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Basin And Range Trail

Ruby Mountains, NV: High Route Hike Lamoille Canyon to Seitz Canyon

hikers view of echo lake from mountains

Ruby Mountains, NV – High Route Hike Lamoille Canyon to Seitz Canyon

echo lake nevada

  • Hike Location – Ruby Mountains, Nevada – Ruby Mountains Wilderness
  • Land Administration – Humboldt National Forest
  • Hike Type – Point to Point
  • Fees & Permits – No fees or permits needed
  • Start Trailhead – Roads End
  • End Trailhead – Powerhouse
  • Length Of Time Hiked – 14.5 hours
  • Miles Hiked – 19.28
  • Route Difficulty – 8
  • Scenic Beauty – 9
  • Solitude – 9

Video: Ruby Mountains, NV – High Route Hike Lamoille Canyon to Seitz Canyon

 

Ruby Mountains Hike Maps

Here’s the caltopo map of the Lamoille to Seitz Canyon High Route Hike: 

eelvation chart for the lamoille to seitz canyon high route hike in the ruby mountains, nevada - basin and range trail alternate route

Download GPX file for the Lamoille to Seitz Canyon High Route Hike

Pre-Hike Planning Notes

There are no fees or permits required to hike in the Ruby Mountains. Thomas Canyon and Terraces Campgrounds are available in Lamoille Canyon to camp the night before/after your hike, or simply pull off the road and camp in the National Forest land. You should also be able to camp in a van/camper at the trailhead for one night, there was nobody there to check or bother us. Spring Creek is the nearest anything, and 30 minutes away is Elko which is a big town for Nevada. 

This hike is a route that I wanted to do on my 2020 Basin and Range Trail thru hike, but wasn’t able to fit in, logistically. My route along section 6 of the BRT ended at Roads End Trailhead in upper Lamoille Canyon. The route we will hike here is a route that connects upper Lamoille Canyon with Seitz Canyon, leading to the Powerhouse Trailhead in lower Lamoille Canyon. This route should be very scenic, and will offer a spectacular finish to an already great section of the BRT. The Ruby Crest Trail was nice, but I have a feeling this will be nicer. 

This route is almost entirely off-trail. There were only a few sections of this route, like in Seitz Canyon, where a trail is marked on the map. On the ground though, it barely existed. Just a fading trail that hasn’t seen maintenance in decades. In other words, most of this route is off-trail, and there is some bushwhacking involved… mostly in Seitz Canyon. With that said, it’s an awesome route that is challenging, rewarding and gets you off the beaten path in the Rubies. The Ruby Crest Trail gets most of the traffic in the Rubies, but there are many other great spots here, such as Echo Lake. 

This hike can be done a long day hike, but it would be best to split this hike up into two days, camping at Echo Lake. There are multiple excellent campsites along Echo Lake. 

Three final things:

  • Beware of the private land at the entrance to Seitz Canyon. That’s why the route goes along the hillside at the end to reach Powerhouse Trailhead. There is an active ranch here with a few homes.
  • This hike can be done as a day hike, but it may take all day, as it did for us. Make sure to bring a headlamp, just in case. We wish we did…
  • Water is abundant, you won’t hike more than a few miles without it. 

 

July 17th, 2021 – Ruby Mountains, NV High Route Hike Lamoille Canyon to Seitz Canyon 

Miles Hiked – 19.28
Elevation Gain – 5,592′

three hiking buddies in the ruby mountains nevada

Sam, Ken and I above Echo Lake

My friends Sam and Ken (2020 CDT thru hikers) will join me for this hike. Last night, we slept off the road in National Forest Land near Camp Lamoille at the entrance to Right Fork Lamoille Creek Canyon. Descent spot, good views of Lamoille Canyon especially at sunset.

In the morning, We drove Ken’s Explorer down to the Powerhouse Trailhead in lower Lamoille Canyon, then drove my van up to Roads End Trailhead in upper Lamoille Canyon. We’ll walk back to Ken’s Explorer today, and then he’ll drive me back up to Roads End to get my van. 

wildflowers in lamoille canyon nevada

Wildflowers in Lamoille Canyon

We left the trailhead around 8am following a trail up Lamoille Canyon. Soon enough, we realized this one was taking us up to Dollar Lake instead of Lamoille Lake. We began hiking off-trail sooner than anticipated, and headed for a horse trail that runs higher up the hillside in the canyon. I know this, because that’s the route I hiked down from Liberty Pass last year on my BRT thru hike.

The off-trail stuff here was mostly our fault for not taking the horse trail in the first place. I should have known better. Now, we spent some time walking through tall bushes and grasses, thankfully not crazy thick.

lamoille canyon hikers un summer day

Hiking the horse trail up Lamoille Canyon

We hit the horse trail and followed that a ways uphill. We stopped for a quick break at the spot where we leave the horse trail and begin out hike uphill to our off-trail pass below Snow Lake Peak, leading over to Thomas Canyon.

Sam had just flown to the US from England a few weeks ago, and had bought some cheapo Walmart shirt to hike in for the summer. It was a long sleeved, collared shirt, the kind your cheap dad might wear when he’s forced to dress up. Ok, me too. I joked with Sam about this, and the need for a tie to complete the ensemble. After all, it looked like he was here for a business interview. Well, from the waist up, anyways. 

hikers in boulder field along slopes of mountainside in ruby range nevada

Thankfully not like this the whole way

upper lamoille canyon view

View over upper Lamoille Canyon

rocky ridgeline at mountain pass in ruby mountains nevada

Nearing the top of the pass

The route up to the pass was steep and had us winded, but it was an easy walk. No bushwhacking, no huge extended boulder fields, it was mostly just a steep incline. 

hikers view of snow lake peak from unnamed pass in ruby mountains

View of Snow Lake Peak from unnamed pass

At the top of the pass, we enjoyed great views down into Lamoille Canyon and Thomas Canyon. To the south was Snow Lake Peak. The Snow Lake Peak was eroding was very obvious, and we joked that the Forest Service needed to come out here and “repair” these crumbling mountains. “A few more years and we won’t even have a Snow Lake Mountain”. Ha!

hikers view of full house peak and thomas canyon from ridge in ruby mountains nevada

Full House Peak and Thomas Canyon

We stopped for a break on the pass, soaked in the excellent views and scouted our next move. The plan was to stay high up on the ridgeline and contour around the mountainside towards Mt Fitzgerald. It looked kinda steep though, and we contemplated taking a route a bit lower, meaning more elevation gain and climbing. 

green grassy terrain in upper thomas canyon ruby mountains

Water flowing in upper Thomas Canyon

hikers view of snow lake peak

Snow Lake Peak

view of thomsa peak from thomas canyon ruby mountains nevada

View down Thomas Canyon to Thomas Peak

The descent form the pass into Thomas Canyon was steep, but short. Below the pass, a green and grassy patch of land with water flowing through it. A nice hike here.

hikers climbing around mountainside in ruby range nevada

Finding our way around the mountainside

hikers climbing steep grassy slope in mountains

Ken above on our route uphill

Next we climbed back up in elevation some to reach our desired contouring line. This was intermittently hard/easy. We’d be climbing up steep, loose rock and boulders one minute, then walking short sections of flat, easy going terrain. All with great views of Thomas Canyon, though.

hiker in boulderfield in ruby mountains nevada

Boulders.

When we rounded the northwest-facing ridge before Mt Fitzgerald, we were met with an entire mountainside filled with boulders. Not what I like to see, but Sam loves the stuff. It was a big view though over Thomas Canyon. It was very green down below, but we were well above that, in the boulders. 

hiking the rubies nevada

A fine gulch

hiking upper thomas canyon ruby mountains nevada

Upper Thomas Canyon views

mountain photogrpahy in the ruby mountains nevada

Outstanding scenery in upper Thomas Canyon

The mountain scenery here was very impressive. The hiking here is more akin to a Sierra High Route or Wind River Range High Route. We are surrounded by towering mountain peaks and rock faces, in a sea of boulders. Slow going, but worth it.

hikers view of mt fitzgerald from boulder field below in ruby mountains nevada

Hiking below Mt Fitzgerald

water in ruby mountains hking the ruby mountains nevada

Directly below Mt Fitzgerald was an imposing place to be. The peak towered above us, as we worked our line around the base of it. Even through the boulder fields along the slopes, we routinely cross trickles of water and small streams. There is no shortage of water here.

hiker walking boulder field with storm clouds above in ruby mountains

Ken hiking the boulder field

ruby mountains hiking views

View across Right Fork Lamoille Creek Canyon to Mt Gilbert

hikers in upper right fork lamoille creek canyon nevada

Sam and Ken hiking into upper Right Fork Lamoille Creek Canyon

After Mt Fitzgerald, we went up and over a ridgeline separating Thomas Canyon with Right Fork Lamoille Canyon. The same excellent scenery extends into this canyon as well. Superb views here.  

I came across a pile of a few boulders that had some minerals that caught my eye. I’ve been seeing a lot of large books of mica around, but that was it until now. Here though, in upper Thomas Canyon below Mt Fitzgerald, I found garnets. They were embedded in the host rock though, and I couldn’t do much with them without tools to extract them. Still, a cool find. Fun fact, the early explorers who first passed through the Rubies named them the Ruby Mountains because they thought these garnets were actually rubies. And now, I can see why.

boulders below mountain ridgeline in ruby mountains

The route we’ve traversed so far

view into upper right fork lamoille creek canyon

Right Fork Lamoille Creek Canyon

hiking in the ruby range nevada

Right Fork Lamoille Canyon continued to impress us the entire route around its upper slopes. We have been walking mostly on boulders for quite some time now, though, and it’s tiring. 

hikers view from mountain pass on trail in ruby range nevada

View from the pass

hikers view from mountain pass

View west to No Echo Knob and the ridgeline we’re about to walk

Eventually, we reached a saddle in between peaks 10,528′ and 10,882′, at the top of Right Fork Lamoille Canyon. The wind was really picking up now. We followed the ridgeline towards No Echo Knob.

hiker standing on cliffs above mountainscape

Sam and Right Fork Lamoille Creek Canyon

hikers view of ruby range and lamoille valley from ruby mountains

View west, Ruby Mountains and Lamoille Valley

hikers walking a ridgeline in the ruby mountains

Cool ridgeline

Along the way up to the ridgeline, we enjoyed excellent views of the Ruby Mountains. There were some sheer cliffs to stand at the edge of overlooking Right Fork Lamoille Canyon. It looked like the potential for rain now, although nothing directly nearby threatening us at the moment. 

hiker on top of rockwall

Sam on top of the ridge

hikers view from ridgeline in ruby mountains

View of the ridgewalk ahead of us

hikers distant view over mountain valleys and ridges

Looking back at what we’ve traversed so far

At the top of the ridge leading to No Echo Knob was perhaps some of the best distant views of the day. It was our most proper ridgewalk of the day, as well. The views were just stunning in every direction. A truly magical place. 

two hiking buddies walking ridgeline on top of mountain in nevada

Sam and Ken hiking the ridge to No Echo Knob

right fork lamoille canyon view from ridgeline

View over Right Fork Lamoille Canyon

two hikers on the summit of no echo knob in ruby mountains nevada

Sam and Ken on No Echo Knob

We summited No Echo Knob, high point of the ridge. It was here that Sam, hiking for the first time in Nevada, realized the hidden gem that he’d stumbled upon. “Why is it that so few people visit this place”, he wondered. Nevermind why, we have it to ourselves today. 

hikers views of echo lake from trail elevated above

First views of Echo Lake. Wow!

hiking around echo lake

hikers stadning on rocks above alpine lake in nevada

Sam and Ken above Echo Lake

The descent form No Echo Knob to Echo Lake was outstanding. Echo Lake is hard to ignore; it’s surrounded by a tall, steep cirque of mountains, and the lake itself is a deep blue color. It’s large and looks to be deep. It certainly commands your attention, and respect. 

hikers traversing around alpine lake in the ruby mountains nevada

A pretty good route can be seen ahead

Our original plan was to drop down to the lake to traverse around it’s east shore, but from our elevated position, we saw a better route. We’ll stay higher above the shoreline, and contour around the lake. This way, we minimize our total elevation gain traversing around it. There looks to be a route we can follow, but who knows. Let’s try it!

hiking above echo lake in the rubies

Hiking around Echo lake

The entire hike around Echo Lake was stunning. The views were constantly changing, with seemingly better and better angles and lighting. The hike itself wasn’t too hard. There was no real path to follow, but it was easy to pick from numerous lines that traverse the east side of the lake. 

echo lake nevada

Looking down Echo Canyon above Echo Lake

hikers view of echo lake from mountains

Echo Lake

The views from the extreme east side of Echo Lake were probably the most impressive to me. Here, the lake looks the biggest, and one has a great view down Echo Canyon. Lining Echo Canyon is Mt Silliman, peak 11,330, and Echo Box Peak. These peaks, and the ridgelines leading up to them, form huge, towering walls above Echo Lake, making this the beautiful place that it is. 

Climbing up to the pass

Echo Canyon

We stopped along a small creek for a break. There was a great camp spot here, overlooking Echo Lake. If only we were camping!

Echo Lake and Echo Box Peak

After the break, we continued traversing around Echo Lake. Of course, we had to stop and test the echo properties of Echo Canyon at some point. The echo is indeed impressive! We also took the time to test out our skiing skills on some of the snow slopes. I made a successful run down a hundred feet or so, which is always fun to do in shoes. 

hikers climbing mountain pass in ruby range nevada

Ken and Sam ascending the pass below Mt Silliman

After contouring around Echo Lake, it was time to head up to a pass below Mt Silliman. From here, it was a climb of about 350′ to the top. It was a very manageable climb up boulders, and we made quick work of this one.

seitz canyon view from top of mountain pass

View into Seitz Canyon

view of mt silliman from mountain pass in ruby mountains nevada

Mt Silliman

view of echo box peak from pass

Echo Box Peak from pass

At the top of the pass, we had our first view into Seitz Canyon. Nice, but the north face of Echo Box Peak on the Echo Canyon side was more impressive.

Now for the route down into Seitz Canyon. Our plan was to contour around the north face of Mt Silliman and work our way down a diagonal line Seitz Lake below, avoiding the steep and narrow Seitz Canyon route which is more direct. I thought it would be best to avoid Seitz Canyon when planning this route from home, based on the slope angle shading/steepness of the grade, but now that we’re here, it does indeed look doable. Sam, Ken and I discussed our options, and we settled on the direct route down Seitz Canyon.

hiking seitz canyon ruby mountains nevada

First we need to work down to the snowfield

So from the top of the pass, it’s 1400ft down this steep, narrow chute filled with snow, ice and boulders. We traversed a sketchy section of loose boulders just to get down to the snow field in the center of the canyon. Past the boulders, we take our first footsteps in the snow. The slope angle is steep, seemingly close to 45 at times. Sam went first, kicking steps on his way down. I went next, and Ken at the top. 

seitz canyon hike down snow field

Ken making his way down

hiker view from seitz canyon descent

View down Seitz Canyon

The snow was mostly soft enough to kick steps in. Ken and I had the advantage of using Sam’s steps to walk down into, without expending as much energy as Sam. However, it was still slow and tedious. I took out a trekking pole for the first time today, almost never using them anymore, except to support my tent. But here, a trekking pole was great to have. I used my upper hand to balance myself in the snow as I hiked down, which makes your hand quite cold soon enough. So then, I’d switch sides, putting my opposite leg first as the leading leg, giving my other hand a chance to warm up again. Yeah, didn’t think of bringing gloves for this hike. Nor micro spikes or ice axe, but having them here would have been nice. 

hiker descending steep snow chute in ruby mountains nevada

Ken descending Seitz Canyon

No way around it, it was slow going down Seitz Canyon. Descending the snow field was enough to get your heart rate up a bit, but also not feel overly worried about the dangers of falling. Maybe that’s just my confidence in the snow. Either way, this slope was not glissade-able… safely. 

hikers view down seitz canyon

hiker descending steep snow chute in ruby mountains nevada

Nearing the bottom of the second snow field

There were two sets of snow fields in the chute. The upper one was the steepest. There was a short section of boulders separating the two snow fields, and then it was on to descend the lower one. Sam was below and hollered up that it was icier than above. Ken, having hiked with Sam on the CDT in 2020, joked that Sam doesn’t kick great steps anyways. It was fun to see the dynamic between these two, it was the first time I hiked with them together. 

seitz canyon is full of boulders

View back up the boulder chute we’ve been climbing down

hiking down boulders in seetp canyon in nevada mountains

Sam near the bottom of Seitz Canyon. The end is in sight!

Past the second snow field, we were roughly halfway down the chute. It’s all steep boulders here now, and I wondered which I would rather have; the boulders, or the snow. I say, the snow. 

view up seitz canyon nevada

Bottom of Seitz Canyon. Glad to be out of this one!

hikers walking nevada mountains

Flat ,open ground!

hikers view of seitz canyon and upper seitz cirque

View back at the chute we came down

We took a break near the bottom of Seitz Canyon, and I ate a snack. I hadn’t eaten in several hours, and really needed the boost. I was indeed feeling better now. We exited Seitz Canyon on a bit of a high, looking back at the increasingly crazier looking chute we had descended. I let out a loud scream into the canyon, which had an incredible echo to it with a delay of a few seconds. 

hiker in mountain cirque

Can’t stop looking back at that view!

 As we covered distance downhill now and entered a flat, open valley above Seitz Lake, we entered a new phase of the hike… bushwhacking. There will be a lot of it in Seitz Canyon, unfortunately. The upper section of the canyon is thick and wet. The views looking back were outstanding, though!

refection on seitz lake with qirque of mountains behind

Seitz Lake

upper seitz canyon views

Seitz Canyon and Ruby Dome

The bushwhacking continued to Seitz Lake. There really wasn’t any good access to Seitz Lake, surprisingly. The shoreline was thick with vegetation. The view sure was nice looking across the lake and up the canyon, though. We assumed the trail would become more obvious downhill from here, but that was wishful thinking. 

sunset in seitz canyon

The most perfect sunset

Below the lake, we continued to be fooled into thinking we had stumbled on the trail every time we came across the slightest hint of a beaten path. However, the setting sun created an extremely pleasant sunset this evening. We had a few sprinkles briefly, but the cloud cover provided the backdrop for those oranges and reds. 

We came across a good sized waterfall around the 8200′ mark as we continued to hunt for the trail. We’re right on it according to the map, but we see nothing 95% of the time. It’s a steep descent down the hillside in thick brush. We reach the creek below and stumble upon a ribbon on a tree. You can tell the forest has been cleared out a litter wider in places, but that it’s overgrown for decades without maintenance. 

hikers bushwhacking at sunset

Bushes, as far as the eye can see, just begging to be whacked

The trail fades in and out and we continue to doubt our ability to stay on whatever the trail is supposed to be. We continue to surprise ourselves though, and routinely see signs that we are on the right path, even if the path is now gone. We saw more ribbons on the trees, scattered randomly along the way, but it’s still a bushwhack. 

hiker bushwhacking in creek bed

Ken fighting the brush in the creek bed

We hit a creek bed that we followed for a while, which was dry. However, it was full of tress, plants and debris that made this an obstacle course. 

Losing light now, Ken stumbles in the thick brush and falls. He’s alright, but a symbol of how were are all feeling… tired. After a helping hand, he’s up and at it again. 

Day turns into night as we continue hiking down the canyon. Sam and I have our phones for light, and Ken also has a headlamp. So, one headlamp for the 3 of us. We hit a slightly better path lower down in the canyon, then some type of 4×4 road. 

Now we reach the lower reaches of Seitz Canyon, or Rabbit Canyon as the map now marks it here. This is where the private property begins. Following the road out into the valley means walking through private property. There is a ranch here too, and the road goes right behind a couple of homes. So, to avoid them you must contour around the hills above the private property. Fortunately, in the lower reaches of the canyon here, it’s not thick and green, it’s drier and more barren. Open and easier to walk. Still, it’s dark now.

Pick your poison here… walk the hillsides in the dark or drop down to the private property after passing by the homes and walk a nice road out to Lamoille Canyon. I won’t tell you what to do. Just be aware of the property lines, is all. Use the caltopo app and turn on the public lands layer.

We reached Lamoille Canyon sometime around 10:30pm, having hiked a solid two hours in the dark. That’s a 14.5 hour day of hiking for us. It was a very dark night, too. We could barely see Ken’s Explorer until we where right up on it at the Powerhouse Trailhead.

Ken drove us up to the Roads End Trailhead, and we slept in our vehicles for the night. What a killer hike!!

Lamoille to Seitz Canyon Route Verified As New Leg of the Basin and Range Trail

The route we hiked today was challenging, but repeatable. It was not technical nor was there any real exposure. There is plenty of water, excellent camping and outstanding views. Plan to bushwhack Seitz Canyon, though. 

So, I am happy to report that the hike we did today will become the new “standard route” for the Basin and Range Trail to end Section 6. The alternate route would be to hike down Lamoille Canyon, or simply hitch down. The route we hiked today was easily equal to the scenery along the Ruby Crest Trail, if not greater. And not only greater scenery, but far more rewarding. Anyone can hike the well-manicured Ruby Crest Trail, but the off-trail stuff we did today provides a greater adventure in my book. The standard BRT route will still hit the Ruby Crest Trail in it’s entirety (except the final mile or two to Roads end trailhead in upper Lamoille Canyon), and so this new route will only enhance the Basin and Range Trail hiking experience. 

 


Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike 2020 – Section 10: Ely to Baker

ledge on ridgeline overlooking baker lake, nevada

Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 10 Map

map of basin and range trail section 10 through the snake range

Video: Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 10


In addition to this trail journal, I also filmed my Basin and Range Trail thru hike. I’ve produced a detailed series (11+ hours runtime) documenting this thru hike adventure, the product of over 1,000 hours of video editing. I highly recommending watching the Basin and Range Trail vlog series for an in-depth look at thru-hiking the Great Basin and central Nevada. 

Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 10 Journal

Day 63 – August 2nd: Deerhead Canyon, Mt Moriah Wilderness, The Table, Snake Range

Terri called me at 7:30am and asked if I was ready. I said no, I was sleeping because you said you wouldn’t be here till 9. I said give me a half hour and I’m ready.

Terri and her boyfriend Ronnie picked me up from the Motel 6 parking lot, right outside my door. She was driving a really shitty Ford Escort from the 90s. I guess Raj had bought her the car, I guess you got to do what you got to do to get people to work for you at the motel in a small town. The trunk was held down with bungee cords, there was a big gash in one of the side doors that prevented the window from operating properly, no AC, shocks were completely gone and it leaked oil. But hey, it only needs to get me an hour away!

We stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast, then the Love’s station for gas and oil, as well as drinks. I filled up her gas tank, which was only 15 bucks. We agreed on a hundred bucks for the ride, not bad for 2 hours of work on her end.

The drive was pretty slow, Terri is a slow driver, have to nurse that car I guess so it doesn’t blow up. Decent drive, got to see some different country and a view of Spring Valley, Mount Moriah and Wheeler Peak.

Once we turned on to White Pine County Road 36, the dirt road going into Spring Valley, the going was pretty slow. The dirt road itself was in great shape, but Terri’s car was not. With no struts, she was going like 7 miles an hour the whole way. Still the dirt road section was pretty slow. Lots of windmills in Spring Valley. This is somewhat unusual for Nevada, I have not seen this yet.

car ride for thru hiker on basin and range trail

Shuttle ride to Snake Range

It was even slower when we turned onto the next dirt road that let us to Deerhead Canyon. Eventually, we reached a cattle guard along and open fence line. There was a spot to turn around here, so I said this is good enough. They were a bit apprehensive to drop me off in the middle of nowhere, in this kind of heat, but I assured them I’ll be alright. I paid her the $100, they checked their oil, and they were on their way. Alone again, for the final section.

There was indeed a ranch, or at least some type of home, down in the ditch along the road. I was glad to see that the road was not blocked by no trespassing signs, this public Road went through private land and allowed me to access the public land on the other side. This is not always possible in Nevada, so this was a big win for me.

spring valley nevada

View across Spring Valley to Schell Creek Range

hikers view of deerhead canyon mt moriah snake range nevada

View up Deerhead Canyon

I began the hike up Deerhead Canyon. Before long, I found a spot that had flowing water. Good flow to it actually. This was good, I didn’t have to worry about water today. However, there were signs of cows, and this became more of an issue as I progressed up the canyon.

deerhead canyon hiking nevada

The canyon is becoming more impressive as I gain elevation

The canyon itself became more green and Lush the higher I went. At first, it was just a Thicket along the creek, but the road was so good that it was no problem. I saw one Sagebrush Bush that was 8 to 9 feet tall, perhaps the largest I have seen on the Basin and Range Trail.

deerhead canyon game trails

Game trail remains where the road ends

There are several side Canyons that intersect Negro Creek in Deerhead Canyon. Eventually, after a junction with another Canyon, the road pretty much died out. All of the sudden, it was a thick bush whack through thorn bushes long the creek. Then I found a way around it, and the trail was a little better. But it was a trail now, not a road.

hiking deerhead canyon my moriah wilderness nevada

Jungle-like hike in Deerhead Canyon

hiking thick forest cover in deerhead canyon

A hidden jungle in the Nevada wilderness

hiker bushwhacking through thick thorn bushes

Buskwhacking through thorn bushes

A little further Upstream was where things got really bad. I’m wondering if I missed the main Trail, because the bushwhacking was so bad that I thought the trail was going to fade out completely. Along the creek it was like a jungle. Green, Lush, Vines hanging from the trees. Several Creek Crossings, lots of mud and muddy fields, and at times the trail itself was a flowing Creek. My backpack would catch on everything, all of the branches. This was a major pain, but eventually I emerged into a small field where things cleared out a bit and a better Trail existed.

Interesting rock formations now

looking up at pine trees and rock spires in deerhead canyon, snake range nevada

Those vertical towers, behind the trees!

hiking deerhead canyon in the snake range nevada

Really cool rock formations in Deerhead Canyon

Now, the canyon was lined with interesting rock formations. A lot of Flat Rock stacked on each other. These would tower over the Canyon in interesting ways. Fingers, crags, spires. Even saw a small cave, but I could not reach it without doing some climbing. This was a cool area.

The trail itself did have some maintenance done to it in a few random sections. There were cut logs here and there. There is also a lot of cow shit. It was clear to me that the Rancher at the head of the canyon had done the maintenance himself, so that his cows could reach the high country and Graze there.

thru hiker crosses creek in nevada wilderness

One of several creek crossings

small waterfall in deerhead canyon

Very small waterfall

hiker crossing creek on logs with stick for balance

Difficult route up Deerhead Canyon, but a beautiful hike

The route up Deerhead Canyon continues to intermittently have some path to follow, while crossing the creek and a few small waterfalls, casacdes.

Today was supposed to be 101 degrees in Baker. It was certainly hot, but I felt hotter a few days ago on a climb in the Shell Creek range. I was pleased at how well I was handling the heat today. I took the opportunity to dunk my head in the water every chance I could. Didn’t drink as much water as I thought, though. Typical for me.

view of the snake range from upper deerhead canyon envada

Upper Deerhead Canyon

great basin thru hiker filtering water

Last water before the climb up to Mt Moriah

Last time the trail crosses the creek, I stopped in the shade to filter two liters of water. One to chug, one to take with me. This gives me 5L to carry. This is enough to get up to the table, Summit Mount Moriah, and come down into Henry’s Creek where I know there’s water.

hiking up deerhead canyon

The route up Deerhead Canyon

hikers view from deerhead canyon, snake range nevada

Awesome cliffs and rock formations now in upper Deerhead Canyon

The trail almost completely disappeared now as I was in the upper reaches of the canyon. All That Remains is a faint cow Trail through the Sagebrush, and eventually, Aspen. The grade of the trail got a bit steeper here as well, which got me breathing hard for the first time today. The rest of the trail Downstream from here was pretty well graded.

view of snake range from top of deerhead canyon

Once at the top of Deerhead Canyon, there is a 4×4 road

mt moriah wilderness aspen trees

Break spot in the aspens

Made it out of the canyon around 5pm. I immediately hit a dirt road, which I was thankful for. Now I have a good road to follow. It was mostly wide open Hills now, slightly rolling, with patches of Aspen here and there. I walked a ways down the road before finding a spot to take a break in the shade and eat.

After a quick break I continued on the dirt road. While walking up this road, a side-by-side was coming down. It was two guys, probably in their 30s, all dressed up and camo. I asked if they were out scouting for Elk, they said no, chasing cows. Well just as fun, I said. They asked what I was doing, and I told them this was day 63 for me on a long-distance hike through Nevada. They made a quick joke about being like a mountain goat, said alright have a good evening, and left.

sign for the my moriah wilderness in the snake range nevada

view of mt moriah in the snake range on basin and range trail thru hike

Mt Moriah view from trail in Big Creek Canyon

snake valley iutah view from mt moriah wilderness

View northeast to Snake Valley, into Utah

Next I entered the Mt. Moriah Wilderness, proper. There was a sign here for a Trail, Big Creek Trail I think. It said the table, 2 miles. I could see Mount Moriah very well now, the back side of it, the rugged side.

hiking views from big creek canyon snake range nevada

The rugged backside of Mt Moriah

a grove of bristlecone pine trees in the snake range nevada

Bristlecone Pine Trees

a great basin thru hiker poses in front of large bristlecone pine tree

Look at the size of this tree!

The trail climbs up out of Big Creek Canyon to a a flat plateau at 11,000ft called “The Table”. Near the top of the climb, there is a stand of bristlecone pine trees. These trees were huge! Bristlecone pines are the oldest living organisms on Earth. These trees can live to be over 4900 years old! One was massive, its trunk was wider than the width of my arms extended. Next to it was a tree I called the T-Rex. Big, fat and tall, but with two stubby little branches on the sides like T-Rex arms.

It was 5:30 now, and I had hopes of reaching the table by 6:30 or so and setting up camp. If I could do that, I had a shot at Summit in Mount Moriah this evening. The plan would be to make a base camp, then I could run up the mountain with minimum weight on my back.

hiking the table mt moriah

Hiking up to The Table

The climb up to the table really wore me out. I had already climbed about 4000 ft today, but this was all on fairly well graded terrain. Now, the trail was extremely steep, and I had 1200 ft elevation gain to go. Found a spring that wasn’t on the map, just like I did in the upper reaches of Deerhead Canyon.

hikers view of mt moriah on the table

View of Mt Moriah on The Table

great basin thru hiker on the table at sunset in mt moriah

Hiking The Table at sunset

Farther along the table, The terrain becomes flat and open, with patches of trees. Great view of Mount Moriah from here. There were several good campsites, but I was intent on camping wherever the climbers Trail up to the summit meets this trail. That way, when I’m done climbing the peak in the morning, I don’t have to backtrack to my campsite. It was 7pm now and I had decided not to go for the summit. Clearly, I didn’t have the time to do it.

hiking the table mt morah wilderness

Shadows of the last trees

view into snake valley utah from mt moriah's table

View out into Utah

At one point the trail emerges from the last patch of trees and out into a very open and flat area. Hard to believe I was at 11,000 ft. From here, I could see into snake Valley and into Utah. It looked pretty desolate. But, there’s Beauty in desolation, and this was a perfect example.

Even though the terrain was now flat and open, there was still a bit of a Ridge or High Point on the horizon, even if it was not that much higher than everything else. On top of this high point was a bull elk. Then I noticed another Elk next to him in the shadows. As I moved closer, they ran away. It was around this point when I noticed the first cairn leading up the Ridgeline to Mount Moriah. I found the climbers Trail, so now it’s time to look for a campsite.

mt moriah view at sunset

View of Mt Morah from camp. The summit is hidden from view

hikers sunset view from campsite on the table in the mt moriah wilderness

View into Snake Valley and Utah

view of full moon rising from mt moriah wilderness

A mesmerizing sight, watching the full moon rise over a massive, desolate landscape

Fortunately I didn’t have to look long. I climbed up the Ridgeline a short ways to a patch of trees, and found a small Rockwall that someone had built to block the wind. I didn’t set up my Camp behind this Rockwall, because the wind was blowing in a different direction, but I still was able to find a pretty good spot here.

basin and range trail thru hiker's campsite in mt moriah wilderness

Excellent view from camp tonight with a full moon

snake range views from campsite on the table

View from camp

Excellent views to the east out into Utah, as this campsite sits on a bit of a High Point along the Ridgeline. The moon was full, or almost full now, and just starting to rise from the horizon. I set up my GoPro for a time lapse while I set up my tent.

I was hoping to be able to Summit mount Moriah today since its my birthday, that would have been a memorable moment. Oh well, I’ll bag it tomorrow morning. I’m pretty tired now anyways, and was actually feeling a bit short of breath coming up the climb to the table. A night of rest will be good.

Day 64 – August 3rd: Mt Moriah Summit, Snake Range, Hendry’s Creek, Snake Valley

Left camp around 6:45am to climb Mount Moriah. Pack was very light, only carried 2L water, toilet paper, camera, GoPro and GPS. In fact it was awkward carrying the pack without any weight in it, it didn’t sit right on me and the water in my side pockets moved around a lot.

hiking to the summit of mt moriah

Small pile of rocks marking the social trail to the summit of Mt Moriah

mt moriah summit hike

Hiking up to Mt Moriah

Went back to the area where the cairns marked the climbers trail for Mt Moriah. Down below on the table, I saw 4 Bighorn sheep. At least, that’s what I think they were. They were too far to tell for sure.

hiking up mt moriah views of the route

The route up to Mt Moriah

hiking trail to mt moriah

A good trail exists in spots

After a little climbing, the trail goes to the left of a ridge. From here, it goes to a saddle between the ridge I skirted around another prominent High Point. Great views of this high point, the same one that I could see from my camp. One would think it was Mount Moriah itself, but the summit is hidden from view behind this.

hikers view over nevada valley on climb to mt moriah

View northwest to Spring Valley and Schell Creek Range

Mt moriah summit hike views

Awesome views from the saddle below Mt Moriah

At the saddle, I took a little time to explore the small High Point. This gave great views of the backside of Moriah, which was basically sheer Cliffs. Then I continued on the trail around the high point. Eventually reached an area where I had my first view of Mount Moriah proper. It did not look impressive at all, at least not compared to the high point that I skirted around.

views from mt moriah summit hike along ridgeline

Looking back at the route I’ve hiked so far along the ridgeline

view into hendry's creek from mt moriah summit hike

View down Hendry’s Creek, where I’ll be hiking later today

The route up to the summit wasn’t exactly straightforward, though. From the trail, I chose to leave it and go straight up a steep and loose Hillside. It looked like the trail went around to the south side of Moriah, maybe there was another route up that way. Maybe the trail I was on was just a game Trail. Either way, I made my way up to the saddle just below the summit, and then eventually the summit itself.

hikers view of the table plateau from mt moriah summit in nevada

Mt Moriah summit view. The flat plateau below is the area I hiked last night called The Table. If it wasn’t obvious why last night, it certainly is from this perspective

hikers view of wheeler peak from mt moriah summit

Summit view south to Wheeler Peak and Greta Basin National Park. My end point is in sight now!

hiekrs view from the summit of mt moriah nevada

Mt Moriah Summit view west over Spring Valley to Schell Creek Range

great basin thru hiker on the summit of mt moriah nevada

Standing tall on the summit of Mt Moriah, 12,067′

Great views from The Summit of Mt Moriah at 12,067. Forest fire smoke rolling in from California, so everything was a bit hazy. It’s always nice to have a crystal clear view, but with the angle of the early morning sun, the haze added a mystical vibe to the view. Found the summit register, which was basically full. I wrote on the back. It had just been climbed about a week ago. I had cell phone service on the top, but it was going in and out. Quasi-4G. 

hiker walking ridgeline near mt moriah nevada

Cool ridgeline views coming down from Mt Moriah summit

hiker walking talus field on mt moriah summit hike

Hiking across the rocky slopes on the descent from Mt Moriah

hiking the mt moriah summit trail

Good views all around on the Mt Moriah summit hike

The hike back down from Mt Moriah was quick and mostly easy. There was a bit of scree sliding to do, which I actually enjoy. Dig your heels in and slide! 

twisted dead tree viewed from mt moriah ike

Made my way back down to camp. Packed everything up and started hiking around 10am. It was a weird feeling getting such a late start on the actual hike of the day. I don’t typically make a base camp to bag a peak in the middle of a hike, its usually either along the route or it isn’t.

mt moriah viewed from the table in the mt moriah wilderness

View of Mt Moriah from the trail dropping down into Hendry’s Creek

I went back down to the trail that ran across the table, and followed that to the Hendry’s Creek Trail. There was a sign marking the trail, an obvious path and lots of carins. I was hopeful that it this would continue all the way down through the end of the canyon and out to Snake Valley, but that’s a lot to ask for.

hiking views of mt moriah in hendry's creek

Upper Hendry’s Creek views

The upper reaches of Hendry’s Creek canyon were okay. There was no water yet, but a bit of a view of the surrounding Cirque. Besides that, it was not all that interesting.

hencry'sc reek in mt moriah wilderness

Spring forming a flowing creek in upper Hendry’s Creek Canyon

Soon the trail drops down off of the hill sides and into the bottom of the canyon. Almost immediately, I found a spring creating a small Creek. From here on out, I would have water almost all the way down to the mouth of the canyon.

hendry's creek hiking trail views in nevada

Hiking trail through a nice forest in Hendry’s Creek

hiker walking through aspen trees along the hendry's creek trail

Hiking the Hendry’s Creek Trail through stand of aspens

Immediately Downstream of the spring, the trees grew thicker and provided shade. There was a nice Trail through the forest. When the creek got large enough, I stopped to filter water and eat some food.

flowing creek along the hendry's creek trail in nevada

Hendry’s Creek flowing throughout the hike down the canyon

hiking hendrys creek trail

Rock formations beginning to pop up throughout the canyon

The upper reaches of Henry’s creek where Pleasant in the sense that I had a solid Trail to walk, it was going downhill, and I was in shade. Also along a nice water source. Some of the pools in the Creek had trout in them. Passed a clearing in the forest that had a cooler just sitting out. I opened it up to find a large rock inside, that was it. Okay then.

sheer vertical cliffs in hendrys creek nevada

Majestic view in Hendry’s Creek Canyon

toweing canyons in hendry's creek nevada

Towering rockwalls line Hendry’s Creek

hiking hendrys creek canyon trail

Around the middle section of Hendry’s Creek canyon, the rock formations and sheer Cliffs began to command attention. When the tree cover subsided for a moment, the canyon walls were there to impress. And big time! I found myself in awe of the canyon walls, now with a smile on my face and walking slower. Taking more pictures, and filling my GoPro SD card quicker. Looking up at some of the cliffs, they must have been 1000 ft straight up. Looking up into a side Canyon, there would be layers of Cliffs that had haze in between them from the incoming forest fire smoke. Pretty cool looking, actually.

hiker stands in front of huge pine tree in mt moriah wilderness

Huge pine tree!

There were some extremely large pine trees along the trail as well. The trunks of these were as wide as I could stretch my arms horizontally. I really like this Trail. I began to reflect on my Basin and Range Trail thru-hike as a whole, as the miles and days count down.

hikers view of canyons in hendrys creek

Big views in Hendry’s Creek Canyon

hikers view of canyons in hendrys creek

Good views as the trail drops lower in Hendry’s Creek

mt moriah wilderness sign in hendrys creek snake range nevada

Leaving the Mt Moriah Wilderness

As I got lower in the canyon, the water in the creek dried up. This had me worried, but then a few hundred feet down Trail, there was water again. And then a few hundred feet later, it was gone. So next time I saw water, I made sure to stop and fill up. It was mostly flowing after that.

views from hiking trail in hendry's creek canyon nevada

Hiking Lower Hendry’s Creek Trail

view up a vertical rock wall with tall pine tree

An imposing rockwall

hikers views from trail in hendrys creek canyon snake range nevada

Massive landforms line the canyon walls on the hike out of Hendry’s Creek Canyon

The very lower section of Hendry’s Creek canyon was interesting. It was mostly open now, and becoming much less green. But the Canyon walls were still impressive, they just had a different style to them. Some of them resemble more typical desert rock formations, while on the other side of the canyon there were still a few lingering sheer cliffs. It was an impressive view up the canyons. Water was still flowing too. I passed a very large group of chukars. Thinking this was the last time I was crossing the creek, I took my shirt off and washed it in the water, mostly for the purpose of cooling off.

view up hendrys creek canyon from lower section

Looking back up Hendry Creek Canyon

lower section of hendrys creek canyon views

Much more desert-like, barren landforms here as Hendry’s Creek Canyon opens up

views from lower hendrys creek trail

Excellent hiking in lower Hendry’s Creek

view from lower hendrys creek

Junction of Hendry’s Creek and South Fork Hendry’s Creek

The lower segment of Hendry’s Creek Canyon continued to impress. Definitely drier and more barren looking, but a different kind of beautiful. 

snake valley utah with forest fire smoke

Desolate views into Snake Valley. The forest fire smoke doesn’t help any

hiking around the snake range

As I reached the mouth of the canyon, things looked extremely dry and desolate now. There was a junction in the road, and I took a turn heading towards Great Basin National Park. Now, I would skirt the hillside for several miles, going up over a few hills and small passes. First, I follow some roads up the Hill, where the road disappears. I side-hilled over to a ridge/pass. I marveled at just how desolate it felt now, such a far cry from the beautiful Canyon only a few miles away.

looking into the cove from hill snake valley snake range

Fenceline above “The Cove”

silhouette of wheeler peak beyond gun sight pass

View of Wheeler Peak beyond “Gun Sight Pass”

Now I dropped down into an area marked on the map as the Cove. There were a series of roads weaving in and out of here, an old Quarry of sorts. And the distance, I could see the pass I wanted to go over. It looked like a gun sight, and in the distance be on the gun sight was Wheeler Peak, standing out among the haze. Something about this stood out to me. My final destination lies straight ahead, through this gun sight pass, in the mysterious haze. It was beautiful. It was symbolic.

views of mt moriah wilderness from valley below

Awesome views of the Mt Moriah Wilderness from The Cove

At first when I dropped down into the Cove, it was not that scenic. However, the Final Approach up to the pass, the gun sight, was very beautiful. The peaks of the Snake Range to the north now show their true character. They were tall, Jagged and imposing. In the foreground was fields of golden grass. I really enjoyed the walk up this pass, it felt like a cross between Goshute valley and, well, I don’t know, someplace with Majestic mountains. With the sun setting behind them, it was just really nice.

mt moriah view from gunsight pass

Descending Gun Sight Pass to what appears to be a water source in the valley below

Eventually I crested gun sight pass. Wheeler Peak showed itself on my last few steps up to the pass. The same Peaks I had been admiring to the north remained, but now I could also see Wheeler Peak and the rest of the Great Basin National Park Ridgeline. Additionally, I could see a patch of green below the pass. I had nothing on my map marking a spring or any water source here, but that’s sure what it looks like from here. Better check it out.

craig spring along basin and range trail thru hike

This spring wasn’t marked on my map. What a nice surprise. Good water, too!

water overflowing from trough in nevada wilderness

Water overflowing from this trough

When I dropped down off the pass, sure enough, there was a spring among the green. It was a round metal trough with a hole in it, and water squirting out like a faucet. There was a lot of algae in the water, but the water itself was crystal clear. Additionally, there was a wooden sign here that said Craig spring. This was a really great find. My original plan was to leave the road and walk up Hill a ways to a guzzler. This would have been at least a 200 ft climb up the hill. So this spring saved me time and hassle of seeking out the guzzler, which surely would have been a lesser quality water source. Ate dinner here, filtered several liters, chugged a few, and washed up a bit. It was now closer to 7pm, and the sun and finally gone down behind the mountains and cooled off. Today was forecast to be 99 degrees in Baker, so it was a hot day and this was a welcome relief.

snake valley views from basin and range trail

Nice hike this evening along the base of the MT Moriah Wilderness, overlooking Snake Valley

From here I followed a road that basically skirted the hillside for a couple miles. I overlooked snake Valley as the sun went down. Forest fire smoke lingered in the air. My feet were feeling a bit sore actually, mostly in a way that resemble them being wet and being rubbed raw. However, my feet really weren’t wet today.

It was a surreal feeling walking towards Wheeler Peak on my hike this evening. The end point of my entire 2+ month long thru-hike of Nevada is now in plain sight. On one hand, I am ready to be done. I don’t want to do any more climbing, no more bushwhacking, I just want to rest. But on the other hand, I’m not looking forward to piecing together some sort of meaningful life again when I return from this hike. Out here, I have meaning and purpose, but back at home, I always feel like Im just living life in-between adventures.

spring pooling up in dirt road in nevada

A spring coming right of out the road!

As I made a turn onto another dirt road, I saw a spring that was flowing right out of the center of the road. I have never seen anything like this. The pool was probably about 15 inches in diameter, and deep enough to dip a bottle into easily. Crystal Clear water, a great source actually! Just a strange place for it, in the middle of a dirt road.

camping in the shadows of wheeler peak in snake valley Nevada

Camping in the shadows of Wheeler Peak and Great Basin National Park

Now around 8pm, the sun was fading. There were many spots to camp alongside the road, so I just chose a random clearing. There were more lights down in the valley than I thought. The Moon Rose to the east, it was full and extremely red looking. Probably thank the forest fire smoke for that. I called it the Super Ultra Mega Ultimate Harvest Vampire Blood Moon, like all the ridiculous names they give full moons on the Weather Channel.

Hot night, don’t even need sleeping bag. Hope I can sleep.

Day 65 – August 4th: Snake Range, Snake Valley, Baker, Snake Creek, Great Basin National Park

basin and range trail thru hikers tarptent notch li campsite in nevada

Morning views from camp in Snake Valley

Woke 6am. Hot night. Must have been tired, slept like a rock.

4x4 raod leads away from snake range nevada mountains

Following this 4×4 road out of the mountains

wheeler peak behind green grass in desert

Hiking towards Baker. Wheeler Peak in the distance

Its a road walk into Baker now, mostly along some old 4×4 roads to begin the morning.

While planning the BRT route, I came across a GPX file marking a bunch of old plane crash sites across Nevada. I plotted these out over my route and if they are close enough, will investigate the marker to see if there is anything there. This morning was one of those opportunities. I headed a few miles cross-country to a waypoint I marked for an old plane crash site from the 60s. When I reached the coordinates, there were no signs of anything here. No debris, no physical evidence of a crash, nothing.

thru hiker walking power lines

Hiking the powerlines

wooden post with metal tag that says cobrarod

Cobrarod, eh? Sounds pretty badass. Found these tags on the powerline posts

view of silver creek reservoir and wheeler peak nevada

Silver Creek Reservoir

Followed road along some powerlines thinking it was the correct road, but apparently it wasn’t. Took me at least a mile out of the way to Silver creek reservoir.

At one point this morning, my GoPro fell off a fence post and cracked the screen protector. At least, I hoped only the screen protector was cracked, and not the lens behind it. However, since I will be walking through the town of Baker today, I figured Id just stop at the post office, get my bounce box, and slap on a new screen protector that I keep on hand for just such an occasion. Otherwise, I wondered if a hairline crack would be visible on the footage taken now with the GoPro.

view of blacktop pavement and yellow center line leading to mountains in nevada desert

Crossing Hwy 50/6

The walk into Baker seemed like it took forever. It didn’t look far away, but man did it drag on. Crossed hwy 50\6,then another 4 miles into town.

Baker is a very small town. In fact, its downright pathetic for a National Park gateway city. The population is only 58. Baker has one motel, an rv park, no breakfast places, no lunch places, and only one place to eat dinner, on certain days of the week, which is operated by the motel. Baker is so small, the gas station here doesn’t even have a convenience store attached. You can only pay at the pump. The Stargazer Motel offers a small selection of snacks, but is only open in the late afternoon for like 4 hours, on certain days of the week. You cant just go to the store and buy something simple like a Pepsi in Baker. Crazy, for the closest own to a National Park. That ought to give you an idea of how little visitation Great Basin National Park gets, if the closest town isn’t even large enough to support such basic services.

Stopped in the great basin National Park visitor center on my hike into Baker, bought a couple stickers. Did the free Backcountry camping reservation, even though its not technically required. Believe it or not, the visitation is so low in Great Basin National Park that there is no permit required for backcountry camping. You can just drive there, park, and hike overnight without doing anything else. In a National park!! This sums up my experience hiking in Nevada.

funny flyer for missing goldfish

While waiting for the post office to open I saw this flyer on the bulletin board

Stopped at the Post Office when I reached Baker. Closed till noon, and the post master was 10min late returning from lunch. Picked up my bounce box, she said I need to pay the 21 bucks again if I open it, even if I just grab something out of it. Asked where to eat, but there was nowhere in town that’s open. Just the coffee place next door, a small food cart.

Coffee shack thing has picnic tables and shade. Got an Italian soda and ate my own food while I opened the bounce box and put on the new Gopro screen protector. Charge batts with remaining juice in 20000 mAh pack, will put that back in BB. Put stickers and rocks in BB. Will try to leave BB with a motel before leaving town today so I don’t have to pay for postage again. Today is Tuesday, and will try to finish Thursday night.

Walked across the street to Stargazers Motel, with bounce box in tow. The office wasn’t open for another half hour, but since the UPS truck was there making a delivery, the door was open and I talked to the owner. I recognized the owner, I just saw her in the post office picking up her mail from a PO box. I asked if they had any rooms available for Thursday night, and they had one. 78 bucks, no fridge or microwave. Whatever, it’s not like there’s a convenience store to buy things from anyway! I said sure let’s do it. They also had a restaurant that was only open Thursday through Sunday, 4 to 8pm. Man the hours people work in small towns. Can’t blame them, but on the other hand, it’s super inconvenient when you happen to be there outside of those hours. I’m just lucky I will be there for dinner, because I’m going to want to eat after finishing this hike! I also asked if I could leave my bounce box there with them until Thursday, and they said no problem. And finally, I asked for a couple of liters of water to take with me.

I started walking down the road out of Baker to continue south. I’m trying to reach Snake Creek, the canyon that will take me to Johnson lake, my route up to the high country. Somewhere in Baker was the lowest point along my route here through Snake Valley, roughly 5,200. From here, Ill be climbing to over 13,000, and that’s without all of the ups and downs in-between. A 7,800 climb, in this heat, sounds daunting.

hiking snake creek to johnson lake great basin national park

Enter Snake Creek Canyon

It was mid afternoon now when I reached Snake Creek and began the hike up to Johnson Lake. Its 2000ft to Johnson Lake, mostly along a road that leads up the canyon. Also interesting to note, Mt Moriah was part of the Snake Range. The Snake Range actually continues south of Hwy 50/6 into Great Basin National Park. Great Basin NP and the Mt Moriah area look like completely different mountain ranges, but apparently, they are part of the same range.

So now I have about 48 hours left on the Basin and Range Trail. This kind of hit me all of the sudden, realizing it after I made my hotel reservation. Realistically, I’ll get back into Baker mid-afternoon. Wow, only 48 hours to go! I feel like I should have some profound Revelations, some deep and meaningful thoughts about the whole adventure as it comes to an end. But, for some reason my mind is just blank. A bit like the CDT in a way, not what I was expecting at the end. But I still have 48 hours to go. 48 hours to reflect, Ponder and look back on this experience. Tomorrow will be my last full day… That thought just hit me as well!

The lower reaches of the canyon consisted of a rearing station, I guess this is like a fish hatchery. Up the road from this was some private property for about a half a mile. This parcel of private property seemed to be pretty adamant about no trespassing. His gate had numerous no trespassing signs, including a handwritten sign that said “there is nothing on this property worth losing your life for”. Looking into the property, it look like some sort of compound. Like a polygamist compound, or maybe just some loony prepper.

basin and range trail thru hiker at great basin national park sign

Entering Great Basin National Park

Father up the canyon, after the private property ended, there was a sign that said entering Great Basin National Park. Around here, was the first time you could access the stream that flows along the road, Snake Creek. I stopped to take my shirt off and wash it in the water, and put on a cold shirt. You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference this makes, it really takes the heat down a few notches. And of course, dunked my head a bit and tried to cool off.

hiking views in snake creek canyon great basin national park

Views while hiking up Snake Creek Canyon

hiking views in snake creek canyon great basin national park

Views form Snake Creek

I saw several deer on the way up to Canyon. A few at a time, and different places. There were some spots that had rock formations that were similar to Hendry’s Creek or Deerhead Canyon of the Mt Moriah area, but overall, the canyon was not that interesting. It was a bit disappointing, actually. But then again, its just the lower reaches of the canyon, and many canyons don’t get good until the upper reaches. Every so often, there were pit toilet bathrooms and a couple of campsites along the road. National Park has funding for all this, but not enough to take care of the horrible washboard road here. The only thing that sucks more than walking on a washboard Road is driving on one.

hiking views in snake creek canyon great basin national park

The high country is in sight

While Snake Creek was flowing in the lower potion of the canyon, it Was dry now in the middle section. The stream began to flow again as I approached the lower Campground, Eagle Peak or Eagle Pass, something like that. This wasn’t the campground at the end of the road, but about 2 miles before that.

When I reached the end of the road, there was a pit toilet and Trailhead parking. You could park here and walk into a couple of campsites they were nearby. I stopped here at the trailhead parking lot to eat dinner. The national park has these nice little stone walls that are about a foot and a half tall, perfect to sit on. But pretty useless otherwise! Again, would rather have a non-washboard road than a little decorative wall. I felt like I’d covered a lot of ground today, but still wanted to make more progress. After all, it was only 6:30 or so now after dinner.

The Johnson Lake Trail starts here from the trailhead. It’s 3.9 miles and 2600 elevation gain to Johnson Lake, which is just below the crest of the Snake Range here in Great Basin National Park. I doubt I would make it tonight, but at least want to put a dent in that elevation gain. Tomorrow is going to have enough climbing already.

great basin hiking

Views uphill from the trailhead

After leaving the trailhead, the trail passes through one of those walk-in campsites, which had a few people camping here. The two guys that were camped there were walking in right behind me. Up the trail, past the walk-in campsite, was a wooden bridge over the creek. I thought about it, and this might be the first bridge that I’ve come across on the Basin and range Trail.

At the creek with the bridge, I stopped to filter one liter of water. While I set up my gravity system, I washed my socks and my legs with my wash rag. Looking over at my water filter, It was clear that something was wrong, it was leaking too much. I removed the filter from the platypus bag and noticed that my gasket was messed up. That was from putting the water filter on upside down last night, when I was hot and tired. Stupid mistake. Now the gasket is all chewed up. Fortunately, I have a couple of extras. So it was no big deal to swap it out with a new one. I just felt a little dumb for doing that.

johnson lake hike at sunset

Sunset over Snake Creek

Upstream, I saw a couple more deer. Some nice Aspens alongside the trail. Eventually the trail weaves in and out and emerges in an open spot. For the first time today, I felt like I was in the high country. Still had a ways to go, though. Not all that much to say about I tonight’s hike, it wasn’t that interesting overall, compared to a lot of other places I’ve been along this route. The trails are well maintained, all of the downed logs have been cleared. But a lot of the time it just felt like I was walking through a forest with no view and climbing uphill quite a bit.

Found a spot to camp just before 8pm. A really good spot Actually, about a hundred feet off Trail, with a perfect area of flat ground that has already been cleared.

Left pinky toe has been sore all day. Looks like maybe a small blister on the inside, but really, more than that, something to do with the callus on the bottom of the toe and some rubbing issues there. Overall pretty tired. Just two more nights to go!

Day 66 – August 5th: Great Basin National Park, Snake Range, Johnson Lake, Great Basin NP High Route Traverse, Wheeler Peak Summit

tarptent notch li campsite in great basin national park

Campsite below Johnson Lake

Have been feeling a bit more tired than normal last few nights. Slept pretty good. Felt a little rough when I woke up, but fine once I start moving. Rough in the sense that I just feel overall tired and worn out. Today is my last full day of hiking on the Basin and Range Trail.

old cabin at tungsten ore mill site snake range

Cabin down at the mill site. There are more buildings uphill

Still another 1200 ft to climb up to Johnson like. Passed the Johnson Lake Mill, where tungsten ore was sent down from mines near the lake for processing in the early 1900s. The trail was steep and Rocky. I could hear a creek flowing near the Johnson Mill.

My thought was, today was going to be tough with a lot of climbing but since there were so few miles to cover, that I would have plenty of time, making it a somewhat leisurely day. I was in a really good mood this morning. However, I’m struggling to make sense of my emotions on this last full day of hiking. My mind is all over the place. 

entrance to johnson lake cabin great basin national park

Johnson Lake Cabin

inside an old cabin in great basin national park

The most intact cabin at Johnson Lake

At Johnson Lake, there were several cabins. Some in better condition than others. Lots of Rusty cans, bottles, random mining equipment like Transmissions, gear shafts and Motors, rusty old barrels, fuel canisters.

Hiking up to Johnson Lake

johnson lake view

Johnson Lake

reflection on johnson lake, basin and range trail thru hike

Johnson Lake reflection

reflection on alpine lake in great basin national park nevada

Reflection on Johnson Lake

I stopped along the shores of Johnson Lake to filter some water. I could hear voices somewhere, assuming they were up on the Ridgeline above the lake, but I couldn’t see anyone. I knew there was someone camping here based on the trail register at the trailhead last night. I could hear a tent rustling in the wind over in the trees, didn’t know if there was anyone there right now though. While I was filtering water, a guy walked up and started filtering water about 50 ft away from me. I asked him where he was going today, he said Wheeler Peak and then down to the Trailhead below wheeler. That’s what I’m doing too, I said. He had a very small and light day pack. He said he was just going to chug some water and take one liter with him for the whole way. Wow, that’s it? 

trolly above johnson lake

An old trolly, with the cable still intact

Johnson Lake view

Climbing the pass above Johnson Lake

I started the climb up to the pass above Johnson Lake. A little ways up, there was a metal cable running from one part of the mountain up to a higher part of the mountain with a little trolley on it. A relic of the old Johnson mine. Nice view looking down on Johnson Lake. The lake is pretty small, but hey, it’s a lake, in Nevada. What more can you ask for?

great basin national park view of johnson lake from pass below pyramid peak

Last view of Johnson Lake and Snake Creek

rock cairns and the Great Basin National Park ridgeline traverse

View of the Great Basin National Park Ridgeline to Wheeler Peak

Made it to the top of the pass. Walking away from Johnson Lake, there were some cairns that led down to Baker Lake. In the distance, an imposing Ridgeline Loomed. Baker Peak and Wheeler Peak, along with the unnamed high points in between them. I took the trail down to Baker Lake to the point where it was about even with the saddle I was heading for, and then I was off Trail for most of the rest of the day from there.

hiekrs view of pyramid peak on the great basin national park ridgeline

Johnson Lake is below the pass in the center, Pyramid Peak is to the left

pyramid peak view, snake range nevada

Pyramid Peak

basin and range trail thru hiker climbing boulders in snake range

Climbing up the boulders

Once I reached the saddle, it was pretty much just a boulder field. I was hoping this was just a temporary thing, but this was pretty much consistent with the rest of the day. Definitely a bit more intense than I had anticipated. I’m glad I had more than just one liter of water on me!

hiking boulder fields on the Great Basin National Park Ridgeline Traverse

The route across the ridgeline

panorama view of the great basin national park ridgeline

View south along the ridgeline

It was extremely slow going. Very slow. I assumed there would be a path around some of these unnamed high points, like a horse Trail or social trail. But since it was just a giant Boulder field, there was nothing. I was forced to mostly stay on the Ridgeline proper, which meant more elevation gain. And it was as slow as you could imagine moving through a giant field of Boulders. Reminiscent of the Wind River range high route, or perhaps the Sierras.

hiker walking jagged ridgeline above baker lake

Rugged ridgeline hiking ahead

hiker in boulder field on mountain ridgeline in nevada

Working my way along the ridgeline

Moving around the first High Point was slow. After I dropped down to a saddle in between the first and second High Point, I got a good look at the second high point, which was basically the back wall of the cirque of Baker Lake. It was extremely Jagged looking, a collection of spires and hoodoos. It didn’t really look possible to walk that Ridgeline, so I took a path below it, skirting the mountain side. Here it was a steep field of boulders. Many of them moved under my feet. It was slow, tedious, and frightening at times.

looking up at rock wall hiking the greta basin national park ridgeline

An interesting looking rockwall

views hiking the ridge above baker lake nevada

jacgged rocks and ridgeline in great basin nevada

Jagged ridgeline above Baker Lake

Eventually I made my way up to the top of the Ridgeline, tired of skirting the hillside through steep boulders. To my surprise, it was easier walking up here then it was down below. Additionally, the views were spectacular!

ledge on ridgeline overlooking baker lake, nevada

Ledge jetting out over Baker Lake

hiking the ridgeline above baker lake in the snake range nevada

What an awesome ridgewalk! Baker Lake below

On the Baker Lake side of the crest, massive sheer cliffs dropped down what looked like a thousand feet. The Ridgeline was segmented, little inlets and valleys, massive death chutes, that looked like a gun sight. They were too many of these to count. They required a little bit of work to go around them, but they were so darn impressive. The entire ridgeline above Baker Lake was outstanding. 

hikers view though the window over baker lake along the snake range ridgeline

Baker Lake seen from a “window”, one of many along the ridgeline

Life was a bit more pleasant now that I am walking the Jagged Ridgeline, even though it’s still tedious in slow going. At least I had amazing views to make it all worthwhile. Talk about saving some of the best scenery on the entire Basin and Range Trail for last. That’s exactly how today felt, I was just blown away by The Incredible landscapes. What a way to end my BRT thru-hike, with a Great Basin National Park high route across the rugged crest of the Snake Range.

hikers view of schell creek range and spring valley from great basin national park ridgeline

View west across Spring Valley and the Schell Creek Range

hiking great basin ridgeline

Views south along the ridgeline

In between Baker Lake and Baker Peak, the hiking was a little easier. Here, it was just a walk along talus, with no steep slopes to contend with. 

rocky jagged ridgeline leading to baker peak nevada

The ascent to Baker Peak

view from baker peak summit

baker peak summit views nevada

Baker Peak view southeast over the Snake Range, Snake Valley and Ferguson Desert

Next I began the Ascent of Baker Peak. It was less steep, so it made hiking on the boulders a bit easier. But it was still a boulder walk. Everything was today, all the way up to Wheeler Peak. Once at the top of Baker, I enjoyed excellent views in all directions. At 12,305, Baker Peak is the 4th highest mountain in Nevada.

hikers view of wheeler peak on the ridge north of baker peak

Wheeler Peak

Now I had a clear view of Wheeler Peak, and the Ridgeline leading up to it. The path ahead looked very steep, and needed to find a way down to the Ridgeline.

view of wheeler peak from ridgeline

Ridgeline to Wheeler Peak

hiking the ridgeline north of baker peak

Baker Peak north face

thru hikers view of baker peak north face, snake range, nevada

Outstanding views along the north face of Baker Peak

It was steep coming down the Ridgeline from Baker Peaks north side. Once I dropped down in elevation some, then it was time to skirt around to the Ridgeline. This was perhaps one of the most impressive segments of trail today in terms of pure Scenic Beauty. Looking back at Baker, it was just so damn impressive. A massive vertical rock face. A couple of them actually, dominated The View to the South. I couldn’t stop looking back.

hiker sits on cliff edge for lunch on basin and range trail thru hike

Killer lunch break spot

hiker dangles feet over cliff on snake range mountains

Gotta soak in this view, it will all be over tomorrow!

I ended up taking a break here to eat some food. Sat right up on top of the fridge, and dangled my feet over the edge. The north face of Baker Peak is said to be one of the tallest vertical rockwalls in the entire Great Basin, perhaps only second to its neighbor to the north, Wheeler Peak. Seems like good spot to sit for a minute. 

views in between wheeler peak and baker peak nevada

wheeler peak ridgeline hiking views

Ridgeline to Wheeler Peak. Awesome!

basin and range trail thru hiker in the snake range nevada

Excellent hiking along the ridgeline

I really enjoyed this Ridgeline. Eventually, I reached the saddle, the low point between Baker Peak and Wheeler Peak, and began the 1200 ft Ascent up to Wheeler.

hikers view of baker peak on wheeler peak ascent

View of Baker Peak from climb to Wheeler Peak

hiker climbing wheeler peak's south face

South face ridgeline hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak

The Climb to Wheeler Peak wasn’t too bad, in the sense that the boulders were mostly pretty secure, didn’t move too much. There really wasn’t a path per se, but at times I felt like there were little patches of grass in between the boulders that made it seem like that was the right way to go. 

panorama view from summit of wheeler peak nevada

Wheeler Peak summit view south

Reached the summit of Wheeler Peak around 5pm. At 13,065′, Wheeler Peak is the 2nd tallest peak in Nevada. The highest peak in Nevada is Boundary Peak, and it’s right on the border or California and Nevada. Since Boundary Peak straddles two states, does it only “half count” as the tallest in Nevada? Wheeler Peak may be 2nd tallest, but it’s the highest point on the Basin and Range Trail. 

view of jeff davis peka from wheeler peak summit hike

Jeff Davis Peak

snake range ridgeline view in nevada from wheeler peak summit hike

Summit view south to Baker Peak, Pyramid Peak and the rest of the Snake Range

view north from the summit of wheeler peak to mt moriah and snake range

View north along the Snake Range, and Mt Moriah

basin and range trail thru hiker on summit of wheeler peak

High point of the Basin and Range Trail, 13,065′

I took my time on the summit of Wheeler Peak. I looked over the Great Basin, straddling two states here, soaking in the view. It was a pretty hazy day, still feeling the effects of the California wildfires in the form of forest fire smoke. This created that layered effect on the distant mountain ranges. I thought about my first distant views when I first started this hike, and saw Wheel Peak in the distance for the first time. I could see it from 100 miles away, in the Grant Range, and 140 miles away, in the Hot Creek range on Morey Peak. I thought about how looking out into the Nevada Wilderness meant mystery, in the beginning. Now, I look out and I see memories. That’s the reward of an arduous journey such as a thru-hike. To be able to look back on all that one has seen, endured, accomplished and gain a new perspective. To turn the unknown into the known. Mysteries to Memories. 

view from wheeler peak hiking trail great basin national park nevada

Descending the trail down the ridgeline on the north face of Wheeler Peak

hike down from wheeler peak summit nevada

Time to descend Wheeler Peak

hiking trail view below wheeler peak

Wheeler & Jeff Davis Peaks

Headed down off Wheeler Peak, the wind was picking up now. There was a trail to follow now, which helped me make much better time. Even so, the trail was not great, in the sense that it was basically still all rocks. It was just a path through the rocks.

hiking trail great basin national park

Good trail now to pas above Stella Lake

views of wheeler peak nevada

Wheeler and Jeff Davis Peaks from below

hiking the wheeler peak trail great basin national park nevada

Dropping down to Stella Lake, view back up to Wheeler and Jeff Davis Peaks

Made it to the pass above Stella Lake. Excellent view of wheeler from here. Started down the trail around 7pm. So many deer this evening, probably around 12.

stella lake at sunset, great basin national park

Stella Lake

Stella Lake was beautiful, great view of Wheeler Peak from the lake. However, no good campsites. Really, no pre-made campsites anywhere along the lake. I was really surprised by this. I found a spot under a tree, a small clearing, that had three rocks in the center. Didn’t think anything of it at the time, but when I moved the rocks to set up my tent, of course there was toilet paper under them. There was nowhere else to camp, so I pretty much had to camp here anyway. The tp looked older, and I made sure to put some dirt over it so that it doesn’t come in contact with my Tyvek. I’m camping here. 

Day 67 – August 6th: Stella Lake, Snake Range, Great Basin National Park, Lehman Creek

Couldn’t sleep last night. Wind was howling, but I was protected and so was Stella lake. But still, the sounds of the wind kept me up. Used ear plugs after mid night, that helped, and I was able to sleep a little. Besides the wind, I had a million thoughts on my mind with the end of the hike upon me, and I’m not sure how much sleep I would have gotten on a calm night.

Packed up and left camp, unsure with how to deal with the last day of the hike. My head was a mess, I could barely think straight. I want to be done, but I’m not ready to be done.

theresa lake view snake range nevada

Theresa Lake

I walked around Stella Lake to Theresa Lake, which was clearly very low on water. I wondered how many more years Stella Lake would even be around. I could have hiked over to Rock Glacier, adding another 1.5 miles each way, but I didn’t. I regret it now. Rock Glacier is the only remaining glacier in Nevada, which sits below Wheeler Peak. Its only 2 acres, so this too will be gone in a matter of years.

Below Theresa Lake, the trail is a well-beaten pathway, totally unlike anything else along the Basin and Range Trail. Soon, I passed through the Bristlecone/Alpine Lake Trailhead. This is the main access point for the Wheeler Peak area. It was here I learned that Stella Lake was a day use only area, and no overnight camping was allowed. Ooops. The rangers at the visitor center neglected to mention that to me when I mentioned my route, and this information was not readily posted in many areas. Oh well, at least I can say I practice leave no trace principles.

Below the trailhead, a short trail leads to the Wheeler Peak campground. It was closed for the season as they did improvements, adding some large cement structures for fire pits and picnic areas. Man, this kind of camping really loses its appeal after spending so much time camping in the backcountry.

hiking through forest and along creek in great basin national park

Below Wheeler Peak Campground, a good trail leads downhill for a few miles. It winds through forest, along a babbling creek, and through some meadows that look up at Wheeler Peak. Not bad! All of the sudden, I could see the transition in vegetation from the typical lush mountain environment to a drier, more desert-like one.

Last views of the Snake Range

thru hike road walk nevada

Final road walk into Baker to end my BRT thru hike

old car with skeleton

Almost into town…

Eventually I hit the lower Wheeler Peak Campground, and it was a paved road walk into Baker from here. And I didn’t even mind this one. It gave me the time I needed to come to terms with the end of my great basin thru-hike journey.

great basin thru hiker celebrating the end of the hike along yellow center line on paved highway in nevada

An awkward and forced celebration to the end of my Basin and Range Trail thru hike

Only about two miles from town now, I stopped in the middle of this lonely road to try and eek out some type of meager celebration, because I feel obligated to do something to recognize the significance of the moment. I let out a few screams of joy in the middle of the road, dropped to my knees and kissed the paved along the yellow line. What else can I really do? Unlike the CDT, the start and end points of this hike are arbitrary and meaningless. There are no monuments to mark the start or the end. The end point here is just so underwhelming. For me though, the summit of Wheeler Peak was my symbolic end point. I just need to reach the physical end point now, the town of Baker.

I walked the final two miles or so into Baker, reaching town early afternoon. The town is empty, so little here. I walked over to the Stargazer motel, and waited a couple hours for it to open, at 3pm. I checked in, got a shower, and headed over to the little restaurant they operate, attached to the motel. It was actually quite good food!

pizza and fries

Post hike food meal

At the motel, there was this really nice, but super creepy looking cat roaming around

I stayed the night here in the motel and got a ride out of Baker the next day from Marlene, whom I met in the Rubies a few weeks prior. She drove me to Reno, I flew home to Michigan, and just like that, my Basin and Range Trail thru hike was a fading memory. Its funny how quickly these memories fade, too.

My takeaway from my Basin and Range Trail thru hike is that there is only right now, and to spend less time thinking about the past. You cant live life in the past, you can only live life NOW.

I think the one thing that makes ending this hike a little easier for me is not to think of it as the end of the greatest adventure of my life, but a stepping stone to an even greater one. No, I am not done, this is only the beginning for me. 

 


Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike 2020 – Section 9: Wendover to Ely

hiker view of a schell creek range traverse

Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 9 Map

map of basin and range trail thru hike section 9

Video: Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 9


In addition to this trail journal, I also filmed my Basin and Range Trail thru hike. I’ve produced a detailed series (11+ hours runtime) documenting this thru hike adventure, the product of over 1,000 hours of video editing. I highly recommending watching the Basin and Range Trail vlog series for an in-depth look at thru-hiking the Great Basin and central Nevada. 

Basin and Rage Trail Thru Hike Section 9 Journal 

Day 56 – July 26th: Antelope Valley, Southern Goshute Range, Kinsley Range, Gold Mine, Antelope Peak

Like most nights in town, I was up later than I would be if I were camping. I was up until 11:30 or so last night going over the next section of the route, posting a few pictures to facebook and catching up with emails, bills and friends. Therefore, I didn’t get up until almost 8am this morning.

road walk outside of wendover

Walking out of Wendover, south along US 93 Alt

Breakfast was two bananas, muffin and a sausage egg and cheese biscuit. Packed up and walked out the hotel around 9:30. Had to walk about a mile and a half to the junction with US 93 alternate, and then walked another mile South out of town. There was a lot of traffic that was driving about 1/2 mile to a mile south of town and then turning into a couple of businesses. So, I had to get south of that to eliminate all of the town traffic.

basin and range trail thru hiker standing next to road sign in Nevada desert

The hiker version of this sign should read, “130 Miles to Next Cheeseburger”

Once I walked past the edge of town, there was almost no traffic. There was maybe three cars that went by, and none of them stopped. It’s always hard to get a ride from town into the middle of nowhere, versus the other way around. I stopped at a road sign that said next gas 130 miles, thinking this would be a good place to thumb it.

I didn’t try to hitch for too long before giving up and calling a taxi. I was eager to get started walking, and didn’t feel like waiting around all day. There was only one taxi service in town, and they charged me 80 bucks. He was there within 5 minutes to pick me up and I was at my destination before I knew it.

The taxi driver was used to drive a snow plow for NDOT, but he rolled it a few years ago and got seriously injured. Broke his back, had glass stuck in his face. Gnarly. He rolled it almost right where I needed to be dropped off, so he knew exactly where it was. Whitehorse Pass, as its marked on the map. The lady on the phone when I called and said I needed a ride to the southern end of the Goshute range had no idea what I was talking about, haha. You know, that mountain range that forms the skyline of the town you live in. That one. You don’t know the name? 

metal sign with bullet holes in nevada wilderness

Antelope Valley

I had planned on walking the east side of Whitehorse Mountain, the high point of the extreme southern end of the Goshute Range, which lies just south of US 93 Alt. On the ride here though, it didn’t look all that appealing. He dropped me off right where I got my ride into town, which was closer to the west side of the range. This was shorter, and more scenic. This made more sense, so I walked the west side instead, changing my plans on the fly. I love the flexibility offered when making your own route. I’ll hike where my eyes and my heart takes me, not confined to a trail or even a route I planned from home. 

hiking antelope valley south of whitehorse pass

South of Whitehorse Pass

hikers view of the goshute mountains nevada

Extreme southern end of the Goshutes

fields of golden grass in antelope valley nevada

A Sea of Gold!

I was really digging the walk-through Antelope Valley, just as I had before I got my ride into town at the end of the last section. Normally, the start and end points of a section are not that exciting. But here, I actually enjoyed the beginning of this section.

golden grass valley views from 4x4 road in antelope valley

View north, where I’ve come from

basin and range trail thru hiker waLKING DIRT RAOD IN ANTELOPE VALLEY

Massive views hiking Antelope Valley

dead bobcat

Dead bobcat

I found a dead bobcat along the road. First time I’ve ever seen a bobcat. I’d prefer to see a live one, but this is a start. 

small cave in antelope valley nevada

Small cave. Better check it out

View from cave out into open desert plains nevada

Antelope Valley from small cave

hikers view from cave over antelope valley nevada

Antelope Valley

Nearly right next to the Bobcat, up the hill was a small cave. This was more of a tall but narrow style cave, and you could see right through the back side of it. through a small opening. Interesting. It sure was a cool view out over the massive Antelope Valley.

wooden fence line in antelope valley

hikers fist view of the kinsley mountains in antelope valley

First view of the Kinsley Range, center

It didn’t take long to walk around the Whitehorse mountains. A couple of hours. I could see the Kinsley mountains now, and in between the two mountain ranges was a bit of a gravel pit. As I look back to the north, the skies were getting pretty dark. It looks like some rain with falling, and a low Thunder could be heard in the distance.

clouds moving in over nevada valley

Clouds approaching

dark clouds in nevada valley

Dark clouds rolling in through Antelope Valley. I am the highest thing around

The north side of the Kinsley mountains looked a bit steep and more rugged than I thought. My plan was to climb up to the Ridgeline here and walk the whole thing. However, dark clouds were building and taking over the sky in my immediate area. I saw bolts of lightning on the Leading Edge of the rain clouds, not that far away from me. Then moments later, a very strong bolt of lightning struck the Ridgeline that I had planned on walking. There was almost no time in between the lightning bolt in the Thunder, which was extremely loud. I’m glad I’m down on the road, but I still feel exposed, being basically the tallest thing around down in this valley.

antelope valley golden grass views

kinsley range frmo antelope valley nevada

Hiking towards the Kinsley Range

I walked around the East Side of the Kinsley mountains now, hoping the rain and thunderstorms will clear. The Kinsley Mountains aren’t known for much, but right in the center of the mountain range there is a gold mine. It has change hands a few times in the last few years and I was told it was not currently in operation. Good news for me, because I want to walk through it. I have also been told it there is a water source at the gold mine location somewhere, on the east side.

hiking antelope valley into the kinsley range nevada

Excellent views across Antelope Valley

When I first saw the tailings from the gold mine, I left the road I was walking and hiked off Trail to the entrance, trying to save time and distance. I saw about seven or eight

ses. Pretty nice view of Antelope Valley now as I gained a little elevation and looked back.

kinsley gold mine nevada hiking

Hiking up a pile of tailings to enter the gold mine

kinsley gold mine open pit

This pit was massive!

I walked up alongside a pile of tailings, instead of taking the main road into the mine. I wish I would have taken the main road, at least then I could have seen if there was a water source. Instead, when I got to the top of the tailings, I reached a road and ended up walking down hill a bit. These are where the large pit mines are, as well as the excavator. I saw an antelope here as well.

kinsley gold mine excavator

At the Kinsley Gold Mine

porty potta water source along basin and range trail

No Beber? But I must!

Alongside the two large open pits were an excavator and a Porta-Potty. Next to the porta potty was a station to wash your hands. It was a big blue plastic thing. There were soap dispensers and paper towels. There was a foot pedal you could push that would draw water out of the tank and pump it up so that you could wash your hands with it. Written on the station where the words, not for drinking, and in Spanish, no beber. But I have a water filter, and I must beber. I only filtered 1 liter, mainly because I didn’t want to carry more than 4 and my pack was already heavy. Plus the water taste is a bit funky, even though I filtered it. A chemical-type taste.

kinsley range nevada rockhounding for wonderstone

Nice chunk of Wonderstone. I’ll look for a smaller piece to keep

After I got my water, I continue to head up Hill, to the crest. This became a bit of a confusing network of roads. It’s not too confusing if you just want to follow the main road, but I could see the road I wanted to follow up the hillside to the crest and I couldn’t figure out how to get to it for a while. I kind of wasted a lot of time here. I did find a couple good pieces of Wonder Stone on the ground, though.

kinsley gold mine operations at the ridgeline

The gold mine operations extend to the crest of the Kinsley Range

hiker view over antelope valley from kinsley range

View east over the Antelope Range. Beyond that, the amps marks this area as “badlands”

kinsley mountains view over kinsley draw nevada

View northwest over Kinsley Draw and into Antelope Valley

kinsley range nevada hiking the crest of the rdigeline

Crest of the Kinsley Range, view north

Eventually got to my road that leads up to the crest. This road was barely a road, but it was a pretty decent substitute for a trail. It was very slanted into the hillside, not really an angle which you would drive a vehicle across. I followed this road until it ended at the crest of the Kinsley Range. On the other side was an actual hiking trail, and I saw one cairn. Interesting.

hikers view over masive valley from kinsley mountains nevada

View southeast over Antelope Valley from the Kinsley Range

hikers view from trail in the kinsley mountains nevada

View from the Kinsley Range

The Ridge was pretty pleasant. Not too thick with vegetation, fairly easy to walk actually. I began to head south, towards Antelope Peak. One Small Knob obstructing my view. This was off Trail now, but still easy.

hiking the kinsley mountains on the basin and range trail

Views from the crest of the Kinsley Range

I found a couple of pretty good campsites along the Ridgeline before you reach Antelope Peak, high point of the Kinsley Range. However, it was only 7:20, and I was confident I could make it up and over given the conditions. So I went for it.

kinsley range antelope peak summit hiking at sunset

Easy hiking to the summit of Antelope Peak

It was a pretty short ascent up Antelope Peak. There was a Rocky Ridgeline, not quite a knife Edge but close. It was a nice and easy scramble up to the top with no problems. On the summit, there was a Summit register in an old ammo box. This is the first Summit register I’ve seen in Nevada! There were only five other entries in it dating back to 2003. Beautiful views on the summit just as the sun was going down.

basin and range trail thru hikier view from antelope peak summit

Antelope Peak (7,881′), Kinsley Range High Point, Summit view at sunset

The Summit of Antelope Peak (7780) has some flat areas and will make a good place to camp for the night. Camping on a Summit, woohoo! Only problem is, my tent Stakes only go into the ground about 1 inch. So, I had to set really heavy rocks on them. Good thing its not windy tonight.

 

Day 57 – July 27th: Antelope Peak, Antelope Valley, Antelope Range, Becky Peak Wilderness

tarptent notch li on nevadda mountain summit along basin and range trail thru hike

Campsite on the summit of Antelope Peak

big views from antelope peak in the kinsley range

View north along the crest of the Kinsley Range

Slept great last night. Woke up at 6am on the dot. Nice to wake up on a mountain peak! Thankfully there was no wind last night. There isna’t any one landform here that is stunning, but this area has a simple beauty to it that’s hard to ignore.

hikers view from the crest of the kinsley range nevada

View southwest from Kinsley Range

kinsley range hiking

Hiking down off the southern end of the Kinsley Range

dead tree over antelope valley view

View from the southern end of the Kinsleys

Now to work my way down the Ridgeline off of the Kinsley mountains. At first it going was pretty easy. The vegetation wasn’t too thick. There were many times where I crested a small saddle, only to be presented with basically the exact same view. Towards the bottom of the Ridgeline, the going got a little bit tougher. It was a bit more cliffy, and eventually I abandoned the ridge for a side Canyon that had a dirt road. It was a little out of the way, but worth it.

hiker posing in front of sign that says priovate property enter at you own risk

Don’t mind if I do

giant tire full of water in the desetr along basin and range trail thru hike

A tire full of water. It’s New Mexico on the Continental Divide Trail all over again

When I reached the road at the end of the Kinsley mountains, Kinsley spring was there. This was on private land, but there is a public road that goes through it. The sign on the gate says, private property – enter at your own risk. It doesn’t say do not enter, or no trespassing. It said, enter. At your own risk. Permission granted in my book. Kinsley spring was actually pretty decent. It was a large tire filled with water, but the water wasn’t too green or thick with algae. Pretty clear. This one reminded me of my time thru-hiking the CDT in New Mexico.

dirt road walk antelope range nevada

From here I had a choice to walk through the Antelope mountains or around them. These are more like Hills. Low, wooded Hills, with a dirt road going through. It was about the same distance either way, and looks like only a thousand foot of elevation gain or so, so I went for the Antelope mountains route.

hiking the antelope range nevada

Hiking the Antelope Range. Not much to see here

It was mid-morning now, and I could tell something different was going on with the weather today. The sky was cloudy already, which was unusual. In June, it was just blue skies everyday with no clouds. For the last couple weeks, it would be blue skies in the morning, then white puffy clouds in the afternoon that could form thunderstorms. But today, it was just a random Patchwork of gray clouds.

herd of wild/feral horses along basin and range trail thru hike

A herd of wild/feral horses

The Antelope mountains were a pretty boring range. Not any more interesting than it looked from Kinsley spring. Just some run-of-the-mill low Woodland scrub. A couple areas that had been burned by a fire. A couple of nasty Springs, ruined by cows. Saw a herd of about 6 or 7 antelope in a burn area. In one clearing, I saw a herd of about 20 horses and right next to them, a little bit higher on another Hill, a herd of another 15+ horses.

I felt like the first half of the Antelope mountains went by pretty quick, and I didn’t mind them so much. But the second half seems like it dragged on. The climb up to the last saddle seemed slow, and I began to doubt my estimate of 1000 foot elevation gain for this whole range.

hiking dirt road in antelope range nevada

Dirt road in the Antelope Range

storm clouds over the antelope range nevada

Dark clouds over the Antelope Range

hikers view of steptoe valley nevada

View into Steptoe Valley as I hike out of the Antelope Range

Once I dropped down the last saddle out of the Antelope mountains, I got a view of Steptoe Valley and the Cherry Creek range. With the storm clouds in the distance and random rays of sunlight shining on the mountains, it was pretty pleasant.

flat spring in steptoe valley nevada

Flat Spring. I should have filled up water here

I checked my phone and I was surprised to see 4G service here once again. The clouds began to clear up and it was mostly sunny overhead. I took a break under a juniper tree for lunch, and this provided a good amount of shade. More storm clouds were moving in, but these looked like they would pass to the north. It was sunny now where I was, and quite hot. There was a spring here, flat spring, that was on the map I had missed this one in my planning and research, and it wasn’t marked as a potential water source. I was surprised to see another big tire here full of crystal clear water. I should have filled up here, but I kept going.

cress spring nevada

Cress Spring. No thanks

Then I passed Cress spring, another spring that was marked on the map but one that I had not marked as a way point. This one was nasty! A cow shit swamp, I wouldn’t drink this one unless I was about to die.

antelope range dirt road

Hiking a dirt road at the base of the Antelope Range

one tree remains in forest fire burn area

This one survived

I made pretty good progress through this next section. It was really hot now, and for some reason this motivated me to walk fast. Probably to get to the next water source, which seemed very far away. I didn’t see anything for water ahead until I reach Becky Peak. Passed through a good sized burn area. The burn line stops abruptly on one side of a 4×4 road, leading me to believe it was a controlled burn. Just a guess, I suppose it could also have ended abruptly as the road is a natural break line for the firefighters to protect. 

a young horse is stuck in a small tree

This poor guy had all sorts of issues

While walking the dirt road, I came across a young horse. The mother was nowhere to be found. This guy was walking face-first into a small tree, almost as if you couldn’t see it or as if he was stuck. But I didn’t see anything that was holding him there, he was just constantly trying to walk into it. I cautiously approached, and he didn’t back away. I reached out and touched his back, at first he twitched, but then, he calmed and let me pet him. I wasn’t sure if he needed help or what. His eyes looked pretty red, I wondered if he had an eye injury or if he was just blind or something. Then he started trying to walk under a few branches but was getting stuck. I tried to break the branches, and a combination of him pushing on the branches and me pulling on them did the trick. Success, freed the little guy. I tried to give him some water, by dumping it on his head. But he didn’t get it, I was hoping he would open his mouth and go for the water. Oh well, I didn’t have much to spare anyway. I am pretty sure this guy was going to die soon one way or another.

view of beck peak and storm clouds from antelope valley

Beck Peak, northern end of the Schell Creek Range

After passing the horse, I walked to a junction in the road. I went right, heading west now, towards Becky Peak and the Schell Creek range. I was getting pretty tired now, hadn’t had a break in a while and pushed through all that hot weather.

dark clouds building above the beck peak mountains

Dark clouds building over the Beck Peak Wilderness

Dark clouds were building again over the Schell Creek range. I checked the weather on my phone and there was quite a bit of activity coming from the south, in waves.

storm clouds over becky peak nevada

Rain is coming, I can smell it now

 

I reached an area of private property again, but like earlier in the day, there was a sign that said enter at your own risk. Since this is the shortest and most direct route, also likely has water, that’s the route I’m taking! When I entered the private property, I could see several hundred domestic sheep on the other side of the canyon, and these guys were on the move. I thought for sure I would run into a sheep herder, but I didn’t see anyone.

thru hiker sitting and filtering water with sawyer filter and platypus bag

As I worked my way up Sampson Creek, it began to rain. There was some water flowing down the creek in spots, particularly up stream, but it didn’t look appealing. I kept following an uphill until I reach the source a metal lid propped up by rocks that topped off a tank underground. Water was coming up from this tank and spilling over the top. The Rocks keep the animals away. This was a nice feature, I was able to get my bottle into the tank collect crystal clear water. However, it decided to rain at this moment. It has been 4 hours since I took my last break, and I was almost out of water. I was hungry, thirsty and tired. I really needed this break, especially since the next section has me going uphill to Becky Peak, a big elevation gain.

hiking samspon creek with view of becky peak

Hiking along Sampson Creek to Becky Peak

holding a horseshoe

After the break, I finished walking through the segment of private property and entered public land again. I saw more horses and more pronghorn. I saw horses scattered throughout the day actually, too many times to count. At one point while walking the road to Becky Peak, I could hear the clip-clop of horses running. It was getting louder and louder, and eventually they emerged from the trees, running right at me. They were about 10 yards away or so and as soon as they saw me they change course and ran away from me.

hiking sampson creek

Small pond along Sampson Creek. It’s pretty nasty, follow it upstream to its source instead

I began the final ascent up to Becky Peak on a dirt road along Sampson Creek. This looks to be about 1,700 feet elevation gain. There’s a sizeable pond along Sampson Creek at the base of the climb, but I’d follow it uphill to its source if I needed water. But I don’t. As I neared a junction, I decided to stop for the night. The clouds continued to build above Becky Peak and I did not want to be camping high up on the ridge line tonight. So I stopped lower in the canyon than I normally would have. It was only 7:30, early for me.

strm clouds behind tarptent notch li tent on great basin thru hike

Storm clouds behind my Tarptent Notch Li. Batten down the hatches, it’s gonna get windy

Set up my tent and got a few time-lapses going of the sunset and building clouds behind my tent and Becky Peak. Then it started to rain. It was quite windy at times, but largely my fault cuz I set up the tent in a manner that catches the wind. I continued to hear rainfall on my tent for a few hours tonight as I tried to sleep.

Day 58 – July 28th: Becky Peak, Becky Peak Wilderness, Schell Creek Range

samspon creek view becky peak wilderness nevada

Looking back at the 4×4 road up Sampson Creek to the Becky Peak Wilderness

I started the morning off with a climb up to camp spring. It was another couple hundred ft from my campsite. At the top of the climb was a sign welcoming you to the Becky Peak Wilderness. It lists Becky peek at 9859 ft but my map says 10002ft. That is quite a large discrepancy. I wonder which is right. I prefer the version that is 10k!

view from camps spring nevada

Camp Spring view

great basin thru hiker filtering water from trough with dead chipmunk

I’ll filter from the other trough

Shortly after I came across camp spring. There were two troughs, one of them was overflowing and feeding a pond. The pond was held back by sandbags and rocks, and then flow downhill. One of the troughs had two dead Chipmunks in it. Better filter from the other one. Otherwise, the water looked crystal clear.

hiker makes diy gravity feed water filtration system on trail

Rigged up a string to the top of the platy bag, and now I have a gravity feed system

My sawyer filter has been filtering pretty slow. I’ve back flushed it, and its still slow. The whole process of filtering water takes a long time now. Also, when I filter a liter of water, I want to chug a liter while I’m filtering more water. So I finally made a bit of a gravity system. The bottom of the platypus bag has a couple of guides for cutouts, so I poked a hole in these with my knife and used my spare guy line to run a string through the holes that I just punctured, and tied a series of knots behind it. Now I can hang this from a tree or post, and let it filter while I do other things, like drink the previous liter of water I just filtered, or wash my socks.

hiker climbing becky peak nevada

The approach to Becky Peak

climbing becky peak

Next I climbed up the northeast side of the Ridgeline leaving to Becky Peak. It looks deep from far away, and when I got right up close to it, it still look pretty steep. Steep, but very manageable. It was mostly loose dirt and rock, but not loose enough to where it was a one step forward two steps back kind of deal.

While working my way up the Mountain, I came across my second rattlesnake of the trip. Much like the last one, it was hiding under a rock in the shade on a slope below a Summit, near 10k feet. I was probably 7 or 8 feet away when I heard his rattle. Thankfully they give a warning.

views hiking to the summit of becky peak

View north along the Schell Creek Range on the climb to the summit of Beaky Peak

As I neared the summit, I could hear the sheep dogs and the sheep, and see two trucks in the valley far below. Just below the Summit of Becky Peak, there was a mangled pile of metal. It was pretty obvious what it was, as I had seen these before… Basically a weather station. At least, it collects rainwater. I had seen one of these in Soldier Creek in the Rubies, and elsewhere. I believe it was USGS. This one was laying on the ground, with the top instrumentation part separate from the post.

summit view of becky peak looking south

Becky Peak summit view, south

steptoe valley and cherry creek range nevada

View west across Steptoe Valley, to the Cherry Creek Range

becky peak summit views over antelope valley and antelope mountains

View east to Antelope Valley and the Antelope Range

The Summit of Becky Peak was pretty nice. Great view of the Cherry Creek range across Steptoe Valley. On the other side, the Antelope range continues south, and remains unimpressive. There was a Summit register on this peak as well. There was no more paper to be signed, so I added a small piece from my junk drawer bag. There were 13 summits in the past 2 years, and one of them was last week! I was not expecting that.

hiker walking down becky peak summit view

Becky Peak ridgeline view south

hiker view of a schell creek range traverse

Schell Creek Range

Next I continue South long the crest of the Schell Creek Range, through the Becky Peak Wilderness. I thought the best views of the Becky Peak area where here, descending the summit and hiking south along the ridge. Pretty easy-going at first. A good mix of horse trails and overall easy terrain. I enjoyed massive sweeping views of the Schell Creek range to the South. Also, I think I can see Wheel Peak in Great Basin National Park now, far off in the distance. That’s basically my end point for this hike, so that’s a significant landmark for me.

becky peak ridge

Route down from Becky Peak

After following horse trails around a high point, it was time to head down a Ridgeline. This was more of the slow off-trail stuff I was used to. It took a while getting to the Ridgeline, having to side Hill my way there. Once on the Ridgeline itself, it was a mixture of small rocks, the kind packed into the dirt, and small trees. Fortunately not too bad of a Bushwhack.

off trial hiking in nevada mountains

hiking through heavily wooded forest in the schell creek range

Need to hike through this stuff…

Made it down to a saddle separating the Ridgeline I came down and another tall peak, another 800 or 1000 foot climb or so. I really didn’t want to climb up that peak, so I took horse trails around the mountain side instead. In this case, I probably should have just gone up and over. There was a lot of Sagebrush to walk through, and the horse trails were intermittent at times. In following the horse trails around the Mountainside, I had to still go up over a small pass. This one was heavily wooded when I got to the other side. It looks like the best way forward was to Contour around the hillside to Dolan Trap spring.

hiking off trail in the schell creek range nevada

Off Trail hiking to link up with road at Dolan Trap Spring

The off-trail hiking along the steep hillside proved to be quite a pain in the ass. The ground beneath my feet was very loose… Loose dirt, loose rocks on fairly steep terrain. I fell a couple of times. I worked my way around the mountain at this elevation for a while, before reaching a Ridgeline that suffered a forest fire. I continued to contour around the mountain through the burn area over to the spring.

hiker takes break in the shade of a large tank

Break spot at Dolan Trap Spring (dry)

Dolan Trap spring was dry, as my notes said it would be. But there were two large pipes or tanks here, and they provided shade. This will be my lunch spot.

hiker walking the schel creek range on great basin thru hike

I’ll be shooting for the pass on the right

hiker climbing unnamed pass in schell creek range nevada

Hiking up and over this unnamed pass

After lunch I headed uphill a couple hundred feet to another pass. I was on an old dirt road now, even though I’m in the wilderness, old Roads sometimes still exist. This one was being reclaimed back to Nature. I followed the road down from the pass into a valley, and then up Dry Canyon towards another pass. This one would be another thousand or 1200 ft elevation gain.

north lovel peak view in the schell creek range

Views south from unnamed pass. North Lovell Peak on the left

At the top of this pass were some pretty great views. Looking South I could see North Lovell Peak and “The Nipple”.

schell creek range hiker view of steptoe valley

Steptoe Valley and the Cherry Creek Range

panorama view of steptoe valley nevada

Steptoe Valley Panorama

schell creek range hiekrs view over steptoe valley

Steptoe Valley view from Schell Creek Range

There was a short section of side-hilling, and following horse paths, before I could reach back up with another road on a ridge. Pretty great views all around here in every direction. Very enjoyable walk.

north lovell peak view in schell creek range

View south to my route

This route drops lower into the valley and swings buy a couple of springs on the map, but takes me slightly out of the way from where I need to go. I reached the first spring, which was dry. My route had me going off Trail, side hilling through a bunch of Sagebrush. No thanks! I’m done with that, if I can avoid it. Instead, I followed the road downhill about a mile and losing about 400 ft, and then another mile and 400 ft uphill around a big Knoll. Probably roughly the same amount of time and definitely worth avoiding the hassle of the off-trail traverse.

canyon rock formations nevada

Hiking up to the saddle below north Lovell Peak

old cooley cabin in schell creek range mountains nevada

Cooley Cabin

Take a quick snack break under the shade of a tree, one of few trees around. Continued uphill through the canyon that will lead me over the pass, just below the nipple. Good views, pretty wide open. The other reaches of this Canyon had water, just below Cooley cabin. I stopped here to filter a couple liters of water, cool off and wash some of my clothes.

hikers view schell creek range

View north, the where I’ve come from

view from pass below north lovell peak nevada

View from the pass

It was another couple hundred feet uphill to reach the pass after my water break. At the top of the pass, I was surprised at the quality of the views. There were some limestone rock formations at the top of the pass that were nice, but more than that, looking further to the south the rock formations along the Ridgeline with Lovell Peak where excellent. Reminded me of the Goshute mountains, and the Egans.

ridgeline above mcmaughn canyon

Descending into McMaughn Canyon

limestone cliffs high along the canyon walls in mcmaughn canyon

Awesome limestone cliffs in upper McMaughn Canyon

With the big climb of the day done, the sun below the rest of the ridge, it was an enjoyable walk the rest of the evening down McMaughn Canyon. The limestone cliffs along the eastern side of McMaughn Canyon where very appealing, and I wished I could hike closer to them for a better view. 

They were a couple of decent places to camp in the upper reaches of the canyon, but as I got lower, it was just low Sagebrush. It was getting dark and I was looking for a spot. My map had a spot called McIntosh Place marked. Apparently, this was an Old Homestead. This was overgrown and did not provide a suitable campsite either. Fortunately, just down the road I found an open spot alongside the road, a few feet away, just a clearing in the dirt. Works for me!

 

Day 59 – July 29th: Schellbourne Pass, Schell Creek Range, Ranger Trail

I slept for about an hour last night before I heard an animal about 20 ft away. I turned on my headlamp and saw something scurrying away from a tree, about the size of a raccoon. Not really sure what it was. I didn’t really sleep that well after that. A couple hours later, I heard some horses walking down the road that I was camped alongside.

nevada county road 18, road to schellbourne pass

CR-18, road to Schellbourne Pass

From my campsite, I was less than a mile from CR-18, a paved road that cuts through the Schell Creek Range and goes over Schellbourne Pass. From there I made my way down to the road that I had planned on Crossing through Shellbourne Ranch on. Unfortunately, this was a private Ranch entryway with a sign that said keep out. I was in a good mood until I saw this. There’s public land on the other side, but no way to access it due to this Ranch. 

So now I need to figure out another way to get into the mountains from here. The only thing I could come up with was a walk up and over Shellbourne pass to another road that was about four or five miles out of the way. No choice, so I started walking uphill.

hiking up to basin spring schell creek range

Route up to Basin Spring

schell creek range basin spring

Basin Spring. Lots of horse activity here

It was a few miles of road walking to go over Shellbourne Pass and reach an old 4×4 road leading up into the mountains. I started walking up the road, and made it to Basin spring, where I stopped to filter water. This was a clearing with a spring tickling downhill, the grass all trampled by horses. The water looked pretty gross. I had no way to collect from the source. Instead, I went slightly downhill, where the water was flowing out of a stagnant pond. I was able to fill up my water bottle from the water flowing off of a 10 inch waterfall. It looks clear, and my water filter will take care of the rest.

hiking to the top of the schell creek range

I’ll shoot for the saddle in the center to gain the crest of the Schell Creek Range again

Back up on the crest again, south of Schellbourne Pass

Crest of the Schell Creek Range

Now I had to climb a steep 4×4 Road up to the crest of the Schell Creek range. I was really sweating and working to make my way up this one. I thought I was at the top, but it was a false Summit. So, more climbing to go. Finally at the top, I took a break in a patch of trees. The shade felt great, and I ate lunch.

hikers view of steptoe valley

Massive views over Steptoe Valley. The Cherry Creek Range has ended, and now, the Egan Range runs parallel to the Schell Creek Range to the west

hiking the schell creek ridgeline

Schell Creek ridgeline

The trail drops a bit to a saddle, then climbs up higher once again. I could tell today was going to be a lot of work. Although there might be a lot of climbing, at least it’s easy hiking, for the most part. 

hiking single track trail in the schell creek range

Single track trail

hiking trail in the schell creek range

View north along the ridgeline, where I’ve come from

hiking trail in the schell creek range

Hiking the east side of the crest now

While hiking up the next pass, the 4×4 road I was on turned into a single track trail. Nice! I followed this uphill and dropped down into the next Valley. Here, I saw several rock cairns too. Excellent Trail, well maintained.

hiker traverses the schell creek range nevada

Excellent section of hiking on an actual hiking trail

panorama view of antelope valley

Antelope Valley panorama. Becky Peak left, Antelope Range right

hiking trail views along schell creek range

Views south along the ridgeline

The trail skirts the hillside now for a mile or two, avoiding climbing up and over another high point. Sounds good to me! The trail stays on the East Side of the Range and provided excellent views… I could see North to Becky Peak, and south to what was likely the snake range, Mount Moriah. I could see where the Antelope range ends, as well as Spring valley.

The trail passes by a spring now, this one was a nice surprise because I hadn’t had it marked on my map. Water was flowing out of a pipe, easy to collect from. I didn’t need any water at this time, not to filter anyways. So I filled up my water bottle and dumped it over my head. This felt great!

hiking trail along the crest of the schell creek range

The trail goes through that heavily forested mountainside next

view from schell creek range over antelope valley

Schell Creek Ridgeline and Antelope Valley

hiking trail in the schell creek range

Good trail remains along the ridgeline

Next the trail passes through a heavily wooded Hillside. This was a real pain in the ass section, because the trail seemed like it kept climbing forever. Steep trail, too.

schell creek range trail

Hiking the ridgeline on good trail

steptoe valley panorama view from schell creek range

Steptoe Valley

hiking views in schell creek range over steptoe valley

Excellent hiking, great views over Steptoe Valley

Next the Trail emerges on a high open Ridgeline. Moving on, the trail drops down significantly in elevation. Excellent views. About 100 ft down the hill below the road was an old truck, which lay in ruins. Apparently the truck drove off the road and rolled down hill.

Schell creek range limestone views

Outcrops of limestone along the Schell Creek Range mountainside

hiking in the schell creek mountains

I enjoyed good views of increasingly more impressive limestone cliffs along the crest of the Schell Creek Range, now visible as I see it from a new angle. 

great basin thru hiker taking a break in tall grass

The heat is getting to me today

I reached a point where the trail was supposed to skirt the hillside, but there was no trail or road. Instead, it dropped down another 400 ft or so. Then it was another thousand foot climb. It was probably 4:30pm now, and I was in direct sunlight. This was perhaps the hardest part of the day for me, and if I am honest, one of the lowest points I can remember on the whole Basin and range trail. I felt completely overwhelmed, being so extremely tired, exhausted and hot, and having so much further to go. With my pack on I sat down on the Steep 4×4 Road and debated what to do. I looked at my map, considering heading down hill and looking for alternate routes to avoid all this climbing. But there really weren’t any good routes, and somehow I mustered the strength to keep going. It helped that the sun went behind a cloud for a solid 20 minutes, while a slight breeze was in the air.

schell creek range hiking

schell creek range hiking

Hiking towards Ruby Creek

schell creek range hiking

After this pass, the trail goes up on another Ridgeline. From here the trail drops down to Ruby Creek, my next water source.

basin and range trail thru hiker collecting water from ruby creek

Ruby Creek

Down at Ruby Creek, I found a very small trickle of a stream, and had to hunt for a spot to collect from. There was a lot of green alongside a Dry Creek bed, and I went up stream until I found a willow Thicket that produced water. Then, I had to get my trowel and dig out a pool to collect from. Fortunately there was shade here, so I was able to sit and relax while the pool filled and the murky water dissipated.

abandoned mining cabin in the schell creek range nevada

Cabin near Ruby Mine

abandoned mining cabin in the schell creek range nevada

Roof leak? Try rocks and dirt.

Then the trail climbs uphill again for another 800 ft. It passes Ruby mine, which had two old cabins. I saw no rubies, and no interesting rocks. I don’t poke around all that long, either. I saw 4 deer around here, though.

view of the ranger trail in the schell creek range

The Ranger Trail

schell creek range hiking the ranger trail

The Ranger Trail snakes its way across the crest of the Schell Creek Range

After this, there was a series of random Ridge lines, but the trail more less stays at an even elevation with climbs no more than 200 ft, and well graded. There was even a couple of signs that marked the ranger Trail along the road. From this point on, the evening was really nice.

scheel creek range ridgeline view at sunset

View south to the High Schells Wilderness

schell creek range hiking sunset

Sunset in the Schell Creek Range

full monn and rock formation on mountainside

Full moon behind Schell Creek Ridgeline

The sun had gone down behind the ridge, the temperature had cooled, and the lighting was just magical. Some really excellent hiking here. Beautiful views, Jagged Peaks to the South. All I could think about was how awesome this hiking was, and how much work I had to put in to just be able to have one hour of nice hiking in a day. 12 hours of extremely hot hiking, lots of climbing and filled with bugs… All for one hour of good hiking. And somehow, its worth it in the end.

basin and range trail thru hiker poses with cow skull

schell creek range nevada sunset

Brilliant sunset this evening

It was around 8pm and I was looking for a campsite. I got really lucky and found a nice open field along the road with many places to camp, and a small stream about 50 yards away. For once, a good campsite that didn’t require a lot of work, at the right time. I was really thankful for this tonight.

Day 60 – July 30th: Schell Creek Range, Duck Creek Valley, Cave Lake State Park Fishing, Timber Creek CG

Heard something walking pretty close to camp last night, sounded like horses. Yelled out at them, and like always, nothing happened of it.

hiking the ranger trail schell creek range

The Ranger Trail above Fitzhugh Creek

schell creek ranger trail

Hiking the Ranger Trail south

The views started out pretty good today, the Jagged Ridge towering above the ranger trail makes sure of that. Passed By a small spring, a trickle of water flowing through a patch of Aspen trees. Past another spring father up the trail, at least I believe it was a spring, as it was green and there were cows standing around it. Saw some sort of weather station in a field. This one was definitely functional and intact.

ranger trail hiking views

View west to Steptoe Valley and the Egan Range

hiking views from the ranger trail schell creek range

At the beginning of the big climb of the day, while I was walking uphill, I saw a guy coming down hill. And he had two dogs. I waved, and said good morning. He said hi back, in a thick Spanish accent. Around the same time, I first started hearing sheep, and I realized he was a sheep herder. Sure enough, I saw his horse right up the hill, and down into the next Valley, a couple hundred sheep. Bah. Bahhh!

hiding the ranger trail

Pretty nice views going up this pass. This would be the last good views of the day, at least from a high Point. On the other side, my enemy… poof dirt. The trail dips down into a large Aspen tree patch. I could see the sheep herders camp in the woods, an old school looking canvas tent, coolers, bails of hay for his horse.

hiking the ranger trail through north creek in the schell creek mountains

Trail disappears descending into North Creek. The High Schells Wilderness looms on the horizon now

Next I went up over a very small saddle. On the other side, the trail was pretty faint. It drops down into North Creek. I lost the trail for a little bit, and feared a terrible bush whack down this steep Canyon. Eventually I picked up on the trail again, thankfully. It led me to a small wooded area with a creek flowing through it. Perfect, shade trees and some good water to drink. Break time.

bushwhacking in the schell creek range

Brief bushwhack to find the Ranger Trail again

The trail was thick and overgrown sometimes, but it eventually led me to a road. It’s funny how I feel about roads now, having done so much bushwhacking. I don’t mind them as much now, at least, in short increments.

It was really hot now, but a decently enjoyable experience walking down the canyon. It must have experienced a recent burn, I can still smell it in the air and see all of the burnt Sagebrush. With the valley opening up now, and a view to the south of the Schell Creek range, I debated my options. The plan was to follow the Ranger trail along the hillside to bird Campground. But last night I decided after looking at maps that I could actually follow the Ranger trail to timber creek Campground, which meant I could stay off the high Ridgeline before North Schell peak for longer. But now that I could see the next few miles of my route, which appear to skirt the hillside of the high shells, it didn’t look too appealing. It kind of reminded me of the Lamoille Canyon to Soldier Creek hike in the Rubies. Is it worth the effort? I also considered walking around the entire Ranger Trail completely by going through Duck Valley, which would mean a road walk. This probably would be faster, and certainly less elevation gain, and didn’t look like I would be missing too much on the scenery front. Certainly more miles, though. So I was considering this.

Saw a guy and his wife on a side-by-side, a two-person vehicle. They were going uphill as I was coming down. After passing them, I realized I was supposed to make a turn where they did to stay on the ranger trail. I didn’t really feel like going back up hill. So this made my decision easy, I’m taking the low route through Duck Creek Valley to Timber Creek Campground. Timber Creek is the preferred way to access North Schell peak.

schell creek ridgeline view from duck creek valley

Duck Creek Valley view of Schell Creek Ridgeline

bullet holes in road sign nevada

Walked down a pretty uneventful Canyon along North Creek, until reaching a residential area. Eventually reached the main Highway running North and south through Duck Creek Valley. I believe this was Highway 486. This was a paved Road. 10 vehicles drove by in the opposite direction, only 1 the way I want to go.

Finally, a jeep driving the opposite direction stopped even though I didn’t have my thumb out. They asked if I need a ride, I said yeah but the way you just came from, to timber creek campground. They said that’s where they were camped. They said sure we’ll give you a ride there. Then they said, were on our way to go fishing, you want to join? I said sure!

hitching a ride along a basin and range trail thru hike

Dave the Gold Miner

Introductions, Dave and Donna from Cali. Dave is out here to do some gold mining. Waiting to hear from a friend on a location to do some dredging. So, he’s just exploring in the mean time.

So, in a matter of moments, I go from hiking to the timber creek campground to on the way to a small lake to go fishing. How random is that? We drove into Ely, bought worms. I bought a huge box of chicken and fries from the gas station. Hungry! Lady at the gas station had never fished Bassett lake, where we were going. She suggested cave lake instead (where I was ultimately planning to end this section at). So that’s where we headed.

view from the shores of cave lake state park ely nevada

Cave Lake

man fishing at cave lake state park nevada

My new pal Dave

man fishing at cave lake state park nevada

Getting my line wet. Had a few bites, but no takers

Cave Lake was beautiful. Water levels were low, like everything out here. Nice water color, a vibrant turquoise blue. Dave had some tiny fishing poles, like for ice fishing. They felt like kids equipment. I used a gold kastmaster, had some follows and bites but didn’t catch anything.

Sat under a tree on a picnic table in the shade. We discussed rocks, mining and treasure. Dave said he was going to pan/dredge/high bank for gold tomorrow and I was welcome to join. Always wanted to look for gold, with someone who knows what they are doing. I’m in!

Drove back through Ely and hit the gas station for beer, ice, supplies, then drove back to the campground. Sat around camp and listened to music on Bluetooth speaker.
Dave had a generator, which powered a small TV ,and we watched some horrible old van Damme movie, Black eagle. Wow. It was after dark and he had the generator running, and the TV up pretty loud. It was clear he lacked the proper camping etiquette, but I didn’t want to be the one to scold him. 

After I went to bed he watched another movie, and had the generator running. He had some sort of bright light on throughout the night. I just put in my earplugs and zonked.

Day 61 – July 31st: Timber Creek Campground, Zero Day in Ely, NV

Got up after 8am. Dave and Donna were already up, tending to the fire pit. I could hear it crackle from my tent. They made corned beef hash for breakfast, cooked on a pan over the fire.

After breakfast we started to load up the Jeep with the mining equipment he thought we would need for today. The plan was to take samples from several different Creek beds and see what we found. Then concentrate on any Creek that showed promise. The Jeep was so filled with garbage, but they refused to clean it out. I was trying to be helpful, every time I grabbed something to throw out, he would say, oh we need that, there’s an email address or a password written on it. And sure enough, there was. But there was lots of other things that could be thrown out, instead, we had to squeeze in between tools, equipment, cooler, and garbage.

We left the campground and started driving down the dirt road back towards the main Highway in Duck Creek Valley. On the way out, we past the pay station where one pays the nightly fee. Dave noticed that it said fee station, and said, oh, we were supposed to pay for this campground? I found it a little hard to believe that he was camped here for several days and had not noticed this already, let alone on the first day. None-the-less, he balked at the 35 per night fee for the double campsite he had occupied. In his defense, this was really steep, especially compared to the $8 a night for a single site. So now, Dave and Donna decided that the best course of action was to head back to the campsite, pack everything up, and leave. So, back to the campsite we went.

We packed everything up quickly and This of course made the Jeep and the trailer even more jam-packed. Dave figured that he could just camp for free on National Forest land, which is true. So that was his plan now. I should have just parted ways with him here, while I was still at Timber Creek, so I could do the North Schell to South Schell Peak Traverse and finish this section as planned, but I was still enticed by the Prospect of gold mining.

Now we drove into Ely so Dave could buy a gold detector from the sports store. Donna and I waited outside while he went in and tried to purchase it. However, his debit card was declined. So he came back outside and spent a good while on the phone with Bank of America trying to straighten it out. The only thing is, Dave is not very tech savvy. He is 55 and Donna is 60, and they are both pot heads to boot. His bank tried to send him an email, and he was having serious trouble retrieving it on his phone. To complicate the matter, he bought like 4 new phones, and was never really sure which one he was using. In the end, the lady on the phone verified his identity in some other way. For whatever reason, the transaction still did not go through.

Now Dave was trying to find a Bank of America Branch location to physically drive to. The lady on the phone told him there was one that was 100 miles away. I looked on Google Maps, and could not find anything closer than Vegas, 4 hours away. Dave never bothered to ask which town the Bank of America was in, but now he was set on driving 100 miles to a Bank of America branch to try and pull out money, to then come back and buy the gold detector. It was already 1pm At this point the day was shot from my perspective. Since they are not going back to the Timber Creek Campground, where I would need to go to continue my hike, and I am already in Ely, where I am looking to end my hike, it just made sense to have him drop me off at a motel while I was here.

Of course I was disappointed that I could not do the Schell Creek Ridgeline Traverse, but at the same time, I’m more concerned about the logistics of ending the route next week at Great Basin National Park. I had sent my bounce box to the post office in Baker, which is only open Monday through Friday and they close at 3pm. So if I get there on the weekend, I would have to wait until Monday to get my box. This normally wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but I am also trying to set up a ride out of Baker to a major city where I could catch a plane home. Marlene, who I met in the Rubies and lives in Reno, offered to drive 5 hours each way to Great Basin National Park and pick me up. Finishing by Friday at 3pm would be best for her schedule, so that’s my new goal. Getting dropped off in Ely now almost ensures that I will Make that goal. Had I not done that, that timeline wouldn’t have worked.

So, Dave dropped me off at the Motel 6, where I stayed before I started the hike. While checking in, I asked Raj, the owner or manager, if he knew of anyone that could drive me out to the middle of nowhere so I can start the 10th and final section of the Basin and Range Trail. There was no taxi service in town, Uber or anything. To my surprise, he immediately had someone in mind. He gave me Terri’s number, whom works here as well. Great!

First thing I did was order an extra large meat lovers Pizza from Hometown Pizza, with a 2 liter of Coke, delivered. I took a shower in the meantime, and then Pigged out. Gotta feed the hiker hunger.

Didn’t really accomplish much the rest of the day. Typical stuff, wash some clothes, charge batteries and made some phone calls. Called Dad and had him send a box to Baker containing a laundry bag that I used to protect my backpack when I check it at the airport, my small Osprey backpack that I use for my carry-on so I can put my camera gear in it, as well as a pair of clothes to wear. I called Terri in the evening and left a message. She got back to me later in the evening by text and we began to discuss plans to take me out to my starting point for the next Section.

Day 62 – August 1st (Zero day)

I Started looking at the next section and made some route modifications. I had planned on walking the Ridgeline south of Mount Moriah, but that would have meant a crappy bushwhack down into Hendry’s Creek. So I modified the route to Make a base camp below Mount Moriah and then Summit it, then come back the way I came and down into Henry’s Creek. This will still be faster. Also, the route going up to Wheeler Peak did not look realistic. I checked the satellite view and it was up a couple thousand feet through trees. No way! So, I created another alternate route that goes around the east side of Great Basin National Park, up a different Creek than I had planned, up to the Ridgeline by Mount Washington, cutting off Mount Lincoln, and making my way over to Wheeler Peak. This would save the best for last, and also allow for a hike down to Stella Lake. But, I’ll walk though the town of Baker once on my way into Great Basin, forming a little loop as I return to Baker to complete the Basin and Range Trail. 

Also, I had to figure out where I wanted Terri to drop me off. The original plan was Cave Lake State Park, but that would mean going up in over the Schell Creek range, which I’ve already pretty much written off at this point. That would also mean a walk across Spring Valley, in 101 degree heat. So, I made the decision to knock off another 25 miles and have her drop me off at the entrance of Deerhead Canyon, along negro Creek, below Mount Moriah.

 


Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike 2020 – Section 8: Wells to Wendover

view from hike along the goshute range ridgeline

Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 8 Map

map of section 8 on the basin and range trail

Video: Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 8


In addition to this trail journal, I also filmed my Basin and Range Trail thru hike. I’ve produced a detailed series (11+ hours runtime) documenting this thru hike adventure, the product of over 1,000 hours of video editing. I highly recommending watching the Basin and Range Trail vlog series for an in-depth look at thru-hiking the Great Basin and central Nevada. 
 

Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 8 Journal

Day 50 – July 20th: Clover Valley, Wood Hills, Independence Valley, Pequop Range, Trail Magic

Woke 730. Walked to post office, which opened at 830. That was an hour round-trip. Started walking 9:45. While waking out of Wells I passed a younger guy, he said hey man come here a second. He thought I was homeless and was trying to give me his extra salad from a restaurant. But then saw my gear and realized I was a bit more well off. I told him what I was doing and he said “mondo respect”. His car was broken down and said he was stuck in Wells for a month. He asked if I wanted to come play video games with him in his motel. Kinda weird and random, but honestly, I would have if I weren’t walking out of town! You do weird and random stuff on a long hike like this, and find yourself in all sorts of situations. If you say yes, they typically work out pretty well.

hiker walking blacktop on thru hike

Walking out of Wells

thru hiker walking along interstate 80 on the basin and range trail

Hiking the 4×4 road along the interstate. This road is only a few hundred feet from the highway

I expect today to be the single most boring day of hiking on the Basin and Range Trail. Its going to be a hike of roughly 20 miles along Interstate 80 in order to connect the East Humboldt Range with the Pequop Range. Today, Ill walk across Clover Valley, Wood Hills, and Independence Valley, but on a track that’s only about 100 yards from the interstate. That’s because this area is all checkerboard land, an alternating pattern of public and private land. The long story short is that there is no legal way to cross this land, so its best to stay on a public road. I chose to follow the I80 service drive road that parallels the freeway to make the quickest time across this area, which was not going to be a highlight of the hike anyways. Every long hike seems to have one or two sections of filler to connect all of the great places it traverses. I am willing to sacrifice ONE day to connect the East Humboldt Range to the Pequop and Goshute Ranges. 

Some cows along the route today. Passed through a gravel pit which also had cows. One cattle Trough about 5 miles west of Wells with water. Didn’t need it, so I moved on. Stopped for break as I hiked through the northern portion of the Wood Hills range. This area consisted of low hills and small trees, as the name Wood Hills might imply.

dirt road though independence valley nevada

Entering Independence Valley

hiking Independence Valley valley nevada

View south into Independence Valley

East of the Wood Hills Range, I entered Independence Valley. It was wide open and huge. Took another break at the independence valley exit along I80, in shadow of some abandoned metal crate thing for utilities.

view of pequop mountains nevada

Getting closer to the Pequop Range

view of the pequop range from low

Looking up into the Pequops

By mid afternoon, I was starting to feel a bit off. I was really hot, tired and thirsty. I thought I had drank enough today, but my body just wasn’t having this walk today. Every day now the temps are low to mid 90s. My water was very hot, barely drinkable. However, as I approached the Pequop Range, the scenery was starting to get better. I wasn’t expecting much out of the Pequops, but they are starting to look like they have more potential as I draw near. 

hiking fenceline along interstate 80 in northern nevada

Interstate 80

Once I reached maverick canyon, where interstate passes through the Pequop mountains, the canyon narrowed. I began to get wedged in between steep hill sides and a fence. I was really whooped now. 

 

hiking into pequop range

Hiking unnamed canyon to pass below Quop Peak

road to quop peak pass

Road to the top of the pass below Quop Peak

Left the interstate and started walking up a canyon on a dirt road. Left the dirt road for secondary road. My side was starting to hurt a bit so I had to stop again for a break. Thirsty for cold water, and not much appetite.

hiking dirt road in the pequop range

views of the pequop range

The Pequop Range

Once at the Top of the pass, the scenery began to get beautiful. Not stunning, but simple beauty. Rolling hills, excellent view East towards the Toano Range and the Goshute Mountains. The play of Light and shadows with the clouds over the mountains was peaceful.

hikers view at sunset from pequop range nevada

Views over Goshute Valley and the Toano Range

hikers view of water source in the northern nevada mountains

Looking down on Nanny Creek

I walked up and down a series of rolling hills towards my next water source Nanny Creek. Looking down into the canyon below, I could see a large pond. Sweet! Just need to get down the steep hill side to get to it. I was struggling now to finish out the day. Exhausted from the heat, presumably, even though I seemed to handle the same temperatures much better throughout the rest of this hike. Still, I was tired, had cramps, feeling light-headed and just slow.

view of nanny creek in the pequop range, nevada

Nanny Creek

Nanny Creek was swampy. There is a man-made embankment on the downstream end forming a small pond. No way to get to water, the banks were shallow water with thick grass protruding a few feet into the water. Tried downstream, but no access either. I was on my way upstream to check the source when I heard an engine approaching. It was an older guy on dirt bike with weed whacker. Interesting!

man on dirt bike carrying weed whacker

Kem, the local rancher

Kem, local rancher and mountain bike enthusiast, was out maintaining some dirt bike trails for the mtb project. We talked for about 15 minutes, and I was having a hard time concentrating… So tired, thirsty. Occasional stomach cramps. Dizzy. Ears plugged and could barely hear myself talk correctly. Dropped my pack while we talked and I had to sit down.

Kem offered to let me stay at his ranch this evening and join for dinner. Yes please! It was only a mile downhill. So that was that portion of private property I saw on my map.

basin and range trail thru hiker posing below mountain bikers welcome sign

Close enough!

sunset at nevada ranch

Sunset view from Kem’s Ranch

Walked down to his ranch, a nice walk. The entrance to his property is marked with a sign that says Mountain bikes welcome. Beautiful property, lush green, rock formations, sprinklers ruining, horses, Llamas etc. Nice farm house. Greeted by barking dogs which quickly warmed up to me.

Kem’s wife Donna prepared Salmon and rice for dinner, which was very good, but I could barely eat. So exhausted from the heat that it was messing with my appetite. Drank 2L water and 2 glasses of red wine. We talked about the route I’ve hiked through Nevada so far, and I went over my plans for this coming section, in Kem’s backyard basically. Kem was familiar with some of my route through the Pequops to the south of here, as his mountain bike trails and dirt bike trails run through this area. Ultimately, Kem decided to join me tomorrow as I continue my hike south through the Pequops. Hell bring the dogs and hike a day or so south with me, before turning back around, as I continue south.

Took a shower and had a nice comfy bed to sleep in. Wow what an unexpected way to end the day. To have been in such rough shape earlier, and having just walked the worst section of the Basin and Range Trail, to bump into Kem like this was an incredible moment. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Day 51 – July 21st: Trail Magic, P

Barely slept last night even though I had such a comfy bed. Had horrible cramp in my calf in middle of night, still sore this morning. I Was really out of it last night and not feeling great, heat wore me out I guess. Roosters outside bedroom woke me at 5am. Slept to 630.

Kem and Donna were up when I walked out of bedroom. Donna had already made breakfast, pancakes and fruit. Delicious!

two hikers posing in green meadow ranch in northern nevada

Kem and I ready to tackle the Pequop Range

Kem and I left for our hike around 8am, with 4 dogs in tow. Left the ranch and walked the dirt road back up into the Pequops. It was nice to follow Kem and have no navigating to do for once.

hiking view in the pequop mountains nevada

The Pequop Range is starting to look pretty nice!

Kem was in the air force, and flew C130 transport places. After his military service, he flew for Delta, and is now retired.

dogs standing next to dead elk at a nevada guzzler

A dead Elk just feet from the water at this guzzler

In the northern Pequops there are a couple of guzzlers. When we reached the first guzzler, it was nasty water. Brown, like a cattle pond. The dogs jumped in the guzzler to cool off. Well, I’m not drinking that water now. Oh, and there was a dead elk a few feet away from the water. It had just recently died, within the last couple of days. This guzzler was not plotted on my Calopo map… Did I miss it in my research? Kem says another one higher up, so well get water from that one. Hopefully, its better water.

hiking dirt road in pequop range

Good walking along the ridge

dog stands on ridge in pequop mountains, nevada

The dogs were enjoying the hike, too

Good views now that we’ve gained some elevation. Rolling ridges, really Nice. We filled up our water at the second guzzler. Clear water, no green tint. There were four separate troughs here at this guzzler. The dogs jumped in first one. We used second one until one dog jumped in, then we used third tank. I took 7L, expecting no water for a solid day plus across Goshute Valley and into Morgan basin.

view hiking the crest of the pequop range nevada

Pequop crest view northwest, over Independence Valley

pequop range hiking trail on the ridgeline

This trail is mostly used by mountain bikers and dirt bike riders, and is lightly trafficked

hiking with dogs in the pequop mountains nevada

The convoy

Clouds building now, getting a little windier, Temps cooling. Hiked the crest of Pequops south and a network of game and bike trails that were mostly pretty good. Nice place to walk, pretty easy now. Mostly open terrain, some limber pines. Kem says these can grow to be over 1000 years old.

backpackers walking the ridgeline in the pequop range

Looks like rain…

view of goshute valley from pequop range nevada

Crest of the Pequops, and Goshute Valley to the east

Great conversations with Kem. Talked about exercise, nutrition, family, adventures, economics etc. Kem is a great guy to talk to, seems very educated, reasonable and open minded.

tail from f-111 plane crash in the pequop mountains nevada

Tail from the F-111 plane crash

parts scattered on mountainsside from f-111 plane crash

Scattered parts from the F-111 crash

Next we reached an F-111 plane crash by South Peqoup Mountain. Debris scattered everywhere, even over the ridgeline to the east. We could see it from a distance. The clouds were dark now and rain appeared imminent, with a visible shelf cloud approaching. It started to rain as we reached the crash site. Took shelter under a pine tree along trail. It was getting cold now, and I put on my wind pants/jacket. One of the few times along the Basin and Range Trail where I put on my wind pants, but at only 1oz, I’m glad I carried them.

pequop range f-111 plane crash debris scattered in mountainside

piece from f-111 plane crash in Pequop mountains

The rain cleared around 5pm and we continued to scour the F-111 crash site. Lots of debris, random parts. Hydraulic lines and valves, fuselage parts, circuit boards and wires, hatch, tail piece etc.

dark clouds over the peuop mountains nevada

Dark clouds remain at sunset

pequop range nevada camping

Campsite in the Pequops

We set up camp not far form the crash site, on the crest of the Pequop Mountains. We had some cover from the wind thanks to a nice short, fat pine tree.

m61 vulcan gatling gun found at f-111 crash site in nevada

We found the F-111’s M61 Gatling gun!

After dinner, we walked east side of ridge and found the M61 Vulcan Gatling gun from the F-111! The barrels were twisted and full of dirt, but it was unmistakable. 

Day 52 – July 22nd: Trail Magic, Hiking With Kem the Rancher, Pequop Range, F-111 Plane Crash

Woke at 545. The ground was lump and not at all flat, but I slept good because I was so tired. Rain for 20 seconds over night around 4am. Good campsite though, in the sense that there was a large tree that blocked most of the wind that otherwise would have hit our tents. Still some clouds over Goshute Valley to the east. A nice play of Shadows over the Basin.

dog on mountain ridge in pequop range nevada

This morning, one of Kem’s dogs laid next to my tent, and put too much pressure on the string that holds the stake to the tent and snapped it off. My Tarptent Notch Li is made from a Dyneema fabric, and I really don’t know much about the nuances of sewing this type of fabric. Kem assured me Donna could sew the string back on to the tent, but Id need to follow him back to his ranch instead of continuing on south along my route traversing the crest of the Pequop Range. My tent is not functional without it, and I would likely not be able to find anyone to repair it in Wendover, my next town stop. So, what option do I have other than to head back to Kem’s ranch?

clouds over the pequop range

hiking the pequop ridgeline

Pequop Ridgeline

We hiked back to Kem’s Ranch mostly the same way we came in, except the final stretch. Again we had good conversations together. We talked about ancient civilizations and tribes, complex problems of the future, economics etc.

independence valley view from pequop mountains

View west over Independence Valley

We’ve reached the area where Jack, one of the dogs, lost his saddlebags yesterday. He likes to rub up against the bushes, even if he doesn’t have the saddlebags, to scratch his back. So we each took a side of the trail and began to scour the brush. Kem found it hidden in the bushes as we expected.

hiker walking the crest of the pequop range

We passed the highest guzzler, but not needing water we didn’t stay long. We gave the dogs a chance to rehydrate. BB, the biggest dog, was having the hardest time. She jumped in guzzler to cool off, as some of the other dogs did. Only problem is, she could barely get out!

Instead of taking McKitchenson canyon, as we did the hiking up yesterday, we took solar coaster, Kem’s favorite mountain bike trail. He builds mountain bike trails in the woods and besides riding them himself, tries to get other riders to ride his trails through the mtb project. He says in a normal year he might get 100 riders passed through his trails. Some may stay at his Ranch, as I did. He mentioned I was the first hiker to wander through his area, though.

hiker and dog standing under the largest juniper tree in nevada

Kem standing under the largest juniper tree in Nevada

On the route we took back to Kem’s Ranch, we passed by a tree that Kem said is the largest known Juniper tree in Nevada. When he found it years ago, he had called the biologist for the BLM in the area, and they came out and measured it in various ways. There is a certain point stem, based on height, width, crown, etc and apparently, this tree is the biggest Juniper in the state. Pretty cool.

two llama in pasture of nevada ranch

Back at the ranch

Looks like rain clouds building. Dark Skies by the time we got back to the ranch. When we got to the house, Kem offered me a monster energy drink. I was surprised to see he drinks those, but it just so happens they are my guilty pleasure, same as him. So we both enjoyed an ice cold monster.

Donna was able to sew up my tent in a matter of minutes. I checked the radar and it looked like rain clouds are continuing to build and move into the area. It was 1pm. now when we got back. Kem was going golfing with his buddies at 4pm, a regular event he does to get together with friends. The plan now is to drive me up to Morgan Basin in the Goshute mountains, rather than hike the northern Pequops again for the third time to in order stay on my track. But with the weather moving in, is that a good idea? It looks like an almost two hour drive to Morgan Basin from the ranch, which is kind of hard to believe since it was basically just across the valley, so Kem was reluctant to do it this afternoon since he didn’t want to be late for golf. Understandable. He asked Donna to drive me, but I could tell she was hesitant, unsure of her abilities to drive the truck on such a rough road as she said the visibility wasn’t the greatest in that truck. They suggested we wait until the morning. I’m okay with that, in fact I was only wanting to go this afternoon because I didn’t want to be a burden, impose or over stay my welcome.

I chatted with Donna for a while and she made me dinner, farm fresh eggs, bacon and cream cheese bagels. Very good! We chatted some more this evening, about her son’s Adventures as white water rafting guide in Idaho, and work for the mines. Kem mentioned his sons several times, they all seem to have quite a bit of outdoor experience and knowledge. One of their sons was into survival, and would go out into places like the Sierras with only a knife and water bottle. Apparently he had a lot of knowledge of plants as well, which to eat and which to use for medicine.

I went to bed a bit early tonight, at 9. I need to catch up on some sleep.

 

Day 53 – July 23rd: Goshute Valley, Hiking With Kem the Rancher, Goshute Range

Woke 6:15. Donna was up already, filling the hummingbird feeders and surveying the damage left from the elk. Apparently they have elk come in many nights and they eat the plants around the farm.

Donna made us breakfast, bagels with cream cheese and lots of fruit. Kem and I loaded up the truck and we left the ranch around 7:45. The dogs jumped in the back of the bed, wanting to go. But it wasn’t going to happen today.

The ride out to the Goshute mountains was interesting. Its really dry, in fact this area is among the driest along the entire Basin and Range Trail route. There was one spot along the railroad tracks that looked like a puddle of water on satellite, but that’s likely all it was a puddle after a recent rain. We saw no water in Goshute Valley.
After crossing the railroad tracks, I was surprised to see how wide open and free of Sagebrush this Valley was. There was Golden grass as far as the eye could see. Now, Kem told me the land looked over grazed. The grass that grows in here is called cheat grass. He said the original vegetation that grew here was some sort of rye. The first herd of wild horses we saw was about 20 strong. In the distance, we could see other herds of 10 or 20.

railroad tie marker for the california trail

These ties are used to mark the historic California Trail throughout the Great Basin

We stopped along the road to check out a railroad tie marker for the California Trail. These can be found scattered throughout the Great Basin along sections of the California Trail. I saw these at Overland Pass, in the Ruby Mountains, and Huntington Valley. 

man standing in the shadows of a small cave overlooking goshute valley

Goshute Valley view from small cave

goshute valley view

Kem’s truck parked below in Goshute Valley

We also stopped to check out a small cave on a hill. It ended up being quite small and having no interest or significance, but it was a fun little side adventure.

As we made our way south, the rugged nature of the Goshute Range revealed itself. The Limestone Cliffs first start around Morgan Canyon. This is our entrance into the Goshutes. The road goes up and over Morgan pass. It can be driven in a truck, as we have done, although most probably do it in a side-by-side.

goshute range nevada morgan pass view

View east from Morgan Pass

old wooden cabin at morgan pass nevada

Cabin at Morgan Pass

We parked on top of Morgan pass in a small clearing. From there we walked up the Ridgeline of the Goshutes south to meet up with the route that I had mapped. There was a small cabin here in very bad shape. However, there were actually horse trails to follow. This is very encouraging and gave us a lot of hope, specifically me, about the prospect of the rest of this route across the Goshute Range panning out well.

hiker on trail in the goshute range

Kem following a decent game trail

View northeast, Goshute Range and Bonneville Salt Flats

hiking the goshute range nevada

The Goshute Range is becoming quite beautiful

We went up and over a couple of Ridge and contoured around a few Hill sides. The father we went, the more beautiful the landscape became. Down the valley to the east lied a large Limestone rock formation carved out in almost a smooth manner. And farther to the east is the Bonneville salt flats. While the official measurement is roughly 30,000 acres, or 46 square miles, when one looks at the map the salt flats are only one small part of the much larger dried lake bed, Lake Bonneville. A rough measurement of this on the map is over 100 miles long!

limestone cliffs along the goshute ridegline

Rugged limestone cliffs along the west side of the Goshute Range. Basin and Range geology in action right here

views from the crest of the goshute range

Excellent hiking along the crest of the Goshute Range here. Still good game trails to follow

goshute range views

Impressive limestone cliffs rise from the hills all through the Goshute Range

We continue to hiking South until we reached a spot on the map that required a bit of work to get around. We should have stayed higher up on the Ridgeline, and so we needed to gain about 200 ft elevation. We climbed up towards the Ridgeline, and a small natural arch became visible. We took lunch here in the shadow of the arch. Looking Through the arch was a very impressive view of random rock formations and the Bonneville salt flats in the distance. Rain clouds began to form, thunderclouds billowing. I even saw one bolt of lightning.

bonneville salt flats behind natural arch in the goshute range

Natural Arch and the Bonneville Salt Flats to the east

hiker posing inside small natural arch in nevadas goshute range

Cool natural arch at our break spot

After lunch, Kem and I separated. This was roughly the point he wanted to hike to before turning around. He had about a 2 hour walk to get back to the car, then his plan was to play some golf in Wendover. And of course, he must factor in the long drive back home. Looking back, I didn’t realize how far this would be for him and really appreciate the ride out here. Not only that, everything Kem and Donna had done for me… I stayed two nights at their house, Donna had made multiple meals, washed my clothes, I was able to shower etc. Its amazing what people are willing to do for a stranger. It makes me eager for the opportunity to return the favor to others someday.

goshute range nevada great basin thru hike

Following this ridgeline is a fun scramble with crazy good views

panorama view from goshure range ridgeine nevada

Are you kidding me? The best views of the Basin and Range Trail, in the Goshute Range? Maybe!

hiking along sheer cliffs in the goshute range nevada

Looking back at the ridge I just came down

Now on my own again, I had to climb up to the crest of the Goshute Range and the true nature of the challenge presented itself. I found myself out on a Rocky Ridgeline that at first looked like it was going to require quite a bit of climbing. There were some scrambling sections for sure. One side had quite a bit of exposure, the other side a little bit less. Two sections of the Ridgeline were separated by a small gap, that required either a leap of faith or to climb down and around. I chose to climb around. The views here though are downright stunning. I am in awe of the Goshute Range, and completely surprised by it’s overwhelming beauty. 

panorama view of the goshute range nevada

Excellent views all day in the Goshute Range

views from the crest of the goshute range in nevada

I love the Goshute Ridgeline!

goshute range panorama views by hiker on rigeline

The next couple miles offered outstanding views. In fact, some of the most Scenic miles of the entire Basin and Range Trail. I say that often, but the beauty Goshute Range really stands out in my memories of this hike. The thing is, the horse trails have disappeared now, and it’s largely an off-Trail scramble. Still, not that hard considering there is not that much vegetation. Excellent views of Goshute Valley to the west and massive sweeping views of the Bonneville salt Flats to the east. Dark Skies Loom in the distance, though. A bit ominous, but the provided an excellent backdrop to the stunning landscape that surrounded me.

view of Bonneville salt flats from the crest of the goshute range nevada

View east into Utah and the Bonneville Salt Flats

Looking east, where the Goshute mountains end and the salt flats begin is roughly the Nevada-Utah border. The town of Wendover can be seen in the distance from here as well. To the north, Pilot Peak is the prominent, volcanic-looking, Peak that dominates the horizon.

goshure range view into goshure valley

View out over Goshute Valley

goshute range view of pilot peak summit Nevada

Notice Pilot Peak in the center, along the horizon

view from hike along the goshute range ridgeline

Ridgeline views hiking the Goshute Range

Working my way along the Ridgeline, the horse trails follow the edge of some cliffs. It was heavily wooded to the east, forcing me to stay along the cliff Edge. Eventually, the horse trails pass through the trees. This wasn’t really a bushwhack per se, but forced me to walk in a crouched down position to stay under the vegetation. Then, I passed a small cave. Couldn’t quite get to it without having to descend a small steep chute with a long run out, and so it was just not worth it.

hiking the crest og the goshute range along cliffs

Looking north along the Goshute Ridgeline. I was walking the top of that an hour ago!

BRT thru hiker view from crest of the goshute range in nevada

Hiking the Goshute ridgeline south

zpacks arc haul packpack on mountain summit on great basin thru hike

My zpacks Arc Haul backpack enjoying the view

This brought me to a saddle below Peak 8735. Across the way was a small cave, somewhat hidden with some trees by the entrance. I will hit this on the way down from the peak. Going up, you just pick your route and walk straight up. Great views up at the top looking back the way I came, it was a massive vertical limestone rockwall. Very impressive! Stopped to take a quick break while I Let a GoPro timelapse play out, hoping to get some movement on the storm moving across the valley.

After coming back down to the saddle, I made my way over to the small cave. There were some deer legs and a pelvis near the entrance, which always makes me think of mountain lions. I rounded a corner and saw the cave entrance. It was pretty small though, maybe four feet high at the entrance and slanted down to the ground about 10 ft deep. I could see a rodent sticking his head out in the back of the cave.

goshure range ridgeline hiking

Walking the ridgeline

hikers view into utah from goshute range nevada

View east into Utah

herd of wild horses in goshute range with bonneville salt flats in the background

Wild horses with an unreal backdrop of the Bonneville Salt Flats

Next I followed the Cliffside for a while. Saw another 8 or so wild horses. I followed some horse trails and contoured around a hillside a bit before climbing up to a ridge. The horse trails disappeared on the way up. There didn’t really seem to be a good route around this Ridge, it was Cliffy on one side and heavily wooded and steep on the other. This is where things started getting tough. Very tough.

thick forest in goshute range

Crap. East side of the crest is not hikable

heavily forested mountainsides in the goshute range nevada

A monumental bushwhack lies ahead

I couldn’t really follow the very top of the Ridgeline, at the high point marked as 8780, as it was Rocky and too much vegetation. So I followed the steep hillsides about 50 feet below the top. Even here, the vegetation was thick. I weaved my way in and out of the trees. These were mostly mahogany, maybe some junipers. Eventually made it around the top of the Ridge and came to a Ridgeline that leads down to a saddle at 7990. This was a very disheartening sight. At the top, the Ridgeline leading down to the saddle was often a knife edge Style, with extremely thick vegetation to boot. There was no way to follow the knife-edge, it was too steep to the left / East, so I had to stay to the West. Here, it was a bit of a bowl-shaped Valley with a sea of green. An impenetrable wall of vegetation, a nightmare Thicket. Very disheartening indeed.

I began my descent through the brush. There were no horse trails, there was no obvious path or route, there was no section that looked less thick than others. It was literally one solid mass of green. I knew this was going to be awful. I pushed ahead, literally, pushing through the trees. They stood so thick together that it took a lot of force to bend the branches enough for me to fit through. These branches were not soft and limber, they were solid.

hiker bushwhacking through trees in the goshute range

Bushwhacking for hours through this stuff

Bushwhacking here scraped away at my skin, drawing blood more times than I can count. Scrapers and stabbers galore. Pushing the branches aside and trying to squeeze through was one approach. The other was to break branches. This works better on older and dead trees than Lush and limber ones. Using my hands, it was easy to get cut, poke and stab wounds. If possible, I prefer to use my feet. I would kick the branches and try to break them off that way if they were low enough, waist-high or slightly above. This was the best approach overall, but it was slow and only worked with certain trees. I fell a couple of times in the process. 

At one point I checked my watch and realized I had only moved about 250 ft down from The High Point in nearly an hour. This is about the worst feeling you could imagine. It was pretty overwhelming to find myself completely surrounded by thick brush, not having any way out, and knowing that it would still take a massive amount of effort to reach safety again. It’s hard enough to have worked your way into the situation, but I thought to myself what a nightmare this would be if you dropped somebody off in this scenario and left them to find their way out. I can’t imagine how a person would handle this situation. It’s super easy to lose your cool here.

I now I had several large cuts on my leg, many puncture type wounds on my legs and hands, and a cut on my forehead. This one was the worst as it took my hat off, so the cut sits about an inch above my eye and extends into my hairline, right where my hat sits.

bushwhacking in the goshute range nevada

What a shit show this ridgeline is

I made it back to the Ridgeline, which was somewhat less knife-edge like at this point now. I hopped over the other side, now on the east side, to see if the going was any better here. Somewhat, at times, but overall pretty much just as hard. I was now on a steep slope, and I stepped on a boulder which I dislodged. I was able to get my leg out of the way, but I slipped and fell and my forearm took the brunt of the fall on another Boulder. The dislodged Rock tumbled down the hill, and took out a downed tree limb, before tumbling another few hundred feet.

bushwhacking on the basin and range trail

2 hours to come down this one ridge,. Worst bushwhack on the BRT

Eventually made it to the saddle at 7990. I checked my watch and realized it took me two hours to go about a mile. Wow. I don’t know how many times on this trip I told myself that I never want to do that again. Then time and time again, I find myself in that same situation.

It was now about 6:45. I stopped to take a break to eat dinner. I had a solid view of Peak 9174, my next obstacle, while coming down through the thick brush. Now on the saddle, it was time to make a decision. It wasn’t really a hard decision at all, there was no way in hell I was going up and over that like I had planned. This Peak is heavily wooded, just like the one I came down, but with many limestone outcrops, ridges and Spires protruding from the trees. 1/2 mile an hour pace isn’t going to cut it, and there’s just no reason to put yourself through that kind of stress unless there is a more specific goal/purpose.

goshute range sunset hiking

Finally, some easy walking

After my break, I began to follow horse trails around Peak 9174, contouring the hillside. At first, the horse trail led me right into some thick brush. And for another 10 minutes or so, it was a pretty shitty bushwhack again. This is where you just want to flip out. I had just got done doing this for 2 hours and now I’m right back into it again, with the sun going down soon. Fortunately, it was a short patch of brush and I emerged into a clearing again. From here, there was a very solid Horse Trail that led around the Mountainside, completely clear of all brush. I followed that and made quick progress.

pilot peak viewed from goshute mountains

Pilot Peak on the horizon to the north

My path up and over the Ridgeline requires leaving the horse trail and climbing 200 feet the hillside. When I got to the top, I was hoping to find a good spot to camp, but there was nothing. On the other side, it was pretty windy. The sun was going down soon and I didn’t want to commit to the other side of the ridge, being exposed to the wind and not really having a solid sightline of what the coming terrain would look like. So I was pretty set on camping on this side of the ridge. But where?

After walking back and forth for about 20 minutes, I finally settled on a spot. It was a small Spot barely big enough to Cowboy camp, but I was determined to make my tent work tonight. I got started by pulling rocks up out of the ground, using my tent Stakes as a digging tool. Some of these rocks were 3 ft long! Then, I started pulling up sagebrush. I use my shoe to kick all the rocks out of the way and clear a relatively flat spot. I was able to get my tent up, although it was slanted in spots and one tent pole sat down in the hole where a rock was, about 10 in lower than the other side. setting up a tent in this scenario is not easy, and basically impossible to get everything tight and taught.

Dirty and bloody, I began to clean myself up as best I could before settling in for the night. This was one of those days I was just happy to be done hiking.

Day 54 – July 24th: Goshute Range, Goshute Valey, Antelope Valley

basin and range trail thru hike campsite in the goshute range

What a view to wake up to

Woke around 5:45. There were many bees buzzing around my tent this morning, and even a hummingbird. Over the past several weeks my sleeping pad was becoming a bit dirtier as I usually sleep in boxers now, no base layer bottoms. There were many more smears of Blood on the air mattress now from my leg wounds sustained during yesterday’s bushwhack.

goshute range campsite with taptent notch li tent on basin and range trail thru hike

Good view, but not a comfortable campsite

It’s amazing what a night of sleep will do for you. It can be frustrating going to bed right after a difficult bushwhack, and then the added stress of needing to construct a suitable, or even subpar, campsite out of nothing. But this morning, I was feeling better about things.

I was walking by around 7am. I continued around the ridge that I stopped at last night, and began to scope out the route. From here, not only did I need to Contour the hillside, but I needed to gain a little elevation to maneuver around a slightly steep section. Fortunately, there were good horse trails to follow here. It really wasn’t an issue finding my way. This was a relief, especially in early morning. It’s difficult mentally to start the day with a bushwhack.

hiking the goshute range in the morning

This morning’s hike was pleasant. I could still see Pilot Peak behind me which I really enjoyed. For some reason, I thought it had a primitive look to it, adding a unique feel to the area.

I saw a horse contouring around the hillside, coming out of a bit of a gully or ravine. The Horse had the sun behind him, and stood on a small Ridge or piece of high ground. It looked somewhat Majestic as he debated his next move, and walked along this High Ground.

hiking old burn area goshute range

hiking goshute ridgeline south view

View south along the ridgeline

hiking game trail the Goshutes

Game trail at the top of the Pass. The ridgeline ahead looks heavily forested, almost certainly more bushwhacking

After rounding the corner, coming out of the Ravine, I was overlooking a burn area now. This has been rare to see lately. It wasn’t long before I reached the saddle where I would drop down to a guzzler to get my water for the day. Here, there were many horse trails and an obvious Road up to the top of the saddle. I stopped here and had a look at the route to the South. If I continue South along the Ridgeline, that means going up a hillside that looked very thick with trees and vegetation. I know it clears out a little bit south of that as I approached Goshute Peak, but from there on South, My Maps show a heavily forested and super thick Ridgeline, complete with steep Terrain. If I wanted to continue South along the Ridgeline, that would mean dropping down about 450 ft to the guzzler, then climbing back up to the saddle, and then proceeding south on the ridge. From there it would be about 20 miles of Ridge walking, 100% off-trail, to Highway 93. To me that just didn’t seem realistic given yesterday’s bushwhack at a half mile an hour pace. The only logical Choice was to head downhill to the guzzler, get my water, and then proceeded down to Goshute valley and walk along the base of the mountains South to Highway 93. So that’s what I settled on.

goshute range 4x4 road in canyon

$x4 road leading down to guzzler

goshute range nevada guzzler

Guzzler

nasty green water in guzzler along basin and range trail thru hike

I’m in luck, the guzzler isn’t filled with water, but… Lemon Lime Gatorade! Score! Electrolytes… it’s what hikers crave

Following the 4×4 road, it was quick progress down to the guzzler. This one was a completely different style than the other ones I’ve seen so far. This guzzler was basically a large piece of metal, like a metal roof, on a slight angle to collect all the rain water which funnels into a gutter, and then drains into an underground tank. From there, it’s piped over to a trough. The trough was full of very green water, with a lot of dead bugs in it, and many more flying around. But this is the only water available, so it’s what I will drink. There were two game cameras set up pointing at the guzzler. One of them had a sticker on it that said, “hello this is not hunting, College project, thanks”. The other one did not have a sticker.

thru hiker filtering green water

Do your thing, Sawyer

It took quite a while to filter this water. I took 5 L with me. I backflush my filter after about 4 liters when I noticed it was getting really slow. Extremely green water came out, about the same color as what I was putting into it. Then I backflushed the filter again after my 5th liter so that the gunk didn’t stay in the filter.

view of goshute range from 4x4 road

4×4 Road leading out of the Goshute Range

I walked maybe a quarter mile downhill from the guzzler and a Truck approached. I was pretty surprised, but assumed they were going to look at the guzzler. Course they were just as surprised to see me. I told them I was hiking 1100 miles to Nevada and that always gets their attention. They were indeed Hunters, scouting out the area, here to look at the guzzler for signs of elk. They asked if I needed water or food or anything, and I told them I was all good, I had just filled up with all the water I need for today and have 3 days of food for a 1-day walk. But they were persistent and convinced me to chug one of their liters of water and Help them eat some of their salami cheese and crackers. So I stopped for a while and chatted with them. Bradley and his son Dylan, and Brad’s friend Pat.

After talking with them for 20 or 30 minutes, I continued downhill. I walked down the valley, more or less enjoying the hike. There were some rocky formations among the hillsides, and I think more than anything, I was just enjoying the fact that I could walk without having to put any effort into off-trail hiking. It’s kind of a luxury now walking a road, compared to the past where I’ve often despised it.

basin and range trail view of goshute peak

View south to Goshute Peak

panorama view of goshute valley

Goshute Valley

I walked South for a while, enjoying the view of the Goshute mountains with the golden grass waving in the Wind down low in the valley. Cheat Grass, I remembered. I could see a couple of buildings, structures and a Corral in the distance. I knew this was Shafter well #4 as marked on my map.

old homestead site in antelope valley nevada

Approaching Shafter Well #4 and an old homestead

shafter well 4 homestead

An old home

creepy messages written on walls of abandoned homestead in rural nevada

All are welcome

At Shafter well #4, there were a couple of buildings… A main house, the entrance to what looks like an underground bunker or basement storage type area, a chicken coop like building, and a 3 sided Barn. There were also many corrals, which looked super raggedy. The doors to the main house were wide open. The floor was littered with hay and it was clear that Animals had been living in there. There were piles of cow shit inside the house. The doors had interesting things written on them, such as “escape room and telephone”, and “looters and loafers beware, survivors will be prosecuted”. How Nevada.

animal pen in front of goshute mountains

old barn at homestead in nevada desert

The Barn

shafter well 4 animal pen

The three sided Barn was somewhat interesting in the sense that it was the most intact building. You could really get a sense of how this place was used back in the day. Ther were various animal pens and other small wooden structures. There is now water at Shafter Well #4, unfortunately. 

hjikers view of goshute valley nevada along the basin and range trail

View north into Goshute Valley

thru hiking goshute valley great basin nevada

Goshute Mountains from Goshute Valley

goshute valley view of goshute range

Moving on from Shafter number four, it was back into the sun, the heat of the day. The clouds were building now and it looked like a bit of rain to the north. The clouds were intermittent where I was, providing some shade here and there. Even so, it wasn’t as hot as other days. The view of the Goshute mountains to the East were nice, as this was the rugged Cliff side of the thrust fault Mountain geology. This is one reason why walking this side of the mountains was so Pleasant, through Goshute Valley. I always feel defeated and disappointed in myself when I back out from a plan, such as walking the Ridgeline of the Goshutes. But in all honesty, I was really enjoying this walk down here. All of the other valleys, or basins, I’ve hiked along the Basin and Range Trail were thick with sagebrush and had a much more desert-like feel to them. This one was full of that golden grass, and just had a completely different feel to it. The cliff-like mountains on one side, golden grass, absolutely massive Valley stretching far to the West, with the South Pequop Range, Spruce Mountain range, and Cherry Creek range on the horizon. It’s tough to explain why exactly I liked this Valley so much. It was just so massive and empty. I thought back to my time on the CDT And the area just north of Snow Lake in the Gila Wilderness. The area I called a sea of gold. This was a lot like that, in a way.

hiker walking through fields of golden grass with mountains behind in goshute valley nevada

Hiking in Goshute/Antelope Valley. Where’s the boundary?

I stopped for lunch under a Lone Tree on a hillside that had about four small caves. They were high enough up on the hillside and small enough that it wasn’t worth going up there to explore, but still cool to see. At some point around here, Goshute Valley becomes Antelope Valley, according to the map. On the ground, I can see nothing that would indicate any sort of geological boundary line that separates the two valleys. It seems like they just merge in the middle of a great vastness, with no obvious landmarks or features that would dictate such a change.

antelope valley nevada dirt road

4×4 road through Antelope Valley, view south

hikers view of goshute range from antelope valley

Goshute Range from Antelope Valley

basin and range trail thru hiker view antelope valley

Antelope Valley, view west to Spruce Mountain and the Pequop Range

I walked on, enjoying Myself much more than I expected for a low route. In fact, I found myself feeling exhilarated. Something about Wide Open Spaces, hard to explain. I couldn’t help but smile. Let out a couple loud woohoo sounds with no one around to hear them.

view of us 93 alt at whitehorse pass nevada

View west along US 93 Alt at Whitehorse Pass

hwy at goshute range

The road through Antelope Valley meets US 93 Alt

When I reached US 93-Alt, it was time to hitch 33 miles north into Wendover. Five or six Vehicles passed by, in a span of about 30 minutes, with no luck. A stake truck drove by who also passed me up, but then I could hear the vehicle stop a few hundred yards up. I turned around and indeed saw him backing up a bit and moving over to the shoulder. I grabbed my pack and ran up the road. He said a ride to Wendover is no problem, hop in.

His name was David and he was from Provo Utah. He runs a handyman business, as well as driving the truck that he was in. Some sort of manufacturing company. He grew up in Utah and had lots of fun memories about outdoor trips, hunting arrowheads and such. It was about a 30-minute Drive into Wendover.

When we reached Wendover, he asked where I needed to go. I said drop me off near Smith’s grocery store, please. So he dropped me off there at the parking lot. There were no hotels here though, that was the problem. They were all about two and a half miles east, across the state line into Utah on the Wendover side. The Nevada side is called West Wendover. No problem though, I will just do my grocery shopping here and now and then walk over to the Utah side afterwards and grab a motel. This way I don’t have to do it tomorrow, and it will save me two and a half miles of walking as part of a round trip.

I made a quick hotel reservation on Priceline and then threw my backpack in a shopping cart and went inside the store. I had a feeling people were looking at me a bit funny. When I was done, I discarded most of the extra packaging for the food outside of the store and threw it away so that I could put my newly bought food into my backpack with minimal space. This worked out as I walked across town.

wendover will statue in west wendover nevada

Wendover Will welcomes you to West Wendover

So now it was a 40+ minute walk across town to my hotel. In the middle of the street in West Wendover, is a giant cowboy sign/statue. It says, “Wendover Will welcomes you to West Wendover”. What a tongue twister. Pretty goofy. This was in the median of the street. The statue is probably 50 or 60 ft tall. In the median is a small patch of grass, and a pronghorn was feeding here in broad daylight. Aha, Town wildlife.

As I walked into the Utah side, I passed by a small gas station with a Subway. Outside was a couple of guys who looked homeless. One of them saw my backpack and his eyes lit up. He gave me a thumbs up and said something to the effect of “way to go brother”.

I was a bit disappointed that my hotel was on the extreme east side of town, pretty much passed everything on the walk in. But I guess that is to be expected for one of the lowest priced hotels in town. Even still, it was $71 a night, which might be my most expensive night yet along this whole route. And on the Utah side, the taxes were quite a bit higher then in Nevada.

thru hiker food after hiking

Celebratory pizza and wings

Not wanting to leave my room and walk across town again for food, I ordered Pizza Hut delivery… Large 3 topping pizza, 12 chicken wings and a two liter of Coke. Took a shower and when I got out as the delivery guy was just arriving. Perfect timing.

Washed my clothes and started charging my batteries. Now I could relax and watch a little TV for a bit before becoming so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Day 55 – July 25th: Zero Day in Wendover, UT

Slept great. Slow start to the morning like many zero days. Laid in bed and updated my journal. I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with it at night on trail, I usually fall asleep before I can finish it.

Wendover Army Air Base

wendover army air base tourthe atomic missions

Today I went up to the Wendover Army Air Base Museum on the edge of the Bonneville Salt Flats. This is a historic Air Base, playing a huge role in World War II. This place was heavily involved in the Manhattan Project as well, with the training and deployment of the first atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Wendover Army Air Base museum tour

atomic bomb replica in museum

Replica atomic bomb

I watched an 8 minute video inside the museum, and then walked around looking at the various artifacts inside. During World War II, The Wendover Army Air Base was a training base for B-17 and B-24 bomber crews., as well as playing a vital role in the Manhattan Project. It was the training site of the 509th Composite Group, the B-29 unit that carried out the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

conair movie prop plane the jailbird at wendover army air base utah

This is the actual “Jailbird” plane used in the movie Conair

in the cockpit of the jailbord movie prop plane from conair

Move over, Swamp Thing. I’m flying the Jailbird now

inside the hull of the jailbird

Cameron Poe, Garland Green and Cyrus the Virus once sat here!

inside the conair movie plane the jailbird

View towards the cockpit

In addition to the military significance of the Wendover Army Air Base, Scenes from the movie Conair and Independence Day were also filmed here. There is a C130 transport plane here that is open to walk into. This was the exact plane, the Jailbird, used in the movie Conair, for the Lerner Airfield scenes. After filming the movie, it was left here to the museum. Now you can self tour the Jailbird for yourself, and look out from cockpit into the Bonneville Salt Flats. How cool!

Wendover itself doesn’t have much to offer, but it was cool having the Wendover Army Air Base museum here to explore on my zero day. That’s more than I can say about the rest of the town stops along the Basin and Range Trail.


Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike 2020 – Section 7: Lamoille to Wells

hiker crossing second boulder creek in the east humboldt range, Nevada

Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 7 Map

overview map section 7 basin and range trail

Video: Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 7


In addition to this trail journal, I also filmed my Basin and Range Trail thru hike. I’ve produced a detailed series (11+ hours runtime) documenting this thru hike adventure, the product of over 1,000 hours of video editing. I highly recommending watching the Basin and Range Trail vlog series for an in-depth look at thru-hiking the Great Basin and central Nevada. 

Basin and Range Trail Thru Hike Section 7 Journal

Day 44 – July 14th: Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains

Cody picked me up around 830. I called the Sharon Hotel in Wells on the way to the trailhead, to update my ETA. I figure I will be there the 18th and 19th, instead of the 19th and 20th. Unfortunately they are booked the days I will be there. They suggested a different hotel. They also have my bounce box which is good news.

There weren’t a whole lot of good options for me to continue my northbound track coming out of Lamoille Canyon. High in Lamoille canyon, I would have had to climb over a very, very steep ridge to drop down into another basin. And I would have had to do this several times to continue on my Northern trajectory. This would have been the most scenic route, but also very difficult, with no guarantees of safety or success. So, in order to maintain a good pace And schedule, I figured a lower route would be in order. Also, the fact that Cody was joining me for this section made the low route the obvious choice. Cody will join me for an overnight hike from the Powerhouse Trailhead to Soldier Creek, roughly 20 miles.

two hiking buddies getting ready to hike the rubies

Cody and I at the Powerhouse Trailhead in lower Lamoille Canyon

hiking north of powerhouse trailhead ruby mountains

An actual hiking trail exists north of Powerhouse Trailhead, for now

Left the powerhouse trailhead in lower Lamoille Canyon around 9:45am. This was an old burn area. Lots of switch backs going straight up the hill. Good trail though.

 

Eventually we realized the trail we were on was not following the path marked on the map. Our Trail was climbing much higher. This had us a bit worried. Where’s the trail taking us to, the High Country? Because the rest of our route was not going this way. I theorized that the trail had been rerouted above the old burn area, around the new growth. This proved to be right, after we climbed a ways, the trail paralleled the lower version of the route marked on the map. Good deal.

northern ruby mountains view

A view up towards the high country. It would be a thick, rugged hike up there, but beautiful

We won’t be going up into the high country today, but at least we get a glimpse of it. Typical views up the many drainages we will cross on today’s hike along the base of the Rubies.

bearing tree metal sign nailed to aspen tree in ruby mountains nevada

Now that I have my bearings…

Cody was super excited to be out there, and I was really glad to have someone here with me. I know he was a bit worried about slowing me down, but he had a good pace and that was not an issue. He had everything he needed for the hike, Although our gear setups couldn’t be more different. He had a small backpack, but was able to fit everything he needed for an overnight hike. He had a white cotton t-shirt, cotton shorts and heavy steel toe boots. Off his backpack hung a small stainless steel cup that clanked against something else on his backpack, perhaps the metal zipper. Kind of like a bear Bell.

Cody had lived in Idaho in Colorado for the last couple of years, and had just returned home to this area. He knew a good deal about the area from his childhood years here. He fed me bits of info here and there about the land and its history. However, he had no knowledge of the trail we were walking or really much about the land north of Lamoille Canyon in general. With good reason, this area was largely On the Border of private land and offered no real access to the High Country. At least, not legal access.

hiking buddies in the ruby mountains nevada

Just two goons hiking the Basin and Range Trail, don’t mind us

Hiking today was a lot of fun with Cody here. Even the bushwhacks were tolerable, with someone to do them with. Having someone to talk to really takes your mind off things. Sometimes being left alone with your thoughts for too long is not a good thing. It’s fine when times are good, but I think it’s much more challenging to weather the bad stuff as a solo hiker. 

hiker drinking water from mountain stream

Break spot at Conrad Creek

Now the trail contours around the hillside, weaving in and out of small Canyons. The trail was getting more overgrown. We began to pass a couple of small Creeks, but good water sources. I had plenty of water and didn’t need any. Cody on the other hand stopped at every water source and drank directly from the streams with his cup. There didn’t appear to be much cow activity in the area and so he wasn’t worried. 

talbot creek view ruby mountains

Talbot Creek. This is a rugged canyon that would likely be incredible. The map shows a trail, but it probably doesn’t exist. The proposed BRT route here is the ridgeline on the right. Stays out of the thick stuff and would offer an elevated view

As the day went on, the difficulty of the route increased. By the time we reached Talbot Creek, the trail had pretty much disappeared. We were navigating by wooden posts that were about 1 foot high, marked with the word Trail. These were barely visible among the sagebrush, and spaced far apart. The route I had planned took us a mile or two into Talbot Canyon, crosses the creek and then goes right back out another mile or two to where we Came from, but on the other side. It was about 400 feet down into a drainage, and Cody thought This would be better than walking up the canyon. I figured the canyon would be pretty scenic, judging by the relief on the topographical maps, but since the trail basically faded out, this probably would add quite a bit of time and difficulty. So Cody’s plan to drop down the Talbot drainage here and take a direct route across seems reasonable. Let’s do it.

hiker overlooking drainage

Cody looking for the route down

Much of today’s route weaves in and out of private property, and this was one of the first sections I really had to deal with that. There was a fence line running down the canyon, And we had to jump it in order to continue. We jumped many fences today. At the same time, there were some ranches and homes perched up on the hillsides that could see us. So everything we did, we try to do With a stealthy approach.

hiking through drainanges

Crossing another drainage

More Sagebrush, cows, fences to jump over and private land to weave in and out of. next we followed a bit of a dirt road, until we had to leave the dirt road To follow our Planned route. Dropped down into Another drainage To cross a creek, now on the opposite side of one of the ranches that was perched on a hillside. This was extremely thick vegetation, thickest of the day. Cody was wading through it, breaking branches, but not exactly clearing me a path. Many times, our feet didn’t even touch the ground, since there were so many branches to keep us elevated above the dirt. That’s how thick it was.

Made it down to a small Creek where we took a break. Cody could really appreciate the bushwhacking aspect of what I’ve gone through so far on the Basin and Range Trail. I’m glad he got the full experience.

4x4 road following fence line in nevada

Walkin’ fenceline

We’ve pretty much given up on following anything that said Trail on the map, and now just went for dirt roads. We finally hit one sign that said private property, looked like it was leading to the ranch up on the hillside. So we followed the fence line on the legal side. Many times though, we were never really sure which side was the legal side. It was never posted. Cody, being a local, also said that many of these land owners likely wouldn’t care that we were out here hiking, especially not along the wrong side of the fence line.

view up thorpe creek in the ruby mountains

Thorpe Creek

Our last real challenge of the day was one really large drainage. This one was deep and steep. At the bottom was a decent-sized creek. There are actually some decent Camp spots here, but we still wanted to cover some more miles, and make it to Cold Creek. The creek was too large to hop rocks across, but there was a pile of logs here alongside the river, presumably leftovers from making the fence line that went up the hill. So we threw a few logs in the water to step on, making our own Crossing Point. In the end, my foot slipped off one and got wet anyway.

hikers view from campsite in the ruby mountains

View from tonight’s camp

hikers camp view of sunset behind tarptent notch li tent

Sunset at camp

We walked another two miles or so before reaching South Fork gold Creek. This was barely a blip on the map, but was actually a good running creek that feeds the main Cold Creek. We found a clearing a few yards from the creek, and it was actually a good campsite. So this is where we set up. The water was only 4 feet wide but maybe a foot deep. Rarely along the trip has I camped this close to water, in fact it was probably the closest. So it was a real luxury to be able to have water at Camp, be able to soak my feet and clean my legs.

After the sun set, the night sky populated itself with a million stars. We stood outside our tents looking up at the stars, talking about all of this stuff that humans wonder about Under the Stars… The infinitude of space, science, technology, the problems of our world and how to solve them.

Day 45 – July 15th: Ruby Mountains, Soldier Creek, Ruby Valley, Pole Canyon, East Humboldt Range

Woke at 6:30. Hiking by about 7:45. Cody did not sleep that well. It took him a few hours to get to sleep.

After leaving camp we followed the road we camped along until we reached the point where it crosses Cold Creek. Here, there was some sort of ranch, although it looked abandoned. There were horses and animals there though, hard to tell if someone was living there or not. We climbed the fence and walked alongside it until we found an old dirt road that leads down to the river. Another decent size Creek. We were able to cross without getting our feet wet by hopping rocks.

We climbed out of the Ravine holding Cold Creek and reached another fence line. We followed this one to the end and found a dirt road that paralleled it. Basically, the rest of the morning consisted of walking poorly maintained dirt roads, walking and jumping fence lines.

clear blue water in nevada desert

Crystal clear water

We reached warm spring Creek, which was not warm at all, but cool. And it was crystal clear, with a strong blue tint. Looks like a great swimming hole, despite coming out of a culvert. If it were hotter out, and Cody wasn’t on a time schedule, we would have swim here. But he told his dad to pick him up at 9:30, when we estimated to arrive at Soldier Creek.

When we reached the road for Soldier Creek, we looked back and saw a no trespassing sign on the property we were on. However, we didn’t see any where we entered the property. His dad was stuck in construction and so we Dropped our packs and waited a little while.

Cody and I had hiked about 20 miles in the last 24 hours. Most of which was yesterday. Cody did a great job and he got the full experience by doing some pretty gnarly bushwhacking. I just wish we had a little bit better scenery. Still, we both enjoyed the experience.

two hikers on the basin and range trail nevada

After Travis arrived, we all chatted for about 15 minutes, and had Travis take a picture of Cody and I. We said our goodbyes, and I was on my own once again.

hiking soldier creek canyon ruby mountains

Entering Soldier Creek canyon

dirt road soldier creek canyon nevada

Looking back down the road leading up into Soldier Creek

Next I began to hike up the road along Soldier Creek. Nice walk with somewhat steep Canyon walls, but not crazy. There was a pit toilet at the Soldier Creek trailhead, but really nothing else here.

nevada water rainfall measurement instrument in the wilderness

Weather instrument

view of mountain ridgeline in soldier creek ruby mountains

The scenery is starting to improve as I hike up Soldier Creek

There was a gravestone right along Soldier Creek, right next to the trailhead. Someone had created a bit of a soaking pool by digging out rocks underwater and shaping them into a mini tub.

hiking soldier creek in the ruby mountains nevada

Hiking Soldier Creek

hikers view of canyon walls in soldier creek nevada

The canyon narrows a bit, but stops short of an impressive box canyon-style experience

flowing water in soldier creek nevada

Soldier Creek

I was thinking the hike up Soldier Creek would be better than what it was. There is no water access as the banks were too steep and thick with vegetation. The trail itself often looked like a jungle, very cool looking at times.

hiking trail along soldier creek in the ruby mountains nevada

The trail emerges from the jungle into a clearing

view of soldier peak and soldier creek

Soldier Peak viewed from Soldier Creek

colorful yellow wildflowers in field below a mountain peak in the ruby range nevada

Wildflowers along Soldier Creek

After walking through the jungle awhile, the canyon opens up and I was able to access the water in Soldier Creek. I stopped here for a break, looking up at soldier peak. What a nice spot. 

view of hiking trial in upper soldier creek

This trail leads to Soldier Lake, not to the crest. Time to leave it and hike off trail

bushwhack in upper soldier creek ruby range nevada

Found trail again, after bushwhacking through all of the dense vegetation in the center of the photo

Next the trail climbs up to the ridge, the crest of the rubies once again. At first there was no Trail. My map shows one, but I couldn’t find it. So I began to bushwhack uphill. This was pretty awful. I say things like this was awful, but its hard to convey just how shitty these bushwhacks can be. Eventually, I came across the trail. It was definitely not visible from the lower trail that goes over to Soldier Lake and Hidden Lakes, but man was I glad to have found it.

hikers view of john day peak in the ruby mountains from hiking trail

View southwest to John Day Peak and, hidden from view, Hidden Lake

I was getting a headache, so I stopped and took one extra strength Excedrin and one ibuprofen. A little combo action. The trail now starts to weave through a couple of trees. From here it’s not that far to the top. Excellent views as I gain elevation. 

panorama photo from soldier pass ruby mountains nevada

View from “Soldier Pass”

panorama photo from soldier pass ruby mountains nevada

Another view from the pass

The view from the top of the pass was really good. I don’t know what the pass is called, it’s not named on the map, so I called it Soldier Pass. 

hiking enar soldier peak in the rubies

Ridge leading to Soldier Peak

northern ruby mountains view

Extreme northern end of Ruby Valley, and the extreme southern end of the East Humboldt Range

view of northern ruby mountains ridgeline

A look back at the ridge leading down from the pass

I stopped many times to take pictures, the landscape constantly changing and evolving as I see it from different angles. Soldier Peak looked more impressive the further I got from the pass. It was really nice to walk the crest, with the trail, good weather, and great views.

view of lamoille valley from ruby mountains

View northwest to Lamoille Valley

basin and range trial thru hiker in the northern ruby range

A great walk along this ridgeline

Eventually I reached a saddle where a trail goes downhill. However, my plan was to continue walking the ridge North the ways, and then meet up with another trail. So, I kept going.

When I reached the area where I expected a trail to be, I was very disappointed to see nothing. Lots of thick brush to walk through now. One of them got my leg pretty good and it started bleeding.

view of secret peak from ruby mountains ridgeline hiking trail

Looking north to Secret Peak

I could have continued north from here, to Secret Peak and Secret Pass, which would be the only way to avoid private property coming down from this part of the Rubies, now the extreme northern end. However, that route then means a longer road walk into the East Humboldt Range, my next destination after I cross the valley. A more direct route involves a short section of private property crossing, which I opted for instead.

hiker on mountainside south of secret pass

Dropping down off the crest of the Rubies for the final time

sea of new growth aspen trees on hillside in nevada

Welcome to Aspen Hell

Eventually I the area where the trail stops skirting the Mountainside and begins to descend down to the valley below. That’s what the trail is supposed to do, but I don’t see a trail now. Then I reached a ridiculous wall of new growth aspens, among the worst I seen yet on Trail. Started through it for a few feet, before backing out and realizing this was not going to work. I backtracked and found a faint trail that was extremely overgrown. It went right into the brush. Amazingly, it seemed to be cleared out a little bit, but it was more like a canopy underneath the brush. It was manageable, but still really thick. Surely this was the trail, just overgrown from many decades of vegetation growth.

More insane bushwhacking. Eventually I reached a saddle where a trail was supposed to follow a ravine, but of course it did not exist. I decided to go the opposite direction, as it was more direct, and still a bushwhack. After a few moments of skirting a hillside, I noticed a road on the other side. A faint 4×4 road. So I dropped down into a valley, and this Hillside to meet the road. I walked right over at the first time, it was so faint. But, I eventually found it and followed it. It was waist high grass.

hiking through tall grass in the northern rubies

Tall grass to walk through along the base of the northern Rubies

The next couple of miles were more of the same, grass knee to waist high. Crossed a couple of creeks. Saw a couple of deer. You could tell this area gets little to no use. Eventually reached a gate.

a cow standing in the trees in nevada

Would you kindly mooo-ve out of my way?

Now I am on a private ranch. Cows everywhere. I checked my satellite and saw a route that I could take that would not pass right by the ranch when I reach the main road. So I went for that, walking fast as I could.

hiking dirt road near secret pass northern rubies

Hiking North Ruby Valley Rd, east of Secret Pass

Reached the main road and hopped the fence. Now I was following a paved Road, before quickly turning off onto another dirt road. Sun was setting and it was actually pleasant to be on a main road. Followed this for an hour before having to jump another fence that said private property, but also on the same sign said National Forest land 1 mile. Huh. So, its legal then??

sunset view over northern ruby valley

View south to the extreme northern end of Ruby Valley and the Ruby Mountains

Now I am following Franklin River and pole Canyon, entering the East Humboldt Range. There are cows everywhere, and these ones are very vocal. The kind that make ridiculous noises, as if they were zombies. I found a small hill to Camp upon, in between piles of cow crap and salt licks.

Day 46 – July 16th: Pole Canyon, East Humboldt Range, East Humboldt highline Trail

tarptent notch li campsite in east humboldt range nevada

Campsite in Pole Canyon

Woke up at 6:30. The cows were moaning like zombies. I heard an owl pretty close to camp throughout the night. I could hear a four-wheeler somewhere down low in the valley.

Lots of cows this morning, looking forward to getting up Hill and above them. There was lots of water, but I would not want to filter my water here due to all the cow activity.

After a short while I reached a locked gate with a no trespassing sign. This is where the National Forest land ends. There is public land up the road again, but a section of private land blocking access to the public land. Since I have walked all the way up here, and don’t really have any other options, I climbed gate and moved on.

I walked maybe one mile and heard a four-wheeler approaching. I thought about hiding in the bushes, but just decided to let the situation play out. As the man on the four wheeler approached, I stepped aside on the trail and waved. He stopped and asked what I was doing. Almost immediately I recognized that he was in Nevada Department of Wildlife officer, not the land owner. I said I was walking across Nevada, I’m 46 days into this hike. He said you know you’re on private land right? But also acknowledged this wasn’t his land. I said yes, I’m not going to lie to you, I saw the fence with the sign that said no trespassing and I went over it anyway. I had walked all the way up here and didn’t want to turn around and look for another way, just to avoid a couple miles of private land blocking access to the rest of this public land. I told him I’m trying to get to Wells, via the East Humboldt Highline Trail. We chatted for a solid 20 minutes about my route and things. He was pretty chill, had no interest in Making trouble for me. He also said the land owner probably wouldn’t mind that I was here anyway. I believe they were mostly concerned about illegal hunting, not some hiker just passing through. He was on his way up Mountain to pick up a goat carcass or head or something. After while he moved on. This is one of those situations where honesty prevails.

hiker crossing the franklin river in the eats humboldt range

Franklin River

Next the trail got pretty steep. Found a creek near the spring source to filter my water from. I am above most of the cow activity now, at least, a good chunk of it. This water should be cleaner than downstream, where I avoided drawing water from. 

east humboldt range pole canyon 4x4 road view

The upper reaches of the 4×4 road in Pole Canyon

hiking the east humboldt range

View of route up to pass above First Boulder Creek. USFS maps show the East Humboldt Highline Trail starting around here. Hmm. 

panorama view of upper pole canyon in the east humboldt range nevada

Upper Pole Canyon

Kept hiking uphill until I reached a fork in the valley. Pole Canyon and Franklin River to the right and the route up to 1st Boulder Creek on the left. The USFS maps show the East Humboldt Highline Trail starting around here, but I don’t see it. It looked like it would be all off-trail hiking going up first Boulder, and quite daunting. But at the same time, I could tell it was going to be a very beautiful hike. Very impressive rock walls with Rocky crags.

rocky cras and spires along ridgeline in east humboldt range

Views from the route up an unnamed canyon to pass above First Boulder Creek

hiking the eats humboldt range in nevada

East Humboldt Range is impressive so far

hikers view in th east humboldt mountains

Really enjoyable hike as I enter the East Humboldt Range high country

After a short while I picked up on a faint trail. There were even cairns occasionally. Although it was tough going, I really enjoyed hiking up this Canyon. Very beautiful, among some of the best scenery of this whole hike.

southern east humboldt range hiking view

Looking south at the southern East Humboldt Range

east humboldt range hiking views

Nearing the pass to first boulder creek

I wondered how often this area is hiked, with the lack of proper public access. From a handful of cairns, it’s clear it gets “some” traffic, but how many… 5 hikers a year? It would be impossible to guess. 

east humboldt range view from pass above first boulder lake

View from the pass, down the canyon I hiked up

first boulder creek pass

View from the pass

hikers view from east huboldt highline trial pass

View of First Boulder Creek from the Pass

The views from the pass over First Boulder Creek were good, but not excellent. I think enjoyed the hike up more than the view from the top. 

view of first boulder lake in the east humboldt range nevada

First Boulder Lake. She ain’t much to look at.

view from first boulder creek east humboldt range

View of peak 10,292′ from First Boulder Creek

east humboldt highline trail hike

Hiking the East Humboldt Highline Trail to Second Boulder Creek Pass

Next I dropped down from the pass and began the short descent to First Boulder Lake. The “lake” is more like a pond, shallow and muddy. Lots of bugs and lots of flies. The map shows a trail marked East Humboldt Highline Trail that practically traverses this whole range, and at the moment there was indeed a fairly good trail on the ground. However, with little public access to the East Humboldt Range, few people hike here. That means this place gets no trail maintenance, either. Supposedly the East Humboldt Highline Trail gets really thick and overgrown, and the trail eventually disappears. The NDOW officer I spoke with earlier today confirmed this. I told him my plans to hike the East Humboldt Highline Trail, and he said, good luck.

panorama view first and second boulder creek nevada

View of First Boulder Creek from pass to Second Boulder Creek

Hiking second boulder creek along the east humboldt highline trail

Dropping down to Second Boulder Creek

Hiking second boulder creek along the east humboldt highline trail

First views into Second Boulder Creek

It was a short pass going over to 2nd Boulder Creek. From the top of this pass, it was quite a drop down to the bottom. I could tell the rest of the day was going to be difficult, looking at this hike down and how the map looked for the rest of the boulder creeks. There are four parallel drainages here in the East Humboldt Range, named first, second, third and fourth Boulder Creek. As I dropped down in elevation, the Cirque became more impressive. These upper basins were just massive, sheer rock faces. Quite Majestic actually. Intermittent Trail now, though.

hiker crossing second boulder creek in the east humboldt range, Nevada

Crossing Second Boulder Creek along my East Humboldt Highline Trail hike

I reached the bottom and stopped at the second boulder creek. Right where the trail crosses, there was a bag with a bar of soap and a small bottle of liquid soap. Apparently, somebody was here at one point and bathed a little bit. I was really surprised to see this, but it gave me hope that there would be good Trail the rest of the day. Ha, I should have known better.

view of ssecond boulder creek valley in nevada

The impressive Second Boulder Creek

east humboldt range second boulder creek hiking view

View down Second Boulder Creek Canyon

east humboldt range hiking second boulder creek

View up Second Boulder Creek on the hike to the pass above Third Boulder Creek

Going up the pass from second to third Boulder Creek was a pain. The trail pretty much disappeared and I was left to follow a couple of cairns. The Rock piles led me the wrong way, through Thick Aspen stands and vegetation. Eventually I Bushwhacked my way back to the trail. I use the word “trail” lightly. The diamond range had better game trails than this “hiking trail”. The East Humboldt Highline Trail is intermittent, at best. And when it’s not there, the going is slow; thick bushwhacking, steep inclines and an all-around pain in the ass.

view from pass in east humboldt mountains nevada

Pass between Second and Third Boulder Creeks. This was my favorite pass in the East Humboldt Range

panorama view from east humboldt highline trail pass by hiker

Second and Third Boulder Creeks

Eventually I made my way to the top of the pass. The view from the pass between Second and Third Boulder Creeks was my favorite along the East Humboldt Highline Trail. The hike had been easy at times today, when there was good section of trail, but lately it has been more of a challenge. 

east humboldt mountains view of peak from trail

Looking back up at the pass above Third Boulder Creek

view of third boulder creek from east humboldt highline hiking trail

View of Third Boulder Creek

I dropped down to 3rd Boulder Creek, which had a couple of small lakes. From the pass, the Basin doesn’t look too impressive. Just like the previous basins. However, upon dropping down an elevation, the Cirque shows itself, and once again blew me away. So impressive! The East Humboldt Range was definitely on par with the Ruby Mountains.

view of mountain peak from third boulder creek

View from Third Boulder Creek

I stopped at third Boulder Creek for a break, filtered water, ate food, washed my socks and soaked my feet. There was a small Beaver pond just Upstream. The creek really wasn’t that cold, probably due to the lake and Beaver Pond Upstream. After my break, I followed a couple of cairns across the valley until I came across a wooden sign. Each Basin seemed to have one. East Humboldt Highline Trail one way, whatever number Boulder Creek the other way, pointing downhill. Funny thing is, there were no trails at all here at this sign!

tree roots growing over boulder

Aspen tree growing on top of a boulder!

Heading up the pass between third and fourth boulder creek, I followed cairns a ways uphill until they once again let me astray. The cairns Definitely indicated the trail went one way, but it led me through thick brush, Only to have to turn around and eventually hike back through that brush again. It was also wet and soggy along the hillside. I slipped and fell a few times. It was a real pain in the ass. My feet were getting wet sloshing around in the soggy ground, which I couldn’t really see with the thick brush obscuring it.

third boulder creek view

View down on Third Boulder Creek from the hike up the pass above Fourth Boulder Creek

Eventually I found some rock piles again. I knew I was on the right path, although it disappeared again very quickly. I gave up on following the trail and just walked straight up the hill to the pass. This was a pain, but at least I could choose my own path and not be led astray by poorly placed piles of rocks. Whatever was left of the East Humboldt highline Trail is so overgrown that its not always worth trying to follow it.

hiekrs view of rock formation at the top of a mountain pass in the east humboldt range, nevada

Near the top of the pass separating Third and Fourth Boulder Creek

view from east humboldt highline trail apss to fourth boulder creek

View into Fourth Boulder Creek

east humboldt range high country hiking view

View over Third Boulder Creek from pass to Fourth Boulder Creek

Reached the pass above fourth Boulder creek. I’m noticing that the trails going down these passes, on the north side, has been better. The north sides feature more rock and less thick, green vegetation which can easily over take the trail. Once again this Basin was the same as the others, very impressive, and much more so as one drops in elevation.

hiking 4th boulder creek nevada mountains

Looking back up at the pass between Third and Fourth Boulder Creek

fourth boulder creek hiking along the east humboldt highline trail

Excellent hiking coming down from the pass into Fourth Boulder Creek. A trail exists here, but will soon disappear again

views from a hike in fourth boudler creek, east humboldt range

Impressive view in Fourth Boulder Creek

When I reached the general area where the junction would be for the Fourth Boulder Creek Trail going downhill and the East Humboldt Highline Trail, I had to make a decision. The East Humboldt Highline Trail follows the Mountainside about halfway up, and takes a very long route to get up to the pass. So Far, none of these trails have been very good. This route would be very committing, and take a long time to get to the pass. There were some pretty steep sections along the way. I have zero faith that this trail will exist. In the distance, I could see Thunder clouds building. It just didn’t make sense to commit to a really long, nonexistent Trail along a steep Hillside. If I’m going be bushwhacking, I might as well take a shorter bushwhack route. 

view of tent mountain in the east humboldt range

High point on the left is Tent Mountain. I’ll hike straight up the thick green stuff below the saddle. It’s a 1,000ft climb

Instead, I just decided to follow the fourth Boulder Creek Trail downhill. This would leave me to a spot just below the pass near Tent Mountain, where I could contemplate going straight up the Mountainside from there. Of course it looked very thick with vegetation and very steep, but my other option would be to just follow fourth Boulder Creek Trail downhill all the way to a road and walk around the East Humboldts. 

a hikers bushwhack view from fourth boulder creek

Bushwhack in Fourth boulder Creek

Following the fourth Boulder Creek Trail was not easy either. It was also pretty much non-existent. A couple of cairns here and there, off-Trail hiking through Sagebrush. Worked my way down some Rocky Ledges, then a thick Stand of aspens. Then had to cross fourth Boulder Creek, and some wetlands.

hikers view of a bushwhack uphill in the east humboldt range

View from the bottom of the climb. 1,000ft straight up, through this. Yay.

Now I am at the base of my climb up to the saddle/pass east of Tent Mountain, should I choose to do it. It’s a 1,000ft climb through a solid wall of really thick vegetation, on some steep slopes. From below, it barely looked possible. I’ve never done anything like this. I kept walking closer to get a better look, slowly walking uphill. Next thing you know, I was 200ft up. I guess I’m doing this.

The climb was exhausting. One must step on the bush while grabbing another branch Above you, to help pull yourself up. I felt like I was swimming uphill. Completely tangled in branches, I fell a few times. The first 400 feet were the hardest. The vegetation was thickest here. An absolute nightmare to say the least.

About halfway up, the vegetation thinned out a bit. Steep grassy slopes, much easier to work with. Eventually though, I passed through some old growth Aspen. Much easier than that new growth shit. I was getting closer to the point on my map where it showed a trail. Of course, I never saw it. I just kept hiking towards the pass, making my own path as I saw fit.

view toawrds hole in the mountain peak in the east humboldt range

View east to Hole in the Mountain Peak, high point of the East Humboldt Range

hiker below hole in the wall peak east humboldt range nevda

Pass between Fourth Boulder Creek and Ackler Creek

view from pass above fourth boulder creek

Overlooking Fourth Boulder Creek

When I reached the top, I was pretty ecstatic. It’s hard to describe the feeling. Actually, I kind of felt like I did when I got done skydiving. Like a big rush of adrenaline. My face was tingling and I was having a hard time holding back tears of joy. I had hiked up what I thought was an impossible slope, in only 50 minutes. To think I had considered walking down hill, bailing. In your face, fourth boulder creek!! The view here was outstanding.

However, I still have to worry about a trail on the other side. Took a break shortly after coming down from the pass. I really needed it, that was a very intense workout.

views from hiking the east humboldt highline trail

Pretty awesome scenery, when looking up at the crest of the East Humboldt Range

Good Trail coming down hill. I was feeling good about this. Passed a few campsites, some really nice ones. I’m thinking things will be better now, hopeful the East Humboldt Highline Trail will be solid from here. When I get down hill father, I passed a couple of springs, and a few small creeks. I stopped at one to filter water and clean up my legs a little bit. Downhill from here, it was really muddy and swampy. Dead looking Aspen trees line the swamp. This is the worst possible area to be when looking for camp. It was 8pm now, so I tried to rush out of here.

east humboldt range sunset

Losing daylight, and nowhere to camp

Made it past the swamp area to dry ground. Went downhill a short ways and realized that I needed to go back up Hill because the East Humboldt Highline Trail branches off near the swamp. Got back up to the swamp area and started bushwhacking through the horrible Aspen tree Forest. I was right on the trail according to the map, and the trail was extremely faint. Looking ahead, all I could see was more Aspen trees, and I only had 20 minutes of daylight left. This is not good.

I decided it was a horrible idea to continue on through the aspens with night approaching, so I began to look for a place to Cowboy camp in the short segment of open ground in between the stands of Aspen trees. Nothing good at all, but I made a spot work. No room to set up a tent, so Ill be cowboy camping tonight.

Looking at my map, CalTopo US Forest Service layer shows the East Humboldt Highline Trail in a different location than the USGS maps. I’m thinking that if I had continued on the trail that I was on, there would be a better East Humboldt Highline Trail to follow further Downstream from where I am now, which would have avoided the aspens. So, I will have to backtrack tomorrow morning to the trail that I was originally following downhill before I turned around. If there is a decent Junction there for the East Humboldt Highline Trail, I might go ahead and follow it. However, I am very tempted to just follow the trail downhill to a road and walk the rest of the way around the east Humboldts. I’m just fed up with trails that don’t exist, with horrible Bushwhacking in between. I would like to get to Wells tomorrow night, and that’s kind of a gamble if I stay on the Highline Trail. A rough estimate of 16 miles to Angel Lake, on the Highline Trail. So it would probably be closer to 25 + if I was to hike all the way to Wells on the Highline Trail. I’m thinking that if I stay on the Highline Trail, I can probably get a ride from Angel Lake down to Wells if I get to the lake early enough. It’s a Friday night so there should be some traffic. I’ll just have to see how things play out tomorrow morning.

Day 47 – July 17th: East Humboldt Range, East Humboldt Highline Trail, Starr Valley

east humboldt highline trail camp site

Cowboy camp spot. Lucky to have found this much clear/flat space.

Woke up around 6:30 the sound of a Zombie Cow. The groaning sounded just like a zombie. Cows don’t always make a moo sound. It was a cold night. I had my base layer top and bottom on, and my wind jacket. I had my watch inside my backpack, which said 42 when I pulled it out. So more than likely, mid-thirties.

I walked through the Aspens back to the main trail. Just off the trail were a couple of cows, and they started running through the forest knocking down trees when they saw me. Those goons.

Good trail here, but doesn’t go where I need to go

hiking east humboldts

Walked down the trail a ways and kept looking for a Junction with the east Humboldt highline trail. When I checked my map, the trail I was on was taking me somewhere that wasn’t even marked on My map as a trail. In other words, I was way off any trail now according to the map. What the hell. Trails that are on the map don’t exist on the ground. Trails on the ground don’t match up with any trails that are on the map. I’m so tired of the trails in the east Humboldt range.