Hope Valley draws visitors year round for many reasons. This time of year the big draw is the show of color the aspens put on. If you catch it just right there are gold, yellow, orange, pink and red leaves in the groves of aspen that blanket the Hope Valley area.
Most people go for a drive, see the colors, and call it a day but thereÕs much more to Hope Valley than that. All along the Highway 88 corridor are trail heads and lakes. Seeing the aspens in full autumn dress from a car is certainly very pretty Ñ hiking through the colors is mind boggling.
If you are lucky enough to catch the aspens at their peak you will remember it forever. No one knows exactly when or for how long the colors will be around. The aspen groves you canÕt see from the road sometimes offer the best show. All it takes is a bit of luck and the willingness to get out of your car and do a little hiking. Then if you are a bit too early or a bit too late you will still have a great autumn hike.
If you do decide to hike into one of the lakes or meadows, make sure youÕre prepared. The forests in the high country are beautiful but unforgiving of the unprepared. No matter how far you hike, here are some things that you should take.
1: More than enough water for the out-and-back. A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds. While that may seem heavy, especially if you need 2 gallons, remember you’ll be drinking all day and your pack weight will decrease. Not having enough is a big mistake.
2: Layers. The temperatures this time of year can go from cool to warm to cold quickly. Wear enough to shed when its warm and put back on when it cools. Leave the cotton stuff at home Ñ itÕs great for a lot of things, but not for hiking in the back country. It has no insulating value, especially when wet. YouÕll need lightweight rainwear, a hat and gloves.
3: Good hiking shoes or boots. Hiking poles are a plus, especially if you are in the clumsy hall of fame or the age when every little bit of good gear helps.
4: Nourishment. You’ll need enough food and snacks to carry you through the hike, plus a bit more. ItÕs always good to have too much. Running out is bad mistake.
5: A map. Take a map even if you think you know the way. If itÕs a new hike study the map before you leave. Most trails in our area have been written about so a good hiking book can also be helpful.
6: Camera. Take a camera with fully charged batteries and plenty of room on your memory card. If itÕs a perfect day youÕll need them.
Pay attention while hiking and look around often. Look back as you progress. Things look different on the way out. That can save you from getting lost.
Here are some places to consider for your Highway 88/Hope Valley hikes: Shealor Lake, Ruth Lake, Meiss Meadow, Forestdale Creek, the old fire road above Sorensen’s Resort, Carson Pass to Frog Lake, Lake Winnemucca, the trail from Woods Lake to Round Top Lake, Granite Lake above Silver Lake and Emigrant Lake from the Caples Lake trail head.
You can also hike up the old highway from the rest stop at PickettÕs Junction (where Highways 88 and 89 meet) to Luther Pass, which will take you through some stunning aspen groves and great views of Hope Valley. There is much more, but this is a column not a book. More suggestions will follow in another column.
It is extremely important to check the weather prior to setting out. A storm can ruin your day. Choose a hike that fits your ability and time constraints. The days are growing shorter and you will lose sun earlier in the high country.
Wherever you choose to hike, have a wonderful and safe time in our great outdoors.