Mini Camino to Reno 2020

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We are going!
After weeks of talk, we are ready to walk! Dianne & Michelle will begin their Mini Camino to Reno on Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Gardnerville, Nevada and arrive 5 days later in Reno, Nevada.
We will post our daily adventures on our facebook group page, if you want to follow along. Or, if you want to “get real”, come and walk with us for all or part of a day!
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Day 0 : June 8, 2020 Gardnerville, NV
We are on our way! Tonight we dined in the Basque region at the JT Restaurant in Gardnerville, Nevada. Dan and Pam came to see us off and lend support. We are now well-fortified with food, wine, and good cheer for our journey tomorrow. After dinner, we got a head start on Stage 1 by walking from the restaurant 2 1/2 miles to my home, where we will resume walking in the morning.
This will not be like walking in Europe. Here we do not find a centuries-old-church to quietly slip into a pew and spend some minutes in quiet reflection. There are no grand cathedrals, dazzling in gold and silver brought from the New World, with frescoed ceilings and colored glass windows. Instead, we will look up to the bright blue dome of the Nevada sky and be overjoyed by its beauty, and be grateful that we are here, walking this path today.
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DAY 1: June 9, 2020 Minden, NV to Genoa, NV
“Where does the Camino begin?”
“It begins at your own front door.”
Michelle and Dianne set out from the front porch, down the familiar sidewalk of Dianne’s home neighborhood.
Pam’s secret shortcut saved us a half-mile and let us avoid the highway shoulder and instead walk past a wetlands filled with the comic delights of yellowheaded blackbirds.
On Muller Lane we pointed our boots west, towards the mountains, and then turned off onto the Riverfork Trail. Our conversation got stuck in a loop. Over and over again we took turns saying “this is so beautiful!”
We were making good time, so we recharged with a break at the Nature Conservancy interpretive center before embarking on the last part of today’s travel.
On the shoulder of Genoa Lane we walked past The Hanging Tree, and then made the long gentle ascent to “downtown” Genoa. Checked our watches and it wasn’t even noon yet! Checked our odometer and we’d logged just six miles today. (Thanks for the shortcut Pam!)
And our walk today ends at Michelle’s house in Genoa – the matching bookend to this morning’s start. A good, easy day to start our Camino.
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Day 2 – June 10, 2020  Genoa to Carson City, NV
An unexpected bonus of walking Camino in your own hometown is that you bump into friends that you haven’t seen in a while. This morning, as we walked down the road from Michele’s house in Genoa, we ran into these gals who were enjoying their breakfast at a roadside stand. A honk from a passing car was Traci on her way to work. This evening, at the downtown Carson City brewery, we found our friends celebrating a birthday at this sidewalk table.

And in between breakfast and dinner were 16 miles of mostly pavement walking. But we made the best of it, stopping to turn around and admire the view behind us (thanks

Laurie Duperier), luxuriating in the cool grass of Fuji Park at mile 11, and pondering the derelict train cars waiting for their day to shine at the Nevada Railroad Museum. 
Our legs are tired now, so it’s a couple of Advil and early to bed. We look forward to seeing more friends tomorrow, and continuing our walk in the Silver State under blue Nevada skies.
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Day 3 – June 11, 2020 Carson City to Bowers Mansion (Washoe Valley)
History, beauty, and community are 3 Camino elements that we enjoyed in abundance today.
This morning our walk began at the Nevada State Capitol in Carson City. Across the street stands the old U.S. Mint building where, in the late 1800s, silver from the nearby Comstock Lode was pressed into silver dollars. As we walked up King Street we passed Morleys Antiquarian Books and the Brewery Arts Center (on the site of the old CC brewery).
Eventually we wove through new residential subdivisions and turned onto the V&T Trail. This is a rails-to-trails pedestrian and bike path that occupies the old Virginia & Truckee Railway route along the west side of Carson City. What a wonderful amenity for this community! Dozens and dozens of walkers and bikers of all ages passed by on this wide, paved, gently sloping route. On the north end of town the pavement ends, but the dirt railroad grade continues at a steady 1.8 % slope to the Lakeview Hill saddle. As we walked through the narrow railway gap, we imagined a great train robbery. Bandits rolled boulders down from the hillside above and onto the track. The chugging train screeched to a stop and the bandits stormed the stopped train. The train guards fought valiantly, but the thieves stole the strongbox of newly minted silver dollars. The ghosts of history still haunt this place.
Our little Camino family expanded today. Pam joined us for the first six miles in the morning, and Judy walked with us for the last seven miles in the afternoon. They both are great walkers and great company! Cyndie and Shane invited us into their home that sits along our route, but we stayed only long enough to inspect the bathroom. Our “trail angel” Lauren saved us with a cached cooler of cold water and snacks (Mike & Ike Forever!). Alice served us cold lemonade in her lovely backyard gazebo…. aahhh! Tonight we are enjoying the good cheer and delicious cooking of our hospitalera Sue, who is hosting us for 2 nights in her mountain home. Thank you to all of our Camino family – your presence elevated our day!
Last, but not least, we had beauty in abundance today; I will let some photos do the talking on that matter. 🧡
            
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Day 4 – Bowers Mansion to Galena (Friday June 12, 2020)
This was our Camino day with the most hiking and it felt great to spend the day off pavement. Not to say that it was easy. Our rocky path was uphill for two hours, climbing 1500′ in two miles. Fortunately, the beautiful vistas overlooking Washoe Lake gave us several opportunities to stop for photos and catch our breath. The pine forest offered patchy shade and the whispered song of wind moving through the branches.
Up and around the mountain our road continued. We rounded a curve and suddenly a gap in the trees revealed our first view of Reno, our destination for tomorrow, 20 miles in the distance.
Soon we arrived at a shady mountain glen with a happy little stream winding through as aspen grove. Shoes off. Lay down in the cool grass. Eyes closed for a few minutes.
Next, we turned onto a mountain bike trail that followed the stream downslope, and eventually connected to the Browns Creek Loop Trail. This route led us through chapparal, creeks, and forest. We encountered a few other hikers and quickly passed them in Covid-safe manner…I was disappointed to hear only silence, instead of “Buen Camino”.
We emerged at the trailhead on Joy Lake Road, and one last mile of walking delivered us to Sue’s doorstep. She pampered us with delicious home cooked meals, soft beds, and the kindness of a warm heart.
Today was our shortest distance, 9.3 miles, but steepest climb, 1500′ (5000′ elevation to 6500′ elevation). Tonight we sleep well and prepare for tomorrow’s 13 mile walk into Reno.
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Day 5 – Galena to Reno! Arrived!
After yesterday’s long uphill climb, we had earned this morning’s downhill run on the White Creek Trail. We filled up on breakfast and packed “just one more” homemade cookie before our hospitalera, Sue, dropped us off on Callahan Road. It was a delightful morning start along the cool, riparian-zone trail. GR-5-003.4

At Thomas Creek Road, we turned onto a lovely pedestrian path and meandered through the sparkling new neighborhoods of south Reno. Another hour of walking had us longing for a sidewalk restaurant with plastic chairs where we could order a cafe con leche. (Also, we were reluctant to drop trou in someone’s front yard and pee in their shrubbery.) Google maps suggested a route that would take us down to South Virginia Street, where we could encounter some commercial establishments. As we passed by a new subdivision the waving pennants and big sign caught our attention: “Model Homes – Now Open!” We would like to see what the latest homes in Reno look like, so we popped inside. The sales agent told us, “sorry”, we could not use the model bathroom (due to Covid restrictions?), but we were welcome to use the sani-hut in the parking lot. That was the cleanest outhouse I have ever used.

We trudged along the shoulder of noisy, busy South Virginia Street only as far as the first restaurant where we took a lunch break and rested our legs. Now we had to weigh the tradeoff between the shorter straight-thru run on this hectic road versus the longer detour that would take us on quieter streets but add a mile and an uphill climb. After 4 1/2 days of walking, we were like horses bolting for the barn, and the difference between the 6.1-mile straight shot and 7.4-mile “scenic” route felt significant. But we chose the longer, quieter, scenic route and were rewarded for our decision. We passed by lovely meadowlands, and through the covered bridge at Bartley Ranch Park. On Lakeside Road, we fed “Gloria” the front-yard chicken, with the grains left out to bypassers by the homeowner. At Virginia Lake Park, the geese followed children around, in hopes of a handout. And we talked to a fisherman who explained the necessity of heavy-duty rod & reel for the 20-pound carp he hoped to catch that night.

As we approached downtown, we both felt the excitement of nearing our goal: the bridge over the Truckee River in downtown Reno. We shifted east one block onto Virginia Street, so we could walk through Reno’s funky Mid-Town district, and have a proper entry into downtown. Our families had been texting us all morning, trying to fix our arrival time, and they were excited, too, and planned to greet us and celebrate. As we walked the last few blocks, we took a moment to reflect on our journey and share the gladness in our hearts of knowing a new friend and kindred spirit.

And finally, after 5 days and 65 miles, we set foot on the Virginia Steet Bridge. We each had carried a small stone since leaving our homes. At the bridge, we tossed the stones into the Truckee, along with the burdens they represented, and let the river wash them away.

Epilog – our families met us at the river, carrying a homemade banner proclaiming our accomplishment. They awarded us with our “Compostelas”: Spanish wine, a keepsake stone, and a custom patch for our Minden > Reno Camino 2020 (including a yellow arrow!)

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