Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Escaping the California Wildfires, But Not the Smoke

Fleeing the California wildfires we continued east into Nevada. We'd originally planned to stay in tiny Verdi just across the Nevada border, but Hans had been monitoring the forecast and when the overnight temps were going to be in the low 20's we decided to stay at Sparks Marina RV Park where it was only supposed to get down to 30.

We've stayed at Sparks Marina before, it is an average urban RV park. Everything is paved, sites are pretty close together, and there is fake grass instead of the real stuff (which I find weird, Rosie doesn't like it either). The park is convenient for getting around Reno/Sparks and there is a nice two mile walk around the adjacent Sparks Marina Park Lake.

On our second day in town smoke from the California fires spread into the area and hung heavy over the entire valley, worsening as the day wore on. Our only outing was to the lovely Rancho San Rafael Regional Park and a walk through its beautiful Wilbur D. May Arboretum.

Many lovely spots to sit and enjoy the colorful views in Wilbur D. May Arboretum, even on a smokey day.

Out of hundreds of geese in Rancho San Rafael park, we saw two with this odd head coloration.

On this stay in Reno/Sparks we managed to do several new-to-us trails. The first was brought to our attention by John and Pam; we love getting trail ideas from fellow hiking full timers! The Rubicon Trail was a gorgeous 9.2 mile out and back hike along the SW shore of Lake Tahoe between DL Bliss State Park and the lovely Vikingsholm. Though longish, the trail is easy with only a few gently rolling hills.

Looking north over Lake Tahoe the smoke haze is not too bad.

The smoke haze is a little worse looking south and would continue to worsen as the day progressed.

Peaceful cove.

Critter sighting of the day.

Vikingsholm is a gorgeous Scandinavian themed summer home built for Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight in 1929 by her Swedish nephew.

This is a stunningly detailed structure.
It has a large round turret around the left side and the entire one story back portion of the house has a sod roof.

Intricate carvings on most of the wood.

Mrs Knight's tea house sits atop a small island in the middle of Emerald Bay opposite Vikingsholm.

A really big Ponderosa...and yes, it was cool when the wind was blowing,
just the kind of hiking weather we love!

Brown's Creek Trail is a nice 4.7 mile lollipop loop in south west Reno. This dog friendly trail has long gentle ups and downs with some nice views, a year round creek, spring flowers and fall foliage.

The Virginia Hills provide our distant view as we drop into Brown's Creek canyon.

Aspens provide a bright splash of color along the bottom of the creek bed below the trail.

Ponderosas tower over a young stand of aspen.

It's been cold overnight!

For our last hike in the area we headed west towards Truckee and Donner Summit to hike Mt Judah Loop. This 5.6 mile lollipop loop includes a short section of the Pacific Crest Trail and gains and loses 1,228 feet, topping out on Mt Judah at 8,216'. It's a solidly moderate hike, nothing is too steep, but we definitely felt the elevation having spent the summer at sea level.

Looking back along the ridge we walked to gain the summit.
Donner Peak is on the right and can be summited from a spur trail off the Mt Judah Loop.

Donner Peak on the left and Donner Lake below.
Smoke haze blankets the distant hills.

Even though the Ponderosa forest was very dry, the trees sported some impressive moss!

It was a fun week in Reno. We had a good visit with a friend who is considering the RV lifestyle and we enjoyed sharing some of the knowledge we have gained from five years on the road. Wishing you luck and perseverance Billy, as you work towards your goals!

Next up: a week in Carson City...


  1. Beautiful colors, love that blue, blue lake! Such a perfect location for a stunning summer home. That wood work is amazing. Hope you got out of the smoke in Carson City.

  2. Love all the fall colors on your hike! Ugh, it's hard to escape forest fire smoke this year where ever you go.

  3. What beautiful hikes. Thanks so much for sharing them. Such a great pine tree. Did it have even more of a smell being so big? Love seeing fall in the west. But 30 degrees is under my lower limit. :-)

  4. Gorgeous hikes, especially that Rubicon Trail with the views of the lake. I would love to tour Vikingsholm. The exterior is certainly intriguing, with the beautiful carved woodwork. I've never seen a leucistic Canada Goose!

  5. So glad you decided to drive over to hike the Rubicon Trail. Such beautiful views the whole way. I would like to do the Mt Judah Loop just to hike the spine to the summit. It love hiking this type trail.

  6. Tahoe in bloom, ahhhh. Thank you!
    Box Canyon

  7. Beautiful scenery you captured. Found you on Linda's Lens so I'm following along on your journey.