Hiking 101

*Photo taken at Jack’s Valley Conservancy in the Carson Valley of Nevada. You can see Michael and our sweet Luna walking the trail into the sunset. The mountains covered in snow to the right are the Sierra Nevadas, where Lake Tahoe is nestled.

Hello, my lovelies. I hope wherever you are right now, you’re having a moment of respite, a deep breath, a seat in the sun. If not, I hope you can make time for it soon. In the past, I’ve written up some good hikes I’ve taken, some of which I have done alone, others with company, but I thought it might be time to write up a quick little set of tips for people who might not be hikers yet. I know you’re out there: the people who love the idea of getting out in the woods on a trail, but you never quite get there, or maybe you get there but you don’t go very far. When you go hiking without the right shoes, without simple things like a little water or bug spray, a hike in the woods can become a nightmare instead of an adventure. If you’ll indulge me for a few minutes, I would love to offer a bit of advice about getting out in the woods (and this is not just for you newbies—folks who love the woods and don’t make time for it, this is for you, too). Let’s get into it!

First, let me regale you with the real reason I hike. It’s not just because I’m some kind of granola-munching, tree-hugging nature lover who wants everyone to save the pandas. I like pandas, I have hugged trees, I do love nature, and I actually make my own granola, but I go in the woods for two reasons: 1) I feel calmer and happier under the trees, and 2) it’s a lot more fun to walk on a trail than on a sidewalk. If I’m going to get exercise (which I like getting, because I would like my body to work when I’m 90), I prefer having some fun. A trail in the woods is a wondrous thing to get your heart pumping, and every trail offers different things to see. Just today I talked with one of my coworkers who was delighted that I shared a new trail with her, a trail right down the road from where she lives, and she had never been there. She told me her kids loved it! The view at the top of the hill, the fun little bridges, the foundation of an old historic cabin…all of it was such fun to them that she said they’ll probably go back again and again to explore and enjoy it. It made me happy that I took the time to tell her about it because it brought her such joy. That’s what I find on the trail.

When you get out in the woods, the sounds of water running over stony creek beds, the wind rustling the leaves, birds singing, and vistas of hills and valleys all delve into the part of your brain that still remembers how to be part of the natural world. Even if you live in a city, your body still remembers the rhythms of hunting, gathering, and living under the trees. If you have trouble finding that part of yourself, you may just be underprepared for the experience. For me, it all begins with a good pair of shoes. I love my Adidas Swift R hiking shoes (no, I am not getting paid to say that—they are just awesome shoes). They offer great support for your feet, which is good for the rest of your body’s alignment, they are also waterproof (a must for me, because wet feet while hiking equals blisters), and have great soles for climbing up and down inclines. The soles grip rock surfaces very well, which I love. Recently I got a good pair of insoles for my shoes, which I now use in place of whatever comes inside any of my shoes. They have changed my life. I no longer have hip pain, and my knees are improving now that they are more properly aligned from the proper foot placement. It matters. Get good shoes. I advise going to a place like EMS or REI if you can, because the people who work in those stores actually go out in the world and do the things you want to do, like hiking, backpacking, cycling, mountain biking, canoeing…you catch my drift.

After shoes, I would say the next biggest thing for me is clothing. If you’re going on a long hike and it’s hot, don’t wear jeans and a hoodie. Avoid stiff jackets or pants, or any clothing that restricts your movement. I shouldn’t have to say these things, but I’ve actually seen people going out on trails—in the Adirondacks High Peaks area, no less—in dress clothes. Please be smarter than those people. What I love most on the trail for my own comfort is a good pair of stretchy cotton pants that are loose, have lots of pockets with zippers, and also either roll up to capri length, or zip off the legs. When on the trail, conditions can change to be warmer or cooler than when you start. Wear loose layers for ease of moving, climbing, and even sitting down for a rest. My favorite shirt is actually a cotton tee, though my husband swears by his “breathable” polyester shirts and nylon pants. I do not get along well with synthetic clothing, so cotton and wool are my standards, but you have to try things to know what you like best. Whatever you do, save your money and just use what’s in your closet for now. It’s hiking, not a night at the gala. Nobody in the woods cares if you wear Northface or LL Bean or whatever other outlandishly expensive brands you think you need. Be sensible. That goes for socks, too. I wear my wick-away cotton or wool socks. Not fancy.

Aside from clothing, make sure you bring water. I love my Camelbak because it sits well on the back and shoulders, and has pockets for snacks and other little things you might want. It also keeps your hands free so you can walk without carrying anything. If you don’t have one, just use a good backpack you have at home and carry enough water to be able to drink about 8oz an hour. If it’s hot, bring more water, but use your own common sense. You don’t want to carry gallons of water for an hour-long hike. You won’t need that much water even in the desert, unless you left the house already dehydrated. For longer hikes, use your best judgement. Even when I hiked in the hot Nevada sun for a couple of hours, I never emptied my full Camelbak bladder, which holds a liter and a half of water, and I tend to drink a lot when hiking uphill. Save your fancy sports drinks for when you get home. You are unlikely to need the electrolytes unless you’re hiking in Death Valley in midday sun. Of course, you know yourself better than I do, so use your best judgement of your own body’s needs.

When heading out into the woods on the East Coast, expect bugs. You are going to be very unhappy in the woods without bug spray, even if you wear clothing that covers everything. Ever encounter a mosquito in Maine? They’re more like helicopters than bugs. Black flies in New Hampshire will feast on your flesh, and leave you covered in pock marks. In Western New York the mosquitos rely on sheer numbers to eat you alive in swarms. Farther south, the bugs get longer life cycles, and are often rather diligent when getting after their victims. Trust me, wear the bug spray. I actually like the Herbal Armor from All Terrain or even the “Natural Insect Repellent” from Repel. Both contain Geraniol, which is what I believe is the secret ingredient that keeps the bugs at bay. You do need to apply it every few hours because sweat will cause it to run off your skin, just like sunscreen. Both of these brands are DEET-free, which I recommend. DEET is a fairly frightening chemical. I avoid it at all costs. For the record, I know several people who have used Herbal Armor in Africa, and said it kept the bugs away even there—so I think you’re covered. Spray yourself before going on the trail, and then bring the bottle with you to reapply if you plan a hike for more than an hour or two.

Bring snacks. It gives you an excuse to sit down when you catch a nice view. So many of my favorite moments on trails has been sitting on a log or rock snacking on something while I looked out at a rushing stream, a stretch of mountains, or listened to birds calling across the forest. I love those peaceful moments of well-earned rest on the trail when I can put up my feet and refuel for the walk back. Enjoying a picnic can be even more satisfying, especially if you know a really beautiful spot on a trail you’ve already traveled. I can’t think of many more lovely ways to spend an afternoon. Many of the best meals I’ve ever had were on the trail, if for no other reason than food always tastes best when you’ve worked hard to carry it. I don’t know what it is, but the satisfaction of hauling a meal on your back is like none other. A word of caution, though: if you plan to bring a picnic, pack it in a bear can or Op bags. The bear can will ensure that animals cannot get your food, even if they try, and bears in some places of the country already know the scent of bear cans and will leave you alone. Op bags, if used correctly, can be bought at EMS (last I knew) and are military grade plastic to prevent odor from escaping. I tried these with my dogs, so I know they work. I put a raw steak in one of the bags and put it on the floor; my dogs walked right past it without any clue that a steak was sitting right under their noses. Believe me, if they knew the steak was on the floor, they would have eaten it. Really, you’re smart to carry any food in an Op bag if you can, just to be safe.

Once you have all these ducks in a row, now all you need to do is find a trail. All Trails is a fairly good app to use on your smart phone, though I have found that it doesn’t always show all trails near you. I know several trails near where I live now that don’t show up on the app. It does, however, have good maps and directions for hikes, as well as geeky stuff like elevation gain and difficulty level (which I totally love). I use the app in combination with Google searches for parks and hiking trails. If you’re not an experienced hiker, try a state park near you. Park rangers are full of knowledge about the trails in the parks, and they can give you great directions to pick a trail right for your level of ability. Usually I like a moderate to difficult level with a little elevation gain, but some people prefer a flatter walk in the woods. Whatever your level of interest, I guarantee you can find a surprising network of trails near where you live. Almost everywhere in the country is covered in trails, and you may not even realize they’re around you unless you go looking. I also like finding trails in books at the library, on websites set up by local trail conservationists, or even local hiking groups (which you can sometimes meet at the local library, just ask the librarians—they may know). Please remember to bring a trail map with you. Print one at home on paper, or make sure your phone is charged with the screen of the map still up when you leave to hike—once you get in the woods you may not have cell service. Keep that map saved on your phone as a screen shot. If you aren’t certain you know how to use trail markers or follow the directions on the map without getting lost, please bring a more experienced hiker with you until you learn the ropes. Getting lost in the woods is not what you want, so be prepared with either knowledge or help to stay safe.

With all these resources and tips, I hope you feel inspired to get out there and see beautiful things. If you lack in motivation, remind yourself that you need to live for today. We never know if we’ll have a tomorrow. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Just go and do it. Make a plan for the weekend or a day off from work, and just get everything together by the door. Have it all ready so you can just jump into your clothes and walk out the door into the bright morning sun. You’ll be so happy you took the time to appreciate what the earth created near you, and the sense of pride you’ll have when you realize how good you feel while you breathe all that oxygen from the trees. Nothing cures the blues like sunshine and fresh air, unless you combine it with endorphins from exercise. 🙂 Be good to your body and stretch before you leave, and if it’s been a long time since you hiked, plan a nice hot bath when you get home. Savor all of it, and remember to save the camera for just a few snaps here and there. Appreciate the time under the trees, at the top of the hill, or alongside the stream. Make the time, and you may discover that you want to make it happen more often.

For anyone interested in learning about backpacking (not to be confused with day hiking, which is what I describe above), I happen to have a course for beginners on my “Resources, Courses, and Short Stories” page. The course is titled “Take a Hike,” and is an email course delivered over several days. I set it up as a course offered by donation, so you can pay whatever you feel it’s worth to you. I go over gear, food, clothing, tents, sleeping apparatus, animal encounters, and much more. If it interests you, here is the link to the page so you can check it out for yourself. Do send me love letters, readers! I enjoy hearing about your experiences in the outdoors, and getting feedback about my content. My aim is to please.

 

 

 

Arches National Park and Moab, Utah

When Michael and I started traveling the country with our Airstream, which we lovingly dubbed the Aluminum Falcon, I started keeping a journal of sorts. At first, I documented our daily experiences while we drove across the country following along Route 66 from Casey, Illinois, and on our fifth day of owning the Falcon we stopped in Moab to visit Arches National Park. I thought I would share this for those who are interested in reading about National Parks. We have also visited others since we began traveling, and I may share those trips later, too. For now, come to Arches with us….

Thus far, this is my favorite day of our trip. Waking to perhaps one of the most gorgeous views I have ever seen, I could not have been more pleased to see morning. When I stepped out of the trailer, the first thing to greet me was the red bowl of rock which cradles Moab, Utah, utterly astonishing, a natural wonder of geology. One cannot possibly capture it in words, nor will a photo do it justice. Much like the Grand Canyon, one must simply go see it to appreciate its full grandeur. Also fabulous: the tail end of the Rocky Mountains which stand behind the red rock shelves of Moab, a powerful and stark contrast of environments. The beauty of the two heights against each other beneath the clear blue sky is nothing short of striking. Add to that gorgeous view a pleasant softness of blooming pink trees and lime green shoots of leaves opening for spring. I felt utter joy. Who could ask for anything more? Throughout our two days in Moab I could not stop commenting on its beauty, as the awe of it never left me.

Once we both got showered, fed, and dressed, Michael unhitched the truck for the first time since we hooked up the trailer in Illinois, and we headed out to Arches National Park. Again, to put this into words will not do it justice. I mean, how do you describe the unbelievable stretches of red, green, and sand-colored rock, some striated in stacked layers, some swirled by the markings of its own layering in the same color, some just red and standing balanced in precarious glory against the sky. I sat in the front seat flabbergasted by the immense heights of red rock heaved upward, at times forming canyons, but mostly standing in tall fins or fingers of stone which occasionally were punctuated with a window in the shelf.

We went to the famous site of Balanced Rock, where we got out with the dogs, and I happily bounced along in the crumbly red rock between the shocks of green desert grass. Sasha joyfully bounced along next to me, thrilled to be free of the car. For the first time since we left home four days ago we were about to get a good long day of exercise, and all of us were ecstatic. I snapped photos as I walked through the rock formations and climbed up onto the tops of those I felt comfortable reaching with the dog in tow (she can sometimes be quite excitable and occasionally foolish about dragging me, making such situations unsafe). I proudly pushed myself to scramble up on a rock formation which made me uncomfortable with its height (I have a terrible phobia of heights, especially in wide open spaces), and Michael snapped the photo of my brave moment before I crawled off the edge, glad to be back on solid ground.

After Balanced Rock, we drove down to the Garden of Eden, the Double Arch, and the North and South Windows. Seeing the arches and the windows (which are basically holes in the rock fins worn through by water and wind erosion) was fun, since we stopped there and wandered along the paths, even climbing right onto the base of one of the “windows.” My favorite part of the park came last, though, when we drove to Devil’s Garden. Through a canyon of impossibly large fins of red rocks, we followed the network of paths to each site of arches amongst the tall structures. A welcome break from the hot sun was offered from the shade of the rock at times, and we were surprisingly grateful, since we had only days ago come from freezing Western NY, which had just suffered a massive blizzard. Olean, our home town, missed the worst of it, but much of the Northeast was in shut-down mode for a couple of days in order to dig out. It felt almost wrong to be enjoying such gorgeous weather, but not wrong enough to be sorry for it. In any case, the lovely walk through Devil’s Garden proved to be the most scenic of all the spots, in my opinion, as one could get a stunning view of the white-capped mountains in the distance, right through corridors of red fins and windows and arches in the rock. Once we finished that tour of the garden we felt wiped out, and without even needing to discuss it we both were ready to get dinner.

Off we went along the winding road through the park, which was often edged by drop-offs without guardrails, back to the hip town of Moab to find food. After wasting time looking online for decent eateries, we eventually gave up and just found ourselves a parking spot, taking the chance that some of the restaurants we passed on the inviting main drag would be good. Both of us needed protein after all the hiking and climbing. Fortune blessed us with The Spoke, a restaurant right on the first corner out of the parking lot, a fun contemporary place with a décor which tastefully focused on bike spokes. (For those not in the know, Moab is a very outdoorsy place, and known for its many places to recreate in the region, thus The Spoke is a cool nod to this culture.) The food tasted like heaven.

We ordered a full rack of smoked ribs and a plate of fish tacos for dinner, along with an appetizer of fried mozzarella and tomatoes. Though the dinner arrived without the appetizer being delivered, when this was mentioned to our server, she immediately said the appetizer would be removed from the bill, and she said she would wrap it up so we could take it along with us. I give this place an A+ for service. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I had such a delicious meal. The meat had the perfect amount of smokiness with the smear of sauce atop, and the perfect tenderness to pull away from the bone. And the flavor in the fish tacos with a slight citrus note along with the crunch of cabbage slaw—yum. Doubly fun was the fact that it was also St. Patrick’s Day, the holiday we associate with a sort of anniversary of when we first started dating five years ago. What a fantastic day to celebrate!

We topped off our scrumptious meal with cups of ice cream and went back to the poor dogs in the car. Luna seemed wilted from all the heat; as a husky mix, she tends to do that in warm weather. Back to the RV park we went, fed the dogs dinner, and we reluctantly got to work attaching the pressure regulator so we could hook up the water for the first time. Though it was dark we felt it would be a good choice, since we didn’t really know what sort of supplies we would have available in Ely, a small town in the middle of nowhere in Nevada, and the location where Michael was scheduled to work for a three-month contract. Michael also had me assist him in doing some work on the level jacks, since those have pins which were not attached to anything, and he wanted to make sure they stayed put. Once the regulator was attached, we turned on the water for the first time, and behold! It worked! We flushed out the winterizing fluid from the taps and checked for leaks. All clear. I moved on to a little cleaning while Michael himself wilted from the day of sun. While I worked, Michael laid down and soon fell asleep on top of the covers on the bed. We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate our relationship, however, since we are such deeply devoted outdoor people, and we both love seriously good food. I went to bed tired in the best kind of way.

 

Hiking in the Carson-Tahoe Region

*Above photo taken from the trail at Jack’s Valley Conservancy, with the distant Job’s Peak visible straight ahead of the trail in the photo.

Now that Michael and I have had tons of time in the Carson Valley, I thought it was about time to write a post about local trails. Michael and I are avid hikers. We love discovering places to hit the trail and see gorgeous views or discover scenic woods or enjoy climbing on rocks as we hike. Trails seem to abound here in Nevada, where we have found a wide community of folks who love the outdoors as much as we do. In New York State we lived in a rural community, but most of the land in East Coast states is already owned as private property or is set aside as state park land. If one wishes to discover a trail, one often must search for it, as the trail systems exist, but are typically strung together along the edges of private property and state parks. It can be frustrating to find those wild places where we can freely enjoy the land, as they are not easy to access. In the Southwest we have been pleasantly surprised to find lots of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property, as well as other types of land for the public, which allows for a lot more freedom to enjoy the outdoors.

For those who love to hike, this post is for you.

During the warmer months, Michael and I really loved hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail, though we only hiked a tiny portion of it. We hiked in both directions from the Spooner Summit area, which one accesses from Highway 395 to Route 50 West in the Carson Valley, and which takes you eventually to Lake Tahoe. Directly off Route 50, you will see signs for Spooner Summit, and you can park on either side of the road in the lots provided. One side of the road offers a picnic area and a pit toilet for the public (heading south on the trail), and that side of the trail will give you a slightly more strenuous workout from the more immediate altitude gain. You will also find an interesting display of Spooner Summit history on that side of the road, as well as a number of delicious views of Lake Tahoe while hiking. Do note that this trail system is high altitude at over 7,000 feet, and if you are not used to hiking at such an altitude you may find yourself huffing and puffing. For hiking during warm weather months, however, we found the higher altitude and the trees offered great relief from the punishing heat of the sun.

What I loved most about this trail was the variety of flora in the lush forest undergrowth, flowers blooming in warm months, lots of green, and an almost magical ambience in the midst of butterflies flitting beneath the forest canopy. What I did not love was the number of people who frequent this trail, from day hikers and backpackers to mountain bikers and even horses. Peak times for trail use seem to be weekends, but expect to see people on the trail anytime of the day. Every time I hiked the trail at Spooner Summit I saw several people, regardless of the time or day of the week. Still, people have generally good trail etiquette and share well. If it interests you, one may hike around Spooner Lake if you make a donation to the trail. I have not made that hike, so I do not know how well-traveled the trail may be. The Rim Trail is very well groomed and clearly marked, dogs are allowed on leash, and signs on either side of the trail give info and maps. Be aware that bears and mountain lions live in the woods of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, and people occasionally encounter these animals. Be prepared with pepper spray to protect yourself if necessary, but please also read up on what to do if one encounters wildlife. Hikers should be armed with knowledge about what to do to avoid being hurt or attacked. I hiked up there for months, though, and never saw any signs of bears or wildcats. When I went hiking in Ely, NV in the Egan Crest Trail System, I saw plenty of signs of wildcats. Keep your eyes open either way. Most likely the animals will avoid you, even if they are there.

If you decide to head up to the lake, we really loved the state park in Emerald Bay. It’s on South Lake Tahoe, and is only open in the summer months when the snow pack has melted. When you drive the access road to the park, you’ll understand why. In any case, the park offers a lot of trail hiking, whether you wish to hike up the mountains or along the shores of the bay. Some of the trails require a fee to hike, though plenty of trails are free. Michael and I had a lovely day hiking around Vikingsholm, the castle built by Lora Knight in 1929 as a summer home. It’s now a historic place, and for a fee you can enjoy a tour of the home (I recommend it—the castle is incredible). Again, you are hiking in high altitude, so note that the walk down to the castle is about a mile, and then you have to hike back UP to leave. It’s challenging if you’re not used to being at that altitude. From the area around the castle, though, you can find lots of trails to wander, see the bottom of Eagle Falls, and even rent a boat (or use your own) to visit the island where Mrs. Knight built a tea house. The views in the bay are astonishingly beautiful, with fjord-like landscapes (which is why Knight was inspired to build a Scandinavian style home there), jewel-colored water, forests, and lots of animal life. Trees in the park around the historic home will amaze you in their mammoth size, as the cedars and ponderosa pines were left to grow when the home was built. It is one of our favorite places in this region, and I highly recommend this spot if you have limited time to sightsee.

Another of my favorite trail systems in the Carson Valley is the Jack’s Valley Conservancy. If you take Highway 395 to Jack’s Valley Road going West, on the right after the school zone is the conservancy parking area. A wide array of trails can be found in the desert here at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and has become one of my go-to hiking spots because of the variety of hikes one can enjoy. If you prefer a less strenuous hike, you can follow signs for the Clear Creek Trail, which winds through the desert and skirts the edges of the moraines at the base of the mountains, eventually heading into the trees after a couple of miles of desert hiking. This trail is frequented by mountain bikers at all times of the day, so be alert when on foot. You may also encounter people on horseback, and lots of people bring their dogs here. During warmer months, watch for rattlers. I have seen a lot of jackrabbits here, and also spotted a six point buck several times. Coyotes and other animals may be spotted in the conservancy, so it’s a good place for animal sightings. Do pay close attention if you decide to wander the unmarked trails, as it can be easy to get turned around in the desert, and only the Clear Creek Trail is marked with signs.

Within this trail system you may also give yourself a more challenging workout by following the trails up the mountains within the conservancy. I have hiked up the mountain which is at the center of the chain of peaks when facing the conservancy from the road, and if you follow the trail straight up and toward the mountain, you can locate the trail to the peak. Once you get partway up, you may have to hunt for the trail that takes you to the peak, as it gets tricky to find on the slope, but keep your eyes peeled for a barbed-wire fence near a small rock formation to the left of the trail (the first rock formation you should see close to the trail), at which point the trail takes a left. You should then discover the trail that takes you up through the rocks. This portion of the trail can be tricky due to the steep trail and loose sand, and will be a tough climb. Once you get to the top rock formation, the trail leads you into the few trees sprinkled on the peak, and eventually to a group of rocks at the summit, where you get a stunning view of the Carson Valley. The hike should take between 1 ½ and 2 hours total if you’re used to climbing. Be prepared to sweat!

Genoa is a quaint little town at the base of the Sierra Nevada Range, and claims to be the first settlement in Nevada, though I would add that it was the first European settlement of the region. If you take Highway 395 to Genoa Lane heading West (rt. 206), when you get to the town you can take a right on Main St. and a left on Centennial to the parking area for the Sierra Canyon Trailhead. This trail is a nice mix of trees and vista views of the Carson Valley at a mid-range level of work to hike up the side of the mountain on switch-back trails. After about ten or fifteen minutes you reach the creek crossing, and while you hike upward you get sporadic views of the valley below. After about 45 minutes you get high enough to really see the region. The trail is well-groomed, easy to follow, and pleasant for morning hikes before the sun falls behind the shadow of the mountains. In hot weather, the afternoon is a welcome relief from the heat when it gets shadier. This trail is also frequented by bikers and dog owners, and if you wish to hook into the Tahoe Rim Trail, it’s a ten-mile hike to the connection. You may also discover connections to summit trails and a canyon trail if you want to explore. After you hike, do yourself a favor and stop at the deli on Main Street. The sandwiches are divine, and in the morning you can get a cinnamon roll baked from scratch.

For a shorter hike, if you want a leg-burner workout that can be done in an hour, take 395 to Stephanie Way (heading East), then take a left on East Valley Rd. Where the road ends you will find the trailhead for Hot Springs Mountain, which is BLM land. The entire trail is loose sand, which is a workout all on its own, and this area is frequented by locals who enjoy ATVs. If hiking during the warmer months, watch for rattlesnakes, as they will be active in morning and evening. Also keep in mind that people go shooting here on occasion, so wear bright colors and keep your dogs leashed. The trails here go all over the mountain, but the best workout is to take the trail that leads you up the mountain to the right. If you follow the trail to the peak, you will find a bench there to sit down and enjoy the view of the valley and encircling mountain ranges. It’s a quick hike with a nice view.

Last, but certainly not least, I will add that Job’s Peak might be a fun excursion for those who want the challenge of even higher heights. If you feel like making this a day-long hike, you could be ambitious enough to hit three peaks strung together, and go for Job’s Sister and Freel Peak, too, though I did not know before our planned hike that this would be an option. If I had known this was possible, I would have gone for it. Still, the hike up Job’s Peak is really achievable in a few hours. Depending on where you start to get to the trail head, the drive to where we began our hike took at least half an hour from the paved road. You will need a high-profile vehicle like a heavy-duty truck or jeep to drive on these dirt roads, as they are not graded like roads in residential areas. Expect lots of potholes, washboarding, water in the roadway, mud, and large stones. We accessed this road from Rt. 88 in California, but I will post a link below with instructions to navigate, as it was not easy. You might be wise to find a local who knows how to access the road and can guide you.

Either way, once you find the trail, you only have to hike about 2,000 feet to the summit, and the trail is surprisingly less demanding than I expected. I have a tendency to get dehydrated while hiking, so I was careful to bring lots of water and electrolytes, but this altitude did not bother me after spending months hiking at 5,000-7,500 feet. In all honesty, I found hiking Mt. Haystack in the Adirondacks more difficult than Job, but this may be relative to my own personal experiences and abilities. In any case, the trail is easy to follow, even on the portions of the peak bare of most vegetation. When you get to this part of the trail, make certain to bear off to the right to face an Easterly direction to get to Job, rather than the other peaks (to do the three peaks at once, I would look this up and research the trail). Even in summer, you will most likely see snow up there.

From the summit you can see the edge of Lake Tahoe, the gorgeous range of the Sierra Nevadas, and the Carson Valley. Totally worth the climb, and as long as you can find the trail, the hike is not terribly demanding if you can manage the hikes mentioned above. I would certainly try at least a few hikes at lower elevations to make certain your body can handle the demand, but being able to say I conquered a mountain over 12,000 feet feels pretty darn good. Again, if you hike from about 10,000 feet, it should take less than four hours up and back to your vehicle, even if you pack food and stop to snack (which we did). This hike should only be attempted in warm summer months between July and August, unless you are an expert hiker. Please check weather before heading up the mountain, as storms can pop up and make your hike not only miserable, but dangerous. In months when snow flies, be even more cautious. It’s easy to get lost in the wilderness when you have low visibility from snow. Be safe while you have fun.

I know the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe region is loaded with hiking trails beyond what I mention here, but these trails are probably the easiest to find, the most accessible, and are well marked or frequently traveled. Depending on the type of hiking you want to do and the time of year, the region offers a wide variety of hiking options. Anyone who has been in the Carson-Tahoe region and wants to share more hiking spots, links to maps, or can share more info on the trails I mention here, please feel free to post in the comment section. I also welcome any corrections or additions to what I share about the trails. As always, I welcome your thoughts about any of my posts, and request that you be thoughtful and considerate in your responses to me and to my guests. With that, I hope you will be inspired to get outside on a trail. Go see what’s beautiful around you, and if you discover something, share a picture or a comment. Happy Trails!

As promised, a link to directions for Job’s Peak (you will need to sign up to view directions for free): https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/nevada/jobs-peak

Sierra Canyon Trail info (description talks about upper portion, but the map shows the whole trail): https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/7002637/sierra-canyon-trail

Jack’s Valley Conservancy (this page talks about the Clear Creek Trail from a biker’s perspective, but you will see lots of detail about the trail): https://bikecarson.com/2014/03/26/clear-creek-trail/

Hot Springs Mountain (this describes a different access than mine, but gives more info if you are interested): http://www.summitpost.org/hot-springs-mountain-nv/882072

Tahoe Rim Trail (description of trail section between Spooner Summit and Kingsbury Grade): https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/nevada/tahoe-rim-trail-trt-spooner-summit-to-kingsbury-grade