California Sierras Camping – Lower Blue Lake and Highland Lakes – Hiking to Granite Lake

Last Sunday and Monday nights Duke and I went camping south of Lake Tahoe in the Sierras. The skies were smoke free and the scenery was stunning.

Sunday we camped in Middle Creek campground just below Upper Blue Lake. Our campsite was right next to a stream. We could see little fish jumping in the nearest pool.

Our campsite in Middle Creek campground

After setting up camp we hiked to nearby Granite Lake.

On the trail to Granite Lake
Granite Lake

Monday we drove to the Highland Lakes area just south of Ebbett’s Pass. We had another great campsite. We could see the lake in the distance.

Our campsite at Highland Lakes Campground
Highland Lake

The drive home on Tuesday took us about two hours. Reno and our house are totally buried in smoke from the wildfires near us and in California.

The only bad thing about this trip was that the battery in our new Ford truck was dead both mornings. The truck had to be jump started. We have an appointment to take it in for repairs in a couple of weeks.

Backcountry Exploring – Modoc National Forest, Cave Lake campground, Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, and Gooch Spring campground.

Duke and I  have decided to go out camping and exploring every couple of weeks during this time of quarantine. It is a great way to maintain our mental health, such as it is! We just returned from a trip to the area where the northeast corner of California and the northwest corner of Nevada meet.

We drove north from Reno on highway 395 almost to the Oregon border and camped the first night at Cave Lake forest service campground. We had a lovely isolated camp spot just a short walk from the lake.

Because there was going to be a full moon we wanted to stay up until the moon cleared the  mountains. After dinner we sat by the fire for a while and then sat in the truck and listed to the wonderful This week in Virology podcast.  In the morning when we were ready to leave the truck wouldn’t start. The battery in our relatively new truck was dead! Luckily we have a portable jump starter which worked perfectly.

We drove east into California and into the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. Just inside the refuge we took a side road to the top of Bald Mountain where there is a fire lookout tower and a magnificent 360 degree view.

They also had something I had never seen before, a Faraday Cage Shelter.

As we drove through the refuge we saw several groups of Pronghorn antelope. Unfortunately they were all in the distance but they are extremely fast and fun to watch.

All the campgrounds in the refuge had “No Campfires” signs. I’m sure the restriction is because of the high fire danger. So our camp at Gooch Spring was a dry camp.

The horizon was a long way away and there were no trees so the moon was spectacular when it came up.

If you would like to see more details of our route you can click the map below to open an interactive CalTopo map in a new browser tab.

NE CA and NW NV Aug 2020

Nevada Outback Exploring – Jarbidge Mountains, Big Bend Campground, Pine Creek Campground

Duke and I just returned from three days exploring the Jarbidge Mountain area of northeast Nevada. It was a wonderful back country adventure

We just returned from a two night camping trip in northeast Nevada. We were primarily in the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, essentially we circled the Jarbidge Wilderness Area.

On Thursday we drove east on Interstate Highway 80 to Elko and then took highway 225 north to Wild Horse Reservoir where we turned east and left the pavement. Our campsite Thursday night was Big Bend campground just inside the National Forest. The campground had 19 sites but only about 4 were occupied. It was lush with Aspens and wildflowers.

 

Big Bend Campground, Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest

View from Big Bend Campground, Humboldt Toiyabe National Forrest

On Friday we continued exploring. We went north and even crossed briefly into Idaho before heading south along the Jarbidge River through the tiny town of Jarbidge.

Road along the Jarbidge River

Jarbidge, Nevada

Jarbidge River

Our campsite Friday night was right next to the river in the Pine Creek campground.

Our campsite in Pine Creek Campground

One of the things that really struck us on this trip was how the mountains, canyons, and creeks were so unlike stereotypical Nevada landscape.

The view from Bear Creek Summit

On a slightly different note. Take a look at the piece of wood we used as a work surface on this trip.

It is a single plank from what must have been a very big tree. I remember it as my Grandfather (Poppy’s) workbench in the basement of my Grandparent’s house in Bismarck, North Dakota. It was passed down to my Dad and then to me. Duke recently sanded it down, stained and sealed it. It is a gorgeous piece of wood. I’d love to know where it came from. Poppy’s family homesteaded in western North Dakota. There were certainly no big trees there. He was born in Wisconsin so perhaps that’s where it came from. Who knows.

If you would like to see more details of our route you can click the map below to open an interactive CalTopo map in a new browser tab.

Jarbidge Area July 2020 Northeast Nevada Backcountry Route around the Jarbidge Wilderness Area.

Camping in Nevada’s New State Park – Walker River State Recreation Area

Duke and I just got back from a two night camping trip in Nevada’s newest State Park, the Walker River State Recreation Area. The park just opened this summer. It is made up of four units along the east fork of the Walker River. The units are not contiguous. The first night we camped in the Pitchfork unit in the Riverbend Campground. The campground is less than two hours south of Reno. It has nice bathrooms with flush toilets and showers. I loved the setting, especially with the fall colors.

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We had yummy Guiness stew for dinner.  Once it got really dark we enjoyed the amazing number of stars and the view of the Milky Way that you can only see when you are away from city lights.

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The park includes a 5.6 mile stretch of the Walker river that is open for floating or kayaking. I think it would be fun to rent a kayak and make the trip some time.

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During the days we had beautiful fall weather. The only problem was that the nights were cold. The first night it got down to 27 degrees!

The next morning we packed up and moved about 45 miles down dirt roads to the Bighorn Campground in the Nine Mile Ranch unit of the park. It is a rustic campground with brand new pit toilets. Each camp site is well separated and right along the river. We were the only ones camping there and overnight it got very cold – down to 18 degrees! Other than the cold it was a wonderful place to camp.

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We had good sleeping bags and lots of blankets but it was hard to get up in the morning. Even the water in our five gallon container was frozen! The temperature warmed up pretty fast once the sun came up.

When we warmed up we packed up and headed home. Along the way we stopped for lunch at Rosie’s Place a great Mexican restaurant in Wellington.

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Off Road Camping Adventure – Sawtooth National Forest and City of Rocks National Reserve in Nevada, Idaho and Utah

Duke and I like to pack our four wheel drive truck with our camping gear and explore the back country. We just got back from a wonderful 5 day trip to the area where Utah, Nevada and Idaho meet.

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Our first day we drove 400 miles to Jackpot, Nevada in the far north east corner of Nevada on the Idaho border. We stayed at Cactus Petes Casino, had a great steak dinner in their steak house, and then played some black jack. They have a couple of tables out by the pool. It was a beautiful night and a lot of fun.

Monday morning we headed off road north and east into Idaho. I think we saw one other car all day. About 10 miles into Idaho in the Sawtooth National Forest we saw a moose! and then 2 more and a bit further along another 2! Neither of us ever expected to see Moose that close to Nevada.

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We camped at Bostetter Campground and were the only ones there.

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Tuesday we took a circuitous route to City of Rocks National Reserve.

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The camp sites are spread out through out the Reserve so we felt like we were on our own. Our site (campsite # 19) was set in among the boulders. Duke took a video.

Wednesday we were in Utah again in Sawtooth National Forest. We camped at Clear Creek Campground and were the only ones there. Our campsite was next to a babbling brook which we used to keep our wine cool.

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Thursday we visited the Golden Spike National Historic Site. That’s where the cross country railroad was completed in 1869 and the golden spike was driven.

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In 1904 this section of rail was abandoned when a  cut off was built across the Great Salt Lake. The tracks were taken up for the war effort in 1942. Now there is a 90 mile back country byway along the old rail grade. We drove it and felt like all we needed was a train whistle to complete the experience.

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Thursday night we spent in  a casino hotel in West Wendover, Nevada, and Friday we drove home to Reno.

We got some great pictures on the trip. If you would like to see them they are on Dropbox here.

Camping – Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park and Columbine Campground

Last week Duke and I did a two night camping trip in central Nevada. From Reno we headed east on Highway 50. Just past Fallon Naval Air Station there is sign which points south to earthquake faults. We have been wanting to explore that road so we headed south. There are some signs along the road explaining that in 1954 a big earthquake in this area uplifted the ground as much as 20 feet. Although the uplift is covered by vegetation now you can still see it. We got out and looked at the fault up close and then drove along it for a ways. In this picture the wavy line in the hills is the uplift along the  fault.

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Heading east the map showed a dirt road across the Paradise Range through Germany Canyon. We found the road  and started up it in four wheel drive but it got very steep and there were some land slides across the road. We thought we were near the top but after getting out to survey the road ahead we decided to turn around. In the picture below you can see where we stopped the truck.

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We went south a bit and took the paved road across the Paradise Range. We camped for the night at Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in the next mountain range to the east. It was a beautiful night and there was only one other camper in the whole campground.

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During the Triassic period 200 million years ago the park was under a shallow ocean. The ichthyosaur was a giant marine reptile that resembled a dolphin. Some of the ichthyosaur fossils found here were left in place and covered with a barn like structure. Last time we were at this park we just looked in the windows. It was difficult to know what we were looking at. This time the building was open and we took a tour. The giant ichthyosaur fossils are pretty amazing. The round rocks you see in the picture are vertebrae.

 
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After the tour we headed east. Our second night was spent at the National Forest Service Columbine Campground at the edge of the Arc Dome Wilderness. The campground is set beside Stewart Creek in a big aspen grove. We had a few rain showers but they didn’t last long. Columbine campground is one of my favorite places to camp.

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Before heading home we hiked up the Stewart Creek Trail towards Arc Dome for a couple of hours. Some day I would like to do the whole hike. It would be an all day adventure. According to the book 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada the Stewart Creek Loop Trail is 8 miles long and has 2500 feet of elevation gain, The hike to the top of Arc Dome is 3 miles out and back from the loop trail.

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 On the way home we found another impassable road, turned around and found a wonderful four wheel drive road across the ridge top of the Shoshone Mountains. The first picture is the road in Bonita Canyon where we decided to turn around. The second picture is from the road at the top of the Shoshone Mountains.

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If you would like to see all the pictures from this trip they are on Flickr here.