Sierra Nevadas can be dangerous place

I think every time I've written about Horsetail Falls I've included a warning about keeping clear of Pyramid Creek, which runs through the valley from up high. It's a dangerous waterway and over the years has claimed several victims, including the latest, the woman who fell to her death this week.

Flat landers seem to think that the rushing water is just a little stream and that it isn't dangerous. It is. Many dogs have been swept to their deaths after frolicking in some of the deeper pools and then swept away.

Horsetail isn't the only dangerous one. Cascade Falls, off Highway 89 near Emerald Bay, although down a bit now, is tricky as well. I've pulled two people back from the edge as they tried to get a photo of the roaring water in springtime.

And it's not only the streams that can be dangerous in the Sierra Nevada. The trail from Echo Summit starting at the boathouse isn't particularly demanding, but it's torture for dogs. The trail is largely sharp, larger rocks that cut through paws easily. It's just not wise to take a dog up that trail unless the dog is wearing booties.

Then there are treks to places like Fourth of July Lake in the Carson Pass area. It looks like an easy hike down to the lake, and it is. But climbing back up is a lot steeper than it looks and for the unwary beginner can prove to be too much.

It all adds up to the old saw: know what you're doing or don't do it in the Sierra Nevada.

A nice little stopover

If you're in the Big Sur area of California and looking for a neat camping spot, try the Andrew Molera State Park off Highway 1. There's usually plenty of space in trail campground, largely because you've got to hike in about a quarter-mile from the parking lot to the campground.

The campground is right on the Big Sur River and not much more than a mile from the highway. You can camp anywhere within the signed campground and there are plenty of nice spots under trees.

The Bluffs Trail along the Pacific is nice, not too much work and blends into the Spring Trail and then the Panorama Trail-Ridge Trail which loops back to Molera Point and then to the campground. Only the Ridge Trail is demanding. Bikes are permitted on many of the many trails.

Fees are $3 a day for campers, plus $1 for dogs. Maximum stay is three days. Driftwood is free for the picking.

Lots of birds, sea otters and redwoods in the area. You can watch the black cormorants diving for fish. Lots of owls, kites and heron around.

A cautionary note: it may seem safe on the rocks at the beach, but "sleeper" waves are common here and reach up high on those rocks, sweeping the unwary out to sea.

Hiking time

Friday-Sunday, Arc Dome Camp/Hike. Begins Friday morning when to travel to Columbine Campground in the Toiyabe Range. Saturday, it's a hike of 10 miles, with a vertical gain of 2,225 feet, to the peak of Arc Dome at 11,775 feet. Seasoned hikers only, as this is a moderately strenuous hike. Trip limit: 12. Leaders: Holly Coughlin (775) 331-7488, Ross Smith (775) 826-0932.

Saturday, Lola Montez. From the side of I-80 opposite Soda Springs, hike up to the lower lake, looking for replenished creeks. Then, an annual adventure to the upper lake. Great swimming during wet seasons. Leader: Craig Mastos (775) 786-7742,

Sunday, Badenaugh Canyon. Moderately strenuous 10-mile, 3,000 foot gain hike. The hike will go through Badenaugh Canyon to Babbitt peak, southeast of Loyalton, Calif. Great view of Sierra valley and Highway 395 corridor from the top. Possible visit with fire lookout. Leaders: Pete Gaspers (775) 786-1246,, Trudy Miller (775) 787-9010.

Wednesday, Evening Conditioning Hike. A short hike to get into condition for longer weekend outings. About 2-4 mile round trip, with 500-1,000-foot gain. Boots, water and windbreaker recommended. Leaders: Holly Coughlin (775) 331-7488, David Book (775) 673-3819. Call for time and meeting location.

Wednesday in the Mountains, Tahoe Rim Trail. Hike from Tahoe City to Ward Creek and return. This is a fairly easy section of the TRT. About 5 miles out, then return to starting point. Leader: Terri Sutor (775) 267-5366. For further details, call leader.

Thursday, Conditioning Hike. Quick-paced hiking in the mountains west of Reno, from about 6 p.m. until dark. Will cover 2-4 miles and 1,000 foot of elevation gain. Optional barbecue on Sally's back porch afterwards. Recommend: hiking boots, water and windbreakers. Leaders: Ridge Walker (Ed Corbett) (775) 853-8055,, Sally Lyon (530) 582-4943,


As usual Sporting Rage is making the trip. Call 886-7773 by 6 p.m. Saturday to get on the list. Usual fee is $69 which includes lunch, gear and instruction.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.


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