BY SAM BAUMAN
With gas costs as they are, I keep trying local hiking trails that I haven't tried before. Last weekend it was the canyon on the east side of Prison Hill.
Take 5th Street east past the traffic circle and a right on River Road. A loop dirt road takes you to the Silver Saddle Ranch, where the trail starts, or at least seems to. The trail to the canyon is across a brush-studded flatland, or at least seems to be. But after losing the trail once it moved away from the ranch fence several times I gave up, forgetting that the last time I hike the canyon I parked when the loop road began, closer to the beginning of the canyon trail.
So I walked back to the ranch and picked up the Silver Sage trail, which heads south after a walk along a dirt road heading east. This is a flat hike along to where it joins the Mexican Ditch trail.
The ditch was built back in the Comstock days to supply water to a mill, but when the gold boom tapered off the ditch was unused. Today it is a open ditch with caked mud on the bottom.
After about a half-mile the trail starts following the Carson River, deceptively wide here. There are a few breaks in the fence along the trail to allow you to get to the riverside. The trail ends at the remains of the Mexican Ditch dam, so it's a return along the same trail except that there is a short loop to the left that includes a plank bridge over a channel from the ditch to the river. Once back at the Red House of the Silver Saddles Ranch you can continue the Mexican Ditch trail north and out of the ranch area.
At the ranch we met Gary Gumienny, late of Chicago but now of the Bureau of Land Management Carson City Field Office. He offered a cup of coffee in the neat BLM bungalow.
Gumienny spends much of his time there in between keeping the ranch area controlled. It's a nice bungalow and he often invites visitors in for coffee or just to talk.
Out in back in a shady area are picnic tables and a grill. "If it's just a couple of people, they are welcome to use the picnic area; bigger groups have to pay $5," says Gumienny.
Right now there is legislation in the Congress to transfer ownership of Prison Hill rec area and the ranch from the BLM to Carson City. It's widely predicted to be approved as the BLM gets other land in return.
"Then it's going to be a scramble to see who gets the ranch and this bungalow," says Gumienny, who figures he will be out of a job then.
The Silver Saddle Ranch is a complex of farm buildings, corrals and riding areas. The switch to Carson City control of the ranch and Prison Hill means a new, interesting park for Carson. Developers and private groups have been held off thus far, and it will be up to the city to make the best use of this fine, outdoor facility. But it should be saved for the general population, not given to some special interest group, which would limit its use.
DIAMOND PEAK PASS SALE
Diamond Peak 2008/09 season passes are on sale until Sept. 30, so now's your time to purchase one and get a head start on the winter season. Save off the regular rate with this special deal. You can buy a season pass for as low as $295 (a mid-week adult resident rate) until the end of September. Full pass non-resident rates include: $454 adult, $209 college, $188 youth (13-17), $156 Child (7-12), and $188 senior (60-69). Discounts are available for residents of Incline Village and Crystal Bay.
Season pass holders get a free barbecue lunch on opening and closing days. Also, Diamond Peak season pass holders will enjoy a newly renovated Base Lodge set for a completion Nov. 1. Diamond Peak's scheduled opening date is Dec. 11.
There are four easy ways to purchase your passes:
1) Buy online by visiting www.diamondpeak.com or download the forms and mail them or fax them in; 2) Mail the form back to: Diamond Peak Ski Resort Season Passes, 1210 Ski Way, Incline Village 89451; 3) Fax the form back to: (775) 832-1281; 4) Come visit in person by going to the Diamond Peak Administration Building Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
For current prices on season passes, see www.diamondpeak.com or come visit at 1210 Ski Way. For more information, pcall 832-1177.
Ski and ride the way you want, where you want, on more than 2,400 acres of diverse mountain terrain including groomed runs for family fun, seven powder-filled bowls, and challenging chutes all featuring spectacular Lake Tahoe and mountain peak views.
ALPINE MEADOWS PASSES
Here's what Alpine Meadows is offering:
Adult Season Pass: $874 on-line before Sept. 1 ($1,074 after). Two mountains for the price of one " Buy Alpine and ski/ride Homewood for free unrestricted days.
Season pass privileges include:
10 percent Food & Beverage discount; Kick-Off Party, End-of-the-Year Party and an Early-Up Spring Day; midweek adult Season Pass: $374 on-line before Sept. 1 ($574 after); $50 Ski/Ride Sundays; family Discount for a family of four: two adults and two kids 18 and under, $2,000 before Sept.1 ($2,400 after); save $25 by booking tickets on line: SkiAlpine.com.
SHEALOR LAKES NEXT
Time to put the knee to some seriour stress, so this weekend we're going to try the hike to Sherton Lake, past Kirkwood and across from Silver Lake. We'ves done it before and remember it as a delight of a place, a trek up for about a half mile and then a mile or so down to the lake. It's a mountain lake of rare beauty, up against a wall of granite. It's deep and an ideal place for a cooling dip. A rocky trail with cairns all over the place. Details next week.