Climbing Jobs Peak a worthwhile challenge
Jobs Peak seems to be a special place. People admire it from Carson Valley, local businesses are named for it, and some folks just have to hike it. At 10,633 feet, Jobs is not the tallest peak around but, its summit looks over the Valley and beckons those of us that play outdoors.
My friend Gary and I start our hike from the Faye Luther Canyon Trailhead on an early Sunday morning in late October. This may be the last peak for us before winter arrives. The trail climbs steadily in a westerly direction and is well traveled by day hikers and runners. A few miles into the moderate ascent, the path narrows and eventually disappears as the ascent becomes much steeper. Footprints and “ducks,” (stacks of rocks) left by previous hikers are the only guides if you haven’t been this way before.
The sounds in this cathedral are the crunching of our boots in the decomposing gravel mountainside, wind, birds and my heart pounding in my ears as the steepness increases.
There are tracks where bears have frequented this route. These cause us to scan the brush and wish to see one, hopefully not too close. We continue the trek upward and I find myself pausing for breath frequently. I’m used to trails but this is a scramble through manzanita and around scruffy pines that wind and snow have tortured and tested through the years.
As I grab a branch to keep from sliding down the mountain I muse that it’s convenient for us that the foliage grows well here and wonder if its primary purpose is to assist not-so-graceful hikers. It’s not, Gary points out some nearby bear scat full of manzanita berries. I guess that my approaching exhaustion and related endorphin levels are causing some euphoria.
We continue to climb, there are patches of snow and fewer trees now and in another half hour, we scramble to the summit. It’s windy, cold and the view of Lake Tahoe west and Carson Valley east are spectacular.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies never taste this good in comfortable surroundings.
Sitting wedged in granite, slightly out of the wind they’re a banquet. We look through the mail box at relics and memories left by previous hikers, sign the book and soon decide to descend to warmer climate.
The route we choose is east of our path up and will return us to the trail a little closer to the trailhead. It drops into a canyon that slowly narrows. Going downhill, we move with less effort and plow through the brush. This is easier and faster but the chances of slipping and taking a long fall are greater than the ascent. This route is steeper and as it narrows, we are traveling on all fours at times and sliding from boulder to boulder. At one point while walking near a tiny, flowing creek, I slip and fall into it, suffering a bruised ego. It’s probably my 10h “slip and fall” of the day.
The brush is thick for a quarter-mile and suddenly we are on the trail again and heading back to the truck. Gary asks me how many bears I figure have watched us today that we haven’t seen. I tell him “probably more than we saw” and we continue down the trail. We’re back at the truck at 3:30 p.m. What a great day. I wonder if winter will hold off long enough for a hike up Mt. Rose?
n Bruce Rosin is a Johnson Lane resident.