Winnemucca Canyons, NV 04-01-07
Land Rover Trek Number 99:
Nightingale Canyons and loop-the-lake 01 April 2007
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Ben and I got up about 7:00. Both of us sore from the day before. Not just the hike up Poodle (Tick) Mountain, but the constant jarring driving across the boulders. After sitting around contemplating even doing any off-roading; I finally decided that we should do a jaunt up to the MGL Mill ruins and then explore up the canyon as far as the actual mine area. Breakfast was at Chukars and then we were off at about 9:30. North from Wadsworth across the reservation and then turning off the road towards Winnemucca Lake at Nixon.
The trail towards Coyote Canyon and the Nightingale Mountains gets more confusing all the time. Since the quad drivers have discovered the area; they have been making new trails all over the place. I donít know if anything can be done about it as they just donít care at all. As I passed the turn for Coyote Canyon I noticed that some fool has even stolen the Red Sign!
We make a couple of sandy wash crossings and soon arrive at the MGL Mill ruins. Then we start driving up the canyon on the pack trail (according to the topo). About half a mile along we come to a very narrow, very off-camber notch going past a deep hole into the wash filled with some old mine boards. I check it out pretty thoroughly: the trail is about 8 inches narrower than my truck. No way. We back up a bit, turn around and park. Itís going to be another two mile round trip hike. Like yesterday but at least along a road.
Hiking along we pass three more spots that could be a bit hairy. Eventually the mine tunnels and a large ore chute come into view. Three motorcycles pass us going down hill. About 15 minutes later the are going back up hill and we never see or hear them again. Iím guessing that the trail must go all the way to the top of the mountain near the Nightingale Mines. We explore the area a bit and then hike back down to the trucks.
From here we continue north along the east side of the dry lake. I get Ben a bit puckery at a couple of wash crossings as his Montero Sport doesnít have any kind of traction control. Itís all over for him as soon as two wheels get in loose stuff at the same time. No problem; the Discovery will get him out.
About two miles north of School Bus Canyon (Do you remember that one?); we decide to explore another side canyon that goes back into some very narrow and tall granite slot canyons. Iíve looked down into them from the top and always wanted to see them from the bottom.
We get past two narrow deep sandy wash crossings and Ben gets high-centered and stuck in the third one. I strap him up and itís a very easy pull getting him out. A couple more crossings and we get to a really deep crossing with very deep fine sand and way off-camber to boot. I think that I might be able to get the Disco through it but no way will the Monte do it. Not only that, but if I get stuck, Bern wonít be able to help me. We decide that we donít feel like hiking in either; maybe next time.
Approaching the last butte before the turn into Stone House Canyon we spot three very large caves in the tufa about 200 feet above the bottom of the lake bed. I find a trail that gets very close to the caves. A couple tricky sandy climbs and we both make it to below the first cave. We climb up and itís an early-man cave dwelling. The cave ceiling is blackened from ancient fires and the floor has been excavated by an archaeological crew. Hopefully the excavations have been done by the University of Nevada rather than vandals. The first cave is maybe 40 feet wide by 25 feet deep by 8 feet high.
Just a few yards from cave one is cave two. A bit smaller than the first but it has a couple of side windows. Probably pretty pleasant. We get back in the trucks and drive around a point to cave three. Itís much larger than the previous two. If these had been inhabited at the same time as the Fallon Grimes Point area then it was about 7000 years ago. The people were probably not related to the present day Paiute people. Also, at that time Winnemucca Lake was about 200 feet deep and they would have been able to fish from their doorstep.
Leaving the caves, we travel a mile north and take the first road into Stone Hose Canyon. About a quarter mile later I stop on a 6 foot ledge right above the wash. This must be another new quad road! I look it over and it is just sand and dirt. If I slide straight off at a 90 degree angle the edge should break off and I can slide down onto the wash. It is a bit intimidating as the front wheels drop over the edge Ė and then my sills and frame start to crush the edge. The rear wheels are still able to push me ahead; the front wheels contact the wash bottom just as the front bumper touches. A bit of throttle and the rear starts coming down with the gas tank skid acting like a shovel. VERY SWEET!
Ben asks me to spot him although heís feeling a bit queasy. I guide him into my ruts and it goes well except for his front bumper slides in the sand a bit and his trailer hitch carves a furrow. No damage. After that I walk onto the other side of the wash looking for the real road. Yep, itís there about fifty feet away with a climb out of the wash. I try the climb out of the wash with cdl locked in LO 1st gear as slow as I can go, just for the heck of it. As I get up at a forty five degree angle and all four wheels spinning slowly the truck starts shuddering as the 4ETC works its butt off and Iím moving just inches at a time. Rather than beat the truck apart I back down two feet and goose it and it pops right up. Ben takes a run at it and is up.
From there itís a leisurely 10 miles up the canyon, around the butte, across the top of the lake and back to pavement. Weíre back in Fernley at about 7:00.
It has been a fabulous two trek weekend!
PHOTOS AB prefix:
Rocky - Trans-Nevada-Trek Trail Boss - '04 Land Rover Discovery S