Thu, Apr 24, 2014
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After breakfast, I hiked up the gated Last Chance Mine Rd for several miles. There are signs of OHV travel all over the place and a few indications of efforts by the Forest Service and other groups to sign hiking and cross-country ski routes. Little of that appears to have taken as OHVs seem the most popular mode of transportation. Hiking through strips of clearcut forest doesn't offer a lot of inspiration for the Wilderness seeker. Without a GPS it might be difficult to locate the highpoint. There's not a lot of gradient leading up to it with strips of forest offering no help in discerning the lay of the land. I turned off the main road with about a quarter mile to go, dutifully following my GPS as it took me across several clearcut areas and the brushy strips between them. Very close to where the GPS indicated ground zero I found a small duck and a register that John Vitz had left almost two years earlier. By now I had come to expect a Vitz register on publicly accessible P1Ks, so in this I was not disappointed. It was somewhat laughable however, a lonely note sitting in the middle of a logged section of forest, no views in any direction. I added my name to the slip of paper than indicated the spot had been visited by another party in 2013 - John and I weren't the only two pursuing such mundane summits. It was on the return route that I found a brush-free path back to the Last Chance Mine Rd. Blue diamonds attached to a few snags left standing indicated a ski route through the clearings. But that's as much work as was done to develop the route, no clearing or trail building of any sort. The brush growing in the clearing would make skiing it impractical except with significant snows, but at under 6,000ft elevation it is unlikely to get much standing snow in most years. I was back at SR20 and the van shortly after 8a, making for an hour and half's effort.
Starting just after noon, I spent most of two hours hiking the road to the summit. The first several miles pass through a swath burned 20 years ago in the 1994 Crystal Fire. Despite an effort at reforestation, it is surprising how little recovery has taken place in all that time. Most of the young trees in this area look only 4-5yrs old. Perhaps the reforestation effort had been delayed or perhaps the area sees too little precipitation compared to other parts of the range further west. The deforestation does have its consolation in that the views are nicer than they would otherwise be. One can see a sweeping view of the snowy Sierra Crest stretching from Granite Chief in the south past Mt. Lola in the north, even to Sierra Buttes. Stampede Reservoir, the largest of the three main reservoirs in the area can be seen below to the west. Snow began to appear on the road after the first hour and eventually came to dominate the highest elevations. It was firm and not very deep, making it easy to walk on, so much so that I bypassed the last stretch of road to the summit in favor of a more direct route up from the northwest.
Cold an breezy across the ridge, I sought shelter on the leeward side of the lookout tower's viewing platform. The tower has been abandoned for some time, the insides littered with broken glass and empty beer cans. I packed up the empties and some of the trash I found, but it would need a lot more TLC than I could offer on my short visit. The views from the summit were the best of the day and possibly the best to be found north of the Interstate. In addition to the Sierra views looking south, west and north, the Great Basin towns of Reno and Verdi can be seen to the east with all places along the Interstate inbetween. I found a benchmark among the summit rocks below the tower (and a great deal more glass shards), but no register - it seems likely that the summit is too accessible to support one.
I next turned my attention north to Ladybug and Granite Peaks, two bonus summits along the ridge in that direction. Neither is particularly prominent. A branch road off the Verdi Peak Rd goes nearly to the summit of Ladybug Peak, the last 100ft an easy hike up a use trail. I snapped a few pictures looking south and north before continuing on cross-country to Granite Peak. Though the lower of the two, I thought Granite Peak a more interesting summit. Where Ladybug is rounded and strewn with talus, Granite is more peak-like with larger blocks and a much smaller summit. Rather than retrace my route back over Ladybug, I headed northwest off Granite's summit, a steep cross-country descent down forested slopes with short stretches of snow. By the time I had dropped down to Verdi Peak Rd, there were only 2.5mi left in returning to the van. It was nearly 4p by the time I returned and would mark the end of the day's efforts. I waited until I had driven back on the worst of the roads to the pavement before showering in the late afternoon on this lonely stretch of mountain road. I met up with my wife in Reno where we had dinner at the Black Bear Dinner at her suggestion. Not the healthiest of dining options, but after about 20mi and 4,500ft of gain, I wasn't minding either...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Boca Hill - Verdi Peak - Ladybug Peak
This page last updated: Tue May 6 21:11:55 2014
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