Tag: snowshoe thompson

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 nuée 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. 😉

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 🙂 ?

Deathride Dreaming? Need Some Ride-Inside Options? Check These Out!

As you likely know by now I’m a FulGaz devotee. That’s not to say I don’t use other “inside apps”, I do. Lately though, FulGaz (FG for short), has been my go-to. With the FulGaz French Tour now complete — my stats: 26:53:40 hours, 221 miles and 50,017 feet of climbing — and the smoke for the wildfires still lingering somewhat, I’m now looking forward to riding all of the Deathride climbs (and other local rides) from the pleasure of the pain cave.

And next week (Tuesday the 29th to be precise), I’ll have my chance and so will you!

Every Tuesday, FG does an email entitled Top Up Tuesday and yesterday I received a preview of ours! The library includes all five (5) of the current Deathride climbs (Monitor East & West, Ebbetts North & South, and Carson East) as well as the climb up Blue Lakes Road and some additional nuggets:

  • Markleeville to Snowshoe
  • Diamond Valley to Markleeville
  • The Alta Alpina Cycling Club (AACC) Markleeville Time Trial.

So here’s your chance to virtually explore some of the rides of Alpine County, and you can do so for very little, or no, money.

How can I do that? you ask. FulGaz offers a 14-day free trial so if you want to hit ’em all up in two (2) weeks you can definitely go that route (no pun intended). After the trial period, it’s only $12.99 per month or $108.99 per year. And no, I don’t work for, nor am I being compensated by FulGaz. I just wanted you to be aware since the application is so bitchin’ and I’ve found that a lot of riders just don’t know about it.

The email will go out to subscribers next Tuesday, September 29th, and the rides will be live that day as well!

Now I put in a lot of miles (~6000 per year), mostly outside, so riding inside isn’t my first option – most of the time. I do find it a great way, however, to do certain workouts in a more controlled environment. By that I mean FTP tests, HIIT work and so on; some of those external forces (e.g. wind, heat, rain, smoke, etc.) can wreak havoc on that day’s plan.

So why not take them out of the equation?

For example, yesterday morning, when I wanted to do some sprints, every two (2) miles, on flat roads, I turned to Zwift. But, when it comes to hill charges, hill repeats or the like, I prefer FulGaz. There I can find steady climbs, or rollers, or both. The steady climbs, like those on the Deathride, are much more conducive to steady efforts if you get my drift. It’s hard to maintain a certain power level when you have to go downhill.

I’ve found it to be an immersive experience, too!

Put on some tunes and put your fine-self in the heart of the California Alps without the need to stuff those jersey pockets, figure out where you’re going to get water or worry about traffic.

And, if you’ve not yet experienced the climbs of the Deathride and so you’re not sure what to expect, these rides will allow you to get a bit of practice in before next year.

Just be sure to put down that sweat mat, turn on those fans and if you’re like me, have an extra kit standing by.

Enjoy the rides and…Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses!

Here and There in the California Alps – Part Deaux

Lots of things to talk about in this post: The Christmas Faire is coming; Grover Hot Springs has a new boardwalk; we’ve got some serious birding energy here including a first-time sighting; an amazing sushi bar in South Lake Tahoe; a patriotic visit with Snowshoe Thompson; a little bit of snow earlier in the week and a Deathride resurgence. Let’s get to it!

The Magical Markleeville Christmas Faire is this weekend!

A yearly tradition here in Markleeville but with an added twist this year: the Faire will be in the County Administration building so we all don’t freeze our hineys off like we have in the past. Things start with a pancake breakfast and there’ll be crafters, cookie decorating for the kids and Santa will be making an appearance too. Check out the Faire’s Facebook page for more information.

Grover Hot Spring’s New Boardwalk

I got out for a hike last week and did part of the Charity Valley Trail (from Hot Springs Road to Grover Hot Springs State Park), trekked around the park’s meadow and then took the boardwalk back the way I came. The park is always a great place to visit, especially the hot springs and now with the new boardwalk there’s one more thing to check out!

Birds, birds and more birds

It all started with the sighting of a rare bird in these parts – the Yellow Browed Warbler. Our little town of Markleeville was invaded by birders from throughout the state – they were hoping to add the bird to their lists. The Record Courier (Minden, Gardnerville and Carson City, NV) did a little write up. Click here to take a look.

A few weeks ago, we spotted an Osprey here at HQ (click here to read that post) and there have been visits from other birds since, including the Evening Grosbeak. Having been here three (3) years this was the first time we had seen these happy birds – a flock of about 20-30 tweeted their way across the meadow, perhaps enjoying the morning sun. And our regular herd of turkeys is back, too.

It’s not [always] about the beer

That’s not to say I didn’t have any when my wife and I visited The Naked Fish in South Lake but the beer definitely WAS NOT the highlight of the meal. Yes, beer can be a meal but I often like it as an accompaniment to food – food. In this case, some of the best, most unique sushi we’ve had. The hamachi was glorious (so buttery) and the uni was briny, kelpy, rich-flavored goodness. And that poke bowl…I’m salivating now as I recall how good that was! The way they prepare the sushi, though, is perhaps the real highlight – works of art that you almost don’t want to eat.

Flags (er, flag) flying at the ‘Shoe’s place

As many of you loyal readers and Strava followers know, Diamond Valley is one of my favorite places to ride. I did what I call the Diamond Valley Ewes (not the sheep, no, but two half-loops – but how does one write two yous, as in the letter?) which took me past Snowshoe’s place twice. The second time around I stopped to visit, as I usually do.

First snow (kinda…we had a little in Sept) of the season

It wasn’t much but it was enough to close Ebbett’s, Monitor, Sonora and Tioga Passes here in the California Alps. According to the CalTrans QuickMap app just now, they are all still closed with the exception of Monitor. It’s pretty darn cold here so it appears winter is on the way. We’d appreciate it, though, Ma Nature, if you’d give us a break or two before the big snow starts.

Deathride resurgence

The ride is under new management! The Alpine Co. Chamber of Commerce owns the ride (as it has for years) but this year we’ve (I am a board member) decided to take it to a new (different) level. We’re hiring a professional ride director and are exploring things like alternate route options, or additions. We’re also looking at making it more of a Fondo and adding a bit of a retro vibe. We’re still working out some of the details so stay tuned for more information about our Ruby Anniversary Edition. It’s going to be a blast!

Well, there you have it! I told you there was lots going on here in the heart of the California Alps. Here at California Alps Cycling we count our blessings every day. Living, working and riding in such an awesome place is a privilege that we don’t take for granted. We hope to see you here for a visit soon. In the meantime, let’s kick some passes’ asses! Assuming they’re still rideable.

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.  

Welcome to California Alps Cycling!

Well, it seems this little adventure of mine has been under construction for awhile now. Admittedly I’m behind that ol’ 8-ball and still have a lot of work to do to get this site rockin’.  It’s hard to find the time when you live in such an amazing area and love to ride your bike. In fact, the pic. in this post was taken December 9, 2017 at the Snowshoe Thompson home site in Diamond Valley (near Woodfords). As you can see, it was a another beauty day here in the California Alps, albeit it a little cold, but that’s what layers are for, right? I must say, though, I really appreciated the fact that the stone that I’m sitting against in this photo was well-warmed by the sun (Thanks for the seat, ‘Shoe).

I appreciate you stopping by to check out California Alps Cycling and encourage you to keeping doing so as we’ll be getting things going in earnest soon.  We’re going to be adding such things as real-time weather, road conditions, off-the-bike activities, lodging & eating suggestions and more. Hey, if you have any ideas or recommendations, leave us a comment and we’ll add the data that matta!

Oh, and by the way, if you haven’t yet signed up for the Tour of the California Alps (aka the Deathride), you’ve still got some time to get the early bird rate!

-Mark Schwartz

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.