A tough high that’s well worth it | NevadaAppeal.com

A tough high that’s well worth it

Sam Bauman

With the knee seemingly recovered from arthroscopic surgery last November, I figured it was time for a hike I thought I’d never do again.

I’m ready so you should be more than ready to make a trek that will take you up to 9,200 feet, give you a chance to see five Sierra lakes and visit the Mokelumne Wilderness (permits required for overnight stops).

This is not a stroll but rather takes you down (and then back up) 20-degree rocky trails. So good boots, water and snack or lunch is recommended. Give yourself plenty of time because we’re trekking some six-plus demanding miles.

Entry point is Woods Lake, marked by a single sign on Highway 88 about 20 miles from where it branches off from Highway 88 coming out Minden. The sign is easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled. It’s on the left heading west, on the right vice versa.

If you’re day hiking, drive up to the picnic area and park. You’ll find the trailhead for the hike at the southern end of the parking area.

Looking south, take the trail (18E06) which follows the right side of Lake Woods. About a half-mile along you’ll come to an arrastra, a circular area marked by stones. In mining days a donkey would walk the circle, dragging a heavy stone which would crush the smaller stones in the circle. This would allow the miners to dig out the gold and silver carried in the larger stones. There’s a sign explaining it all.

Along the next mile you may see mountain snowberries with small, tubular white berries. Don’t sample them as they are mildly poisonous, although migrating black bears seem to enjoy them. At a little over a mile you’ll reach Winnemuca Lake, largest of the lakes along this trail, at 8,990 feet. Take some time to enjoy the views here as while the lake is chilly, the scenery will warm your heart.

About another mile through lodge pole and white bark pines brings you to Round Top Lake, named for Round Top Peak south-southeast at 10,380 feet high. This was once a volcano. Trail 17E47 is the route for those stout-hearted who decide to climb the mountain. The lake is at 9,340 feet, so the jaunt is 940 feet of steep vertical. But the views make it worth it!

For the less hearty, the trail continues to a high crest or notch at 9,200 feet. Here are wonderful places to stop and view the panorama spread for miles and miles before you. At the crest you can also make another side trip of about a mile to Emigrant Lake by bearing to the right and going cross country. At Emigrant you can relax in the sun or take a dip in the usually chilly waters. Now the lake has warmed up enough to be almost comfortable!

Well below the crest is Fourth of July Lake, more than a 1,000 vertical feet down and about a mile away. This is the most strenuous leg of this hike, with two trails leading to the lake. The one on your left takes the high road, the one on the right is recommended. This can be treacherous, with a steep, rocky trail demanding your attention. Too bad, because the flowers stay in bloom here late into September. But keep your eyes open, this can be tricky, not to mention tiring.

At the lake you are at 8,170 feet; trailhead was 8,560 feet. In between you’ve climbed to 9,200 feet. When you reach Fourth of July Lake you’ve earned the right to sit back and enjoy the massive walls of granite rising to the west and the 9,600 foot peak to the east.

There’s not a lot of shoreline available at Fourth, but there are enough so that you can enjoy a lunch and bathe hot feet. With luck you may spot some rope climbers going up the two peaks to the west. Lots of fissures and clefts make this a favorite among the ropers.

The climb back to the crest is a wearing one, so take a good break before you start. The slant is 20 degrees, the footing tricky. When you reach the crest be sure and look back at where you’ve been. You’ll be awed.

The return trip takes you back to Round Top Lake where you have an option. Trail 17E47 takes you back to Woods Lake by a different route. Along the way you’ll pass the Lost Cabin Mine past a creek on a Jeep road. This was worked from the 19th century until 1962 and produced almost 132 troy ounces of gold, some 400 ounces of silver, 917 pounds of copper and 3,832 pounds of lead. You can be sure the miners working here earned their money!

From here you’re almost home. At the campground turn right and walk about 300 yards to the main road, the head south.

With this hike you’ve earned some real bragging rights. Most hikers get to the crest looking down on Fourth of July and turn around. Perhaps they are smarter, but they are no wiser.

— Yep, the 2003-04 ski and snowboard season is only three months away and resorts are offering big deals on gear.

Heavenly Ski Resort is offering some low prices on winter gear and apparel at the its Labor Day Ski & Snowboard Sale, starting Saturday. The three-day parking lot sale at the California Lodge gives snowsporters a chance to get a jump on winter up the resort’s $299 season pass offer.

Sale highlights include Volkl P50 Motion skis with bindings for $399.99 (MSRP, $1,050), and Burton Frontier snowboards for $149.99 (MSRP, $470).

Additionally, all Atomic skis are 50 percent off the manufactured retail price, while children’s skis go for $59.99 to $69.99. In the market for new apparel. All ski and snowboard wear 50 to 70 percent off.

Heavenly season passes will also be sold at $299 for a limited-time pass.

The event features longtime Heavenly skier Glen Plake. The extreme skier will make a guest appearance on Sunday, hosting a Glen Plake look-alike contest at 2 p.m.

The contest is open to the public with chances to win drawing prizes, including Dalbello boots, for people most resembling Plake’s signature Mohawk look. All those attending the sale will be entered into a separate raffle with chances to win prizes, including name brand skis, snowboards and bindings.

Sale hours are Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday,10a.m.-6pm; and Monday 10 a.m.-2pm. Food and beverages will be available. Heavenly’s California Lodge is off Ski Run at 3860 Saddle Road in South Lake Tahoe. Call (775) 586-7000 .

— Those with an eye for fine art will not want to miss the Splendor of the Sierra Art Show at Northstar-at-Tahoe. The show runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in the Northstar-at-Tahoe Village Plaza.E

More than 50 artists and designers will be on hand to display their paintings, pottery, sculptures, jewelry and photography. A jazz quartet will play on Saturday from 12 to 3 p.m. A magician, clown and juggler will also appear. Admission is free.

Those with winter on the brain can get geared up for the slopes at prices discounted 50 to 80 percent below retail at Northstar’s 12th Annual Tent Sale. This year’s sale promises to be the biggest ever and will be happening Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Northstar’s Village parking lot.

The sale merchandise will include skis, boots, bindings and all the winter accessories to match by top brands such as Salomon, Burton, The North Face, Dynastar, Smith, Marker and more.

— Not too late to join the Tahoe Rim Trail hikers today on a 31.7 Echo Lake to Baker pass jaunt. Limited to eight, call Holly Coughlin at (775) 331-7488. Hurry! Next Sunday it’s an easy hike of about 2 miles on the Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail. Call Kathie Hoxsie at (530) 583-8115 for details.

— The sixth annual 24 Hours of Tahoe Race has returned to Northstar for action today and Saturday.

This is a ’round-the-clock relay race where solo, duo, four-and five-person teams race to complete the most laps before time runs out.

The teams will traverse some of the toughest, rockiest and steepest terrain Northstar has to offer on an 11.8 mile cross country course. Each lap includes 1,600 feet of grueling climbing but rewards riders with sweet, swooping single track all the way down the mountain to the finish.

A cannon will fire at noon on Saturday, signaling the start of the race — but there’s a twist. More than 150 racers will begin the first lap on foot, running through part of the course to get to their bikes before the fast-paced mountain biking can begin. Each rider must complete one full lap before trading off with a fellow teammate. Between laps, racers can grab a bite to eat and get a few hours sleep before hitting the trails again.

Once the sun goes down, the riders will light up with handlebar and/or helmet-mounted halogen lighting systems that will guide them through the unlit course from dusk till dawn. The race will end at noon on Sunday, followed by an awards ceremony at 3 p.m. in the Village.

More than 750 competitors are expected. This year’s Pro/Am winning teams will receive a cash purse while amateur teams will compete for prizes.

To register log onto http://www.grannygear.com or call (530) 562-2288.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.