Ride Report; Between Smoke Creek Desert and Pole Creek Wilderness Study Area

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At home in the northern Nevada desert

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This classic abandoned car with the playa in the background was a priceless set for this photo

The three inch wide tires on my Salsa Fargo glided over the sand as if I were on a hard packed trail. It’s likely there was only an inch layer of sand blown over the hard packed dirt road but a few weeks prior the conditions forced us to turn around when we explored this same road on our gravel bikes with only 40 mm wide tires. I returned to the Smoke Creek Desert to explore the roads that loop around the southern and eastern borders with the Terraced Hills and Fox Range.

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The BLM posted these signs on the edge of the Pole Creek WSA

An early goal for 2017 was to bike around as many Wilderness Study Areas as I could. I learned a bit about WSA’s after riding around Kumiva Peak and noticing Mt Limbo WSA. My understanding is WSA’s are roadless tracts of land over 5000 acres in size with the attributes of wilderness. Land mangers, such as the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, suggest these areas for consideration by Congress to become protected wilderness. During this period they are managed similarly to wilderness. “Non-Impairment” to “naturalness” and opportunities for solitude and unconfined recreation are key bits of language in the guidelines for WSA management.

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Looking out to the Smoke Creek Desert

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Broad area of erosion below the Fox Range

One of the major attributes of wilderness that I seek on my rides is solitude. The Smoke Creek Desert is surrounded by WSA’s. On this trip I rode along the Pole Creek WSA to the southern edge of the Fox Range WSA. The solitude was refreshing. I rolled along sagebrush and expanding playa with no other disturbance. The dune system and immenseness of the Smoke Creek Desert gave the area a coastal feel. Further along the eroded clay substrate pocked with black basalt rock gave the area a not-of-this-world feel. The remains of our wettest winter on record were washed out roads and in some spots treacherous ruts across the roads.

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Smokey skies dimmed but not dulled the vistas

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Sea of sagebrush

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Entrance to the Fox Range

The Fox Range is enticing but only a few roads give access from its western slope. I rode to the entrance of Wild Horse Canyon but I will have to return to explore it further. Mullen’s Canyon is just to the south and also deserves exploration.

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One of several hot springs

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Find your beauty

Sulfur springs dot the Smoke Creek Desert. There are two noted on the maps around southern edge of the playa. They provide a significant source of water year round. The spike in biodiversity is notable from microbes, plants, insects, and wildlife. To many the marshy habitat may not immediately seem beautiful but I encourage all to seek wonder in these spots. I was intrigued by the numerous dragonflies in paired nuptial flight.

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The hope of water was not fulfilled

The out-and-back route started and ended at this dry water trough. In past trips I hoped it would be a source I could recommend to fill water bottles. But it will also be a starting point for exploring the Dry Valley Rim WSA. My next plan to ride this area will be to ride south from the north end of Smoke Creek Desert at Godeys Gap.

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Ride Report; Loop Around Winnemucca Lake

This roadside marker off SR 447 was very informative.

“It is a matter of how much you will be pushing your bike,” I paraphrase (misquote) Casey Clark during a discussion of “optimal” (read mythological) tire size and gearing. The gist of the conversation was it’s not a matter of if you will be pushing your bike, but when and for how long. Nevada’s varied terrain makes it challenging to have “the bike” for desert travel.

Thee KHS Grit 440 was needs a bath and some TLC

For this ride I chose my “gravel bike”, 2017 KHS Grit 440. The bike is near stock, bagged out with a Revelate Designs kit, new Vittoria Adventure Trail 700 X 38c tires, and Ritchey VentureMax Bars and Look S-Track pedals. This has proven to be a very capable and comfortable setup.

I have been looking at this loop route for years. I went through the mapping exercise in 2016 and estimated the ride to be 63 miles with 2000′ of climbing. About that time I talked Dean Magnuson into a trip just to “explore” the area. I didn’t think the entire loop matched our style of riding. We had a great ride, climbed Coyote Canyon, got some great pictures and video. Six months later I did a ride around Kumiva and Purgatory Peaks that returned on the north side of Winnemucca Lake. A couple months later I took my co-workers on an outing to an abandoned tungsten mine on the east side of the lake. This rich area is about an hour from Reno so no wonder I keep returning.

The start/end of the loop looking to Black Warrior Peak, Truckee Range

My riding partner, Brandon Anderson, at the last minute was not able to make this ride but I decided to go for a solo outing. While my riding partners are incredibly valuable I love solo trips. On solo trips I get to focus on my pace, route, objectives, internal conversations, and motivation. I enjoy the mental aspect of decision making, and risk evaluation without worrying about my companions’ experience. This ride was exactly that, I committed to the loop and was determined to mash my pedals back to the car because once the ride is over there is family waiting for me back home.

From the southern end of playa, Purgatory Peak, Selenite Range

While my past rides included some less than ideal route choices I had a clear plan on how to get to the tungsten mine, past Coyote Canyon, on fast dirt roads. Beyond that I was just hoping the road conditions would be in my favor. I was keeping track of my progress, miles in a given hour, hours per 10 miles, etc. I was a bit worried that I was not keeping my first hour’s pace. Doubt crept in. The last leg of the trip was on paved road. Hope returned!

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The norther third of the playa, the Lake and Selenite Ranges are separated by Poito Valley

The winter’s record precipitation had taken its toll on the road. Some of the washes were 5-20 feet below the road bed. I was surprised to find someone had rerouted the roads upstream to a passable route. I didn’t think this road was important enough to warrant the effort. I am guessing the area either is valuable to off-roaders and/or miners. I appreciate their efforts.

Great roads for now along the Nightingale Mountains

My last known marker was the abandoned tungsten mine about 14 miles into the route. Similarly to Coyote Canyon, since I was familiar with this spot I continued past without stopping for photos. But this is one of the great points of interest on the trip. I recommend poking around the remaining foundation and try to imagine what it was like when in operation. I will return to explore the canyon above.

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Blackened mountains remind us of our horrible fire season

The roads became rougher, softer, and slower. I had a view across the playa of the Lake Range and its bold scar from the Tohakum II fire this August. Our dry lighting season left its mark in many of the mountain ranges I visit. At mileage marker 19 the road dropped off into a dune system at the north east corner of the playa. So I walked. With hindsight and the power of GPS mapping I stayed left where I should have stayed right!

I am not a fan of walking but I did enjoy seeing several species of lizards, my favorites include the high speed Zebra-tailed and Horny-toad lizards, that I wouldn’t have from the vantage of my bicycle. The fine sand held evidence of nocturnal creatures I could hope to see on an overnight.  The jack rabbits were nearly as numerous as the lizards (license taken with hyperbole). The party never ends in the desert.

The end of my hike though the dunes

I could see on my GPS I was near a power line road and I was tempted to make a bee-line for it. I evaluated the choice by weighing the uphill, soft sand, and shrub dodging vs staying on the sandy road until it ties into the better road. The piece of evidence I didn’t have was the barbwire fence I would have to negotiate but avoided with a gate by staying on course.

On the power line road I wrapped around the north end of the playa and made my way to SR 447. With about 24 miles to go on paved road it was a relatively simple cruise back to my vehicle. My ride on STRAVA is here.

From the northern end of the playa

I was asked what the route has to offer beyond interesting tuffa formations. There are petroglyphs that have been dated back 10,000 years. Their artists were the first humans to migrate into northern Nevada. That is a lot to offer. The ancient history of water in the area ad well as recent history of water diversion is evident in the landscape you ride through. The geology of Nightingale Mountains, Selenite, and Fox Ranges changes every few miles changing the views as you pedal along. The playa is about 25 miles long by 5 miles wide but as you travel around it those dimensions feel vast. Wild horses, mules, antelope, reptiles, birds, and small mammals abound. While the route was physically demanding the rewards were abundant.

Ride Report: Pyramid Lake to Smoke Creek Desert

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The sacred Needles tufa formations, Pyramid Lake

It has been a long hot summer, said everyone in the West. Northern Nevada seemed to set new records of days and consecutive days above 90 and approached the record for triple digit temperatures. While we had our fair share of wild fires we seemed to have been spared the worst of smokey skies. The abrupt switch from cool rainy temps to record high temps quickly turned summer into our “off season” for bike touring. My last day in the desert was June, 12 with a high of 59 and rainy. Four days later it was 97 degrees.

But the desert has been beckoning ever since. My friend Brandon just got a new gravel bike so I was eager to get him out on a favorite road. Nevada State Route 445, Pyramid Lake Rd, ends about 10 miles past the town of Sutcliffe on Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation. The end of the pavement is really the beginning of our gravel ride on Surprise Valley Rd. Not only is this area a favorite getaway but I was curious to see how the road repairs were progressing from the destruction of our record wet winter.

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Suprise Valley Rd, Virginia Mtns in distance

I can confirm the rumors that Surprise Valley is completely driveable though I imagine improvement will still be made to prevent future washouts. Just past the largest washout we ran into Murphy Mack who was scouting a dirt road route from Mt. Shasta, CA to Reno, NV. He too was curious about the condition of Surprise Valley Rd. The combination of rough and chunky repairs and sections of deep washboard roads made the going on 700c x 40 tires a bit challenging but it was great to see Pyramid Lake in all its glory.

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Sand Pass, first view of Smoke Creek Desert

My goal for the day’s ride was to explore the primitive roads on the east side of Smoke Creek Desert. While I am aware of sand dune formation on the east side of Nevada’s playas I was not expecting such soft road bed conditions. Brandon and I spent a frustrating half hour traveling 1.6 miles in fine sand. Chances are good that the entire route will not be so slow going. But for what I hope to accomplish I will return on my Fargo with plus sized tires.

On the return we turned off on High Rock Rd that is a route on the east side of Honey Lake to Wendel and Susanville, CA. For our wildlife viewing pleasure we saw a young pair of pronghorn antelope run alongside before crossing our path and disappearing in the distance. As the heat of the day was building, we checked our estimated return time against our remaining water supply and decided to turn back.

The heat was climbing into the 90’s and I was suffering. I finally decided to rest in the shade of a boulder while Brandon completed the ride back to our vehicle and returned to pick me up. The 3 L of water I had packed was not enough for the day’s adventure. I now have new “rules” in place for what level of exertion I can perform at what upper temperatures. In the last 10 days of summer the temperatures have gone from the low 90’s to the high 50’s with the first snow fall on the lower slopes of the Sierra above Reno. I cannot wait to get back into the desert.

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Smoke Creek Desert from Surprise Valley Rd

Overnight Above Reno, S24O

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Ray and George setting up camp and getting ready for dinner

Raymond Eliot, our two dogs and I got out for a quick Sub-24 Overnight (S24O) between work days at the Reno Bike Project. Following the S24O model it was the perfect get away. Our bikes were packed with a little dinner, water, coffee making paraphernalia, and sleep/shelter needs.

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Well loaded Salsa Fargo, 27.5+

Reno and Nevada for that matter is ideal for the S24O get away. We are surrounded by a sea of public land which welcomes campers and explorers of all kinds. One of my favorite access points to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is just up the street from me, Hunter Lake Road. Of the many things that go through my mind on my rides is, “that looks like a good spot for an overnight.”

The spot I chose was a little meadow that has been protected from damage from 4-wheel drive users by old telephone poles laid down as a barrier by the local 4-wheel drive club. It was about an hour of moderate climbing to get to this spot. We hiked through the damp meadow to a high flat spot with an excellent view of Reno and the Truckee Meadows.

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Dinner views of distant pyrocumulus cloud

One of the highlights of the trip were the prosciutto, brie, and fig spread sandwiches that I picked up from our local grocery. I will be adding these my regular camp menus. The views of Reno and the surrounding areas at twilight and a distant pyrocumulus clouds were our entertainment for the evening.

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Sunrise over Truckee Meadows

Riding out the next morning was a breeze. Our first stop back in the neighborhood was our local bakery, House of Bread, for their morning special of biscuits and gravy. Refreshed and fueled up it was off to work.

There are great resources out there on How To S24O. I recommend BikeOverNights.org which is a resource of Adventure Cycling.  My prep went like this; I chose a spot on public land that I could get to before dark. I packed for comfort including packable camp chairs, a tent, and beers to go along with our dinner. Because of our four legged companions I carried extra food and water. My pack list wouldn’t be much different if I were out for a longer tour – probably just adding some clothing items, provisions and water purification.

A shot at the Black Rock Desert

Nothing is wrong with Plan B even when Plan A was so right. My hope was to make a loop through the Selenite Range from the southern end of Winnemucca Lake to Nightingale and return via Coyote Canyon. The driving rain kept us in our vehicle at the pullout. Since my ride companion had not been out to Frog Pond Hot Springs nor the Black Rock Desert I thought we could explore a gravel road that heads south from Frog Pond off Jungo Rd. through the Kumiva Valley. We only road a soggy 16 mile out-and-back but it opened my eyes to a great 70 mile route to Nixon. At times several inches of the seemingly sandy road surface was slick mud. A highlight from our trip was stopping at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center in Nixon. It is an outstanding museum of the 10,000+ years of people living in northern Nevada .

South of Frog Pond Hot Springs

A soggy day at the Black Rock Desert

Day Trip; Around Little High Rock Cyn Wilderness

Pete in the saddle

Pete coming up Smokey Canyon with the bottom of Little High Rock canyon in the distance

Pete Rissler, a local wildlife biologist, invited me on this trip around Little High Rock Canyon Wilderness. My first thought was, what an opportunity to get out with a local guide, I’m in! He promised great wildlife viewing, a 40+ mile loop around Nevada’s fantastic wilderness and the potential for wildlife like I have never seen. Maybe these weren’t his exact promises, but it was what I had formulated in my mind. His goals included a gravel grind tune-up ride for the up and coming Lost and Found event.

We drove from Reno to Gerlach at the base of the Black Rock Desert. Pete is very familiar with the area but hadn’t been out since the recent flooding. He said, while it represents an impressive amount of water for the region, the flooding in 1983 was greater.

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Black Rock Desert “Lake”

We continued north of Gerlach past the turn off to Soldier Meadows to the George  W Lund Petrified Forest. At this point we were on the southern border of the Little High Rock Canyon Wilderness. This area is a patchwork of Wilderness, and Wilderness Study Areas. They are stitched together by a network of roads that range in quality of groomed gravel roads to barely used jeep roads that are disappearing from under use. While travel in wilderness is generally limited to non-mechanized forms, in this area you can travel between wildernesses on designated routes.

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Pull out on edge of wilderness, Lund Petrified Forest

We took of from the parking pull-off at the petrified forest. Pete’s gravel/cross bike was perfectly suited to these roads. My bike, a mountain hardtail with drop-bars,  was better suited to the roads ahead. Pete chose a clockwise loop around the wilderness which in hindsight proved to be the most rideable direction.

The first turn-off took us to Little High Rock Lake and the top of Little High Rock Cyn. To explore the canyon further would have been a soggy hike but I am sure well worth it. Beyond the lake we came to an old corral and abandoned home, Denio Camp, complete with a flowing spring. Great real estate for the adventurer or rancher.

Our next turn took us on a rugged jeep road that climbed between High Rock Cyn and Little High Rock Cyn Wildernesses. At this point we were riding on mountain bike terrain. The trail became steeper and rockier. But the views grew in vastness. Pete pointed out potential landscapes for seeing sage grouse and chukar but none made themselves apparent. While I have seen the occasional pronghorn antelope on rides, this trip had dozens. We saw small groups of males and females, young fawns, and many individual males.

Chunky road between wildernesses

Chukar and Sage Grouse habitat

The trail made a radical descent to High Rock Lake. It was steep, rocky and loose. The conditions made my descent questionably a good idea while Pete wisely took a stroll. As the lake came into view, it was noticeable larger than pictured in topo maps and satellite views. At this point we were riding between the Little High Rock Canyon and High Rock Lake Wildernesses. The lake would make an excellent base camp to explore the area’s 10 wildernesses within the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area.

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We made our way past the bottom of Little High Rock Canyon and the classic Little High Rock Hilton. Our final road out followed Willow and Little Smokey Creeks through Smokey Canyon until we exited onto Leadville Rd.

Little High Rock Hilton

A place to weather a storm

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Pete finishing up our ride

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Back onto Leadville Rd.

We finished our loop at the petrified forest with a respect for what it takes to travel in Nevada’s outback by bicycle. The route fulfilled all of Pete’s promises, we saw a variety of wildlife, wild flowers, unique geology and traveled through 46 miles of Nevada’s backroads along precious wilderness. Check out our route here at Ride with GPS.

Ride Report; Pah Rah Range North

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First view of Pyramid Lake towards Nixon at Mullen Pass

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Typical view along the route, breathtakingly atypical

A friend of mine proposed a route that included a section of the Pah Rah Range from Mullen Pass, near the Pyramid Lake overlook, off NV 445, to Palomino Valley reconnecting to NV 445 off Whiskey Springs Rd. I rode this area when visiting Virginia Peak, but not on this exact route. As a result I got to explore another chunk of the Pah Rah’s with its own hidden canyons, creeks and wildlife plus great views of Pyramid Lake.

I made this a loop from Whiskey Springs Road and Pyramid Highway. The entrance to Palomino Valley has great views of Dogskin Mtn, the Virginia Mtns, and the Pah Rah Range. This is one of my favorite places to ride, close proximity to Reno/Sparks with a great variety of dirt roads to explore. From the start it was 10 miles of NV 445, Pyramid Lake Hwy, to the dirt turn-off that led to Mullen Creek.

With hindsight I would not use this turn-off in the future. This road requires three gates and route scouting where Mullen Creek makes the road impassable. The alternative is to use Quail Canyon Rd about three miles back. Quail Canyon Rd is well maintained until the turn off to the Quail Canyon Ranch main property then it becomes steep and rocky.

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Looking back on the climb

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A few small creek crossings

The climbing is relentless but the views are rewarding. I took advantage of breaks along the way to photograph Pyramid Lake, creeks that were flowing enough to be heard from a distance, and rugged geology. I did have to hike several sections that were too steep and rocky (and sustained) for the gearing on my gravel bike or for the fitness of my legs. This route would have been better handled on my Fargo with lower gearing and 27.5 Plus tires but part of my friend’s question about the route was weather or not it was appropriate for 700 x 40 tires.  It definitely “goes” with a gravel bike setup.

Quail Canyon Rd gives way to Rodero Rd and Cougar Rd. Luckily these roads and a few others are easily discernible on GPS apps and devices. I was navigating by my trusty Garmin Edge Touring and I was using Ride with GPS (app for Android) for the first time. I need to spend more time exploring the features of the new (to me) app and its online companion but it seems to be a popular way to share route information.

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Cougar Rd marked the ridge crest of the Pah Rah Range. The view of of Palomino Valley and Pyramid Lake was striking. And I was quite relieved to assume the lion’s share of the climbing was over. Just as the climbs were steep so was the descent. Cougar Rd gave way to Paiute Creek Rd  and there were places where to road and creek now shared the same wet path.

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It was a quick descent and return to the car as soon as Paiute Creek intersected with Whiskey Springs Rd.  For much of the ride I could see Virginia Pk topped with the weather radar equipment. Now I can imagine a route from Wadsworth to Pond Pk to Virginia Pk exiting on Quail Canyon Rd. This would truly be a Pah Rah Range Odyssey.

Lagomarsino Petroglyphs; The High Road

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A favorite example of rock art, so much more to explore

My friend Dean had originally led me up Lagomarsino Canyon to the petroglyph site a couple years ago. To this day I rate it a top 5 or top 3 outing in the Reno area. But it in not the greatest ride. The trail from Lockwood along Dry Valley Creek is incomplete, phantom, rugged, underwater, and over-grown. But for some, especially Dean, this is just part of the romantic challenge.

This route is motivated by the Rout3 Challenge from Bikepacking.com. I have planned a weekend long loop from Reno to the Black Rock desert and returning through the Lagomarsino Petroglyphs. I believe this route will have the highest density of points of interest and off-pavement travel in an ambitious weekend tour. While I have completed most sections of this route, route finding from the petroglyphs to Reno was uncertain.

Between scouting out a route from Reno through the Virginia Range to Lagomarsino Canyon and avoiding the washed out Long Valley Creek I had my challenges set out before me. I planned a full day’s ride but maybe not as full as it became.

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Just over Steamboat Creek off Clean Water Way

My plan was to enter the Virginia Range from Clean Water Way near the confluence of Steamboat Creek and the Truckee River. This power line climb is eye catching (at least my eye, I am always on the lookout for road cuts through our mountains) from the interstate. The steep climb is rewarding in its views of the Truckee Meadows. The price of admission: 1,400′ of climbing in 3 miles.

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Above Reno/Sparks

Off the top the descent is steep and loose in a narrow canyon and the power line road quickly erodes to a 4X4 trail or quad trail. Once this opens up the fastest roads of the route are ahead. There is a turn off to Lockwood at this point that intersects with Canyon Rd. For those who wish to start in Lockwood I would recommend this point.

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Several natural reservoirs provide wildlife with water

 Heading south I came to a depression that is now filled with water. Our northern Nevada winter snow and rain has given our drought stricken wildlands a huge boost. I imagine this reservoir will last through fall. At this point I made a left whereas on my last trip through the area I staid right. Unfortunately the network of roads through this area is devoid of any signs.

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Forested canyon led to Lousetown Creek and Road

After the next climb I entered the lightly forested area around Lousetown Creek. The canyon was particularly craggy as the change in geology matched the change in flora. To follow Lousetown Rd in the opposite direction leads to the community of Virginia Highlands and eventually Geiger Grade (SR 341). This is another alternative starting point for this route.

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Creek crossing on Lousetown, it was dry on last trip

During the entire ride I had moments of complete recognition of where I was and confidence in my route selection and periods of doubt. Just past mile 24 I came to a turn off at a mud hole that was a landmark given to Dean and I as a key direction on our first ride in the area. So I knew I was close, only a mile to go to my turn around point.

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Most roads were in good shape

I hiked around the petroglyphs for a brief time. While I wanted to spend more time I knew I had to get back. I chased a marmot around the rocks but it was a reluctant photographic subject. Back on the bike!

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Flowers starting to bloom

The ride out was challenging after 25 miles and 3,000′ feet of climbing. Nevada backroads are paved with rock. But the slow rate allowed for greater appreciation of the views. The most notable wildlife on this trip was the wild horses and their foals. Watching the protective interactions between the adults and juveniles was particularly interesting. I narrowly missed a horny toad lizard, the clowns of our reptile fauna. At one point I stopped to rest and the was a hawk moth, the hummingbird of the insect world, at my feet. The birds were out, I could hear them in the junipers and pinyon pines but they did not make themselves seen.

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First view of Reno on the return

I tried a shortcut on my return to Reno that brought me out of the Virginia Range just north of Damonte Ranch. The shortcut eliminated about 800′ of climbing on dirt. Overall this route is very challenging combining distance, elevation, and road conditions. The petroglyphs are an amazing pay off for your efforts.

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A great wonder only a day’s ride from Reno

 

 

Ride Report; Toulon to Blue Wing Flat

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Captivating gravel road branching off Ragged Top Road disappearing into the Sahwave Mountains

This was my fifth ride in the area. When I rode the length of Ragged Top Rd I came to an intersection with a beautifully graded road that crossed the Granite Spring Valley and disappeared into the Sahwave Mountains. I estimate the road is only about 14 miles crossing the valley but it gives the illusion being much longer.

My original interest in this area was to ride north to Blue Wing Flat, a playa below Blue Wing Mountain. But after mapping several approaches to this dry lake bed I figured this route might be best. I was especially curious to see if after this record wet winter in northern Nevada if the playa  had become a shallow lake.

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At the start of the ride, looking east along I 80 to Lovelock and the Humboldt Range

Ragged Road out of Toulon was in surprisingly great shape. The road increases in pitch from 2% to 15% over the 6 mile, 1,800′ climb. But the road is well maintained and was in as good of shape as the last time I rode it at the beginning of our winter.  After climbing  a few miles the road enters a craggy canyon with a few side roads and dirt bike single tracks to explore. Near the summit there was a winding power line road that I had traced to the east and north that could take the adventuresome to Winnemucca. Seeing the road on the ground told me that it would be a challenging though rewarding route of one taken least often.

The descent on Ragged Top Road was welcomed and my mind wandered to thinking we had not seen much wildlife yet. But then I saw a small snake in the road, grabbed a handful of brakes to stop and let Dean know what I had seen. We watched the young gopher snake for a while. As it turned out the day was pretty good for wildlife viewing. We saw horny toad lizards, a golden eagle, a burrowing owl, a variety of butterflies/moths, beetles, wild burros, and collections of tracks.

We branched off Ragged Top Road to a road that heads to alfalfa fields in the middle of the valley just south of the Blue Wing Flat playa. We made a bee-line from the unsigned fields to the playa following a wash that connected mini playas surrounded by chaparral. We spotted and later heard a cautious group of burros. I picked a turn-around point of 20 miles figuring that was all we had time for as well as “gas in the tank”.

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Dean making the final climb of the day, Blue Wing Flat just visible in left third of photo.

The return trip was an out-and-back. While the assumption that out-and-backs are boring and should be avoided I find the change in perspective especially when the views are as spectacular as the northern Nevada high desert just as entertaining. This ride was either climbing or descending so the rates of travel were reversed so the slower pace allowed greater appreciation of some of the side spur roads for future exploration.

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Summit shot looking south to Humboldt Sink and Humboldt State Wildlife Management Area. West Humboldt and Stillwater Ranges in background.

As so often is the case on these rides we did not encounter any other vehicles except for a small group of dirt bike riders. The Granite Springs Valley felt isolated surrounded by Trinity Range, Seven Troughs Range, Blue Wing Mountains, and Sahwave Mountains. As my network of rides expands I can now imagine linking this ride to Winnemucca Lake and the Black Rock Desert as well as extending north and east to Winnemucca and Battle Mountain.

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Dean looking good at the start of our ride

Dean Magnuson shot this video of our ride.

The Goal Zero solar panel and battery were  new additions on this ride. I have seen them secured on the handlebar bags of other riders but on this ride I was only carrying a seat pack so I carried it there. I need to secure it better for the rough terrain as well as secure the cord and the battery. But I was able to charge my phone at the end of the day with the passively collected energy. It will become a standard item on my future outings.