Place Name: Lyon County
Place Description: State: Nevada
Elevation: 10,404 Feet
Prominence: 724 Feet
Miles: 5.8 (RT East Sister only)
Elevation Gain: 2,901+ Feet
Lists: Tahoe-Ogul, Nevada Peaks Club, Andy Zdon Desert Peaks
A Well Guarded Fortress
East Sister is a short hike mileage wise, but this should not be underestimated. This peak guarded heavily on most sides by thick and heavy brush. The best plan of attack is gaining the ridge line from the west, it is brush free, but it makes up for it with a steep, sandy slog. Taking down this summit is definitely something to be proud of.
- Beautiful scenery throughout
- Good access road
- Ability to turn into traverse
- Lots of brush
- No water sources
After viewing the Sweetwaters with admiration from a distance for my whole life, I decided to tackle both the East and Middle Sisters.
Met up with Powen Ru and left Lodi by 5 am. We were at the trailhead by 9. The 3 miles on Risue Rd was well graded and mostly smooth. We turned off at NF50 and took it towards the corral. This road is rocky and high clearance is needed, but never even had any notion to slip it into 4WD. We parked in the meadow by the corral, there is a wide turnaround here. The road continues on, but degrades into a narrow dirt bike trail not far past that.
We followed the OHV road for the first 1.6 or so miles gaining around 500 feet into Little Smith Valley. We turned left and headed towards East Sister. East Sister is heavily guarded by thick brush all around except for this side. What it lacks in vegetation, it makes up for by using steepness and loose sand. This was roughly a 1500 foot gain in less than a mile. Halfway up the mountain it turns to 2-step forward, 1-step back country. After slogging through here the upper reaches of the peak are larger rocks and more stable. It took around 3:20 to summit in less than 3 miles of hiking. This is definitely a mountain you need to earn.
If you were just going for the East Sister, you could simply descend the way you came. If you are headed over to Middle Sister, you get to descend a rocky knife ridge for a short while, then dive straight into the thickest mountain mahogany you will ever find. The 700-foot plus descent through this was painful. Once in awhile you would burst into a clearing, but those were short lived. Needless to say after looking at my arms, I left a lot of DNA on that hillside. Jump over the Middle Sister Page to read about the rest of the trip.