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Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s Gamblers Poker Run


By Denis & Sandi Inman

Friday morning Sandi and I drove to the Meadowcliff Lodge in Coleville CA and checked into our room. It is a very nice motel in a beautiful location. We even had a complimentary lizard on our patio. From there, we drove up over 8,314′ Monitor Pass to the Centerville Flat Campground and checked in for the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s Annual Gamblers Poker Run. After returning to Highway 395, we passed our motel and continued South to Walker to get a couple of hamburgers to go at Walker Burger and made it back in time to catch the NASCAR Xfinity race in Bristol Tennessee.

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On Saturday morning, we drove back up the hill to the campground to line up for the poker run, then made a 30 mile drive on paved roads to the head of the Deer Valley Trail and aired down. The 12 mile route goes from below the dam at Lower Blue Lake, about 8000′ to Hermit Valley Campground at approximately 7000′. After we aired back up, we drove 14 miles on highway 4 over 8,730′ Ebbetts Pass back to the starting point to finalize our poker hands. Sandi had 2 fours on her card and I had a pair of queens, but someone ahead of us already had a flush.

We were told the entire route would take about 4 to 5 hours, but during the poker run the trail is bumper to bumper and extremely slow. The GPS indicated the elapsed time was 6:38 with 3:00 hours of moving time (that includes the pavement) and 3:38 of stopped time. There were maybe 30 or so rigs ahead of us and we spent an inordinately large part of the run at a complete standstill, wondering why we were not moving. The organizers told us that the trail required properly equipped vehicles with a minimum of 31″ tires and 33″ or larger were recommended. Sandi and I have 35″ tires on our long wheelbase Jeep Wrangler JKU, but we bottomed out on large rocks a number of times and I even had to engage the front E-locker twice.

From the last check point at the campground, we descended the mountain and returned to our room in time to catch start the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup night race at Bristol (baby). I let Sandi sleep in as late as she wanted on Sunday morning, so we weren’t packed up and on our way home until almost 6:30 AM. Stopping for something to eat at the Bridgeport Inn, a charming Victorian bed & breakfast, we both had the chicken fried steak and eggs. We arrived back in Pahrump at around 1:30, tossed our dirty laundry into the washer and sat down completely exhausted. I don’t think I will be able to do another trail run until at least Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest.