Peak 5,890ft P300
Peak 5,950ft P750

Sun, Apr 26, 2015
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My daughter's volleyball team wasn't scheduled to play at the Reno Convention Center until noon today, giving me time in the morning for a hike in the area. The storm system that came through the area in the days prior had played itself out, leaving more blue skies than had been seen recently, cool temperatures and only a light breeze. I picked an area east of Sparks that had several summit with more than 300ft of prominence including one with almost 800ft. This second summit is home to an FAA VOR station, listed as "Airway Beacon" on the 7.5' topo map. VOR refers to VHF Omnidirectional Range, used by pilots for navigational purposes. Years ago when I was flying small planes, I would use these ground-based systems to find my way across the state. It would seem that the use of GPS in aircraft would make the VORs obsolete, but I imagine the aviation industry is slow to change. Still, it is only a matter of time before these become relics of a past age, much like the lookout towers once used for spotting forest fires. Most of the land in these hills north of Interstate 80 are managed by the BLM with some private lands patchworked inbetween. I chose a starting point in a newer neighborhood on the east side of Sparks, allowing me to start about 400ft higher than I might otherwise have by starting from the SE at the Interstate where a dirt road climbs to the airway beacon. Signs at the neigborhood boundary indicated No Trespassing, but other signs seemed to suggest they were more concerned about OHV vehicles passing through the neighborhood. I suspect the land immediately above the neighborhood is owned by the same developers who would like to eventually continue building higher upslope should the Reno economy support the investment.

Starting shortly after 7a, I visited the lower summit first, taking about 40min to follow a network of OHV roads under a transmission line to the summit. The last 100ft or so are easy cross-country, leading to a broad summit with no easily defined highpoint. The views stretch north to Spanish Springs Valley, east across the Interstate to Clark Mountain, west to the Reno/Sparks sprawl framed by the snowy Sierra Crest, and south to the VOR station atop the higher summit, Peak 5,950ft. My route between the two summits was fairly direct, first crossing a high plateau on one of the spur roads to its end, then dropping cross-country a few hundred feet to a canyon before climbing the peak's NW Ridge where I arrived just before 8:30a. The summit had been bulldozed remarkably flat to accomodate the VOR beacon, leaving no point that I could determine to be the highest. I took a few photos of the instrumentation, wandered to the edge for a view to the SW across the Interstate and Truckee River corridor, then descended back down the NW Ridge. Less than an hour later I was back at the neighborhood I had started at, making for a fine morning walk. Now back to more volleyball...

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