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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Back Country Day trip from Reno

A couple of weeks ago Duke, Vicky and I spent a day checking out some of the backroads east of Reno. We had such a wet winter we wanted to see the water  in Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, The Carson River and Lahontan Reservoir. We started out the day with a great breakfast at Cafe Adele’s in Carson City.  You can see the Google Map of our route here.

The major highlights of the trip were the birds and wildlife we saw. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the pronghorn antelope. In a few places in the wild life refuge there were swarms of mosquitos. You can see a couple of them on the window glass in the big picture below.

It was a beautiful day and a fun drive that I think we will do again.

Camping and Nevada Back Road exploring – Taquima Cave and Dianas Punchbowl

Duke and I love exploring the back roads and outback of Nevada. We just got back from a one night exploring camping trip. We had planned to be out two nights but the weather didn’t cooperate. We still managed to see a lot in just two days. We were pretty much in the geographical center of Nevada. Here is a map of our route.

We stopped for a picnic lunch at the shoe tree on highway 50. Highway 50 is so empty that  people have created their own roadside attraction.

A little east of Austin we left the pavement and then just before we got to our campground we had a flat tire! Luckily we carry two spares otherwise it would have been foolhardy to continue on roads where we rarely see another car.

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The Taquima Caves campground is just a quarter mile walk from the camp ground. The cave has rock art created more than 1500 year ago.

We were the only ones in the campground.

Monday morning we drove down into the Monitor Valley and went looking for Dianas Punch Bowl. We followed our map and seemed to be in the right place but there were no signs. We decided to drive to the top of this hill to look around.

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At the top we saw this.

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And then this!

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Down about 30 feet is a hot spring inside a tufa hill.

From Dianas Punch Bowl we headed west back over the mountains to check out the campground near Kingston where we had planned to camp. But it was rainy and cold so we decided to head home. It was a fun trip and inspired me to do another Nevada Outback camping trip again soon.