Category: Things to do

Snowshoeing – Lessons Learned on the California Alps

Last week was so cold and icy that I accomplished my entire weekly cycling goal of 100 miles, on Zwift. So, when Chris (Schull, one of California Alps Cycling’s Legacy Members) and his wife Shyanne (and their two pups, Kona and Java) offered to take me on a ‘shoe trip to Winnemucca Lake last Saturday I was all over it.

A map of the trail from Highway 88 at Carson Pass and Winnemucca Lake.
The trail from Highway 88 (Carson Pass) to Winnemucca Lake.

Lots to learn

Now I’ve done a lot of hiking, some backpacking, lots of camping and quite a bit of hunting in my day, including an elk hunt in the snow many years ago. Still, I was unprepared for our little adventure – this was only my 2nd snowshoe trip afterall. Click here if you’d like to read the post about my first snowshoe adventure, by the way.

My gloves were too small. They worked great on the property but add a little sweat and they were too hard to get on and off, and they didn’t have the fingertip sensor so I couldn’t snap photos without taking them off. Lesson 1. Lesson 2 – my pants. I had a great weather proof pair of Arcteryx snow pants, however, they didn’t stay put due to a drawstring that kept loosening. Suspenders would have helped greatly! Handwarmers were another item I could have used. One of my fingers went numb and into pre-frostbite because I had trouble putting on my snowshoes with my gloves and so had to take them (the gloves, not the shoes) off. It was a hard, kinda lumpy (with white patches starting to appear) digit until Chris gave me one of his handwarmers and showed me how to put it in my glove and wrap that finger around it. Lesson 3 and a big one. The biggest lesson I took away, though, was not to rush the preparations. I was a bit cocky and so figured I could just get all my gear together the morning of the hike. Big mistake. It wasn’t just a hike and more preparation and time was warranted.

On with the adventure

Once I got through (or we got through) my “greenhorn issues” (thank you Chris for having my back and thank you Shyanne, Kona and Java for waiting on my sorry ass) we were able to make some tracks. It was a beauty (albeit chilly) day on the pass. About 20 degrees or so. The day was fairly clear, though and until we reached the lake, there wasn’t much wind. It took us about an hour to get to the lake (we averaged 2 mph for the entire hike) where we found some shelter from the wind and had our lunch. Oh, and I learned another lesson here…bring something to sit on. Shyanne used a plastic garbage bag – light, easily packable and cheap.

Chris, Shyanne and Kona and Java taking a lunch break near Winnemucca Lake.
Lunch stop at Winnemucca Lake (the actual lake is to our left). Notice that Shyanne is comfortably seated?

We took a few minutes for some lunch and some spiked hot-chocolate (oh, so good!) and the goilz (Kona and Java) enjoyed nibbling kibble nuggets that Chris had thrown out on the snow. It wasn’t quite a bluebird day (there was some clouds as you can see) but it was damn close. There is something about being in the mountains with snow all around. It magnifies the beauty ten-fold, maybe more. For those of you who ski or do other winter sports I know you know what I mean.

Back to the barn, er truck

Now that we had put my wardrobe (and other malfunctions behind me) and had some much needed sustenance and cockle-warming we were able to put the pedal to the metal as it were and make good time heading back to the vehicle. Oh, I should mention that you need a Sno-Park permit to park at the trailhead. We forgot ours and so had to head back to Sorensen’s to get it or risk a $94.50 fine. Thankfully, not too much of a delay. Anyway, the trip back was uneventful and we made good time. We covered just over 4 miles with 1:47 of moving time and about 2 1/2 hours elapsed time and when we got back to CA Alps Cycling HQ we had a warm fire, cold beers and some good company with whom we could share our adventure. Here’s a few more pix from the day.

I wish you well on your next adventure. Why not head here to Markleeville for it? We’ve got some good eats and cold beer, a nice hot spring and more snow is on the way. I hope to see you soon and remember not to rush the preparations and most importantly be safe and kick some passes asses!

How About a Hike for a Change?

The Burnside Lake Trailhead sign on Hot Springs Road in Markleeville, CA
Just a couple miles up the road from
California Alps Cycling’s HQ, and only 3 miles from Markleeville, you’ll find the Burnside Lake Trailhead.

After a long day, or long week perhaps, a day off the bike can rejuvenate the spirit and rest those weary legs. And, you can take the family along, too. As someone who, like many of us cyclists I suspect, gets a little obsessive about miles, training, VO2 max, FTP and the like, I often need to force myself to do something off the bike.

Charity Valley Trail to Grover Hot Springs

The trail starts here! Just three (3) miles from California Alps Cycling HQ you can begin your trek to Grover Hot Springs State Park. It’s a nice, easy hike (with some little ups and outcrops) of about a mile into the park. From there, as you can see from the sign, you can make the hike (it’s also a nice trail run) to Burnside Lake or Charity Valley. There are other options as well once you’re in Grover. The entire Charity Valley Trail, if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, is about eight (8) miles in length, with a moderate difficutly rating (per the Carson Ranger District).

We Locals Love our Parks

In the Winter 2018 print edition of Parklands, the California State Parks Foundation’s rag, there’s a little write up about Grover: “Thanks to 75 volunteers and a $5000 grant, the Native Plant Demonstration Garden underwent a number of improvements, such as irrigation and invasive weed removal. Trash pickup, raking and clearing fire rings also helped enhance the Grover Meadow area.” The locals are also supported by organizations such as the Alpine Trails Assocation and the Alpine Watershed Group.

Sign indication the border between the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Grover Hot Springs.
Crossing over from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest into Grover Hot Springs. This photo was taken December 21, 2018.

Taking Some Time Off the Bike

Make a picnic lunch, grab the family and head out for a rest day (or a least a day off the bike). My wife and I did just that last month. In fact, it was our 22nd anniversary! We made some hot soup, loaded up the thermos and did the two-mile round trip to the park and back in the middle of my work day. Click here to watch a short video of our trek, complete with a “Gomer Pyle shot” of yours truly.

As I mentioned earlier, there are certainly more ambitious options if you’re not looking to get a lot of rest; the Burnside Lake Trail to Grover is just the start. From the park there are myriad hiking and, as you might have guessed from the park’s name, soaking options too. Well, okay, just one soaking option really unless you’re a polar bear. Still, that pool with its 103 degree mineral springs is an awesome way to finish a day, whether that be after your hike, after a ride or as many snow sports enthusiasts know, after a day on the slopes or in the backcountry.

Soak well my friends and remember that rest days are just as important as intervals and hill repeats!


Fall Colors and Blue Lakes – A Great Birthday Present!

Last Saturday, my bud and fellow member Chris joined me for my “55 on my 55th” ride out to Blue Lakes. My wife and I had driven part of the road but when we were there the gate was closed so we couldn’t make it back to the actual lakes. So, when Chris suggested we do something different for my b-day, I thought “yeah, Blue Lakes would be good.

It was one of those rare days when the stars align and everything comes together. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part any day on the bike is a good day. This day, however, was particulary awesome. The sky was clear and oh so blue, the fall colors

Self-portait in Hope Valley - Blue Lakes Road.
Beauty fall day on Blue Lakes Road.

were a colorin’ (yeah, could have used some more reds, I agree), the wind wasn’t bad, and the temperature wasn’t too cold. We did wait until for dust-off until 10 a.m. to give things a chance to warm up. Low 20’s at HQ early in the morn’ but by the time we left we had a balmy 40 degrees or so.

We started the day climbing out of Markleeville — which is the usual for me since either direction I choose is “up” — north towards Woodfords. From there, it was up Carson Pass and into Hope Valley and then a left turn put us on Blue Lakes Road. Traffic was the usual up Carson but once we got to Blue Lakes Road it died out significantly. It was at that point that the day turned from good to amazing.

Yellow and orange aspens seem to glow in the sunlight.
The fall colors were rocking. The wind was just a bit of a breeze. The cars had taken a hiatus and it was just a picture perfect day.

We did intermission at Lower Blue Lake 1d8wt4c9QayssZaX1U5z4g(just about 28 miles from our starting point) and from there it was just a couple of minor bumps before the long downhill to Woodfords. We were so looking forward to lunch at Sorenson’s Resort (and beer…maybe a couple of beers) but they were packed so no dice there. Tried Hope Valley Cafe but it was cookies only (even with beer that didn’t quite do it for us). The third try was the charm, though and we landed at Mad Dog Cafe in Woodfords for some beers and paninis (The Pioneer for Chris and the Turkey Pesto for me). Lip-smackin’ good those paninis were. And the beer was cold and well…it was beer so happy we were. There is no try, there is only do…Sorry, I have a place in my mind where I go time to time (great Tom Petty song, that one).

Anyway, those six (6) miles from Woodfords to Markleeville were made just that much more pleasant because of our full stomachs (burp) and those IPAs (belch). Okay, I hear those of you who have ridden those bumps before groaning now but really, it WAS much more pleasant!

I’ll leave you with a few stats and a link to my Relive video.

Distance: 55.4 miles
Elevation gain: 4511 feet
Time on the bike: 4:00:35
Average speed: 13.8 mph
Eleven (11) Cat 4s and two (2) Cat 2s
Relive video: Click here.

Hamming it up in Hope Valley
Not sure what I was doing here. Just high from from those endorphins I guess.

For those of you on Strava, login and check out the full ride here.  Make the trek soon or you’ll miss what’s left of the colors and the not too chilly weather.

Remember, you can check out the weather and air quality here in the heart of the California Alps right on this site.

See you soon and feel free to contact me if you’d like any suggestions or need any help.

Now Let’s Kick Some Passes Asses!™

 

 

 

Winter is Coming to the California Alps

This past weekend I finally had to ditch the shorts. I’ve been in denial for a few weeks and kept countering those cold morning legs with layering up top but last Friday I gave it up and put on the sweats. Now that doesn’t mean we won’t get a few more fall opportunities to bare those gams, perhaps even later this week, but for now, the word of the day is “chilly.” 26 degrees here in Markleeville this morning! Last week we had just under .10 inches of rain but this week is expected to be clear. So, if you’re thinking about a visit to the Sierra you’ve still got some time to get one in! The fall foliage is here and is outrageous in some areas; Mammoth and Hope Vally to name just a couple.

What do do, what to do?

The California Alps cover a lot of real estate so from Mammoth to Lake Tahoe you’ve got many choices. Hiking, hunting, fishing (rivers and streams are open until next month), mountain biking and of course, cycling.  There’s also major opportunties for picture taking or other artistic endeavors. The Los Angeles Times pubished an article last month about our little town of Markleeville, and it had some good suggestions as well. Click here to check it out.

Other info. that may whet your appetite:

Mammoth Fall Colors

Alpine Chamber of Commerce “2 people per square mile…and you!”

Tahoe.com

Speaking of Lake Tahoe, here’s a pic of member Chris Schull enjoying a beauty day at the lake a couple weeks ago.

A cycling enjoying the day at Lake Tahoe.

Last week I decided to get off the trainer and get outside even though we had some rain slicked roads. I was sticking with the trainer because I just didn’t want to wash the bike, but among other things I really needed that feeling of the wind rushing through my helmet vents (no hair, other than my beard, for it to rush through). I thought I may catch a break and get back before the rain came but alas, no such luck. That will teach me to not wear those rain boots! No worries, though. Quick rinse and re-lube of the bike (Roscoe is his name), some newspaper stuffed in the Sidis, a hot shower and we were good to go.

These pix were taken about 10 miles up Ebbett’s Pass (from Markleeville) and you can just see some of those fall colors staring to pop.

Real time weather and air quality available

Remember, you can always get real time weather conditions here in the heart of the California Alps. We’ve got a weather station right here at HQ and just recently we’ve added an AQI unit so you can get that information as well. Go to our “Weather Conditions” page and check it out!

Whatever you decide, we hope to see you soon and remind you to be safe out there and don’t do anything outside your capabilities. You still have time, though, to Kick Some Passes’ Asses!™ and then enjoy some of the myriad other things that these California Alps have to offer!

California Alps Cycling – Here and There

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure I must admit I stole the “Here and there” from a San Jose Mercury News sports writer.  I can’t remember his name but I always liked how he bounced around with quick bullet points on many different subjects.

So, here’s some “bulletized” news about goings on up here in Markleeville, CA., the heart of the California Alps:

  • New Members

Welcome Mary Ellen Riggs and Jeff Karotkin! Thank you for joining our merry band of troublemakers and we remind you to “ride with passion while honoring the sport of cycling.”

  • A Week of Mountain Biking

Having had my road bike in the shop last week I was able to show my 29er (and myself) some love by doing a few mountain bike rides. I’ve got about 300 miles on Bullitt (as I’ve named that bike) and about 12,000 miles on Roscoe II (the name for my road bike). I spent the week in the forest, instead of riding around it and it was freakin’ awesome!

Here’s a couple more shots of the swallows dancing around and over one of the hot springs at Grover Hot Springs State Park. It’s an amazing place and this a.m., with the steam and the sunrise adding to the vibe, it was extremely chill. I like it…Extremely chill…You can use that if you want to, dude.

A swallow enjoying the sunrise and steam at Grover Hot Springs State Park.
“Jet swallow” over the hot springs.

A swallow enjoying the sunrise and steam at Grover Hot Springs State Park.
Upside down swallow over the hot springs.

Okay, I’m done with the Spicoli impression. Onto the next bullet.

  • Jerseys, Bibs and Windvests will be in soon

Four to six weeks was the timeline given to me by Castelli. We’re about 2/3 of the way there. Can’t wait to see the new schwag and I hope you feel the same way. By the time we get ’em in we’ll have a way for you to buy them right on this site. And the tees, too. Stay tuned and please tell your cycling and mountain biker buds and budettes too, k? Much appreciated. Just in case you forgot, here’s a few pix:

  • New Signage in Town

My wife, Mom and I are members of the Markleeville Enhancement Club, which was instrumental in getting our two welcome signs recently refurbished. We held a little dedication ceremony last Saturday. Giving back, or giving to, is such a fantastic feeling.

Welcome to Historic Markleeville Signs - dedication
Members of the MEC, the sign craftsman, Bill Rose (in the hat) and members of the community participate in the dedication and unveiling at the North sign.

Check out the shirt I’m wearing (I’m on the far right, kneeling). It’s kinda hard to see but it’s a CAC shirt and on my left chest is our tagline, “Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses!” Oh, and that wonderful woman in the tie-dye skirt is our Club Mother, (and my actual mother) January.

  • A Short Video for Your Viewing Pleasure

I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself right now because I’m hanging out in the SF Bay Area as I write this post.

Just yesterday, I was in Diamond Valley, saying hi to ‘Shoe.

The mountains are calling! You coming?

 

 

 

 

 

My lawyer told me I need to tell you this too: Please check to make sure that any trails, roads, hikes etc. that you use are suited to your skill set. CAC is not responsible for any injuries.  Any information provided on this website is subject to change and CAC is not responsible for the accuracy of that information.  

A Day Trip to Wolf Creek Meadow

It seems to me that since I’ve lived in Markleeville, Wolf Creek Road has been closed. That’s not to say I haven’t been back there (shhhh…). I have. I’ve taken a few rides in and a done a few hikes as well. There was a massive slide during the winter of 2016/2017 and so access by car was not possible. Frankly, there were times that it didn’t seem it was wise to access it by bike either – too much mud, rocks and run-off. Nonetheless, I tried, but alas, getting to the Meadow was not even possible. So, after weeks of dirt-haulers coming in and out, I was encouraged. And then recently, bam! the gate was opened and so I was able to ride “that segment” with impunity. However, about 2 miles or so past the gate, the road was just too rough to continue on the bike, so I made a mental note to come back, with the wife ideally, and explore. Last weekend, I did just that! Loaded up the chairs, the cooler, the fishing gear and most importantly, my wife, Patricia, and off we went for an afternoon recon.

wolf creek road map
Access Wolf Creek Road from Hwy. 4, about 8 miles south of Markleeville.

On the way out we spent quite a bit of time checking fishing spots and trying to figure out the best way to get to them but in the end, decided to just keep on truckin’ to the Meadow and then work our way back. It was a bit smokey in some areas due to the Ferguson fire near Yosemite but as you can see, the meadow is an amazing place.

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Happy Cows in Wolf Creek Meadow

We also explored some of the spur roads in the area that lead to various trailheads in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Something else to do in the future – backpacking!

Once we got to the end of the road, literally, we stopped and enjoyed the Creek. I did a bit of fishing (no catching unfortunately) and “momma” read her book and took a little nap. We stopped and hit a few other holes on the way back to Hwy. 4 but again, no catching.

Still, if you’re looking for a little day trip, close to Markleeville, this is one I highly recommend, especially once the smoke clears.

I’ll leave you with a couple pix from one of “those 2016/2017 winter hikes” I mentioned earlier in this post. Take a trip out there! You won’t regret it.

 

California Alps Cycling’s Adopt-a-Highway Adventure

So after a bit of fun doing things like filling out applications, getting an encroachment permit, viewing orientation videos, getting our gear and getting sign decals made and installed on the panels,california alps cycling, lets kick some passes asses, sierra cycling and then mounted on the signs, we were official and ready to rock-n-roll!

Last week, we decided (ok, I decided) that we would just do it. It would just take a couple hours and it wasn’t too hot. Wrong!

Our crew consisting of yours truly, my wife (and soigner extraordinaire) and our Club Mother (aka Mom) got out on the road and did some adoptin’.

Okay, before I continue, some context: CAC has the stretch between Turtle Rock Park and Camp Markleeville – mile markers 14 through 17 (North bound), just between Alta Alpina and the Alpine Watershed Group, other good stewards of the area.

That’s our little stretch of heaven, right there, between those arrows.

california alps cycling, lets kick some passes asses, sierra cycling,
Date and time of the mission: Thursday, July 26th, 1000 hours. Launch location: Camp Markleeville pull-out (bottom arrow). Mission finish: Turtle Rock Park and Highway 89 (top arrow)

Two hours…not! How about four?! And it was hot. 95ish or so, but we had to kick some passes’ asses so we gutted it out and collected about five good sized bags of plastic bottles (lots of those little Sutter Home wine bottles and Crystal Geyser water bottles), cigarette butts (really people! still? so not chill – but I guess all litter is so not chill). Oops, there I go. Let me step off the soapbox and continue. A few beer bottles were in the haul. No micro-brews, though. I found that interesting. Quite a few straws, a flip-flop (didn’t find the match), some gloves (various), lots of bits of plastic-mostly from fast food soda lids, an old antifreeze bottle filled with stinky tar and most importantly, an orange 5 gallon “Let’s do this!” bucket that was in great shape (thanks Home Depot!). Authors note: My wife made our house its forever home and so it didn’t go to the landfill. Oh, and only 2 Gu packs and 2 Gu pack “lids” so not bad, cyclists.

All in all a really good day for team California Alps Cycling. Helped the community and generated some good karma, especially with motorists and our fellow locals (based on the “nice honks,” and waves).

Want to join us next time? We’d love to have you. We’ll be hitting the road again in the fall (September we’re thinking). Right around the time our new Castelli schwag comes in. Oh, boy!

Follow this blog and be on the lookout for an announcement. And remember, part of our mission here at California Alps Cycling is to help the communities in which we live, work and ride. We did our part last week.

What are you doing to give back or pay it forward in your community? Let us know by commenting on this post.