|A Day in the Desatoyas
By Sharon Marie Wilcox
Dave Porter and I left Reno at 7:00am excited about hiking another peak on the Great Basin Peak Section list. Desatoya Peak (9973’) is the high point of Churchill County and the tallest peak in the Desatoya Mountains. A quick caffeine refuel, then we headed to Fallon to meet John Ide at the Churchill County fairgrounds.
Following the driving directions in Bob Sumner’s book, Hiking Nevada County High Points, we drove up the canyon along Edwards Creek. Signs along the road explained that the Edwards Creek Riparian Restoration Project is a joint project between the landowner of Smith Valley Ranch and other organizations. This explained the cattle sauntering along the creek through the restoration area.
A herd of wild horses paced us as we continued up the road through notably large Pinyon and Jeffrey Pine Trees.
We reached Basque Summit then continued driving 0.4 miles to park at the fence line that divides Lander and Churchill Counties. The road had a couple of rocky eroded areas prior to the summit that would be difficult without high clearance.
The route follows a road and cattle trails, so this was an easy hike to the peak with no bushwhacking. We encountered a few lingering snow patches after we left the road, but nothing that wasn’t easy to skirt around or cross.
The day was windy with a few strong gusts however once we reached the summit we had a pleasant stop to eat, sign the register and absorb the phenomenal 360-degree view. It is difficult to describe the sea of mountain ranges and peaks viewed from the summit of most Great Basin Peaks and this was no exception.
We descended Desatoya Peak along the ridgeline to walk up its North Twin at 9965’ then retraced our route back to the car.
Another enjoyable day spent in the beauty and solitude of the Great Basin. [Photo: Dave Porter and John Ide in the Desatoya Mountains.]
|A Ninety-one Hour Hiking Adventure from Reno to Death Valley and Back
By Larry Grant
Tuesday morning, January 24, 2012 -- I rolled at about 8 am. Heading down Highway 395, I discovered that there was fresh snow just south of Walker and off and on down to Mammoth. Arrived in Bishop about noon and did a pit stop at the Spellbinder for coffee and an email check. Back on the road to Lone Pine and then east on Highways 136 and 190. Telescope Peak was my primary hiking objective for the trip so that first day out my final destination was Wildrose Campground. I stayed on 190 until I reached Panamint Valley Rd where I made a right turn heading south. At the Trona Wildrose Rd. it’s a left turn heading northeast until you come to Wildrose Canyon and then the campground which is down low and still on pavement. I arrived at the campground at about 4 pm and was thankful to have an hour+ of daylight for cooking, replenishing certain vital fluids and getting situated. I was the only living soul in the campground that night.
Wednesday, January 25th – got up at 7 am (first sign of light) to a promising day and started to make coffee and breakfast. Packed up and headed up Charcoal Kiln Road at about 8:30 am and arrived at Mahogany Flats right about 9 a.m. The road is paved for a several miles but the last part is gravel. Near the end of the road, there is a fairly steep section and it had some snow on it. Kicked in the 4WD and fishtailed my way on up it. Paul’s words: “we were slip-sliding away.”
With ice axe, crampons and headlamp, I started hiking about 9:05 am. Trail had some snow in the beginning on the shaded north-east slope of what I will broadly call Rogers Peak but once the trail took me around to the south side most of the snow was gone. And the next four miles, heading due south, were uneventful – not very difficult and a beautiful day. The last mile to Telescope is steeper and retains its snow because of the shaded north slope. With about ¾ mile to go I put on the crampons and the snow got deeper as I progressed. The last quarter or eighth of a mile is pretty steep and there was a lot of drifted snow over the trail. I was able to discern the trail path without too much difficulty and summited at about 1 pm. I ate my lunch, signed the register and took some photos. I headed down at about 1:25 (the sun was already looking a little low in the sky) and retraced my steps without incident. Reached the trail head about 4:10 pm and then proceeded on down to Wildrose Campground for another relaxing night at a fairly low and warm altitude. Great hike! I did not see anyone all day (hurray!) nor did I see any wildlife (boohoo).
Thursday, January 26th – knowing that I was driving around the Panamint Range to Death Valley later that day, I was determined to get an earlier start and be a bit more efficient with my first hour activities. Rolled out about 6:45 and pressed the headlamp into service for about 20 minutes. Did all the normal morning stuff, packed up the whole farm by about 7:35 am. Arrived at the Wildrose Peak trailhead (right at the charcoal kilns) and started hiking about 7:55 am. It’s a fairly short hike and, compared to TP, not all that difficult. The neat thing about Wildrose Peak is all of the rose colored granite that one will see on the hike – it’s everywhere. This was a pleasant light hiking day with good weather. I saw about 6 humanoids on the trail as I was coming down and I arrived back at the parking lot right at noon. I ate some lunch, took some photos of the kilns and headed down to Stovepipe Wells.
Arrived at SPW at about 2:45 pm and did an email check. It’s free wifi for all comers there at the motel and there is a lounge you can camp out in just for that purpose. Now the caution – they get their link to the outside world via satellite and the internet is very slow. One could easily go and order and get your beer while a page is loading. Well, it was free!
I bought a park permit and hit the road (this territory was all new to me) about 3:30 pm. Headed south through Furnace Creek and then further south on the West Side Road to Johnson Canyon. Did a couple of minor detours to see things that looked interesting. West Side Road is well signed and I arrived at the Johnson Canyon road at about 5 pm, just before dark – I think part of the valley has to be within a couple hundred feet of sea level. I headed the Jeep up the 10 mile trek at about 5 miles (or less) per hour. It was a long drive and it was totally dark in no time. But before it got totally dark, there were some really sweet clouds to the south and a reflective sunset off of the clouds. And it was warm – mid 70s.
I arrived at the end of the road (about 3,880’ elevation) at about 7:30 pm in total darkness. And the frogs were in full croak mode (the road ends at a spring on Johnson Creek [my designation]). Did the reshuffle of gear and hit the sack. Rolled out at first light the next day and started walking up the Canyon about 9 am with no idea of where I wanted to go other than to Hungry Bill’s Ranch. I reached it in no time, feeling good and just kept hiking up the north fork of Johnson Canyon in the general direction of Panamint Pass. As I progressed west, I became infatuated with what I knew was going to be another incarnation of the infamous Unnamed Bump. So I pealed off to the north and summitted about 12:30 pm the elevation is 7,990’. I spent little time on top – ate a quick lunch and headed down. The canyon is tricky to hike. Trails come and go and in the lowest sections where the creek runs, the vines and willows and other pesky plant life grow in abundance. I got caught in one of these patches and was beginning to think it was the end to an otherwise charmed life. But I persevered and finally worked my way out of it – whoa, hope to never do that again. According to the USGS Panamint Quad, the hike looks to be about 10 miles RT and about 4,100’ elevation gain. And it felt every bit of that.
I arrived back at the Jeep at 4 pm. I took a moment to replenish some vital fluids, put 10 gallons of cheap, Reno gasoline into the tank and headed for Reno. I arrived in Lone Pine about 9:30 pm and took on a cup of store bought coffee and was back on the road quickly. I arrived home in Reno at 3am. Saturday morning.
Photos: Larry Grant at Wildrose Campground; Telescope Peak (photo by Larry Grant)
|Great Basin Peaks Section on the Trail to Middle Sister and Her Northeast Ridge 10/24/11
By Sharon Marie Wilcox
We left Reno at 4:00 pm planning to arrive at the trailhead in the Sweetwater Mountains before dark to camp and get an early morning start on the trail. Our group of seven had dwindled to three hikers: myself, Larry Grant, Larry Dwyer, plus my dog Tioga.
We followed the driving directions and hiking route from Bob Sumner’s book Hiking Nevada’s County High Points.
Driving south from Wellington, the turn off from NV SR 338 was not marked. The Nevada Road & Recreation Atlas enabled us to see that our right turn onto Riuse Road (#050) was shortly after the left-sided Nye Canyon sign.
I’d recommend high clearance vehicles on the last rough rocky dirt road that heads up to the corral, even though Larry D. drove his Subaru Outback all the way without a problem. We arrived at the corral (7,520’) at last light. Away from city lights, we enjoyed phenomenal stargazing.
In the morning, we started up the cold frosty trail at 7:45 am. Pinyon and mountain mahogany surrounded us at the start of the canyon, but towards the saddle we rose to a brushy open area.
As we ascended we could see the valleys below filled with white puffy clouds and wispy clouds drifted around us. Precipitation had been forecast for that afternoon.
At the Northeast Ridge (Lyon County High Point, 10,560’), I mistakenly took us to the higher cairn that marks the Von Schmidt line. Here we signed this register, then later returned to the Lyon CoHP on the way down from Middle Sister to sign its register. I had even been warned not to make this mistake!
On the summit of Middle Sister (10,854’), we had a nice 360-degree view since most clouds had lifted. We took pictures of the Sierra and Sweetwaters and then found shelter in the trees out of the cool breeze for lunch.
After lunch, we hiked back down to the Lyon CoHP to find and sign the register.
We descended a different route after Larry G. spotted a vague road that headed back down the canyon we had skirted above on the way up. The descent wove through sage and mahogany with no bushwhacking. However, it won’t take long before this vague road gets totally overgrown.
On a day with more time and no worries of a possible storm, it would be easy to also summit East Sister.
We returned to the vehicles without the forecast precipitation and arrived back in Reno by 5:00 pm.
Note: Here is the link to Bob Sumner's guidebook. Be sure to check his Update Section for any recent information on the routes. http://www.nevadahighpoints.com/
Photo: Summit of Middle Sister 10,854' Sweetwater Mountains -- Larry Dwyer, Larry Grant, Tioga, & Sharon Marie WIlcox (photo by SMW)
|Bridge Mtn & McCullough Mtn
By James Barlow
November 10-11, 2012
Cast: Keith Christensen, Jen Blackie, Mat Kelliher, & James Barlow
Veteran’s Day fell on a Monday this year. And what does one do with a 3 day weekend in November? Head to the desert and bag peaks of course! Keith Christensen, Jen Blackie, and I hiked Kingston with Daryn Dodge & crew on Saturday, but made advance plans to continue east in the legendary van to meet Mat Kelliher and climb Bridge on Sunday before moving on to McCullough on Monday. Sunday morning saw us waking up freezing below Bridge at our campsite on Lovell Canyon Rd. Mat arrived shortly and we were off in the Jeep, headed for the Bridge trailhead via the southern approach. The road is washed out about 1 mile before the 4WD trailhead. It’s pretty much impassable to anything but a rock crawler vehicle. Even Mat’s mighty Jeep stopped and parked. We were able to follow the road to the trail, following the standard DPS route down to the beginning of the climb. A recent snow storm had blanketed Charleston peak in snow, but Kingston and Potosi were untouched, so we figured we would be good on the lower elevation Bridge Mtn. Things were not looking good as we began to ascend the standard route. By the time we hit the famous bridge, the rock became too icy to proceed. Sadly, we made the smart choice and bailed. On the way out Jen led us up North Peak, straight out of the Zdon book. It was a peak, but not nearly the challenge we were looking for. North Peak has a Class 1 use trail to the top. Despite being turned back from our objective, the area is incredibly beautiful, and the hike to the bridge and our consolation prize of North Peak made for a decent day, though a successful DPS peak would have been nicer. There is a sign that says “North Peak 0.3 miles, difficult” as you head towards that peak. We all got a good laugh out of that one. 0.3 miles of class 1 on a use trail is about the furthest thing from “difficult” a real DPS peakbagger could imagine…
We parted ways with Mat, who was working Monday, and headed towards McCullough Mtn via dinner in Vegas to make camp and prepare for the next day’s hike. The road into the McCullough was right at the threshold of what the van could handle in the sand, but we made it to the bottom of the eastern route up the peak (DPS route A). There was a sign warning of a hunter in a “blind” in the area, so we wisely stopped just short of this sign so we wouldn’t be confused for quail or deer in our sleep. DPS route A advertises difficult navigation, though we found it quite easy. I loaded some points into my GPS to assist in navigation, but we ended up not needing them. We managed to hit every turn and climb out of washes at nearly the right spot. Three brains worked quite well for this one.
When we were about 20 minutes into the hike, tragedy struck. I went to turn on my camera for a picture and nothing happened. Somehow the camera had drained its battery overnight. I had a handful of spare AA batteries for my GPS and headlamp, but you know how those camera companies make oddball batteries for cameras… Anybody who has hiked with me can attest to my pleasure in taking pictures, especially on the summit. I currently have pictures of myself on 48/49 of the DPS peaks I have completed, in the hope of making a collage of myself on the summit of every peak. Quite a vain pursuit to some, but it’s my thing. Take only pictures and leave only footprints.
At this point, I was a bit upset with my electronic device, and may have even unleashed a few naughty words, possibly cursing like a Sailor. Well, the hike continued on since my legs still worked and the combined brains of Keith and Jen kept us on route. My brain was crying like a baby since my toy didn’t work. After a bit, Keith, the electrician, came up with an idea. I had a handful of AA batteries on me and the summit of most desert peaks are littered with old wire and wood. Maybe we could figure out a way to charge the camera battery using my AA batteries and wire. I was skeptical and consulted my science teacher friend, Jen. She said it may work, and Keith was even more confident, but I remained wary. The hike continued on with a successful summit where we dutifully signed the register and ate some lunch. As expected, there was some old wire on the summit. While I ate my food, Keith began to prepare the wire for our little electrical engineering experiment. As I finished eating, Keith had the wire ready and plans for all 6 hands we had available. I would hold the three AA batteries together in a line, Jen would hold the positive wire and the camera battery, and Keith would hold the negative wire. The ends of the wire went from the AA batteries to their respective receiving ends of the camera battery. We huddled together in this interesting closed circuit system for about 5 minutes and figured it was time to give it a test. We popped the camera battery into the camera and “bing” it turned on! I quickly handed the camera to Jen so she could get a summit shot of Keith and I. She then tossed me the camera and I got a summit shot of her and our master electrician, Keith. The camera was still working! We even managed a few of those timer shots with all 3 of us holding our batteries and wire and I snapped about a dozen more pics on the descent.
We arrived back at the van to find our hunter friend gone, though he left behind the usual hunter-related trash which we grabbed to pack out. We were in the van and off. We barely made it up one steep section of road before hitting the good condition power line road, which can be driven by any standard car. Was our adventure over? How could it be? The sun was still up and we were looking at arriving home at a decent hour. No way was our adventure over. The plan for the drive out to pavement was to stop and grab the Wee Thump Joshua Tree BLM Wilderness High Point on the way before we hit pavement. It’s on the Random Bonus Bumps List, and looked like it would take a good solid 20 minutes for a round trip stroll from the road. When we stopped the van to begin our hike, I jumped out and heard a hissing sound. Not the good rattlesnake hissing, but the bad air releasing from rubber hissing. I informed Keith of the noise and we weren’t worried. He had a spare. Then Jen brought to our attention the other flat tire. Uh oh. Two flats, one spare. Not good. We hobbled to pavement and began to think through our options. In the end, I got a ride to Searchlight, picked up a tire plug kit and some fix-a-flat, and got a ride back to the van. We plugged one tire, used the spare for the other one, limped into Searchlight for air, filled up, and headed to Vegas (opposite direction from home) for 2 new tires. One dinner and a few dollars later, Keith was the proud new owner of 2 brand new tires.
Lessons learned: I now own a tire plug kit and one of those tire inflation pumps that you can pump up a flat with and carry it in the back of the Yaris at all times with my spare tire. We were incredibly lucky that we made it to a state highway before the tire went completely flat and were able to find a person good enough to help us. I also know how to charge my camera battery MacGyver-style, though that camera (Sony) met its fate in Kelso Dunes less than a month later (sand and moving parts don’t mix well). Thanks to the warranty I wisely invested in after destroying 5 cameras in the last 3 years, I now have a better camera that shuts itself off if you don’t push any buttons for 3 minutes. That should prevent further battery issues. I also have a spare battery for this camera (Fuji) since the camera I dropped off a cliff in Joshua Tree earlier in the summer is the same model and I kept the battery, figuring I would own one again someday. In the end, we got 2 of our 3 peaks (Kingston & McCullough), learned a lot about electricity and tire repair, and generally had another great weekend in the desert, even if it was a bit colder than we had hoped for. Two weeks later I found myself on the summit of Clark with my son looking over at Charleston and noticing that the snow had all melted away. If it was gone from Charleston, it was certainly gone from Bridge. I guess timing is everything…
Hays Canyon Peak Trip Report
By Sharon Marie Wilcox
November 18, 2010
We headed to the Hays Canyon Range early Thursday morning, planning to summit the highpoint, Hays Canyon Peak before the storm arrived. We hoped that the storm would miss our destination, allowing us to also hike Little Hat Mountain.
From Reno we drove east on I-80 along the Truckee River to Wadsworth, exited at the Wadsworth/Pyramid Lake exit then drove north on NV State Highway 447 to Gerlach.
Pyramid Lake seemed a deeper blue than usual as we glimpsed it approaching Nixon. Nixon has a small market with gas. As we drove north out of Nixon, we paralleled the Selenite Range on the east passing two GBPS peaks, Limbo & Kumiva.
In Gerlach we stopped at Bruno’s for a caffeine reload plus a “to go” order of their renowned raviolis. We bypassed another GBPS peak, Granite Peak, as we continued to Surprise Valley.
Surprise Valley is a pleasant surprise. A scenic valley nestled between the Warner Range, now snow-capped, on the west side and the Hays Canyon Range to the east.
In our quest to get to the peak, we passed the road turnout 7.5 miles prior to Eagleville that our guide promised to lead down a short, steep trail to the fantastic Eagleville Hot Spring. Have to save a dip in the hot springs for a later date.
At Eagleville, we turned on Co Rd 38 (Hays Canyon Road) leaving pavement to a bouncing washboard, gravel road. Passing through the narrow Devil’s Gate we followed the meandering road to the summit as the clouds and wind increased. At the summit, we crossed the cattle guard & turned right. Passenger cars could get to this point without problem. However, at this point the road gets a bit dicey and into rocky areas that require higher clearance. (Divine Peak, 7462’) looks like a quick climb from this area but we needed to continue on to reach Hays Canyon Peak and return before the storm.
The top of Hays Canyon Peak is drivable with a high clearance vehicle. Because of our error in passing Indian Pole Camp expecting a sign that was not there, we drove a bit further than planned. The camp is clearly labeled on the Nevada Road & Recreation Atlas but the camp is not physically signed.
We ended up barely over a mile from the top when we stopped & started hiking up the road. The wind was so strong that we could hardly stand up. At the top, the road veers left to solar panels, but the jumble of rocks to the right is the high point. After exploring the “summit debri” and grand view of the Warners, we headed across the rocks to the summit. The wind made walking a challenge even for my dogs.
There is a peak register placed by DPS, but we didn’t spend time reading much in fear that the wind would rip it out of our hands. A quick register signing and summit pictures, then back to the van.<
We drove back to the flat “cow pied” area near Devil’s Gate to camp for the night, arriving just as it got dark.
Friday morning we woke early to dark cloud cover and drove back to Eagleville as it started to rain. We drove 17 miles north to Cedarville for breakfast since there are no restaurants in Eagleville. The Country Hearth restaurant & bakery had a great breakfast.
Even though a light snow had started we drove the longer route returning to Reno via Alturus across the Warner Mountains for different scenery.
A nice discovery trip, but the weather cut the trip short, plus prevented our plan to head up Fredonyer Peak on the way home.
The AAA sectional map for Northern California was helpful for an overview of this trip.
Reno, east on I-80 to Wadsworth/Pyramid Lake exit. Take
exit and head north on NV State Route 447 from Wadsworth, through
Gerlach to Eagleville, CA. In
Eagleville turn Right on Co Rd 38(Hays Canyon Rd), pavement ends and
road becomes gravel & washboard. Crosses back across the NV
State line. Pass
through Devil’s Gate & at the summit head Right to Indian Pole
Camp (not signed but you’ll pass a large water trough to the left
and numerous areas of good camping in the aspen groves). This is a
good place to start your hike following the rocky road to the summit.
By Sharon Marie Wilcox
April 23, 2011
Gray skies and a slight drizzle couldn’t convince us to cancel the re-scheduled April 23rd trip to Kumiva Peak. Five hikers, Lu Belancio, Larry Grant, Eric Morrill, Bob Morrill, and Sharon Marie Wilcox headed for the trail in uncertain weather conditions accepting the fact that after a drive to the Selenite Range a downpour might greet us. Still, we agreed there was the possibility of missing the storm.
Heading north on NV Highway 447, we spotted a Golden Eagle and an antelope. When the Selenite Range came into view, Mount Limbo and Purgatory were visible on the south end of the range, however, Kumiva, to the north was hidden by clouds. Kumiva Peak is the high point of the Selenite Range. This range was named in reference to deposits of crystallized gypsum or selenite that outcrop along its western border.
We parked 3.1 miles from the highway turnoff and hiked along Jenny Creek following the path of least resistance around rock outcrops, brush, aspen and snow banks as we ascended.
Our gray day started without precipitation, but added a light spitting snow after we crossed Jenny Creek. The clouds thickened and dropped more snow as we neared the summit. On the summit (8237’), we quickly ate lunch, snapped photos, and signed the register.
As we descended, the snow stopped, but a light rain drizzled the remainder of the hike. In the end, we enjoyed another interesting day of variable weather and hiking in the Great Basin. The only things we missed on this trip were sun and great summit views!
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April 30, 2011
John Hooper and I were on our way back from climbing a few peaks in Zion NP when took a little detour to ascend Mt. Irish in southeastern Nevada. Mt. Irish dominates the skyline in the Mt. Irish Range from both the Pahranagat and Tikabo Valleys. We used Logan Pass as the trailhead for the climb, which is situated about 1.4 miles south of the summit. There are two ways to approach Logan Pass: a good-to-excellent graded dirt road from the east, or an equally well-graded road from the southwest. Passenger cars should be able to reach the pass with little difficulty as long as the road is occasionally graded. We took the east-side approach to get to the pass, and left the pass using the southwestern side.
To get there: From the intersection of Highway 375 and 318 in Pahranagat Valley, we went north on Highway 318 about 2.4 miles to a graded dirt road near Nesbitt Lake. We passed a minor dirt road to our left (west) just as we reached the lake. Just a few hundred feet further north, a much more prominent unmarked dirt road to our left (west) is reached. This is the correct road. There is a barbed wire gate here, but it is unlocked. The gate appears to be there merely to keep wandering cattle off the highway. From this intersection, it is 12 miles to Logan Pass.
Driving in from the east side has the added bonus of passing through the Mt. Irish Petroglyph Site. We saw several rock outcroppings with Indian petroglyphs and stopped at the nearest one to take some pictures. There are also a few nice camping spots along the way to the pass. Several side roads are also passed on the way up, but most are clearly less used and are not graded. A junction with another good dirt road is reached after the petroglyph area. Stay right. The left branch probably descends to abandoned site called Logan.
Mt. Irish petroglyphs
Alternatively, one can approach Logan Pass from Highway 375 in Tikabo Valley. Near the eastern side of Tikabo Valley about 10 miles west Hancock Summit on Highway 375, take the unmarked dirt road north up the valley. This is the only well-graded road on the north side of the highway in the eastern part of the valley. It is labeled Cold Springs Road on my map but don’t expect to ever see any road signs. From this intersection, follow the main dirt road 14.5 miles to Logan Pass. A few miles from the intersection the road gets curvy and undulates quite a bit. As with the eastern approach, always stay on the best graded road when side roads are encountered. Roughly 10.4 miles in, a four-way intersection is reached. Go straight. At 13.6 miles in, an old log cabin is reached on the right (south) side of the road. People have used it as a campsite and it is well shaded by trees.
The climb: At Logan Pass there is a wide spot for 3-4 cars to park. However, we continued 0.1 mi. on a fair dirt road leading north from the top of the pass to another parking location. People have used this spot for camping. From our parking spot we hiked north through a pine and juniper forest to a rock outcropping of sparkly white quartzite with colorful red streaks. We then side-hilled over loose talus just to the east of the quartzite ridge for about 200 yards where the ridge then took an abrupt uphill turn. We entered a steep chute here, located just above the quartzite ridge. Plenty of loose talus is found in its lower end. The chute went class 2 with one 10-foot section of low-exposure class 3 about two-thirds of the way up. The top of this chute is hard to spot on the way back, so it would be helpful to look back and remember what the terrain around it looks like on your return.
We continued walking north over pleasant, easy terrain through a shady forest, then up and around a false summit composed of grey limestone where we saw the summit of Mt. Irish for the first time since the start of the climb. Mt. Irish has a flattish summit with a radio facility on top. All the equipment on the top was apparently flown in by helicopter, as there are no roads to the summit.
Summit of Mt. Irish from the south
A short descent follows the trip around either side of the false summit, with only occasional minor bushwhacking for the remainder of the way up. The register was in a small pile of rocks on the northern edge of the small summit plateau, thankfully away from the radio facility. Views were extensive, but we did not stick around to enjoy it with a thundercloud quickly bearing down on us. The hike came in just under 3 miles round trip with 1600 feet of gain, but still took us close to 4 hours to complete.
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Pah Rah Range Ridge Ramble
by Ed Corbett
Saturday, we found another easy, but scenic hike that we can add to our list. We drove up the rather good dirt road up to Virginia Peak. The road is much improved over the last time I was there, so a brave passenger car could have made it to the top. But we parked at a road junction at the 7600' level so we could justify calling it a peak bag.
We climbed the 700' up the road to the summit of VP to claim it. And then we headed north along the ridge to Pah Rah Mtn. It was rolling, volcanic terrain, down 200 feet, up 200, down 200, and up 200 again, to reach the peak, about 3 miles N of VP. Although all cross-country, the route was easy-going. It quickly became apparent that if we hugged the west flank of the ridgeline, there is almost no vegetation, and the rock is mostly broken, and even sandy along this route. I guess because this is where the weather is most severe, and probably snow-bound half the year. We also found a few wild horse trails to follow in places. So not surprisingly, we saw about 50 mustangs in two herds, bounding across the high plateaus.
But what made our day is, we spooked a herd of 24 pronghorn antelope when we crested a nob. 50 yards away when we first saw them, but they increased that to a half mile almost faster than people could get cameras out. But co-leader Sharon managed to get a couple of good shots; here attached. The herd seemed to have one "guard buck" with horns who kept himself between us and all the rest who were either females, or too young to have horns. They stayed on the ridge line, and kept a mile between us; and kept us in their sight the whole time; and circled around behind us, so we saw "buck" again on the way back.
The other interesting sight of the day is, we passed a couple of weather towers that had been erected by the company that is planning a wind farm in the Pah Rah's. I say "had" because both of them had been collapsed by high winds; we were guessing in that big storm we had last spring. We examined and took pictures of the wreckage, and wondered about the wisdom of building wind turbines on this windiest of ridges.
We reached Pah Rah Mtn easily in 2 hours, and were a little quicker on the way back. And the weather couldn't have been nicer, temps in the high seventies, and a cool easterly breeze, compared to 101 deg. in Reno that day. And did I mention the wildflowers? The place was just lousy with wildflowers ;-) [Photo by Sharon Marie Wilcox]
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