around the river here but there are no real trails.

A nice hike to go with this is up to Meiss (pronounced "mice") Lake. Drive past the Carson Pass and about a mile along 88 you'll see a parking area to the right. Actually, there are several destinations from the lot -- Meiss Lake, Showers Lake, Round Lake or the Dardanelles.

The trail head is on the left side of the parking lot and clearly marked. You'll probably see some horse trailers in the lot as riders favor this trail. Follow the trail uphill for Meiss, about 4 miles one way (trail No. 4). You'll see a lot of cows and some muddy ponds along the ridge.

About halfway up you'll come to a trail cutting left for Showers Lake (trail No. 5). That's a trek of 5.1 miles one way.

About here the trail flattens out after a climb of about 240 feet of vertical. There's an old ranch house in the meadow that is used in the winter for backpacking lessons.

To actually get to Meiss Lake -- and it's worth it -- requires some bushwhacking, although there are some trails meandering through the brush. You'll cross the Carson River and see some mighty thick trees as you follow the old jeep trail. It's a little more than a half-mile to the lake.

Meiss isn't a big or deep lake but it's quite pretty. In summer the surrounding area can be quite soggy but now it's pretty firm. Some large rocks on one side of the lake offer a dandy picnic site.

If you would like a little more mileage continue on Trail No. 4 to Round Lake, a good bit bigger and almost as pretty.

Whatever you do this weekend, try and get out to catch the splendid colors around Tahoe.

Sierra-at-Tahoe honored

May not mean much to the average skier or boarder, but SAT won the California Integrated Management Board's Waste Reduction Award for its efforts to reduce waste and send less garbage to local landfills.

SAT has a long record of being in the forefront of waste reduction and is to be congratulated for its efforts, which don't exactly fill company coffers.

Flying, anyone?

Mammoth just got $19.8 million to enlarge its airport. That's good news for those Southern Californians who have to drive to the resort, which has enlarged its tram. For the rest of us without our own jet, it's still an easy drive. Lots of upgrades at Mammoth over the summer -- housing, gondolas, lifts.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.


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