Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 20 ~ Ruby Crest National Recreational Trail to Wells, Nevada

It was a weekend and there were lots of cars streaming up to the trail-head to enjoy the nearby lakes along the Ruby Crest Trail

In the above photo, Zoner's cross country route I believe flowed through that notch where the shadows begin. I opted to take his route through the village of Lamoille.

From Harrison Pass it was about 140 miles to Wells, Nevada on Interstate 80.

One guy even stopped on the road to offer me a ride into Elko. However, i didn't need to go into town to resupply.

Thunderstorms kept the evening cool. I walked the lowlands early in the morning. Hay was being baled throughout this water rich region. Desert Cottontails hopped to an unseen rhythm while snipes dived steeply from overhead as if to play chicken with hitting the ground. Even sand-hill cranes sounded out its excitement to be alive and to share in the earth's natural bounty.

Where this route rejoins the Ruby Crest Cross Country route, I couldn't find the trail junction.... so i too just bush whacked until i found the actual trail leading me further up to the crest.

The higher I went the more obvious the trail was. Either way, it was easy walking..

I was hiking 35 plus  miles a day now. However, when i got to the highest point of the crest... the winds were ferocious. The gusts seemed to be at least 70 miles per hour.  

I tried to hike on the leeward side of the crest so as to not be constantly be blown away. The descent from the Crest was to follow the path of least resistance. There appeared to be an ancient trail flowing through a thick tangled grove of aspens that i followed. Perhaps the cows ate their way through the vegetation. 

Heading into the Northern Ruby Mountains was some of the hardest work of the trail. I never noticed an actual trail junction where a trail was supposed to begin off of the road i was on. I had to kick in the gps to make complete sure i was going in the right direction. I eventually found the trail on my cross country sojourn, but it was obvious that very few humans made it this far back here anymore. 

It got so cold overnight that it actually froze some of the water near Boulder Lake... and it was July 11th.  I was supposed to follow trails all the way to the end of the Ruby Range, but they were in really bad condition. 

Typically, the south faces were really overgrown and the trail often just could not be found.  However, on the north faces... the trail was often in descent condition. 

This section of the Rubies was extremely rugged and the crest was avoided by the trails. So the strategy was to descend into a valley and climb up to a pass on a spur ridgeline going east/west that shot off of the main north/south crest. 

I eventually hit a very good atv road and felt some sort of relief.  I could see Zoner's prints fairly often but then I noticed that I probably wasn't on the trail anymore. I checked the gps and indeed, i had passed the junction just as Zoner did. I then back tracked and couldn't really find the actual trail initially. Therefore, I followed a cow trail until I found the remnants of the original trail. Strangely, the real trail would be in good shape sometimes and then suddenly it would evaporate into nothingness. When I got to the south slope again, I lost the trail altogether until i bushwhaked up high toward the crest. Wow was that exhausting. I cut myself up this day more than any other day. I even fell several times. 

Initially i found the trail again on the north side and then it disappeared altogether where i could then only find bits and pieces of it.  Sometimes it didn't matter and other times it felt like i was trapped in  a really bad maze of aspen trees and brush.  Thank god for cow trails. Oddly, there were no horses to be seen in this range. It was even too wild for them. I went from having a 37 mile day to having hiked only a 21 mile day... and i was appreciative to have that many miles under my feet. I camped a couple of miles away from Grays lake and there wasn't a flat spot to be found. I did a lot of rearranging of rocks and ended up with a very slopey and bumpy earthen mattress. It was a long and cold night. 

I intuited that when I got to Greys Lake I would find better trail again because people tend to like to walk to lakes...and so it was. The trail was vastly better. I even ran into a hunter who was scoping out an area for the autumn hunt who actually thought that the trail he was on was in poor shape.. I assured him that this trail was now like walking on air.

Interestingly, as i approached the trail-head at Angel Lake, I came across a forest service trail worker who was clearing the trail all the way to Greys Lake. He seemed to be an expert about all of the trails for this region of Nevada. Little did I know that i would see him again tomorrow where I would pick his brain about the Jarbidge Mountains ahead.

And then amazingly, as i began walking the road system into Wells Nevada, a car stopped in front of me and jokingly asked if I needed a ride. Oh My God... it was Bob again with his grand kids. They were going to Angel Lake to Fish. It had been a week and a 140 miles since i saw him last.. and here he was again in the middle of everywhere.


Tap Here for Part 21


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