With the season winding down at ski resorts around the country, it was time to head north to one of our favorite Spring destinations. Why is it one of our favorites you might ask. Easy…two main reasons. They always have a deep snowpack and there’s great après once the snow goes “sour.” In our minds, the town of Bend and that iconic peak Mt. Bachelor (formerly known as Bachelor Butte) is at the top of that list.
Pulling out of South Lake Tahoe and catching US-395 heading to Reno, Mt. Rose was getting hammered with snow. The weather report said they could get up to twelve inches of fresh. That’s incredible for May 5th. That’s not where we were headed today. Instead, the truck continued north into the wilderness. After a few hours of driving it was time to stop for a quick bite and some gas.
Alturas – Home to a “Ghostly” hotel
The road from Reno/Sparks area to Bend is a very desolate one. The huge Sierra Nevada’s hugging the west side of the highway dwindle down to small rolling hills. In addition, the expressway becomes a small two lane road that winds itself through ghost towns like Termo. There is tons to see from a nature perspective, but not a lot of civilization until you reach Alturas. Spanish for a high place, this quiet village with around 3,000 residents contains a surprising amount of restaurants for such a small population. The most distinctive structure on the main drag though is the Niles Hotel. This historic building is over a century old and the third floor is believed to have a resident ghost. It is believed to be a former prostitute who was murdered in the hotel. She’s been seen walking around the upper floors, and has even known to hop into bed with the male guests. This trip we were looking for food not lodging, so we continued a few blocks down to Harold’s Frosty.
An old fashion break
With the sun setting we pulled up to Harold’s Frosty. Now this was a classic hamburger stand! Walking in the restaurant felt like stepping into the past. By how immaculate this place was, you could really tell the operation took pride in it. The walls were decorated with pictures of everyone from Paul Newman to Ghandi and in the back you could hear a classic arcade game. After we ordered a couple burgers, shakes and an order of French fries, we took a seat as they prepared our food. This was a decent hamburger, but my favorite was definitely the French fries! They were crispy and salted well, just the way a good fry should be. Now don’t forget about the shakes! Ah the shakes…they were creamy and the choices of flavors were astounding. Depending on the time of year they even use fresh fruit. After filling our bellies, it was time to wave good bye to Alturas and get back on the road.
With the Sierra Nevada’s no longer in sight and the Cascade’s still two to three hours away, we were puzzled to look in the distance and see a massive mountain range to our east. Looking at the map we come to the realization that they are the Warner Mountains. This lone mountain range stands just shy of 10,000 feet and are the most northerly range in California. With only a lone ski area named Warner Canyon along the entire length of eighty five miles and with snow staying on the peaks through June there is a ton of backcountry skiing available that few ever seldom venture into. As the mountains disappear on our right the soil becomes more volcanic signaling we are getting closer to the final leg.