The longest journey begins with a single step...not a turn of the ignition key.
The solitary wilderness experience can be an adventure, a source of personal renewal a test of survival, or a spiritual retreat. It was all of the above for two amigos from Arizona.
During eight days of hiking and backpacking on fair to poor trails through extremely rugged terrain where visitors are few, we took on the rain, wind, thunder, lightning, hail, snow and ice fields at 10,000' and loved every minute of it.
The raw beauty was without equal to any rivals in the past.
The greatest wilderness "road trip" of modern times:
This trip was planned without flaw and precisely executed. It was synchronicity at it best.
-Chaco Culture NHP New Mexico
- Mt. Moriah Wilderness Nevada
-Wheeler Peak Wilderness-Great Basin National Park Nevada
-Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park Nevada
-Arc Dome Wilderness - Toiyabe Range Nevada
-Mount Charleston Wilderness - Springer Range-Southern Nevada
"Home means Nevada!"
Chaco, Durango, and Moab were great, but what really made this trip special was Nevada and its snow capped mountains that give its name. I left Nevada 20 years ago, but never really left. I am a Nevadan that still lives intensely and independently.
Twenty years later and Nevada is still a frontier. It was great to once again experience the beauty, the texture and the flavor of my state. Four years ago we did a fabulous backpack in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada and rediscovered the immense expanse and rich contrast between valley and mountain. We could not wait to return.
This trip had it all; cold mountain streams, abundant wildflowers, shady canyons, dramatic peaks, quaking aspen, ancient bristlecone pines and the smell of sage during rain. The best!
Mt. Moriah Wilderness
We met with a ranger at Great Basin NP to gather information to explore this territory in the northern Snake Range.
He recommended a hike through Horse Canyon to a plateau at 11,000' known as The Table, a unique world of subalpine vegetation lined with bristlecone and limber pine. Note: bristlecones are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, up to nearly 5,000 years.
He also mentioned that it was the toughest hike that he had ever done. So, of course we had to do it, with a little trepidation.
After an interesting back road trip (see MBB) we followed a creek for a couple of flat miles before engaging in a torturous
ascent. Along the way the views of the valley were spectacular and we sighted a couple of sage grouses, mule deer, a bull snake, and a huge hawk. The wildflowers were brilliant. The trek gained 4500' in five miles before we reached the
Legendary Table, exhausted, after 3 1/2 hours of steep climbing. But it was well worth it. The views were incredible!
We made it down in just over 2 hours and celebrated in our camp by Baker Creek with cervezas and a round of target practice, shooting at our empty beer cans with my Red Ryder BB gun. (just like the one in the movie Christmas Vacation)
Great Basin NP
The next day we did some light hiking to some alpine lakes in the park and then set out for a 3600' altitude gain backpack to Johnson Lake in the rain. We camped by a creek next to an abandoned tungsten mill and Zo was able to build us a nice little fire in spite of the wet conditions. The hike was gorgeous and went well except for the relentlessly steep last mile.
Arc Dome Wilderness
We drove on the country's loneliest highway (50) to Austin Nevada and obtained a map and information from the BLM about the largest of Nevada Wildernesses that comprises the southern third of the Toiyabe Range, a rugged spine of mountains with difficult access.
This area in central Nevada has the least population per square mile of anywhere in the United States. Simply, no one lives or goes there.
We decided to hike the South/North Twin River Trails. A storm had moved in but we put on our rain gear and headed up the creek. There were many creek crossings and we were drenched early on. The scenery was awe inspiring. Canyon walls towered above and the thunder was deafening and lightning was flashing everywhere. This was pure raw nature and we relished it despite our fear.
Lorenzo told me if the hair on the back of my neck stood up to get down on my hands and knees so if struck by lightning it would pass through my body. Of course, I got paranoid and thought the hair was standing straight up but kept moving. It was great!
We celebrated with Tecates at the trailhead and didn't mind the downpour. From here we retreated to a cheap hotel in Tonopah where we dined on microwaved chili.
OK, thats it, see MBB below. Zo and I both agreed that we would return to Nevada and do the 72 mile Toiyabe Crest National Recreation Trail. It is the longest trail in Nevada and few have done it.
The acclaimed MEN BEHAVING BADLY section
-Zo for refusing to go to the world famous Ward Charcoal Ovens. Only after much coaxing did Zo finally agree to take the short side trip to such a spectacular and unique land mark. Lobo was able to convince Zo after explaining that on his death bed he would wish that he had eaten more ice cream and gone to the Ward Charcoal ovens.
-Zo for refusing to eat lunch at the bank in Ely that was offering a free fourth of July barbeque for customers that included yummy hot dogs, soda, chips, cookies, watermelon, and potater salad. Lobo was invited after making friends with the bankers and locals by introducing himself and saying "Howaya"
-Zo the off road daredevil for his demonstrations of how not to use four wheel drive on back roads and slip sliding away in the mud into a gully near Chaco and yelling "HOLD ON!" This was followed up by backing up on the back road to Mt. Moriah and almost rolling the Nissan in a gully and yelling at Lobo who was watching in terror - "GET OUT OF DA WAY!'
-Zo for yelling at poor Lobo in camp and calling the Lobo lazy when Lobo merely requested Zo fetch him a beer from the creek. Lobo had certainly done his share of camp chores and merely made the request because Zo was handy.
-Lobo for bringing his "Tennessee Toothpick" very large knife and taking a few shots at the birdies with his BB gun when Zo was not looking.
-Lobo for saying "Howaya" to everyone he saw, only because there were so few people around.
Stay Thirsty My Friends
The real, most interesting man on the planet