Monday, March 31, 2014

Cross Peak trail loop west of Reno's Caughlin Ranch neighborhood

Cross Peak's reflection rocks with Peavine mountain in the background

View of Cross Peak from Alum Creek
Cross Peak is a rock-outcrop hill next to the Caughlin Ranch neighborhood in west Reno, Nevada. On its top you'll stand or sit next to the eponymous cross, a two-dimensional tree sculpture and a metal box with a sign saying “Reflection On Cross Peak.” Inside this box you'll find a notebook filled with reflections—and you are invited to enter your own. The cross and the bookbox is a memorial to a Reno family [1]: be respectful!

There are various ways to get to the top of Cross Peak—but no trail posts [1,2]. The easiest way is to follow the paved green-belt trail from Betsy Caughlin Donnelly Park uphill along Alum Creek. This trail underpasses the Mc Carran Boulvard just north of the Mayberry Landing Boutique Shopping Center. Following this trail along the creek you will arrive at a couple of ponds and the “Juniper Trails” board next to the Caughlin Parkway. This location, or the Caughlin Athletic Club further up, would also be good places to start your Cross Peak visit. Going uphill from the Caughlin Club, you will pass an interpretive stand of Jeffrey Pines, walk through a tunnel underneath the parkway and then arrive at a junction, from where the paved trail continues over a bridge to your left and an unpaved trail continues along the creek. Cross Peak is coming into view: the right-side picture above was taken there. Follow the unpaved path winding through the creek between pine trees. After a short distance a narrow trail is branching off. It leads you out of the pine grove and upward alongside the right slope, intersects a dirt road and then takes you straight up to the top of Cross Peak. Time for rock climbing and reflections. From the top, the trail continues downhill on the south slope, connecting you with the creek trail. Turn left along the creek to get back to the paved trail and the Caughlin Ranch green belt. 

More to explore
[1] Ryan Bailey: Cross Peak. Ryan Bailey's Blog, August 5, 2010 [].
[2] Summit post: Cross Peak [].

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Are lakes in Washoe County such as Rock Lake in the Carson Range drying up?

Rock Lake in the Carson Range near Ophir Creek Trail between Davis Creek Regional Park and Tahoe Meadows
Rock Lake showing its eponymous rocks (March 16, 2014)

Lakes in Washoe County, Nevada, are showing significant variations in their water level—not only seasonably, but also when compared year by year. Washoe Lake, which is a shallow body of water with a maximum depth of just a few feet, has completely dried up in the past. Dry Pond, located southwest of Reno and northeast of Mount Rose, has been seen wet in spring 2008, but less so during spring seasons thereafter. In compliance with its name, Dry Pond mostly stays dry. Church's Pond, a few miles southwest of Dry Pond in the Mount Rose Wilderness, also seems to have, on average, less water each year.

Rock Lake, located in a fragile and mountainous landscape between Washoe Lake and the slide side of Carson Range's Slide Mountain, is known for the beautiful pads of yellow water lilies that cover the water surface between the shoreline and the multitude of rocks that characterize its lake scenery. With lower water marks, Rock Lake's rock are getting more exposed. On March 16, this year, I found the lake shrunken down to puddles, wondering if there will be blooming water lilies this summer.