Trip Number: 13077A
Staff: Claudia Hilligoss
- Restore tufas to their natural state by removing graffiti, and perform
other service work as needed
- Explore the culture and history of the Paiute tribe
- Fish, swim, and hike during time off
- Instruction for the service project
- Hotel and hot shower at the end of the day
Share your community spirit and your love of the great outdoors on a service-oriented
vacation involving work projects in cooperation with the Paiute tribe at Pyramid
Lake in the Reno, Nevada area. Each day will offer a balance of activities (either
service or recreational) including swimming (weather permitting), fishing, and
hiking in addition to exploring the beauty, culture, and history of the Paiutes
and the local area. At the end of each day, we will return to the comfort of
our hotel for a hot shower. There will be plenty of time for rest and relaxation
in light of the fact that we will not be required to perform group chores that
are the norm on many Sierra Club national outings.
While most visitors come to this region to enjoy the glitter, gold, and bright
lights of the Reno casinos, this trip offers an opportunity to take the road
less travelled and experience the start beauty of the Great Basin Desert, the
largest U.S. desert.
The Lake Pyramid area is an arid climate, and May is one of the best months
of the year to visit, depending on your preferences, with warm days, cool nights
and small chance of rain.
Our fun will begin at our hotel in Fernley, Nevada, located just 33 miles northeast
of the Reno International Airport. This location was selected because of its
proximity to Pyramid Lake, and because it has no casino.
Photo: Sally Hanrahan
Our service project will focus on the conservation of tufas at Lake Pyramid.
Pyramid Lake is the site of the world’s most spectacular tufa deposits
composed of calcium carbonate. The tufa rocks formed sometime between 26,000
and 13,000 years ago when Pyramid Lake was part of Lake Lahontan that is now
dry. Unfortunately, the tufas have been vandalized with graffiti. Under the
supervision of Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe’s reservation staff, our main
work project will be to help remove some of the paint, thereby restoring the
rocks to their natural state. We will perform a variety of other tasks such
as painting, removing litter, and performing light maintenance projects, including
trail work on the Truckee River Trailhead at Pyramid Lake.
The trip will begin on day one with an informal gathering at 5:00 p.m. at the
Comfort Suites. Check-in time is 3:00 p.m., and if you arrive early, you can
unpack, take a leisurely walk, or explore the area. By arriving early you will
have additional time to acclimate to the altitude at 3,796 feet.
A typical day will begin with breakfast and making of a sack lunch. We will
then travel around 1/2 hour to work site and trailhead. At the end of each day’s
activity, we will return to the hotel for a social gathering before dinner and
optional evening activities.
We will alternate days two through six: three days for working, one day for
hiking the Truckee River Trail, and one day for exploring the area.
This off-day will allow those interested an opportunity to fish Pyramid Lake,
a world class fishery, the site of the world record Lohanton Cutthroat Trout
(41 pounds) and the only place in the world where the ancient Cui-ui fish can
be found. If you have never fished here before, you are in for a visual treat
and some exceptional fishing fun. However, you will be responsible for providing
your own equipment and obtaining a tribal fishing permit. Some may just spend
the day relaxing at the hotel or admiring the spectacular Reno clouds.
Photo: Claudia Hilligoss
We will enjoy special programs presented at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Museum
and Visitor Center, and a short visit to view Nevada’s Wild Horses at
the Bureau of Land Management’s Palomino Valley Ranch.
All activities and service projects are subject to change, depending on a variety
of factors including trail conditions, permits, weather, and availability of
staff and speakers.
Due to insurance regulations, all transportation to the lodge, trailheads,
and the work site is the responsibility of each trip member. Leaders are unable
to arrange carpools for participants. Those arriving by air or being dropped
off at the lodge should plan to rent a car or make their own arrangements to
carpool with other trip participants. If you wish to carpool, the leader will
provide a participant roster.
Accommodations and Food
Participants will share a double-occupancy room, either a king-size bedroom
for couples or a room with two queens. Rooms will have refrigerators and microwave
ovens. The hotel also offers a pool, spa, hot tub, and internet.
The first trip meal will be dinner on Sunday evening and the last meal will
be breakfast on Saturday morning. Participants will pay for their own dinners
at nearby restaurants. The hotel offers a full, complimentary breakfast each
morning. Participants will prepare their own sack lunch each morning. The trip
leaders will provide an assortment of sandwich breads, meats, cheeses, and spreads.
There will be plenty of food; however persons with dietary restrictions of personal
preferences may provide some food items of their own. While the lunches will
include vegetarian options, we cannot promise that local restaurants will be
able to accommodate strict vegans.
Work will be moderately strenuous due in large part to working in an arid
climate. Hydration is the most important tool in preventing sickness -- everyone
is advised to bring at least three one-quart water containers. This service
trip is suitable for all levels of fitness because everyone is encouraged to
work at his or her own pace. However, if you haven't been exercising regularly,
now is a good time to start. Safety is the primary concern on all our service
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Claudia Hilligoss
A detailed equipment list will be sent to all registered participants. Participants
will need hiking boots, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts for the work project.
The leader will send a departure bulletin with reminders about equipment and
pre-outing preparation before the trip begins. You should expect evening temperatures
in the low 40s and days in the mid 70s, as well as an occasional afternoon thundershower.
Please, no electronic devices.
- U.S.G.S. Nixon Quad. Leaders will provide maps and detailed directions in
pre-trip and on-trip communications.
- Sorer, Tracy I., Sierra Nevada Natural History.
- Blackwell, Laird R., Wildflowers of the Tahoe Sierra.
- Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Reservation: http://plpt.nsn.us/
- Tahoe Visitors Bureau: http://www.visitinglaketahoe.com
Photo: Hurston Roberts
Your trip leaders are volunteers. We have a long-term dedication to the Sierra
Club, conservation, and enjoyment of the outdoors. We'll be practicing Leave
No Trace wilderness principles throughout the trip in order to minimize our
impact on the environment.
The Reno-Tahoe area is a readily accessible recreation mecca, appealing to
retirees as well as to winter and summer recreational users. As more and more
people come to the area, they contribute to a growing environmental problem.
We'll discuss the ecological implications of the area's popularity.
While on the trip, please don't hesitate to ask your leaders about any conservation
concerns that you may have. We look forward to having you share conservation
challenges and successes from your home.
Since any traveling leaves a carbon footprint, check out the information that
the Sierra Club offers about carbon offsets at: http://www.sierraclub.org/outings
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Claudia Hilligoss has been a Sierra Club volunteer participating and leading a variety of trips in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and in the Midwest since joining the club in 1992. Some of her favorite activities are hiking, cross-country skiing, gardening, photography and art. She enjoys staying abreast of environmental issues and participating in events in support of the environmental community. In the past she served as a local group chair in Northern Kentucky, Fundraising Committee of the Cumberland Chapter, Clair Tappaan Lodge Committee. Currently she serves on the National Outings Committee. Her love of nature was sparked as a child exploring the prairie, streams, and lakes of the Midwest. After living and working in the Sierra Nevada mountains for many years, she recently returned to her native state of Indiana to be near family.
Rick Ramos, a native Californian, has been a Sierra Club member over 20 years and has been a hike leader at Group, Chapter and National levels the entire time. Rick has been active in the outdoors from childhood and is more comfortable outside than inside. His adventures have taken him from Baja to Alaska and West Coast to East Coast. He has skied and climbed Mt. Shasta in California, backpacked in Denali, Alaska, kayaked in Canada and Baja, and scrambled the canyons of Utah. His love of the outdoors is evidenced by his knowledge of the natural world which he loves to share on national outings.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips