Storm stops historic trans-Sierra trek

A hike from the Comstock over the Sierra to commemorate The Grosh Brothers who originally discovered the Comstock Lode ended due to bad weather.
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 8:02 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Trying to hike across the Sierra with stormy weather closing in.

It sounded dangerous when we first learned plans of a group of adventurers to do just that. As it turned out, it was.

Members of the History Expeditions team spent a portion of Tuesday at a local indoor climbing gym, an unexpected diversion from their previous plans.

They’d left the Silver City Cemetery early Monday morning after pausing for a few thoughts and words at the gravesite of Hosea Grosh. He and his brother are believed by a growing number of researchers, including one member of the team, to have been the true discoverers of what became the Comstock Lode.

Hosea died shortly before proof of their find could be taken to civilization. His brother, Ethan Allen Grosh, died in the attempt. The team intends to trace the route to his grave at Last Chance, California on the other side of the Sierra and, in doing so, draw attention to the brothers, this piece of lost history and a new book on the subject.

The trek was planned for five days and the first leg, a hike over the Virginia Range to Washoe Valley, went according to plan.

“Yesterday was absolutely perfect,” said team member Elke Reimer. “It could not have gone better.”

Reimer is an experienced long-distance, trail runner, a veteran of the group’s previous expeditions retracing relief efforts to the Donner Party. Her definition of “perfect” can apparently include high winds and deep drifts.

“I did get blown over by the wind at one point,” she admits, “but you know that’s to be expected. It’s February, right?”

They finally made it to Washoe Valley, spending the night in the Davis Creek campground, but, with neither the weather nor the forecast improving, they decided to stand down. The next step was over Slide Mountain into the Tahoe Basin.

“Mother nature just had other plans for us today,” said team member Jennifer Hemmen. “So we decided the danger was too great to go up Slide Mountain with the current snow conditions, and we have decided it’s equally as dangerous to go up through Olympic Valley and over the top tomorrow.”

It is, they were all quick to say, a time out, not a surrender. A wise decision intended not only to avoid putting themselves, but others in danger.

They will be back, said Hemmen, “Absolutely. Yes we will finish it.”