Tag: silver mountain city

Geologic History of the California Alps – A Primer

BACK in October, as I made my way home from a So. Ca. business trip, I stopped in Lone Pine for a nature break. It was there, at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center, that I came across the “Geology of the Sierra Nevada,” a Caifornia Natural History Guide, by Mary Hill.

BEING a knowledge junkie, especially about my favorite mountains, I had to pick up the book. Unlike some other guides in my library this one is a good read, made all the more so by some of the nuggets I’ve picked up about the area in and around Markleeville.

BY no means is this an authoritative list, and I’ve just now gotten to chapter 4, yet I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far about my adopted home. By the way, the image at the top of this post (taken just before last weekend’s tree lighting ceremony) has some geologic significance itself, or better writ, the buidling upon which everyone is standing does.

IT’S made from volcanic ash and tuff (remants of a nuΓ©e ardente) and as it turns out, so is the Markleeville library.

Ebbetts Pass

EBBETTS Pass, the north/eastern side of which is my favorite climb in the area, has some interesting history too.

JEDEDIAH Strong Smith, a mountain man and trapper, who was 27 at the time (1826) was the first non-Native American to cross the Sierra, and interestingly, he and his party did it from west to east, contrary to what I had always believed, that the Sierra was first crossed by white folks from east to west.

“ON May 20th,” Ms. Hill writes, “Smith tried to cross the mountains again, this time taking two men, seven horses and two mules. It took them eight days, but they made it, probably at Ebbetts Pass, losing only two horses and one mule. It was the first crossing of the great Sierra Nevada by non-Indians, and it was done from west to east.”

SILVER Mountain City on Hwy. 4 between Ebbetts Pass and Monitor Junction (remnants of the old jail can be seen behind Chris) wasn’t even there yet! It too was made of the same material as the courthouse and the library.

A few other data points, if you will:

  • Markleeville Peak, Alpine County (an andesite dome)
  • Silver Peak, Ebbetts Pass (carved from rhyolite dome)
  • Highland Peak, Ebbetts Pass (rhyolite dome; cinder cone on one side)

Carson Pass

IN 1844 it was John Charles Fremont’s (per Ms. Hill called by his admirers “The Pathfinder”) turn to be lucky. Ignoring the map given to him by the local Native Americans (yup, even then – probably since the beginning of time – men ignored directions) he became lost “but did not admit it, and to keep his company’s spirits up, he attempted to cross the range at what today is called Carson Pass. It was February 1844 and the crossing was a very foolhardy thing to do. The party made it by eating half of their horses and mules and on March 6th arrived at Sutter’s Fort.”

THANK goodness for good BBQ, eh? Okay, likely not the best smoked meats (certainly not as good as ‘Toph’s deep pit meat) but I couldn’t resist. πŸ˜‰

That’s me on Carson Pass, headed towards Markleeville, on my first visit (July of 2016).

SOME other data that matta:

  • Carson Spur, State Hwy. 88 (Lahar – Volcanic Mud Flow)
  • Thimble Peak, State Hwy. 88 (Lahar)
  • Coincidentally there is a nice lahar just north of Markleeville too. Hwy. 89 cut rights through it.

Snowshoe Thompson

JOHN A. “Snowshoe” Thompson was an immigrant, “pioneer Sierran skier. For 20 years, beginning in 1856, Thompson carried the mail across the Sierra Nevada from Placerville, CA to Genoa, NV (then called Morman Station) using long skis (then called snowshoes) of his own making.”

THIS guy was a stud to say the least. Ms. Hill writes that “he carried no blankets and ate lightly. No blizzard ever lost him. He never had an accident and was rarely paid.”

HE did that for twenty years? Holy snow, Batman!

Looking northwest over Diamond Valley, from the Snowshoe Thompson markers.

LUCKY me, I get to say hi to “‘Shoe” as I call him, often, when riding one of my favorite loops out to Diamond Valley from Markleeville. He lived and died at this site.

That’s a wrap!

LIKE I wrote…a primer this post is.

STILL, I hope it gets your lava flowing a bit. What I’ve learned from this book, as well as other sources, since I’ve lived here makes me appreciate the region even more. And to be able to see a lot of these features, and travel some of the same roads and trails as these early explorers and indigenous peoples, is such a privilege.

COME on up, down, or over and experience some of it yourself. It’s an awesome place geologically and hey, there’s some good beer and grub, and soon, SOME SNOW here too.

YOU coming πŸ™‚ ?

A Day on the East Carson – and a Salvage Operation

LAST Sunday, my wife and my Mom joined me for a day of fishing, picnicking and swimming on the East Fork of the Carson River, just a few miles from Markleeville.

IT was a gloriously hot day; glorious mostly because we were able to spend it on, and in, the cold Carson.

Starting the Day With a Ride

MY day began with a ride up Hwy. 4 towards Ebbett’s Pass; in this case up to the 7000′ mark at Raymond Meadow Creek. This is a great ride; a 26 mile round trip from HQ here in Markleeville, with approximately 1500′ of climbing.

I also did a bit of swimming hole recon. on the ride in preparation for our day on the river and decided on what turned out to be a great location.

WITH last week’s heat wave – thankfully we’ve got a bit of a respite before things ramp up again this weekend – I was getting my rides in during the morning hours. Yesterday, in fact, I rode part of this route (up to Silver Mountain City) starting about 6:30 a.m. and it was a sublime experience; one of those perfectly quiet (except for the river and the birds), almost car-less rides that we’re privileged to be able to pedal here in the California Alps.

I highly recommend these early a.m. forays! Below are some pix I snapped along the way. See what I mean?

At the Swimming Hole

Even though I’m not a father to any human children, thanks to my lovely wife I get a bit of fatherly spoiling on Father’s Day since I am the “Dad-cat.” This day was no exception. The Goilz had prepared a plethora of picnic items and so all I had to do was load up the truck and get us there.

UPON arrival it was straight into the river. A bit chilly at first but oh so invigorating, especially with a cold beverage in hand.

THEN, a bit of fishing, and some catching, in the same hole. That’s it in the image above – the flat water in the middle of the frame. My fishing foray was followed by a nice lunch and another cerveza.

Nothing better than sipping beer in a cool river on a hot day, right?

AT one point, as I was re-positioning upstream so I could get a better drift into a particular eddy, a shadow crossed my path. Looking up, there it was!

A bald eagle fly-over is always a good sign, and good karma, too.

THE fish were small, however, (but any day fishing…) and several of them went back from whence they came, but I did catch a decent 10″ rainbow and kept another smaller one that had been hooked badly enough that it had to be kept. Those are the little beauties below.

The Salvage Operation

BEING sated from a great lunch, and a bit buzzed from those beers, it was back in the water for one last swim before we headed back to the Chalet. I had brought a pair of swimming goggles as I was curious to see if I could catch a glimpse of a trout or two, or perhaps something else of interest.

A glint on the bottom of the pool caught my eye and after several tries (the water was flowing pretty well and the pool was over 6′ deep) I was able to snag the item – a lure it was!

I then patrolled the pool with more purpose and low and behold I found a veritable treasure-trove of lost lures.

TWO of ’em had hooks that were too badly rusted for future use but the others went into the tackle box. Hopefully they’ll bring me good luck in the future.

THE trout? They were thrown on the grill that night and included in our Father’s Day feast. El pescado era muy delicioso!

A Perfect Day

AND one I highly recommend. Yes, we are California Alps Cycling, but as I regularly tell anyone who’ll listen it’s not only about the bike. That’s just a bonus on some days.

THIS was one of them!

SO next time you come on up to Markleeville, don’t just bring the velocipede. Include that swimming apparel, some fishing poles and what the hell, a mask or some goggles.

YOU never know what kind of adventures you can have, or what you might find along the way!