POND PEAK (8,035'), VERDI PEAK (8,444'), LADYBUG PEAK (8,380') June 2-3, 2001

Impatient for the weekend because of the 106 degree heat midweek, I eagerly left home by about 6 a.m. Saturday to drive to meet the Great Basin Group, Toiyabe Chapter, Sierra Club, hike meeting in Sparks, NV, at 9 a.m. Some snow lingered high in the Sierra above Donner Summit, but many climbs here could be done without too much snow.

Our small group of six carpooled and motored off east on Interstate 80 to Wadsworth, and then headed north along NV 447 a few miles to an unsigned, well graded, dirt road. Our goal, Pond Peak, the third highest summit in the Pah Rah Range, lay ahead of us to the west.

This road was good but steep in spots, and we parked at a saddle to the east of the summit. Starting our climb at 10:40 a.m., we walked the dirt road west, which climbed and dropped a few times, adding some 500 feet to our climb. It goes then to a ridgeline west of the top, then a good track heads back east. The summit has antennas and buildings, but access seemed O.K.

We topped out at 12:56 p.m. The views were good, with part of Reno visible. Peaks some 60 miles away could be seen. The various dry lakes were seen in the distance, and mining operations in this range left zig-zag roads in the colorful rock. It was quite windy, and the leader, Ed, attested to 100 mph winds the day before. We found rock shelters out of the strong breeze, and enjoyed our lunches with typical Nevada vistas in front of us.

We chose to head directly back, headed cross-country down the rocky slopes, keeping to a ridge of sorts. Soon, we could see our trucks far below, and made it back after some hour and a half of slowly hiking down.

Some of us toured the nearby site of Olinghouse, with derelict shacks and abandoned mining equipment. It looked as if people lived here recently, and we enjoyed taking photos. One truck left to take the scenic route back, and I came back to Sparks at 5:10 p.m., to dash over to the Reno Patagonia Outlet to have a day pack rip fixed, plus getting a ventilated fabric shirt more wearable than my 1980's pullover.

I enjoyed some fast food, and went south on U.S. 395 to camp at Davis Creek County Park.

Waking up very early Sunday, I went back into town to have a rib-eye steak and eggs breakfast, then motored and waited at the meeting spot for the day's activity.

As the 9:30 a.m. meeting time rolled around, we gained some 20 participants anxious to hike on this most beautiful day. We took I-80 to Verdi, then took back roads to turn to dirt roads, and then to a high graded road in pleasant pine forests, with views down into green meadows. We followed in a line to a road leading eventually to the summit of our first goal, Verdi Peak.

Parking by a primitive picnic area, we began hiking up this dirt road by about 11:07 a.m. It was a nice walk, albeit with a few ORV's puttering by. The summit has a lookout, with stairs, even, and we summited here at 12:43 p.m. We could see a grand panorama from I-80 and the Truckee River Canyon to the south, with Mt. Rose more to the east.

A surprisingly clear view of Reno, Verdi, and Peavine Peak led me to snap several telephotos.

A few clouds cast shadows across the scene, giving me some earlier worry about rain from T-storms. This never materialized, today.

The leaders chose to hike Ladybug Peak to the north, across a slight saddle. We topped there at about 2 p.m. More splendid views awaited us.

We all sauntered back down this good dirt road, and came back to our vehicles by about 3:45 p.m. A table was covered with a cloth, and various goodies were spread out. A fire was started in a rock pit, and hot dogs were roasted. Chips with dip, salads, and plenty of drink were consumed. Cookies and cake, plus a melon, served for dessert. This rivaled the fabulous outdoor parties of the large Southern California Sierra Club peak groups!

After our peak party, we doused the fire well, and cleaned up the table and area, leaving no trace, as good campers will do. Motoring off, most of us took a dirt road down to a paved road past Stampede Reservoir, where I gained nice views of a river canyon, and then to Boca Lake, with sailboats. Traffic on the Interstate was light.

I had done some 2,500' gain Saturday, with some 1,800' Sunday. My total hiking covered about 15 miles.

This trip was well worth the wait. I was able to show hikers books of prints from my October 2000 Utah trip, and my recent trip to Southern Nevada. Having to be frugal this summer, in need of computer hardware and software upgrades, I thought that this fairly inexpensive jaunt may have to serve for awhile. But in the event of hot weather locally, the mountains are the best escape!