Trail to Jobs Peak not too much work
For the Nevada Appeal
I’ve hiked Jobs Peak often from the Hope Valley side, but recently some visiting friends from the Bay area introduced me to a nearby hike that is quite pleasant and not too much work.
It’s the Carson Valley Association’s Jobs Peak Ranch Trail outside Gardnerville. To get there, take Highway 395 South to Muller Road, turnoff on the right. Follow Muller to Foothill Road, turn left and take that south about three miles and past Kingsbury Grade. Keep an eye out for the sign on the right side of the road that warns that the trail head is 800 feet ahead.
The parking lot is neat and small, enough for maybe six cars; there were five there on June 19. Plenty of descriptive information at the trail head and a few feet farther is a trail map.
You’ll see several signs warning about private property, but they are reasonable, considering the privacy needs of the mansions downhill from the trail. Must be where the big winners at the casinos go to live.
The trail is sand and granitic dirt, with few rocks. At first it goes straight along the clustered homes for about 11⁄2 miles. After a 90-degree turn the trail rises from 4,500 feet to about 6,000 feet. This is mostly sage and bitter brush. Last week, the lupines were just pushing out of the ground in frequent purple patches. Other small flowers also were in bloom, including fried egg flowers – those large white flowers that come out this time of year.
This part of the trail is open air, so if you haven’t got your hiking tan yet, use sunblock. You won’t need a hiking stick here, but later on it would be handy.
At a wooden fence the trail dips down to a small canyon and steeply back up. This is right at the California-Nevada border, and there’s water here for dogs. Some switchbacks are here.
Another half mile is the 1.7 mile Valley View Loop; it was getting late so I decided to save that for another day. Straight ahead for one mile on pretty level trail is the Fay-Luther Trail. You can branch off the Jobs Peak trail to the Fay-Luther system at a couple points along the way, but that’s another day.
Altogether this is about a four-mile trek one way; with two cars you can park at one end and then drive to the other. These days, it’s a very hot hike with no shade until you reach the state border.
On a Friday, I met three hikers and two dogs. I suspect on weekends this is a very popular place. It certainly is one of the best maintained trails I’ve traversed, and the Trails Association is to be commended for the excellent conditions.
HORSE THIEF CANYON ADDENDUM
If last week’s piece in the Appeal about Horse Thief Canyon grabbed you and you plan to try it, be aware that it is a demanding trek. And sometimes it’s frustrating to get to the top of the trail to be greeted by folks who have driven up the road.
There’s a very interesting side walk at Horse Thief. At the trail head go left instead of up the hill on a sort-of trail and follow it for several hundred feet to a large stack of rocks on the left, between you and the highway.
You’ll find sort of a rock shelf, with a possible place to bed down for the night. I once attended a Forest Ranger presentation there and was told that Snowshoe Thompson used to stop there in bad weather for a night.
That was what the Forest Service ranger said, and rangers never lie. Well, almost never.
MUST HAVE BOOK
I don’t know how many times when I’ve been camping I’ve looked at the skies and admired the vivid colors at sunset. But I never knew why the colors or formations where there. Then I came across “Kaleidoscope Sky,” by Tim Herd (Abrams, New York, 240 pages, $19.95) at the Carson Library and then bought it at Borders (special order).
This is a beautifully produced work, with incredible pictures of events in the sky, time after time telling readers what this or that formation or light display meant, how it was created and what and how to look for it.
The color photography is excellent, clearly illustrating what author Herd describes. The section on lightning was surprising; I didn’t know that each lightning stroke is actually at least two and that one comes from the clouds, the other from the earth. It happens in such a microsecond that you can’t tell the two strokes apart.
I wish I had had the book with me when camping at Canyonlands National Park when a thunderstorm arrived and caught me unprepared – but delighted. In my tent with a cozy sleeping bag, the thunder and lightning was a spectacle and when the raindrops hit my tent fly it was like music for bedtime. With “Kaleidoscope Sky” I could have understood it all better.
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