Of the 1200 peaks with at least 2000 feet of prominence in the Lower 48 (P2Ks), 170 are in Nevada. This consequence of the state’s Basin and Range topography unfortunately means that, for someone irrationally obsessed with his P-index, this monotonous scrub-desert is the easiest place to make the number go up. I therefore try to tag a few of these summits each time I cross the state with a minimum of additional driving.
SiegelMount Siegel, southeast of Lake Tahoe, was probably not named in honor of Bugsy, but should have been. It is a prominent mound sitting across from the higher peaks of the Tahoe-area Sierra near Minden, which I have passed many times and always meant to climb. This time I had a bike and some free time, and so finally took care of it. I filled up on my first non-California gas in awhile, then parked at the station and started biking toward the peak, following one of several tracks on Peakbagger along some jeep roads winding past private property toward a saddle north of the peak. The track’s author claimed to have driven nearly to the saddle, but I found the road in poor shape, badly eroded and possibly only drivable in an ATV or lifted Jeep. There was also an unpleasant stream crossing near the start of the bad road that required wading.
The road turned into a creek as it neared the saddle, and I decided to stash my bike and walk the rest of the way. Just before the ridge, I turned off the road in an open area and headed cross-country up the steep slope. This could have been miserable, but a recent fire had admirably improved the peak; some places are improved by burning. The ridge was long, with several talus sections and a few false summits, but fortunately mostly snow-free. I eventually reached the enormous cairn at the summit, where I ate my last food and perused the register. Apparently some people still drive to within less than a mile of the summit from the other side, but I did not see signs of a road, or of much recent traffic.I started back down the ridge on the descent, then took off right to boot-ski a couple snowfields to save some effort. This side of the peak was insufficiently burnt, so the brush was a bit worse, but still not a serious impediment, and I rejoined the old road a bit higher than I had left it. Shortly afterward, I encountered a small gopher snake sunning itself on the road, moving slowly on a chilly Spring day. I was able to gently pet it for fifteen seconds or so without much reaction, but when I moved to grab it closer to the head, it curled up, hissed, and wiggled its tail, pretending to be a rattlesnake. However unlike a real rattlesnake, it slowly slithered away rather than standing its ground, and I respected its wish to be left alone. I got spattered a bit with mud and water on the ride back, but it was uneventful and faster than walking, and the creek crossing was more pleasant mid-day. One more P2K down.