Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kristy and Jeff Ride the Flume

Yesterday I played hooky filled out the proper paper work and got permission to take the day off work. Kristy and I got the boy off to school, and then headed for Spooner Lake. We parked the car at the State Park, and began our 23 mile journey through many different ecosystems. We rode on both sides of the mountain range, and at many different elevation levels. I couldn't help but take many, many pictures of all the beautiful things we saw! Our first stop was at Marlette Lake.

We saw four other bicyclists the entire day! A combination of early season and colder temperatures made it feel like the 1980's...back when the sport was just getting started around here. I used to hike up here as a kid, and my first bicycle trip up here was on a BMX bike. I pushed it most of the way up to Marlette that day. During the summer these days, it can get really busy up here. The place is still pristine though in spite of all the traffic.

From Marlette Lake we began the Flume Trail, the stretch of trail that is famous around the world for its fantastic views of Lake Tahoe. About now, you may be wondering, "Why the heck do they call it the flume trail?". A neighbor asked me the same question just yesterday.

Many years ago when Virginia City was in its mining boom, they needed lots of water for the mining operations. Virginia City is in the deserty mountains many miles from a good water source. The solution was to build a water flume that transported water from Marlette Lake, 30 miles away, along what is now the Fume Trail, through a Tunnel at Tunnel Creek to the East side of the Carson Range, down a rapid descent to Washoe Valley, and then up over the Virginia Range to Virginia City.

"Over 7 miles of specially constructed 12" pipe connected to a 25 mile wooden flume propelled the water all the way to Virginia City via an inverted siphon and the whole business was assembled and completed in the summer of 1873". Pretty cool, huh? Along the flume trail, there are remnants of the old wooden flume and sections of metal pipe from the metal flume that replaced it. These days the water is pumped from Marlette Lake over to Hobart Reservoir using modern technology. But the rest of the process is still in place! Today the flume trail is only used for biking and hiking.

After completing the Flume Trail, we crossed over the pass at Tunnel Creek, and headed down the other side of the mountains towards the lesser known Red House Flume Trail. It's a nice peaceful ride through the woods. We saw deer, and many new snow plants emerging from the ground. Even during the busy summer months, you seldom see people on this section.

We dropped a lot of elevation to get to Hobart Reservoir, and then had to gain it all back climbing Sunflower Hill. The hill is a steep, unrelenting climb, that takes you back to Marlette Lake. The sun flowers are actually "Mule's Ear", named for the leaves that resemble a mule's ear, and were just starting to bloom. We finally made it over the Saddle and back down to Marlette Lake. From there we had a short climb, and then a nice four mile descent back to the car. We were pretty wiped out when we got home, but nursed ourselves with some Fat Tire Ale, some red wine, and a batch of homemade eggplant Parmesan. Beats working any day!

The full set of pictures are HERE.

I hope that you'll appreciate the great danger I put myself in to get these videos. As some as you know, I don't always have good luck filming while riding with one hand.


I almost ate it shortly after hitting stop on the camera. Keeping up with Kristy through the bumps with one hand was tough.



This one has a good peek over the cliff feel to it.



A Squirrel's view of Kristy riding the Flume Trail.

10 comments:

Kristy said...

Funny, the description of Sunflower Hill was omitted when we were choosing the route. I would have remembered steep, unrelenting climb, in the ride description. Might I also add, long.

Actually there was a very subtle indication that this was going to be a long day, when the lady at the shop suggested we park our car outside the gate. Just in case we don't make it back by the 5:30 closing time. We made it back by 5:00 just barely.

It was a great ride and a perfect day! I was very happy to have completed all that climbing and still made it back to the car. I can't wait to explore more of the Flume and Rim trails!

Marcus said...

Great Pics! I remember the 80's growing up in South Shore. There was a secret trail that I used to ride on my BMX behind my house, which is now the bottom of Mr. Toads! That snow plant is interesting too. It is a fungus, and is actually edible ( only in emergencies, it is a protected plant) Your supposed to cook it like an asperigus. (sp?) I think I would rather have the mystery aged half open cliff bar...

Jeff said...

I used to think the snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) was a fungus too, but it's actually related to the heaths (blueberries, cranberries, rhododendrons). It lacks chlorophyll, and therefore cannot make food for itself. Snow plants are parasites on fungi, but they don't kill the fungi. The fungi infect the roots of the snow plant, and transfer food and water into the roots. More HERE

Marcus said...

Dude, I stand corrected. Woulda bet money it was a fungi! What did you study in College?

Jeff said...

I was a biology major for a little while! Music for a little while, then I dropped out...

Chris said...

That looks like an awesome trail. I keep saying it, and I'll say it again. You people out there have it good. You have great road and mtb. I think I will move.

Jeff said...

Chris, Don't you have any business trips lined up out this way? We'll take you on more trails than you can stick a shake at. The flume trail even has mountain bike rentals at the trail head. High end Specialized and Turner bikes...

Chris said...

I am in Nevada in July. How many hours drive are you from Vegas?

Jeff said...

Pretty far. Like 8 hours drive far. Boring road too. The bay area (San Francisco), or Sacramento area is closer. Those are 5 hour and 3 hour drives.

shawnkielty said...

I think I may just have to try the mountain biking thing ...