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More Fall Colors to Behold

This past Friday was Nevada Day, a day when we celebrate our statehood. What better way to honor our state than to appreciate its natural beauty?! I (with 6 month old fetus in tow in my belly) went with a friend, who had her 16 month old daughter in a backpack. We tried out the Galena Creek Trail (to access, take Mt. Rose Highway to Callahan, turn South, and follow Callahan until it dead ends).

This trail had a nice, gradual slope, was was perfect for both of us, considering the “loads” we were bearing. The Fall leaves were amazing, and the weather was perfect — not too hot, and not too cold.

This really is one of the best times to hike in the Reno-Tahoe area. Come see for yourself!




Discover Twin Falls Above Fallen Leaf Lake

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(Modjeska Falls)

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(Assembly Hall at Glen Alpine Springs)

In Nevada, where water is such a precious commodity, it is always a special treat to stumble on a waterfall–even if it’s just over the border in California.

Two of the more accessible and scenic waterfalls in this region are Big Falls, also known as Lower Glen Alpine Falls, and Modjeska Falls, which is also called Upper Glen Alpine Falls.

Both of these falls are part of the Glen Alpine Creek system, a snow melt and spring-fed stream that flows into Fallen Leaf Lake and eventually into Lake Tahoe via Taylor Creek.

Fallen Leaf Lake is a picturesque body of water that rivals Lake Tahoe in beauty. In fact, if not for a fluke of nature, namely a small stretch of land that separates Fallen Leaf from Tahoe, the area could easily have been another Emerald Bay.

Fallen Leaf Lake is located five miles west of Highway 89, immediately north of Camp Richardson on Lake Tahoe’s southwest shore. A marked and paved road is located directly across the highway from the entrance to the U.S. Forest Service Visitors Center and Tallac Historic Site.

The U.S. Forest also operates a developed camping area at the northeast end of Fallen Leaf Lake. The entrance to the 206-unit campground, which is open from May to October, is located about a quarter of a mile north of Fallen Leaf Lake Road, off Highway 89.

The drive from the highway to the lake is pleasant, passing through large pine trees. About three miles from the turn-off, you travel by a lovely aspen grove and open meadow, both of which are spectacular in the fall, when the aspen leaves have turned gold.

The road narrows as it reaches the east end of the lake and, after passing into a residential area, you catch your first glimpse of the lake. As you drive, you can see incredible scenery, including Cathedral Peak at the southern shoulder of Mount Tallac, which rises over the lake, its 9,785-foot crown reflected in the lake’s crystal waters.

I think it is the mirror effect of Fallen Leaf Lake that makes the view so remarkable. Rather than enclosing the lake, the reflection of the surrounding mountains seems to enlarge the scene.

While much of the lake is private property, you can continue to drive to the lake’s west end where, in the summer months, Fallen Leaf Lodge offers accommodations and a marina. In the winter, the lodge is closed but you can park and enjoy the marvelous views.

About a half mile from the end of the road, which comes to a dead end, you can turn west on another narrow, paved road, lined by large log railings.

This road leads to Lily Lake, a trailhead for hiking into the Desolation Wilderness and to the pair of waterfalls. Frankly, even if Fallen Leaf Lake didn’t exist, the waterfalls would be worth a visit. The joyous, rolling waves of falling water are an impressive and unexpected sight.

The first waterfall you reach, before arriving at Lily Lake, is aptly named Big Falls, a 75-foot spill that cascades over rock slabs that resemble steps.

While the falls aren’t nearly as large as 500-foot Horsetail Falls, located at the south end of the Desolation Wilderness and visible from Highway 50 near Twin Bridges, they are, nonetheless, impressive and beautiful.

You can park off the road here and hike down to the base of the waterfall. From the top, the view of the rapidly cascading water as it falls down the lush canyon is noteworthy. Across the creek, you can also see private homes owned by people fortunate enough to be able to look out on the waterfall any time they want.

The road continues west, paralleling Glen Alpine Creek, for another mile or so to Lily Lake. Opposite the creek, parallel to the road, is a jumbled mountainside of loose boulders and stones, wonderful for casual rock hopping.

A concrete bridge marks the end of the driving portion of the road. On the north side of the bridge, you can park and hike a short distance to Lily Lake, a small but photogenic lake literally cupped in the mountains.

The main Glen Alpine Trail leads northwest from here into the Desolation Wilderness and onto Glen Alpine Springs, an historic mineral spring resort, located about a mile west.

An easy half-mile walk from Big Falls is Modjeska Falls, a smaller but equally scenic spillway. Here, you’ll find picturesque craggy cliffs surrounding a robust 30-foot waterfall. A trail leads to the base of the falls.

Modjeska Falls is named after Madame Helena Modjeska, a famous Polish actress of the late 19th century who performed at Glen Alpine Springs in 1885. Those who attended the show were so taken with her performance that they named the nearby falls in her honor.

Continuing past Modjeska Falls, it’s only another half-mile or so to Glen Alpine Springs. Nathan Gilmore discovered the namesake mineral springs, originally called Soda Springs, here in 1863.
In 1884, Gilmore developed a renowned resort, which included a 16-room hotel, around the restorative powers of the springs. He also began bottling and selling the spring’s water.

A fire destroyed most of the original buildings in 1921 but the resort was rebuilt two years later using designs by famed architect Bernard Maybeck, who also designed San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts.

Maybeck and his family summered at Glen Alpine Springs, so he was willing to help rebuild the resort following the fire. Between 1921 and 1929, he prepared plans for some ten buildings; four of which were actually built and remain in use today.

The Maybeck buildings include the Assembly Hall, the Kitchen building, a Dining Hall and the Bubblestone Cabin, an experimental concrete building that is considered one-of-a-kind. The buildings are noteworthy because of their extensive use of native materials, particularly local stone.

Glen Alpine Springs Resort closed in the 1960s and was acquired by the U.S. Forest Service in the 1970s. Today, a non-profit organization manages the property and helps to preserve the buildings.

For more information about Glen Alpine Springs, contact the Historical Preservation of Glen Alpine Springs, Inc., P.O. Box 694, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, 707-996-6354,–Richard Moreno

Hike Through the Trees at Galena Creek Park

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Despite boasting a picturesque creek, beautiful trees and some spectacular views, Galena Creek Park is often overlooked by both locals and visitors to the Reno-Tahoe area.

Encompassing 440 acres, the park, which is operated by Washoe County, is a great spot to spend a day enjoying nature at its finest–without having to drive very far from Reno.

Galena Creek Park is located off the Mount Rose Highway (State Route 431), about six miles west of U.S. 395.

Washoe County acquired the land for the park in 1931. Named for a mining town that once existed a few miles to the east, the area was originally part of the Galena mining district.

The word, “galena,” derives from the type of lead sulfide rock that was found with the gold mined in the district.

Later, the town of Galena (off what today is Callahan Ranch Road) became an important lumber center, boasting 11 sawmills by 1863, as well as stores, hotels, a court, school, homes and, of course, saloons.

Disastrous fires in 1865 and 1867 destroyed the town, which was abandoned after the second conflagration.

Ironically, floods have had more to do with shaping the face of the Galena area. Over the years, snow melts in late winter and early spring or flash floods in late summer produced “wet mantle” flood, (sometimes as high as 10-feet) which are sheets of water pouring down the mountainside.

The result of such floods can be seen in the mounds of rocks and boulders found scattered around the park.

With its groves of White Fir and Jeffrey and Ponderosa pines, the park is a wooded sanctuary that rises from a high desert, sagebrush vegetation zone to the more heavily wooded alpine environment.

At the lower elevations, there are shrubs like Bitterbrush, Manzanita and clumps of twisted Mountain Mahogany. Animal life includes a wide variety of birds, such as jays and hawks, as well as an occasional black bear and mountain lion (although both are rarely seen).

The park also encompasses several beautiful creeks, including its namesake, Galena Creek. The easiest and most accessible hike is the Bitterbrush Trail, which stretches from the north picnic area (the first turn-off into the park when driving west from Reno or Carson City) to the south picnic area.

The trail wanders about a quarter of a mile through the pines before reaching the sturdy wooden bridge that spans Galena Creek. This is a particularly beautiful place to observe the rapidly rushing water tumbling over the smooth rocks.

North of the Galena Creek Bridge is a Nature Trail that winds up the hillside to a variety of local flora and fauna. An informational brochure available at the park describes the rich natural history of the area and points out native plants, including tobacco brush, willows, manzanita and mistletoe.

Visitors often wonder about the huge concrete blocks supported rusted metal boxes that can be seen along the trail. These are actually old camping stoves placed there in the 1940s when the girl scouts had a camp there. The campers would put charcoal into the box and heat pots and pans on top.

More challenging hiking can be found on the Jones Creek-White’s Creek Loop Trail (9.2 miles roundtrip) and the Black’s Canyon Trail. Both are considerably more challenging than the lower trails but offer some of the best views found in the park.

The Jones Creek-White Creek Trail, which can take six to eight hours to complete, winds all the way up the side of the mountain and ends at Church’s Pond.

The Galena Creek Park, is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with more limited hours during the rest of the year. There is no use fee at the park.

Additionally, the park has 68 individual picnic sites, available on a first-come, first-serve basis, as well as two group picnic areas, which can be reserved in advance. No woodcutting or private campfires are permitted.

A couple of years ago, the county restored an historic stone building at the park’s south entrance. Known as the Galena Creek Park Stone House, it contains a visitor center filled with historic photos and displays describing the history of the area as well as the geology, plant and animal life. It is open from 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information call 775-849-2511 or go to

-Richard Moreno

Hiking to Marlette Lake

On Sunday, the hubby and I decided that we wanted to hike to a lake. In the Sierras, the only problem with that plan is choosing what hiking trail and which lake you want to go to.

We settled on a hike to Marlette Lake, the second largest alpine lake in the Sierras. (Side note: during a complete brain lapse, the hubby asked, “what is the largest alpine lake in the Sierras?” Well, duh, that would be LAKE TAHOE!)

Anyway, we packed up all three of our dogs and drove to the trail head at Spooner Lake off of Highway 50. We parked at Spooner, and then began the 5 mile hike to Marlette Lake.

The trail was really wide and sandy, making for a nice hiking surface. It was easy rolling hills for about 4 miles, but let me tell you, that fifth mile was a pretty challenging hill! By the time we made it to the lake, it was around 5:00 pm, and I was hot and ready for a dip in Marlette Lake.

I hadn’t seen anyone on the trail for quite a while, and since the only way to reach Marlette Lake is via hiking or mountain biking, there was no one there.

Or so I thought.

I had brought my swim suit, but in a truly Adventurous moment, I decided that I was going to be one with nature and go au natural.

As I was standing on the shore of the lake, baring my lily white body to the wilderness, the hubby asks, “What are you doing?!”

“I’m skinny dipping!” I proudly proclaimed.

“Didn’t you see those people over there?” he asked. He has a history of yanking my leg, so I didn’t believe him until I looked over my shoulder and saw a man and his son rounding the corner.

Let me tell you, I have NEVER gotten in a lake as fast as I did that day, since the water was the quickest way for me to regain my modesty.

We swam around for a while with our labs, and luckily, there were no other people around when it was time for me to get out and change back into my hiking apparal.

It was a ten mile hike round trip, and the entire outing took about four hours. I highly recommend the hike to Marlette Lake. Just take it from me — skinny dipping is not advised!

Pictures from our outing (and no, there aren’t any of me skinny dipping!) are below.

Me and the dogs at the start of our hike:

This is Marlette Lake:


This is me after the skinny dipping fiasco:

This is the hubby playing with our dog, Tucker in the lake:

And this is the sunset we saw on the drive home:

Food, Music, and Hiking in America's Adventure Place

I had a great Memorial Day weekend here in Reno-Tahoe, America’s Adventure Place. Here are the highlights:

  • Had an incredible dinner of lobster and filet mignon at MonteVigna in the Atlantis Casino Resort. This was coupled with a Frog’s Leap Zinfandel, lobster ravioli and shrimp scampi for an appetizer, and black forest cake for dessert. I am so going to have to spend a few extra hours in the gym to work it off!

  • After dinner, we enjoyed the Mark Chesnutt concert at the Atlantis. The place was packed, but it was a small room, so it was very intimate. Mark Chesnutt truly has an amazingly talented band.
  • The next day, the hubby and I took our three dogs on a hike at Davis Creek, which is a short 20 minute drive south of Reno. It was a beautiful day, and I really enjoyed the fresh smell of pine trees in the forrest. The trail winds along a mountain stream, which was more like a raging river due to all of the snow run off. After the hike, we let the dogs swim in Davis Pond, where they entertained a few families as they retrieved a six foot long stick from the water.

This weekend, the adventure on tap is drag racing at the Reno-Fernley Raceway. It’s me in my 2000 Trans Am Ram Air up against my brother in his 1985 Mustang. I am going to make him EAT MY DUST! I’ll post details and pictures next week!,

Dry Pond Is Not Dry

I went on a hike on Saturday with my two dogs, Rudy and Kona, to witness with my own eyes that Dry Pond is anything but dry – and home to some pretty big omnivores waking up after sleeping for up to seven months.

Here in the Sierra Nevada, we are experiencing a big spring thaw which makes places like “Dry” Pond a virtual oasis for critters like Wood Ducks, Mallards and – bears. Yes, high up the mountain, at this remote area, we saw many – fresh – bear tracks. Rudy, was sniffing with his nose high in the air with an incredulous look on his face, most certainly picking up the bear’s scent. Kona as usual, focused on eating doggie treats, eating more doggie treats, checking in to see if she can eat my Cliff Bar, or perhaps even more doggie treats.

So back to the bear.

I began to think about this amazing creature. He or she has been hibernating in a cave or a hollowed-out tree for over six months. I wouldn’t mind sleeping for six months. Really. Just fill me in on any important stuff I might have missed when I wake up. On the downside, I hear that in order to survive this long period of inactivity, bears work on gaining wellbutrin price up to forty (!) pounds of fat per week (hey – wasn’t that during the holidays last year?). Anyway, I think I could learn a lot from this bear. What an incredible adaptation of nature that allows this creature to survive in the most severe of weather conditions.

Just to be safe, we ate our treats quickly at Dry Lake. After hiking for over three hours, me and my growling stomach were in no mood to share my only Cliff Bar with a hibernation-emerging hungry bear.

Proof that we saw bear tracks:


Rudy and Kona being “Mer-Dogs” in the “Dry Pond”:


I've Found the America's Adventure Place Spokesperson

My hubby could be the official spokesperson for Reno-Tahoe, America’s Adventure Place. The man knows how to take a simple, easy and enjoyable hike and bump it up a notch so that it is truly an adventure.

On Sunday, we went hiking at Silver Saddle Ranch, which is on the Eastern edge of Carson City. There were wildflowers in bloom everywhere. (Too bad I’ve lost my camera!) We hiked for about 45 minutes on the trail, where it ended. Normally, we just turn around at this point, but the hubby decided he wanted to make a loop.

The trail doesn’t loop, so this meant we got the ‘pleasure’ of creating our own loop — going off the trail. At first it wasn’t so bad, but next thing I knew, we were walking on a steep slope over rocks and sage and I was slipping and sliding the entire way.

I think the hubby is part mountain goat, as he didn’t seem to have any problems, and left me in his dust.

When we finally made it back to our vehicle, I scolded him, saying, ‘can’t you ever just stay on a trail’?

‘And what would be the adventure in that?’ He replied. ,

Springtime Wildflowers

Move over Death Valley with your recent claim to having the best spring wildflower show ever – the High Country Desert conditions of America’s Adventure Place are setting the stage for a virtual explosion of color all over the mountains.

The bad memories of shoveling/plowing out 8 foot drifts of snow across my driveway (over and over and over again) are now fading fast. It’s been said that pain has no memory, and surely these wildflowers are just the antidote to letting go of that outrageous winter with all the toiling in the snow. Spring is finally here!

Dawn is Kona’s (my dog) and my favorite time of day – everything is waking up to multiple possibilities. Lately, we’ve taken to order viagra online walking along a wonderful dirt road that threads the southwestern edge of Reno. I often startle groups of deer, who then scamper high up the mountain and stand like rows of statues, watching us below as we walk the road. The quail, Meadowlarks, Robins and Scrub Jays slowly all chime in as the sun rises.

I have never seen so many flowers here in the springtime. Beyond the legendary ski season the snows provided, this snow has made the hillsides and mountains literally blanketed with flowers. I’ve always loved Indian Paintbrushes – but, all those violets – in yellow, blue and purple – they will steal your heart away!

Here are some pictures from my outing.


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A Hike for Earth Day

Sunday, in celebration of Earth Day, I planned a big hike up Thomas Creek. I decided to attempt a higher elevation than my usual winter treks but ended up abandoning my Jeep ¾ of the way up the road because the snow was still incredibly deep. I found a deer trail and continued my assent on foot. On this beautiful Earth Day here in the Sierra Nevada, I intended to go hunting for the elusive ruby-colored Snow Plant.

These plants are amazing and belong to a unique group of plants that do not depend on chlorophyll or photosynthesis for food. They inhabit pine needle-covered floors of the forests and live on decaying organic matter. They miraculously emerge through the pine needles, appearing for a brief time – only when the soil has been moistened by melting snow and then warmed by the sun.

The snow was so deep on the Northern slopes (where my trail was) that I imagined it might be a month or so until any Snow Plants finally emerge. They look like plants from another world – they are bright red with scale-like leaves and flowers and look like they are made out of wax. They are somewhat rare along the trail, so it’s always remarkable when I finally stumble across one or more. They seem to grow in groups – like mushrooms do, forming a “fairly ring”. I will report back when I finally do find one – but it may be awhile.

I traveled through a beautiful meadow where I saw a lot of critter tracks coming out from the creek, before turning back and trekking home.

An Afternoon At Whites Creek

I love my dog, Kona. Perhaps it may be more accurate to admit to engaging in an extremely toxic, co-dependent relationship with her.

It was one of those weeks where way too much was happening at work, home, etc. Something’s gotta give, so unfortunately, Kona got short changed with lame 15-30 minute walks through the neighborhood. The dirty looks and the incessant “stare-mommy-down” episodes increased as the week transpired. Living in the Sierra Nevada, she has grown quite spoiled, expecting runs in the woods nearly daily. Kona argues that being tethered to a leash and dragged through the neighborhood is a humiliating experience where she is not allowed to wolfishly run wild and get in touch with her inner puppy. So many stinky things to roll in; so little time…

Finally the weekend came. My promise of hiking up Whites Creek, deep into the Toiyabe Forest, was kept. Sweetening the deal was the news of her best friend, Rudy and Rudy’s mom accompanying us. Kona and Rudy are both 10 years old and madly in love with each other.

Whites Creek is a major trailhead heading deep into the Toiyabe National Forest on the southwestern edge of Reno just off the Mount Rose Highway and clearly marked off price of viagra Timberline Drive. This trail goes on forever and hooks up with the spectacular Thomas Creek and Galena hiking areas. All have great trails to bring your dog because of all the water.

The forest is beginning to smell great – really earthy – because the snow that dumped on us in December and January is beginning to melt in areas. At higher elevations, mainly on southern ridgelines, there are actually snows-less trails – what a novelty after hiking with big snow boots for months now. We stopped at the top of a ridge overlooking the entire Washoe Valley at an area called Dry Pond before heading back. We had a great hike – 6.4 miles!

Here is Rudy taking a dip in Whites Creek:
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There’s Rudy on the left and Kona Grrl on the right:

This image shows you the snow-less (!) trail with the spectacular Mount Rose in the background:
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Here’s another view showing those scary Chutes at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe:
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