Incline Peak
Peak 9,225ft P500

May 9, 2015

With: Kirk Dixon

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

Kirk and I had been exchanging emails for more than a year before we got together for this hike. He'd been climbing in the Sierra decades before I took it up more seriously and had found my trip reports a source of amusement and reminiscence. Memory jogged by something he read, Kirk would email me a funny story in return. We'd made tentative plans to get together before, either in the Reno area where he's lived these past 30yrs or in the Bay Area where I've resided for an equal time, but circumstances didn't work out. This weekend I was back in Reno with my daughter for more club volleyball at the Convention Center. I had dropped her off at the Silver Legacy on Friday night where her team had reserved rooms and spent the night myself on the south edge of town in my van. It was a pleasant enough spot away from the traffic noise but still garnered the attention of one of Reno's Finest, who came out to check on me around 10:30p. Finding no foul play at work, he was very cordial in letting me know that it was fine for me to stay where I was, and would be patroling the area to ensure mine and the community's safety. He had a far kinder demeanor than the Highway Patrolman who visited me in Ramona a few months earlier.

Since play didn't start at the Convention Center until afternoon the next day, I had arranged to meet Kirk Saturday morning at the Raley's parking lot. Only a few blocks from where I'd spent the night, I was there a few minutes early. Close to our 7a meetup time, I watched a blue Subaru cruise the parking lot, making more than a full sweep around the perimeter before finally spotting me close to the middle. Kirk proved as gregarious in person as he had been via email. We spent all morning chatting each other up with more stories to share than we could possibly fit in so short a time, but by the end we had a rough backstory on each other's lives and escapades. Intermixed with these were various tales of Sierra adventures, odd partners, old memories, exaggerated lies and embarrassing truths. The hiking and climbing were more of a backdrop to our animated conversation, and a fine one at that.

Incline Peak

At Kirk's suggestion, we drove up and over Mt. Rose Summit on SR431 to pay a visit to a couple of minor summits overlooking Lake Tahoe, starting from Tahoe Meadows. I had sent him a link showing what I'd climbed (and not climbed) in Washoe County with which he found several candidates in this area. Unofficially named Incline Peak rises to the north above Incline Village and west of Incline Lake. I had been here more than 20yrs earlier to do a one-way hike from SR431 across Rose Knob Peak and a few other summits to Kings Beach. Incline had not been on the agenda or radar that day. So as we started down Incline Lake Rd I had a few feeble memories come back to me - I recalled getting off-route almost immediately as I followed the road down to the lake before heading cross-country and eventually finding the trail that Kirk now led us to in a more effortless manner. The ground was a mix of snow and bare earth, the trail only lightly traveled with little evidence of recent use. It's an older trail, overshadowed these days by the more popular Rim to Rim Trail accessed from Mt. Rose Summit, but still quite serviceable. We followed the trail on and off, losing it periodically until we were on more continuous snow cover and lost it for good. The snow had both old and new layers, with even the new stuff well-consolidated. It had come down the previous day as heavy stuff typical of a late-season storm. We left the vicinity of the trail (somewhere under the snow) to follow a slightly roundabout route along a ridgeline that eventually becomes Incline's NW Ridge. Just below the summit the views opened up to a fine wintry scene with the new snow lightly coating Relay Peak's south side and much of the higher elevations. I paused somewhere along here to don my snowshoes for little more reason than they are more fun to wear than carry. Kirk elected to keep his strapped to the back of the pack as the snow continued to be consolidated enough to not really need them.

We reached the summit not long after 9a, having taken a leisurely hour and a half to get there. It would be difficult to tell if our shortness of breath was due to the altitude, the 1,000-foot gain or too much jabbering back and forth the whole way up. We spent about 10min atop the summit, walking a short distance south to photograph Lake Tahoe. There's also a fine view looking NE across Tahoe Meadows to Slide Mtn and unnamed Peak 9,225ft. Our route down was much the same with a slight variation as we were leaving the summit when I suggested we take a nice looking slope of untracked snow down the north side. I thought this might entice Kirk to put his snowshoes on as well, but he didn't seem to mind a little shallow postholing. With some help from the GPS we managed to find our tracks in the forest easily enough, getting back to the start soon after 10a.

Peak 9,225ft

Originally we had planned to tag Tamarack Peak if we had more time. Having the necessary time for a second peak, I modified the plan by suggesting we head east across the highway for the unnamed summit that neither of us had been to. Kirk was game and after tagging the car we simply continued across the roadway and into the forest on the other side. Here the snow was a little less consolidated than the west side and we stopped early to put on snowshoes, perhaps a little too early as we found ourselves crossing a small, mostly snow-free meadow. A little dirt-walking on snowshoes didn't seem to hurt them and eventually we were on more continuous snow. There were portions of road and trail that we followed but in general we relied on the GPS to keep us heading in the right direction.

When we were able to spot the summit through the trees after some 45min, we noted it was a much different animal compared to the relatively easy of Incline Peak. The slope was far rockier, more of scramble mixed with snow. As we reached the base of the more difficult section we took off our snowshoes and proceeded in boots. It lasted only a short time, perhaps 15min, before we found our way to the summit. Large granite boulders, much like those we had just scrambled through, marked the highpoint. We took off our packs for a short break while tagging the highest rock. The views were not as good as found on Incline Peak due to the trees that grew amongst the boulders. The best views I found were to the southwest towards the lake and to the west across Tahoe Meadows. We spent the last hour returning via essentially the same route, getting back to the highway by 1p. Kirk had a few beers on ice that we shared to mark the end of our short adventure, a tasty craft called Monk's Blood that I had not been introduced to previously. Mmmm. Now back to Reno for the estrogen-fueled extravaganza that is Girls' Club Volleyball...


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