Sam Bauman: Time is now for seniors to hike | NevadaAppeal.com

Sam Bauman: Time is now for seniors to hike

Sam Bauman
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I haven’t been writing much about hiking this summer nor have I been doing it, but the other day I got out my hiking stick and drove to Dead Man’s Creek trail opposite Washoe State Park entrance on West Lake Boulevard.

This is a hike rated as moderate by the lake rangers and for the nearly 2-mile round trip it is just that. A trail largely clear of rocks, no steep climbs and a series of metal trailside markers that identify all the flora that lines the trail. Easy for seniors.

And yes, there are snakes, according to the sign at the trailhead, but I have never seen one on Dead Man’s. An occasional deer and lots of critters; in spring plenty of flowers. And stinging nettles, something to avoid. There’s a sign at the nettle area.

You park in the small lot at the trailhead on the right side of the road, enough for three cars. You cross a nice wooden bridge over the dry creek bed — at this time of year — and the trail goes to the right, with a branch going over to the left. The branch overlooks the highway to the ranchers’ headquarters, where there are lots of pamphlets about the park and surrounding trails. It’s strictly flat and not much fun. About a half mile.

Sticking to the main trail leads one gradually uphill, with the creek bed to the right. Most of the bed is dry, but the natural spring continues to trickle even in these dry days.

Plenty of green alongside the trail, thanks to the spring. Lots of critters in the green and perhaps even larger animals, never seen one though.

You’ll pass a trail branch-off on the right complete with an aging bench. Don’t take it; the rangers closed it several years to protect the wildlife clustered around the spring.

I’ve hiked this trail dozens of times, usually 30 minutes to the gazebo at the official end. This time I found that working on the treadmill is no substitute for actually walking, and I had to turn around at the switchback where the trail splits, one half going ahead to a wildlife viewing area, the other on the right going up to the gazebo. More treadmill or plain walking ahead for me.

Along the way are two benches put up by the Eagle Scout who revamped the trail. Nice way stops, if you tire. At the gazebo are fine views of Washoe Lake and Slide Mountain and of the Washoe park, which extends to the northeast. Many hiking trails in the park, including one to The Dunes, where seashells are in the sand. Lake once was larger.

At the gazebo you can take a break, drink some water and take pictures. Or if inclined you can continue up the unmarked slope above to a plateau where mountain roads meet for an ever better view. This is strenuous, however.

Dead Man’s is particularly good in the morning with cool breezes off the lake, and it’s a good senior trail for those in fair condition.

Lots of other local hikes for seniors, such as Riverside Park starting at the Korean War Memorial at the end of 5th Street. Riverside is all flatland, winding along the Carson River. Benches along the river and occasional deer. Easy walking here.

A more demanding challenge is Prison Hill, city-side or river-side. For river-side, get there off River Road at 5th Street. Park where the road angles down to Silver Saddle Ranch and the Mexican Ditch. Then it’s across some flatland (and yes, snakes could be there). This is close to strenuous and walking sticks help at the rocky trail spots.

At the end you come to a wide flatland kind of mesa with trails spinning all directions. Go straight ahead and you reach the Carson City overlook, worth the trek.

City-side we’ll go over next time.

Thanks indeed to DeBug for helping me get my computer working. And a correction to my article on Burning Man — he was closer to 165 feet tall than 65 as in the past. And he fell very slowly, thanks to a metal superstructure over the wood coverings.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.