Nevada-Utah Wander, Fall Edition

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Wandering around Nevada and Utah before the snow flies.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Tom and I have ventured down this way together several times (there are a LOT of mountains), and at Tom's insistence we were headed south again. This time, we were a little concerned about the snow depth and possible muddy roads. But ya never know...


Saturday 11.18

This peak is southeast of Spruce Mountain.

We were planning on spending the night in Ely, but wanted to climb something along the way to break up the driving. We have enjoyed a few peaks around Jackpot, but this time there was a lot of snow. So we finally left the highway quite a way south of there. Camera malfunction, so this is the only picture I got. Looking south from the rig.

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These two peaks are near Goshute Lake.

Our previous quick break was a short, easy drive, but this one required some off-road (off pavement) driving, like about 10 miles. It might have been shorter, but it always seems longer. We finally got to a point that Tom thought was a little short and I thought might have been too far. We got out, and Ruby immediately got interested. Is she already appreciating cool-looking peaks?

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We started walking, and off she went at turbo speed. When I figured out why, I about ruptured my larynx yelling. Click and you'll be able to see the band of wild horses she had chased. Who was it that theorized some behavior she exhibited indicated she had poor eyesight? Trailhead

I put Ruby on the leash for a while, and despite her smallish size she partially towed me up the hill. This dog thing is working out great.

Somewhere down in the flats is our rig. And off to the right is a possible third peak for the day. And yes, that's my finger; I'm not used to shooting pics with my phone.

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But before we get to the summit, we had to run the ridge on this one. The sunny side was all boulders, not Ruby's favorite terrain. The shady backside had few boulders, but was holding snow.

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Tom finishes the last few steps to the summit marker. Note the wide open spaces.

After reveling in the summit view and the warm sunshine, we beat feet for the flats below, withholding our decision on the third peak until we had a better feel for how long the sun would last.

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The shadows were getting long, but we were feeling good and moving well. This is looking back from where we had just come.

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Not a lot to photograph as we climbed up through the sagebrush on the shady side of the peak. But when we got near the top, the views came on strong.

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Ruby the mountain puppy, still looking for horses, gets her third peak for the day.

 

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So do the old guys.

We scooted back down to the ruck, making it back to the pavement just as it got dark. Good timing.

Then a tired drive into Ely. Tiny room at the Motel 6. Edible dinner at an almost-empty Chinese diner. And then battling computers trying to decide what to do tomorrow in a good forecast, with cloudy fore casted for the following day.

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Sunday 11.19

  • Notch Peak, 9654'

It occurred to us that although Notch Peak is in Utah, it isn't that far from Ely, and we both had it on our "significant" lists. But first, we had to deal with the predicted low of 10°. When we got up, it was 23? But never fear, it went down to 1° as we crossed the basin east of Ely.

With the sun now up, there's our peak, shot from the truck. It's hard to tell from this view, but Notch is said to have the tallest cliff in the continental US. Taller than Yosemite's El Cap. Fortunately, we'd be climbing the other side.

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So after about 20 miles of really good dirt road, you turn off to a rocky, narrow two-track, reminiscent of driving the back side of the Lost Rivers. But we made it without incident. And when we got out, it was in the 40s. Sweet: almost t-shirt weather. Trailhead
This is a WSA (Wilderness Study Area), but in the recent past the trail has been used by ATVs. It should recover in 50 or 60 years. Trailhead

The trail was very pleasant, with lots to look at. Outstanding, actually.

In this section, we both were reminded of Middle Canyon on Saddle Mountain in the Lemhi Range.

Note the snow. The bottom of the canyon here probably never sees sun from October to April. And it was cold. Coat on.

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As the canyon twists and turns, you get brief spells of sunshine. Coat off. Trailhead

Back in the shade. Coat on.

A few miles in, there is a big pour-over that requires you to leave the canyon bottom and skirt some cliffs.

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And that gives you a chance for a broader view of the canyon.

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But above that, you re-enter the canyon bottom, leaving the mostly gravel path for some marble wash. Trailhead

Up high, the canyon finally opens up to juniper-covered hillsides. This is looking back at where we had come from. Note the salt playa in the distance- that's Sevier Lake.

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When you get to the final ridge, you are walking just steps away from a huge drop. 1000 feet? Maybe more? Breathtaking, and a little scary. And not very photogenic, because the drop is in the shade. But the cliffs across the way give an indication of what's below your feet.

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Tom on the summit checks the stats. The biggest drop is about 3' behind the cairn.

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It was more glorious hiking on the way down, although the last 1/2 mile got a little tired.

Then it was back to the highway, and finally to Delta, Utah where we stayed at the Days Inn. Nice hotel. But the only place to eat in Delta on a Sunday evening was McDonald's.

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Monday 11.20

  • Desert Mountain, 6480'

The next morning we partook of the breakfast buffet at the Days Inn. Tom and I braved the plastic-packed cheese omelets. And house coffee. And then we were off for about 25 miles of excellent dirt road. That's today's first peak on the left.

As we got ready, I offered one of the omeletes to Ruby. She sniffed at it for a moment, then chose to bury it. And I don't think she intended to return.

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This little area has a host of cool-looking peaks. We found the area on wilhiteweb.com, a great climbing resource for Utah.
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However, we didn't follow the Wilhite red ball (check the website and you'll understand), but found our own route.

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The summit blocks looked like a problem, but there was a sneak up the backside. Ruby had no problem. Trailhead

I talked Tom into doing a loop, so we descended at least part of the Wilhite route. Cool rock formations and interesting terrain to navigate. Fun climb.

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While we were on Desert Mountain peak, Tom did a little more research. So we chose this nearby peak. That little dark spec is Tom, heading for the left-most ridge.

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We followed the ridge the whole way. Lots of good views.

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Summit.

What's next? Another of these peaks, or something else? We opted to "try a different fishing hole", heading back to the highway on a long, long dirt road, then north. But as the day wore on, it became apparent we were not going to have light to summit anything. So it was just plow on for Wells in the dark.

We got another Motel 6 room, had dinner at Bella's, and then started looking for a peak to do.....

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Tuesday 11.21

  • Cold Springs Mountain, 8104'

I found this one on IdahoSummits.com. We were concerned about road conditions, since this area had been pretty snowy. But the report mentioned a road suitable for sedans, so figured the 4x4 pickup would be fine. It's a long way back in here, but the road was not a problem.

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It's a wide-open area with no technical issues- just go wherever you want. We followed a soft ridge with the least snow, despite the extra distance. Trailhead
As we got near the summit, the fog/cloud/mist threatened to obscure the views. Trailhead
But it wasn't too bad. A little windy. Trailhead

This is looking west. The Jarbidge range is over there?

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And once again it was time to head down. We again did a little loop. I had to coerce Ruby back into the truck one last time. And then it was the road home.

It was 65° in Jackpot. Crazy. And raining steadily when I got home. All the snow in my yard was gone. Weird weather, but I'm thankful that it let us enjoy a few peaks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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