It's a delightful hike to Meiss Lake

If you've enjoyed some of the more demanding hikes we've described, this one should be a delight as it combines some serious uphill with some not so serious meadow trekking. And its goal is one of the most beautiful, most rarely visited lakes in the Sierra: Meiss Lake.

From Carson City take Highway 395 south to the turnoff for Highway 89 to the Carson Pass Ranger station and trailhead on your left; a little farther on your right you'll spot a snowpark. Looking uphill you'll find the trailhead on your left.

This trail connects with the Pacific Crest Trail which continues to Showers Lake northwest. But our trail goes right and up about 500 feet of vertical over 1 1/2 miles to a saddle with a small pond on the left.

From the saddle it's a slight downhill and a pleasant walk. Happily, little of this trail is rocky. Instead, it's fine dust, not like the usual granitic sand.

By now you're in the midst of a big meadow, with a cabin and barn on the left along with a branch of the Upper Truckee River. Leaving the meadow you'll come across some of the oldest and biggest pines in the Sierra, some with trunks well over 6 feet in diameter. You'll see a lot of these good old boys still standing.

About a half-mile after branching off from the Pacific Crest Trail you need to start looking for a cowpath on your left for Meiss Lake. There are a couple of them and they both wind up roughly in the same place. One thing to be careful about is getting down in the sometimes marshy area surrounding much of Meiss Lake. If you do get into the marshy area backtrack and go again for the high ground.

The eastern side of the lake is largely bordered by marsh and what appears to be water lilies (but aren't). There are plenty of rocky outcrops that offer a beautiful view of the placid lake, surely one of the lushest in the entire Sierra. It's also one of the warmest and shallow enough that you can wade across it. Needless to say, don't drink the water for the usual reasons.

The area is rich in Sierra plant and bird life so if you've got a guide to both, bring it along. You can laze on the rocks and enjoy a picnic lunch.

After absorbing the beauty of this setting, you might want to move on to Round Lake (about three-quarters of a mile along the original trail) or head back to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail and follow it for about a mile to Showers Lake.

If not, time to head for home. At Meiss Lake you're at about 8,200 feet. Ahead is the walk back through the meadow and along those giant pines (mostly Jeffrey with the familiar butterscotchish scent), past the cabin, and then up the hill to the saddle at about 8,800 feet.

Don't be surprised to run into horses on this trail and remember they have the right of way.

-- Northstar-at-Tahoe will host a Health and Ski Conditioning Weekend that's strictly for the ladies Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The weekend will focus on health, fitness and camaraderie and offers a good excuse for women to take some time out to unplug from the daily grind and focus on their health and well-being.

During the weekend, women will hike along the Tahoe Rim Trail, learn ski conditioning exercises, find out about women-specific ski/snowboard gear and rejuvenate with yoga sessions.

Packages for the weekend are available and include two nights lodging, four meals, a reception, recreation activities, presentations and use of Northstar's Swim and Racquet Club with fitness center, lap pool, spas and sauna. Package starts at $260 per person. Call (530) 562-3565.

-- Saturday Kirkwood Mountain Resort holds a high alpine festival featuring a Thin Air Chili Cookoff, ski swap, live music, pass sale and scenic chair rides.

All festivities will take place on the Mountain Village Plaza, starting with a ski swap from 9 a.m. to noon.E

Cool Black Kettle will be laying down tunes from noon to 4 p.m. as several of the best local breweries share their wares, including Lagunitas, Sacramento, Mendocino and Widmer Brewing companies. Festival entry fee is $10 per person and includes a commemorative pint glass, two drink tokens and a chili tasting kit. Proceeds benefit WOOF, an organization that supports the training of search and rescue dogs.E

Kirkwood's second annual Thin Air Chili Cookoff is a non-sanctioned event judged by festival participants. Chili tasting and judging begin at 2 p.m.

The Cornice Express chairlift, affords a fine 360-degree view of the surrounding peaks and valleys. Chair rides are $10 per person, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Season passes will be available for sale and current passholders can pick up their passes during the festival. Prices go up October 1.

-- Hikers from California and Nevada will be joining forces on Saturday to raise funds for the Tahoe Rim Trail and to enjoy a scenic hike on the Rim on Lake Tahoe's North Shore. This annual event is sponsored by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

Each hiker raises funds for the Trail by gathering sponsors who have pledged money for each mile that they hike.E

Everyone will be hiking 12 miles and each hiker is raising a minimum of $150 to benefit the Tahoe Rim Trail. Sixty hikers are expected to participate in this year's Annual Hike-A-Thon.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.

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