Dan and I have been to this area several times looking for petroglyphs and have found some here and there, but mostly few and far between. We went back last weekend and found a bunch. We were so giddy to find them. If you go exploring for and find petroglyphs please, please, please treat them with respect. Here is a link for some types on how to be responsible in these areas: https://www.basinandrange.org/archeological-sites.html
by Daniel Montero
Going through some old things tonight I came across the phone pictured above and was reminded of how it wandered into our lives.
Bicycling along an apparently endless Arizona highway with just a bit of an uncomfortably narrow shoulder and way too much heavy traffic through a cacti-forested rolling countryside did not make for a day of idle landscape appreciation. But one of my favorite things about riding a bike is that it speeds us beyond the limits of our body, but slows us to a manageable speed. Fast enough to feel movement; slow enough to be in the world. One of my ways of being in the world on a bike, especially on a busy highway, is to look at what is discarded or lost in the reckless pursuit of the future and headlong flight from the past that is such a great part of modern human existence. Odd things, banal things, disgusting things, precious things, they all find themselves lost along the concrete ribbons that tie, some might say bind, most lives into intricate bows and byzantine knots. Roads crash lives of strangers violently into one another on occasion and carry some people away from all they have loved. And a zillion things in between. So it was with some triumph that I spotted the little leather lump that became, once I'd recognized it as something worth a second look, the phone pictured above. Its power was nearly dead and service gone, but there was a message open, in Spanish, something to the effect of, “she knows!” And then the phone ended up here, alongside the road, I imagine as the revenge of the one who learned, or an act of the contrition of one of those who did the thing of which knowledge was news. Or something else. But it ended up here, along a highway, in the company of the fringes. Rubbish. Litter. Or the things we find.
Related somehow to this post if you’d like to read more.
I am going to try to do at least one sky observation and description a week. I'm hoping to do more per week, but don't want to bite off more than I can chew. On Sundays I am going to share the descriptions I wrote during the week.
I really would like to add photos to these posts, but I'm afraid they'll distract from the descriptions. Maybe I'll do a photo gallery of them at the end.
Alright, I have found since I've started the observation and description project that I am fairly decent at making observations and appreciating the sky. I also find myself working on the description portion quite a bit, but mostly in my head. Sitting down and putting in writing is a whole other story though. That is where I find challenge. It's my biggest challenge of writing in general getting the ideas out of my head. But now, here I am, sitting down to start writing. Let the observation and description project begin!
Is this what they mean by a bluebird sky? I have read that description in books often over the years and I have always wondered what exactly a blue bird sky looks like. This morning's sky is a clear blue sky to the north--the potential blue bird part of the sky. There are a few fairly small wispy clouds to the south. To me the blue seems a bit pale, more of a powder blue, not quite the deep, royal blue that I envision a blue bird sky to be. Although a bit pale, the sky feels especially blue today, as we're coming off a week of gloomy, gray skies.
The clear, blue, with the sun's warmth reminds of of spring, which is officially here, but we haven't actually seen it yet. Today is the first the sky has hinted at it since spring began a few days ago. The wind has just picked up, it has quite a chill, which is quickly turning the feelings of spring into reminders of winter, which brought the bulk of snow in March--we needed it, yay for miracle March! But now I'm ready for spring.
Basalt rock under my butt. The clark nutcracker sky of the morning has opened up revealing the blue behind the curtain of gray. To the west and to the east the clouds are stormy and it looks like it's snowing on the mountains. To the south big fluffy spaceship clouds are hovering, dark and brooding, but letting the blue through, they have a hint of cheer about them.
Peavine has the sun on it as did Tule two minutes ago but which is now under a storm clouds. The sky opens more and more as the sun warms my cheek and shoulders as my ass warms this chunk of basalt. haha. Clouds are busy shape shifting, spreading, still abundant in the sky but their circumference is growing. Glancing to the east I see the clouds are gathering in that direction. In the few minutes we've been sitting here the ever-shifting sky has kept me on my toes. As I finish up this writing, the clouds have moved over the sun and the sun's warmth has lessened and the wind has picked up and it's cool again.
The cloud bottoms are dark and ominous. The cloud tops are light, fluffy, bright with the hope of spring.
I would love to do more descriptive writing, but I always get stuck. I have ideas but I don't know where to start with them. Then I worry about my ideas being silly. Silly, I know. I know too that I just need to start start writing stories. Silly stories, boring stories, bad stories and who knows may a few interesting and maybe even good stories. But I have to get started. Which I am struggling with.
I recently read a book called The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius by Nancy C Andreasen. It's an interesting book on how brains of creative geniuses may or may not be different than those of regular people. At the end of the book it discusses how one can exercise their mind and brain so they can become more creative. One of the suggestions is to practice observing and describing. Work to improving your ability to observe and describe the world around you. A good way to practice this is to choose something, a theme, from where you live, like birds, houses, clouds, etc. then observe them closely. Try to observe details that you might not normally notice. Then think about the feelings and emotions the theme might evoke. Finally chose words and sentences carefully and thoughtfully to describe the them and the feelings they evoke. Work hard to chose the right words to describe the theme. Use a dictionary and thesaurus to help create and learn new ways of describing your theme. Continue the practice of observing and writing about your theme, the same theme, for weeks and even months.
I really like this idea and it seems to be a great place to start writing more creatively. I think I am going to try it, but I really need to commit myself to it, which can be difficult for me. If I am brave I'll post my practice here. I think my theme will be Nevada skies. I'd like to do sunsets, but that's a small window of time and I can see myself using it as an excuse not to do it and I'd like to avoid excuses if I can help it ;).
Does anyone want to join me in this exploration?
by Daniel Montero
The Basques have been on my mind lately, in many different ways, and one of them is remembering the visit we made to Basque Summit back in the summer of 2015.
“Basque Summit? Let’s check that out,” the map spread before us as we “planned” an impromptu excursion—this time to the Desatoya Mountains in eastern-central Nevada. “OK. Why not?" Why not indeed.
Not on our first night in the Desatoyas, though. You gotta earn Basque Summit. The first night we turned off of 50 at 722 past Middlegate and, looked for a camp in the gathering dusk. Over the high ridge we stopped at what Google Maps now tells me is Campbell Creek. But no slouching, a good serving of tortellini and white bean soup and quesadillas over our trusty burner.
In the morning, no rush, we puttered about and had a full egg-and-potato breakfast followed up by a walk into the hills behind our camp where in the light of day we could start to survey the Desatoyas, or Sedayes, according to Nevada Place Names:
In his Report of 1859, Captain James H. Simpson mentions the Lookout Range, but thereafter refers to it as the Sedaye (JHS, pp. 78-79), reported to be an Indian word meaning "bad" or "no good" (NHS 1913, p. 182).
No Good Mountains, it has a ring to it, as in, "them mountains no good, best stay away," or "we're up to no good in them mountains." But all we saw was good. We meandered down around the southern end and then up along the eastern flank along a gravel road. The Smith Creek Valley, Topo Maps tells me now, with what I assume then are the Smith Creek Valley Hot Springs (we didn't soak and I don't remember too much about them) but beyond walked out along a ghost fence line eroding itself into the playa) with vast views of the Toiyabes to the east.
When I went to look up the name of this place on Topo Maps, it tells me Smith Creek Valley, but every time it says Smith Creek Valley it has the word "(Depression)" underneath it in smaller font. What does this mean? I have no idea. But I know someone who does! James M. Thomas, Stephen M. Carlton, and Lawrence B. Hines, who in their 1989 study Groundwater Hydrology and Simulated Effects of Development in Smith Creek Valley, A Hydrologically Closed Basin in Lander County, Nevada, write:
Smith Creek Valley is one of 14 hydrologically closed, single-valley ground-water flow systems in the Great Basin. Gravity data indicate that the basin-fill aquifer is a complex bowl-shaped structure with a depression 5,500 feet deep beneath the main playa near the center of the basin and a depression 3,000 feet in the north part of the basin. Ground water recharges the basin-fill aquifer around the perimeter and flows toward a topographic low (playa) near the center, where it is discharged by evaporation from bare soil and transpiration from phreatophytic plants.”
What are phreatophytes? (An unusually pleasant word to type, you should try it out:-) “Phreatophytes are plants that depend for their water supply upon ground water that lies within reach of their roots.” Plants that send their roots down for water.
We continued northward, arriving at 50 near the northern terminus of the range and turned west again with the sun high above. Now on 50 across the Edward Creek Valley toward Cold Spring but turning back east into a valley turning into a canyon that was the remains of the Overland Trail, the Pony Express trail. No Good Mountains, I bet a young rider galloping his mail bags through these hills with the skin crawling on his neck the whole way, I bet they knew this name well. The road narrowed and narrowed, but we managed it in the Subaru and we continued up until we came to a little micro meadow spot along the creek. The afternoon lengthened we said what the hell to Basque Summit and settled into a perfectly secluded campsite. The table went up, dinner, chicken marsala, prepped, no fire, we wandered among the flowers and hillside. And then, the shadows heading east we sat in repast in the little meadow.
Dinner finished and all settled there was still just a little light and almost entirely relaxed we looked at each other, “Basque Summit?” “Well, let us walk that way a bit,” The end didn’t matter so much as the notion to set off up the road into the evening. We strolled up the road as it wound higher along the creek and up, sun going down while we wound ourself up toward the summit of the Basques. We came there, saddle set on a low part of the spine of the mountain, marked by a wide spot, a place where there was a gate, some corrals. Basque Summit. I wrote about it more in the Basque books blog. The hills around the little saddle were thickly covered in piñon-juniper woodland. A quiet night gathering while we wandered about and laughed with and at ourselves and with and at the night and snapped snaps and just played on a summer evening. And then back, to our camp and the night sky wrapped tightly to us in the little meadow we had made a space in for the night.
And then, in the morning, another lazy challenge, this time to try to make a dent in the leftovers before packing them for home. And then down canyon, we hiked a little bit up a canyon toward what Topo Maps intriguingly calls “Petroglyphs,” but that was just a morning walk before turning down, away, back from Basque Summit.
Of all the quirky and not-so-quirky trips we take, this one stays in mind not because it was the soar of a peak or the object of a goal, but because it reminds me that I am in moments not for a reason, but because they are moments. There is no reason to the moment. I subtitled this post “where we are,” because in a certain way in my mind when I revisit Basque Summit I am revisiting the places of moments that are not aligned for a purpose, but because they exist.
Spring is springing and among all of the fun we always plan want to also remember to always volunteer, here is from a project with Friends of Nevada Wilderness back in 2013 at Buck Springs in the Calico Mountains. The project replaced and old metal water trough with a more resistant rubber tire one. Here’s to a great year of doing good!
We finally had a decent snow down on the valley floor. We decided to head to one of our favorite local haunts, Washoe Lake, and enjoy the snow and the views. On one of our hikes, we found an gorgeous arrowhead point, left it where we found it of course. We also lost my Buff on Saturday, but found it when we returned on Sunday. We visited the pond at Davis Creek, checked out the Bellevue pulloff, hiked Deadman’s Loop, and spent a bunch of time hiking and relaxing in the sand dunes-we may have even had a snowball fight or two. It was a wonderful weekend, filled with a very full Washoe Lake!
Oh my goodness, UPS Dogs is one of my favorite things on social media right now! It’s so cute and although it’s based around UPS drivers and the dogs they meet on their routes, it also features other animals, such as horses, birds, cats and even deer! It’s adorable and it’s a brilliant play on the whole “dogs hate the mail person” notion.
You can follow them on both Facebook and Instagram.
Another one of my new favorite things is Mineral Monday from the University of Nevada, Reno College of Science. They have a Vimeo channel and every Monday they have been posting a short video, roughly a minute and a half, about a mineral. You can sign up on their email list and they will send you the link to the new video every Monday! They also post the videos to their facebook page!
This blog is dedicated to stories and ideas from our explorations. We hope you enjoy!
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