For awhile I have wanted to snowshoe to the top of Mt. Rose, but there was always some reason why it didn't work out. Saturday I set out to fix that.
Mt. Rose is the closest wilderness area near town and the most prominent peak you see from Reno. It is popular for hiking and back country skiing and is less then a half hour from my house. I got to the parking lot about 9am and headed out, immediately losing the trail. Because it's a wilderness, there aren't reflective markers, like you find on most snow trails. I had the guide book and reading the description made my way across the valley to the base of the mountain climb. It was a "choose your own adventure" type of day. There were signs of minor avalanches in some of the chutes, but most was tracked with skis. I avoided any dangerous situation. The last half mile there was no snow so I hiked cross country to the top. On the ridge was the first time I saw the trail all day. I got there about 1.10, took a few pictures and was out of there.
The weather was perfect all day. Clear, sunny and in the high 30s. Only on top of the ridge did I have cold wind. 20 minutes after leaving the top, a helicopter came in and circled the summit. I thought it was some people heli-skiing down the face of rose as a stunt. It left and came back a couple times and it was annoying me because a wilderness area is not supposed to have any machines or motors in it. It was intruding on my experience.
The hike out was exhausting and used all of my energy. The sun was getting lower and it was cold in the shadow of the mountain. To avoid going down and up valleys I was walking on a side slope following a cross country ski track. With firm snow and snow shoes, it was not simple walking. I made it back to the parking lot at 4, and was surprised to see it was full of search and rescue vehicles. As I went to pull out, they stopped me so the helicopter could land on the highway to drop off rescuers. It was the same helicopter I had seen earlier. So it wasn't skiiers after all. Later I read on the newspaper website that they were retrieving a body of an apparent suicide. I didn't see anything like that when I was up there, but tragic. It was a great hike, but quite challenging, seeing the search and rescue made me feel good to be out and alive.