Sand Mountain

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If you’re not already intricately familiar with the area, you would never expect there to be a set of tall, mini Sahara-like sand dunes just 1.5 hours east of Reno. But that’s exactly what you’ll find, along with people who like to drive fast on them in various motorized vehicles. Being into dirt bikes is what attracted me to the dunes, as I heard they were really fun to ride. My friends Keith and Dees, (Dees is his last name,) decided to buy paddle tires and go for it.

We arrived early Saturday morning and rode all day. (Be careful about the speed bumps on the entry road. They feel much more vicious than they appear and could damage your car/trailer if you don’t roll over them slowly.) There was definitely a learning curve in transitioning from the dirt, and we were a little intimidated to pin it up the dunes when we started. However, we adapted quickly and it became more fun as our comfort level increased. In addition to the constant high speeds, the freedom in choosing your lines on the wide-open sand is really unique. When you get a patch of sand that nobody has ridden through, it’s super smooth and reminds me of riding powder. If you’re less concerned about injury than I am, there are some big natural hits you could send.

We camped overnight, and I personally think few things can rival a campfire surrounded by your friends. Other people were shooting off fireworks and it made for a perfect show. The next day we rode until the sun started to set, and then came the sad part: We had to pack up and return to the real world. The video at the top of the page documented our first adventure, but it won’t be the last…

Being curious about the dunes, I did some thorough research on Wikipedia  and learned the following dune facts:
-They are 2 miles long
-600-700ft tall.
-The sand originated from ancient Lake Lahontan, which dried up about 9000 years ago.
– (For comparison: The dunes are a much smaller area than Pismo Beach in Southern California, but I believe they are taller.)

If you want to explore it, you can find more details HERE. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave me a comment!

(Photo Credit)


Castle Peak Attempt

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Approximate reading time: 3 minutes

I checked the weather forecast earlier this week and eliminated the possibility for a weekend adventure due to an approaching storm. However, on Saturday morning I got a call from my friend EJ, who you may remember from my last post. He suggested we brave the weather and go hiking as opposed to sit around. When adventure calls, it’s difficult for me not to answer.

We decided to go for Castle Peak since we both had never hiked it before. We assembled a crew of Greg, Alex, Dan, EJ and me, and set out in Greg’s Toyota Camry. The approach to the trailhead was on a dirt road, and Greg rallied that little Camry like Ricky Bobby on his way to Applebee’s. However, we confronted a hill that caused Greg’s tires to slide in the wet dirt, and car to almost high-center on the crest. We parked at the base of this hill and that’s where our hike began.

We continued hiking on the dirt road until we saw a single-track mountain biking trail off to the left. We decided to follow it, which led us up to Andesite Peak. As you can see below, this portion of the hike was quite lovely and scenic.





We even saw some humongous wild mushrooms. Does anyone know what species these are and if they’re edible?


In hindsight, it’s a much more direct route to Castle Peak if you continue on the main dirt road until it ends. (You can drive the entire section if you don’t take a Toyota Camry.) The exposure at the top of Andesite Peak revealed how strong the winds were. But the wind and mist added a layer of excitement to the hike. We were all in good spirits and having fun.


Nature selfie! (Feel free to leave me hate comments for this. I deserve it.)


As we climbed higher, the winds increased and the visibility decreased due to the mist. Per usual, Greg won the coolest picture award. He climbed to the top of a gnarly cliff and got this silhouette.


As we climbed higher the moisture turned to hail, and the wind delivered it against our bodies like a hundred cruel third graders were shooting us with airsoft guns. The hail turned our lovely day hike into a pretty extreme challenge that we were determined to conquer. You can watch the earlier sections of the video to gain a scope of the challenge we faced.

As we climbed higher, conditions just got worse: The wind increased, the frequency/size of hail increased and visibility decreased. Although the hail was pelting our bodies, I was worried about my eyes. The only strategy to shield my eyes from the horizontally-blowing hail was to turn in the opposite direction and walk sideways, or cup my hands around my eyes like a shield.

At this point, Dan and I decided to turn back. The extreme challenge at hand just became uncomfortable and unenjoyable. EJ, Greg and Alex decided to hike on. As Dan and I headed back down, we acknowledged the storm was gaining strength. It was raining much harder and we were soaked to the core.

The other guys carried on for about 20 mins before they decided to turn back. They reported visibility becoming so poor that they couldn’t see more than 20 feet ahead, and were concerned with getting lost in the whiteout. Not to mention, the hail took a toll on their motivation as well. I’m pleased they had the judgment to turn around, as proceeding in those conditions is just dangerous. If I had to contact a search party to locate my human popsicle friends, this blog post would have been a little darker.

Do you think it was fun or foolish of us to attempt a summit in these conditions?

Downieville Downhill Mtn Biking

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I received a call from my friend EJ last Thursday, and he suggested we spend the upcoming Saturday mountain biking on a “really cool trail outside of Quincy CA.” I objected because I don’t own a legit bike, and I don’t enjoy riding uphill. He successfully overcame my objections by informing me there were numerous bike shops to rent from, there were shuttles that provided rides to the top every hour and the trail was rated as the 8th best trail in the country.

I should have learned by now, I can’t trust his information. He’s that friend. But I did.

Flash forward to our 6:15am departure on Sat morning: Our crew consisted of EJ, our friend Kirby and me. I typed “Quincy” into Google Maps because that’s where I thought we were going. Wrong. We established we were going to Downieville once we were about 45 mins into the drive. Fortunately the route we pursued only added about 15 mins to out trip. For your reference, the best route from Reno is shown below: 80W -> 89 -> 49.


The route we took directed us to 395N toward Quincy, and had us take a detour as shown below. It was still a beautiful drive and therefore the stoke was still high.


Once we arrived in Downieville around 9am, I learned there were only two bike shops. The first bike shop’s shuttle was booked solid for the day, and the shuttle left every 2 hours. Why didn’t I verify EJ’s information again?? I felt so dumb.

The second bike shop was also booked solid for the day. HOWEVER, they had a shuttle leaving in 15 mins and a party of three that hadn’t checked in. We had a party of three and we miraculously got their spots. Good karma was on our side, and I’m glad it worked out since the next “potential” shuttle opportunity would have been at 11am.

I rented a sick Specialized downhill beast for $65. I had never ridden a legit, modern downhill bike until that day, and I can understand why they’re so expensive these days. Everything was engineered to handle the bumps and the speed perfectly, and it did. The shuttle was $20 per person and dropped us off at the very top.

The ride was about 14 miles and about 4500 feet of downhill. It was sick. There was only 1 section with a climb. The trail we took was the Butcher Ranch Creek Trail, and you can read more about the numerous trails HERE. After the ride, I had the most miraculous guacamole burger from the local restaurant. After a hard ride, some calorie-dense soul food is the best.

The video encompasses a brief overview of some of the terrain: fast downhill sections, flowy sections through the trees, gnarly rock sections and beautiful scenery. Since mtn biking is so organic, I decided a raw edit, (no music,) would be more fitting. Click the wheel on the bottom right and choose 1080p for best quality.

If this post inspires you to go ride, I want to hear about it. Leave me a comment and tell me about your experience!

Mt. Tallac Hike

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When I left the house this morning, I had no idea what adventure I was in for. Overall it was an incredible, and grueling. Soon after we began the hike, the trail was covered in river rock. We noted that it would have been a good idea to bring very thick shoes or hiking boots. About a mile in, we saw the most spectacular waterfall on the whole hike, which you can see in the photo below. We continued through the forested area, which paralleled a stream. As we gained elevation, we noted the surrounding peaks which still contained some snow. We couldn’t help but discuss which peaks we would like to ride in the winter.

As we continued, the amount of mosquitoes increased, and we were constantly swatting them off of us. We noted mosquito repellent would have been a nice item. The trail led us to a series of boulders, which we deiced to climb. The rock stacks other hikers had left indicated we must be going the right way. After scrambling for a suspicious amount of time, one of us spotted the trail in the distance. We got back on the trail, and the hike was much easier. Soon after we stopped for lunch, and I felt foolish for not bringing more food. I forgot how hungry long hikes make me. Fortunately we brought a ton of water, which kept us hydrated and refreshed all day.

Eventually we arrived at Gilmore Lake, a classic alpine Sierra Mtn Lake. It was amazing, as you can see from the photo below. We didn’t stay for long due to the mosquitoes, and we continued up. The 40 minutes leading to the summit were tough. The trail was steep and the high elevation made it difficult to breathe. Once at the summit, the obstacles we had faced were well worth it. We had a 360 degree view of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Aloha, and Emerald Bay. Check out the pictures below!

Although it was a great trip, I have no desire to do it again. Our trip totaled about 7 hours, I’m sunburned and I’m going to be covered in mosquito bites tomorrow. Mt. Tallac was something I’ve been wanting to conquer for awhile and I’m happy to check it off the list. It’s one of those hikes that you have to do at least once. It’s probably not a hike you will do often, unless you’re a hardcore mountain goat. Hikes like this one reinforce my love for Reno. I think it’s so unique I can be on top of a huge mountain in Tahoe and back at my house in Reno in the same day. If you have hiked Tallac, tell me about your experience in a comment! If you have hiked to one of the other destinations around Tallac, what would you recommend?

The Waterfall!

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Chris climbing a huge tree early in the hike. Lucky he survived.

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Rock stacks marking the way.

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EJ and I at Gilmore Lake


At the summit.

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Amazing Views!

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Maybe we will return in the winter to ride?

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You’re Friends are Visiting, What To Do?

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CrewOn Memorial day weekend I had three friends from Oregon visit. One was my former roommate in the dorms, Reilly (left,) who very recently survived cancer! It was so good to see him healthy and happy again. I had not seen the other 2 of them since my undergraduate days, and not one of them had been to Reno. The video below summarizes our adventures, and the pictures below give you a more accurate image.



Eagle LakeMy friends arrived on Friday night, and we hung out since we were all tired. On Saturday we awoke from the dead, grabbed a few sandwiches from Capriottis and started our adventure to Eagle Falls. We hiked up Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake. The views were amazing and the Oregonians felt at home. The hike was pretty easy and it was perfect for Reilly.
Next we grabbed a baguette, salomi and cheese, and we hung out at King’s beach. The water was still pretty cold and so I opted for playing frisbee. After spending a few hours at the lake, we went to downtown Truckee and grabbed some food and drinks. Afterwards we went up to my family’s cabin, where we said hello to my parents and relaxed for awhile. Eventually we headed back to Reno and prepared for a night in downtown Reno. We got out in downtown late, but I managed to take the Oregonians to Imperial, Old Bridge and the Cal Neva. It was Katie’s first time in a casino and it was funny to listen to her reaction. The Oregonians weren’t particularly amazed with downtown Reno, so we called it a night.

ZombieThe next day we went to Archies to take advantage of the $3.50 bloody Mary special and the breakfast burritos. MMM. Then we bought a ton of ammo for my AR-15, and shot it for hours up on Peavine. I had a Zombie target that had spaces to insert clay pigeons. I inserted a bottle into the slot in the Zombie’s mouth. When I shot the bottle, it exploded in such a way that it actually severed the zombie’s head! I felt accomplished, as everyone know you can;t kill a zombie unless you shoot it in the head. Check out the photo.





PyramidNext we got camping supplies and ventured to pyramid lake. We spent the remainder of our night around a campfire, under the stars. Aside from the brief windstorm and bug infestation, it was gorgeous. Pyramid Lake is such a mystical place. The next day we walked over to the forbidden zone and climbed on the rocks. After that we packed up the campsite, drove back to Reno and I had to say goodbye to the Oregonians.

They all commented on how diverse and fun the weekend was. They also noted that they would never be able to show someone a similar weekend in Portland. If you liked my Memorial Day adventure, tweet it to your friends!

Good Hikes for Summer

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The days are getting longer and the air is getting warmer. The snow is practically gone, but it’s not quite warm enough for summer activities. It’s the perfect time of year for hiking, especially when the hiking revolves around waterfalls. Below are a few hikes to keep in mind.

1. Horsetail Falls

This hike is off of Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe, near Sierra, the ski resort. You have to start by venturing over a solid rock section, with no trail in sight. Eventually you will find the trail, which starts in a forested area. Once you pass the forested area you will begin to climb beside the waterfall on the rocky face, making the entire hike very scenic. There is an alpine lake at the top that is very cold, and there are beautiful views to be had. The hike was pretty long, several hours if I remember correctly, and the waterfall actually continued as far as the eye could see. It requires some endurance. Make sure to bring a lot of food and water, and leave early. Some day I would like to hike all the way up to its original source.

2. Eagle Falls

This hike is a short piece of cake. I don’t recall it being much over a mile and the trail is relatively flat and well maintained. Therefore it feels pretty touristy in comparison to other hikes. The views of Emerald Bay and the waterfall are spectacular. The views make it very worthy of your bucket list. The video below begins with shots of Eagle Falls and Horsetail Falls makes an appearance at 1:04.

3. Shirley Canyon

I haven’t done this hike but it’s on my list. Apparently you can hike up Shirley Canyon at Squaw Valley to Shirley Lake. I’ve been told it’s beautiful and full of waterfalls. I don’t believe their is an official trail and therefore you should be ready for an adventure if you pursue this hike. Stay close to the creek so you don’t get lost. Squaw Valley’s website describes the hike as “a great half day hike through a mountain canyon that passes by waterfalls and spectacular granite boulders.” Apparently there are some steep sections and therefore this is probably not a “beginner” hike. 

I’m sure there many more beautiful hikes with waterfalls near Lake Tahoe. Are there any you would recommend to me? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Activities IN Reno

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I’ve already discussed plenty of recreational opportunities around here. If you’re too lazy or unadventurous to get out of the city, what is there to do around here?? The short answer: A LOT! In this post I will try to avoid outdoor activities I have touched on in prior posts such as the hiking, biking and dirt biking trails in Reno, the activities associated around the Truckee River, etc. I will suggest more entertainment-centric activities you could pursue IN Reno.

  1.  Need to Speed

This is an indoor kart racing facility that is fairly new to the South Reno area. Apparently the karts get up to 45 mph and the video below makes it look really fun. My friend had the brilliant idea of dressing up like the characters in Mariokart and going there to race. You better not get behind me or I will definitely throw a banana peal in your path. The only bummer is that the guy in the video below explains how the karts are the “safest on the market” which means they probably don’t go as fast as they should, especially if they are impossible to tip. Still, 45 mph sounds pretty fast, and they are open even on the Holidays!

  1. The Grand Sierra Resort

This place has so much to do it’s just silly. Outside by the parking lot, they have a driving range where you hit balls into a lake. On this lake, there are a few floating islands at varying distances, and you win prizes if you make your ball into some of the holes. If you make a hole in one on the farthest island you win a free trip to Hawaii, but it’s basically impossible since the island is a piece of wood covered in a thin layer of turf. Your ball goes flying off after impact. They also have a huge bowling alley, a 185 ft bungee swing, mini golf and go karts. On the very bottom floor you can find “Fun Quest” which is designed for kids and it consist of video games, laser tag and “tumble town,” which is like a padded bounce area with slides and such.

  1.  Safe Shot Shooting Range

In Reno, we are a bunch of gun-slinging rednecks. Therefore, it’s perfect that there is a shooting right in the middle of the South Meadows area, very close to Jasmine Sushi off of Double R Blvd. There may be more shooting ranges in Reno, but Safe Shot is the only one I’m familiar with. There are also a number of unofficial outdoor ranges in the Carson area and on Mt. Peavine just North of Reno. If you like guns and you’re bored, it’s always fun to blast off a few rounds.

4. Frisbee Golf

Frisbee GolfRight behind the baseball complex that is off of N. Virginia and N. McCarran there is an 18 hole frisbee golf course. It’s a great way to kill some time with friends, as you can be competitive but chances are everyone in the group is pretty bad at it. It’s not a strenuous activity and therefore you can drink a beer and relax while you play. The course offers some spectacular views of Reno, as you can see by my photo to the left. If you don’t have frisbee golf discs, you can buy them, at Cabellas.




5. San Rafael Dog Park

ranchosanrafael10Located across the street from the frisbee golf course is San Rafael Park, and the San Rafael Dog Park. It’s a giant dog park where your furry friend can run free and get into fights with all of the other dogs. There is also a pond at the top and bottom of the park so your dog can jump in an get really muddy before getting back into your car for the ride home. If you don’t have a dog, then you can go play with other person’s dogs, which will brighten your day, unless you’re more of a weird guinea pig person of course. The park is so massive that taking a walk across the park in itself is actually a pretty nice activity.  (Photo Credit)


6. EZ Air

Basically this place is a warehouse full of trampolines. Trampolines on the ground, the walls, and into foam pits. Therefore it probably won’t be an enjoyable activity for most true “adults” or women. Since I’m just an over-sized old kid, I would still find it enjoyable on occasion. You can try double flips into the foam pit without the risk of injury. You can also partake in the dodgeball games that occur at scheduled times.

Lastly you can do the same activities that you can do in every city: There are plenty of parks and large grass areas to sit at, you can go a regular or Imax movie,  you can play in the nearest body of water, (the Truckee River,) you can go shopping, visit museums, partake in a pick-up soccer game at the UNR turf fields, etc. What do you like to do IN the City of Reno when you have time for fun? Leave me a comment and let me know!