Caples trail is a beauty |

Caples trail is a beauty

Great weather, great hiking. Having been told that the trail from the Caples Lake Maintenance Station offers some of the finest view in the Sierra Nevada, I thought I’d give it and my new two-hiking-pole system a try over the weekend.

Driving up to Hope Valley and on was a delight, the air crisp and the aspens already starting to turn yellow.

Unfortunately, the maintenance road to the trailhead was of the rough rocky kind, not the sort for my new Mustang convertible. So I backtracked to Woods Lake, where I had hiked in the past.

The trail from Woods Lake to Winnemucca Lake is a popular one, for good reason. There’s plenty of camping spaces and complete facilities at the Woods Lake side. Picnic tables and grills are there and the view is spectacular. The trailhead is back 20 yards from the ample parking area, starting out across a well-made bridge. There’s still some water in the creek.

It’s 1 1/4 miles to Winnemucca Lake, mostly dirt trail with spections of rock and many high-step rocks. Most of the way it’s only easy to moderate and at many places the nearby stream offers a musical accompaniment to hiking. At the Mokelume Wilderness sign, you’re halfway there and a lovely green hillside lines the trail.

At the lake (much bigger than I remembered) the views are spectacular. Over to the south (I think, I forgot my compass) is Elephant Ridge, a massive, low-lying rock formation. On the other side of Elephant Ridge is the trail to Fouth of July Lake, another beautiful lake in a depression. Most people consider hiking once to Fourth fine, but skip a second visit – it’s a steep trail.

From the lakeside there’s a trail to Round Top which looked inviting, but time was running out. Lots of large snow pockets up on the towering peaks. This is the kind of scenery that make hiking Sierra Nevada so much fun.

The two-pole system worked fine, no pain in the knee even though I forgot to buy Advil, which Doc Edmunds had suggested taking before hiking. Still takes getting used to for maximum effect. Swinging both poles forward at tight spots going downhill really eases stress on the knees. Shorter poles going uphill, longer going down seems to work well.

So it’s time for some serious hiking. Just got a review copy of a new guide to Sequoia so that will be the next target.

• Heavenly flew in the new towers for its new Powder Bowl Express six-seater lift on the California side Monday and Tuesday. The new lift will replace the old Waterfall and Powder Bowl fixed three-seaters. Those two lifts have long been the bottleneck to skiing Heavenly, and Heavenly is to be cheered for finally opening things up.

This is a detachable six-seater, much like theTamarack lift at the top of the Gondola. Surprisingly, there haven’t been any loading problems at the Tamrack lift (or at any of the other six-seaters around Tahoe) so it’s time to get that season pass, which is good for the next summer, incidentally, as well as for some free days at Vail resorts in Colorado.

Also in the works is a replacement for the North Bowl lift all the way up to the top of Olympic. Get that done and skiing and boarding at Heavenly will be as good as it gets in Tahoe.

Heavenly has expanded the West Coast’s largest snowmaking system as well as its grooming capacity to give more corduroy as well as the earliest opening date. The renovation of the East Peak Lodge sundeck has been completed. East Peak now has a glass enclosed outdoor area with a roof and new restroom facilities, as well as an outdoor grilling area.

• Sierra-at-Tahoe will initiate an Express Shuttle this winter season from Harrah’s, Harveys and Marriott Grand Residence Club for $10 round trip. The shuttle will run on weekends during the early and late ski season and daily from the Christmas holidays thru mid-March. Sierra will also provide guests who wish to drive their own vehicles to the mountain complimentary bike taxi service from the far parking lots to the base lodge area. The bike taxis can accommodate four people with ski and snowboard gear. An enhanced terrain park on Bashful in the West Bowl will challenge and entertain park junkies.

• Kirkwood Mountain Resort has introduced Expedition Kirkwood, the only resort program in the state that familiarizes skiers and riders with the rewards of backcountry skiing and riding. Headquartered right on the Village Plaza, Expedition Kirkwood includes Powder Cat Tours, courses in backcountry awareness, telemark equipment and lessons, Randonee equipment, an avalanche beacon training facility and a host of programs designed to help skiers and riders improve their on-mountain performance at every level. The Salomon Test Center will also be headquartered on the Plaza

• Caesars Tahoe is partnering with local TV station Resort Sports Network to host an annual Tahoe Adventure Film Fest. Six independent filmmakers from around the world will premier their full-length films inside the casino’s Stone St. Bar & Grill from Nov. 5 through Dec. 10. Tickets for the final night are $14.

• The first-ever Truckee River Fun Run and Walk, to benefit the Jimmie Heuga Center, is scheduled for Saturday along the Truckee River paved bike trail beginning in Tahoe City at 64-Acres Park.

The Truckee River Fun Run and Walk is an out-and-back event geared for both recreational and elite runners and walkers. The 5K- and 10K-run start at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K walk begins at 9 a.m. Pre-registration is $35 and includes t-shirt, water bottle and goodie bag. Due to the narrow trail, no dogs or baby strollers are allowed.

Call (530) 583-4534.

Sam Bauman is a Nevada Appeal Staff Writer. Contact him at or 881-1236.