|In the early 2000s, I did some exploring in the area around Grouse Ridge and the Black Buttes in Northern California.|
The Grouse Ridge/Black Buttes area lies at about 6,000-8,000 feet halfway between the Western foothills
and the crest of the Sierra Nevada, just North of the South Yuba River. Although the highest peaks
barely top 8,000 feet, the views are quite amazing. When you are standing on one of these peaks,
you are high enough to have a completely unobstructed view to the North, West, and South. At the same
time, you are several miles West of the Sierra crest. Therefore, you get a wide, panoramic look of the
Sierra Nevada's Western front.
One fine day, as I was standing on the highest one of the Black Buttes and looking to the Southwest at the Tahoe Sierra, it ocurred to me that I was looking at pretty much the same peaks that I see from my window at home in Tahoe, except that I was now on the Western instead of the Eastern side: Castle Peak, Tinker Knob, Granite Peak, Twin Peaks, Dick's Peak, and Pyramid Peak. Right behind Dick's Peak, I even caught a glimpse of Freel Peak, which towers over South Lake Tahoe.
Given the fact that there is a continuous trail along the Sierra crest, and a connecting one all around Lake Tahoe, it occurred to me that with a little bit of cross-country hiking and a few miles on a dirt road, I would be able to walk home from where I was standing. Turning around and looking West down the South Yuba River canyon, I realized that on previous hikes, I had already covered most of the ground between Nevada City and where I was now. And thus was born the idea of The Long Hike from Nevada City, California to South Lake Tahoe.
Before we continue, a word of warning. Although my hike from the Gold Country to the Sierra crest and over to the Tahoe Basin was a truly unique and beautiful experience, I urge you not to retrace my steps. The walk out of the foothills as I did it involved some cross-country hiking through public lands that are home to criminal activities by people who do not wish to be disturbed. Do not, under any circumstances, hike cross-country or on old, unmaintained trails and dirt roads in the California foothills of the Sierra Nevada.