Temperatures drop the higher you go | NevadaAppeal.com

Temperatures drop the higher you go

Sam Bauman column

While it may be a bit hot for hiking, there is still snow here and there in the hills, plus lots of wildflowers. And remember the temperature falls 5 degrees for every 1,000 feet of altitude.

Which led me to hike last week along a familiar trail in the Mokelumne Wilderness. This one begins at the west end of Caples Lake on Highway 88 past the Carson Pass. You can park at the Caples Lake dam and then go left along the lake on a gentle rise. Most of the way it’s a gentle go but as you leave the lake area the trail slowly steepens to some lovely meadows and then on to Emigrant Lake. It’s about a 9-mile trek round trip and it’s not as crowded as the nearby Woods Lake Trails.

You can go on up to the Thimble Mountain area of Kirkwood Ski Resort, which is a bit of a go and mostly moderate to strenuous. At the base of Chair 4 there’s a broad trail heading up the hill going sort of southwest that will take you to Covered Wagon Peak at 9,565 feet.

This second leg is not to be undertaken lightly; there are some steep sections but they are eased by broad meadows. At the saddle you can look down on Silver Lake.

This trail is part of the Emigrant Trail cut by the Mormon Battalion returns from duty during the Spanish-American War. Part of the battalion went south, the other part heeded Brigham Young’s call to return to Salt Lake City via this path. Thus the trail was cut west to east.

During the 49er-era the trail was used by settlers heading west and they left their marks, mostly in the form of rust marks on rocks along the trail. There are signs on trees labeling the way as the Mormon Road, and a monument at the saddle. This was the highest pass used by the 49ers.

A cautionary note, probably unneeded by experienced hikers: take water, more than you think you will need on any hike during this hot spell. And if you have to drink from local streams, try to find one that crosses the trail, not runs along it. Go upstream a couple of hundred feet before tasting. Not a good idea but in a crisis better to risk it than dying of dehydration.

STARGAZER ALERT

Squaw Valley is hosting a series of nights looking at the stars from its High Camp base starting this weekend and continuing through August and September. There will be several telescopes about High Camp with experts explaining it all to guests. Catch the tram ($8 fee) after 6 p.m. and stay until they fold up the telescopes about 10 p.m.

If you haven’t seen the stars away from ambient light for a while, just getting up there without the telescopes makes it worthwhile. You miss so much of the beauty of the heavens with all the light around in the city. See you there Saturday night.

OUTDOOR FUN

Here are the latest Sierra Club hikes:

July 12-14 (Today-Sunday)

Meadow’s Lake/Phoenix Lake Car Camp. This outing includes exploring a 19th Century mining area, a day hike to Phoenix Lake and a climb up “Old man Mountain.” Leave Reno today at 9 a.m. for a two-hour drive to the campsite. High clearance vehicles recommended. Today is potluck meal-share day. Hiking is moderate, with rock scrambling ability required. Limit: 15. Leaders: Lang Milligan (775) 787-2478, Carol Tresner and Peter Faber (775) 786-0489.

July 13 (Saturday)

Jamison Lake. Moderately easy, 7-mile hike, with 1,100-foot gain. A favorite hike in the Plumas State Park near Graeagle. Rock Lake has diminished quite dramatically, but there is great swimming in Jamison Lake. Craig Mastos (775) 786-7742, crgmsts@netscape.net.

July 14-19 (Sunday-Friday)

All Gals’ Car Camp in Mammoth. A nice group site has been reserved this year in the Shady Rest Campground near downtown Mammoth Village. Daily hikes will be taken from base camp to various highlights of the area. Limited. A $25 deposit is required to hold a spot. For details, call the leader Terri Sutor (775) 267-5366.

July 18 (Thursday)

Evening Conditioning Hike. Leisurely 3-4 miles, 500-1,000-foot gain hike. Get in shape for weekend hiking with a brisk walk off into the sunset for 3-4 miles. Recommend hiking boots, water and windbreakers. Leaders: Ridge Walker (Ed Corbett) (775) 853-8055, edc@unr.edu, Marsha Rowse (775) 849-7650. Call for time and meeting location.

July 19-21 (Friday-Sunday)

Saddlebag Lake Backpack. Leisurely 8-mile round trip, less than 1,000-foot gain backpack hike, plus a day hike. Meet at Saddlebag Lake Campground on Friday evening or Saturday morning. Backpack in 4 miles to the Hoover Wilderness. Leaders: Ross Smith (775) 826-0932, smithrw@scs.unr.edu, Vicki Toy-Smith (775) 826-0932, Vicki@unr.edu.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.