by Daniel Montero
It's my birthday month! I turned 44 earlier this month and, while I'm not generally a giant birthday celebrator, there is something about 44 that has really inspired me and it has been a whirlwind month. So much has happened that I want to write about more, but I'm still in media res and so haven't had the time to really focus on one thing above the other! Here are some highlights of the month so far.
This wasn't technically in February, but directly before I had to go to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for work I took a day and made it to the top of Purgatory Peak in the Selenites. It awesome but quite a challenge, especially navigating the icy rocks and thick brush at the top with Larry.
The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
I had to go to this for work, where I watched over a booth selling Basque books and emceed a presentation in which I read from Joan Errea and shared the stage with other Center authors. It was quite an adventure being in Elko for this event and I treasured every moment of it. I also, of course, brought my Surly bike, Reggie, to ride around Elko--No way I was going to a Cowboy Poetry Gathering without my steed!
Through Central Nevada from Elko
On my way back from Elko I decided to avoid the freeway and back road across a little part of central Nevada. So I turned south through the Crescent Valley and to Highway 50 near Austin.
Riding to Black Rock Point
My mom had asked if we could come up and help with some major work, during the next week, so on my actual birthday week I decided I'd try to ride my bike to the ranch to help them out. I drove to Gerlach, packed up with Larry riding in my BoB trailer, and set out, but soon changed my plan (which was pretty malleable anyway) and instead of heading toward Soldier Meadows I turned out toward the Black Rock Point. Despite spending so much time in and around the Black Rock, I'd never been out there and it seemed like a perfect birthday celebration. And it was, such a beautiful ride, then night in the shadow of the Black Rock Point. The next day lollygagged around the springs and riding back to Gerlach, where I then drove to the ranch. Then, of course, I had a flat tire in the Subaru on Jungo Road driving to my family's place, haha, but that was nothing to mar this adventure, which I will definitely write/post more about.
Then it was the ranch, where we helped out with one of the hardest days in a year that is full of hard days, running cows through the chute. Not a lot to say about this one, but we made it through with smiles and not too much in the way of mishaps, so all good!
Closing Gates and a Night Under the Stars
The next day, we worked again, this time taking 4-wheelers up and closing the gates so that the cattle won't drift up into the high country too early. It is sort of our annual job, and we pretty much zipped through it, and then afterward we went out into the desert and spent a wonderful night under the stars before making it home to our warm bed.
Hiking the Cliffs
Looking toward Pine Forest from the southeast face, one of the most striking features is The Cliffs, a landscape of granite cliffs and spires, and on the next weekend, visiting my family again, we snuck off for a hike among them. It is an awe-inspiring face, and it was Renee's first time climbing all the way through them and to the very top. The wind was cold and the day bit into our clothes, but we found a sunny glade out of the wind for our lunch and had a great day!
This is my name for a place that is very special to me, in the Black Rock Range. I have wandered this rock garden many times before, but am always able to make it a new hike. It blew icy, dry snow into our faces all day, and Renee, still fighting a cold, stayes home for this one. I think Larry wouldn't have minded staying home either, he looked like an icicle for a good part of the hike, but it was still a great time.
And beyond! The month is still not over and the explorations are sure to keep coming! With Renee feeling better this week and with some days off maybe we’ll head somewhere south and warm(er) ... it’s definitely chilly in Reno this morning!
I love the atmosphere of cold, crisp, evening air mixed with the steam of a natural, wild hot spring.
For the most part we had a great 2017. Lots of Kayaking, hiking, riding, friends, family and more! We hope you had a great year and enjoy this video of our year. It's roughly 11 minutes long and even though it's mostly silent, the videos have some noise or us talking in it.
Post by Renee Aldrich
Even though the temp's have been in the high 90's, there's been a change in the weather here in northern Nevada, you can feel the shift in the air. It's still very warm, but you can tell fall is starting to creep in and winter is coming around the mountain.
With winter approaching and our recent trip to Highlands Lake, I was reminded of our magical New Year's escapade to Markleeville, CA in 2015/2016. It started on a whim. About a week before New Year's, Dan and I were discussing what we should do to commemorate the end of 2015 and start of 2016. Dan came up with the brilliant idea of Markleeville, CA for hot springs and cross country skiing. It sounded perfect, but how were we going to pull it off? Where were we going to stay?!
Dan called around and of course everything was booked, but at the Creekside Lodge the manager said one of the booked guests was being very wishy washy about whether or not they were going to come, so he told us he'd let us know if the guest decided to cancel. A bit later the manager called back and said, "hey I'm giving the guest till tomorrow at noon to decide and if he doesn't let me know, the room is yours." Low and behold we got the call and we got the room! Markleeville winter vacation was a go!
Dan, Coco and I pulled in to the quaint little lodge on the evening of New Year's Eve. There was going to be a live show at the bar next door to celebrate, but we got into town early enough to hit the hot springs first, so we did and it was magic! While we were soaking up the warm water under the dark night sky, it started to softly snow. Cool little flakes gently kissed us, then melted away into the warm water. It felt amazing on the skin. The juxtaposition of temperatures created a strange equilibrium that, when mixed with the quite that tends to come with snow, brought a wonderful sense of peace and tranquility over the pool.
The hot springs closed for the evening and we packed up and headed back to the lodge. When got there we could hear that the band had started rocking! We showered, changed clothes then headed over to get a drink and rock with the band. We stayed and listened for a while, but since it was still fairly early we didn't want to tire of the music before midnight, so we headed out for a stroll around town. There's a nice little loop that encircles the town so we walked that and headed back to the room. We settled in with the intention of going back to the bar around 11:00 pm to ring in the New Year, but of course we fell fast asleep and missed it.
We were sad that we missed ringing in the New Year, but we were very well rested and feeling refreshed for our day's adventure of cross country skiing. It had been years since the last time I had cross country skied and Dan had only been on skis a handful of times in his life, so we decided to start out easy. There's a lovely meadow across from the hot springs in Grover Hot Springs State Park, so we headed there to test out our skills. A nice, flat, mellow skiing area was perfect to see if we could remember how to do it.
It was great, we both got our skis under us pretty quickly and were off without a hitch. There was some tougher terrain up the trail so we decided to try that and even though we fell a few times, we were handling our skis better than I thought we would. We tooled around on our skis for a few hours, had a nice snack and break on the meadow and then decided to head back to the hot springs for another round of soaking,
No snow fell during this soak, but it was a nice way to warm up after being on our skis all afternoon. We headed back into town and noticed that the restaurant, The Stonefly, across the street from the lodge was going to be open that evening. It looked interesting and we were excited to try it out. It was apparently the restaurant's opening night for the season so we were very lucky to get seats at the bar for dinner. The food was AMAZING! So good. If you find yourself in Markleeville and the Stonefly is open, I highly recommend it. It's a little pricy but well worth it.
The next day we packed up our skis and headed to Hope Valley. At Hope Valley there are groomed trails and backcountry options. We did a really nice loop that was partly on groomed trails and partly backcountry. The part that was groomed was fairly steep, well at least steep for newbie xc skiers such as Dan and myself. We chugged our way slowly uphill. On the backcountry section we glided through meadows and forests of aspen and conifers. It was a lovely afternoon. We hit the groomed section again for the downhill back to the car and we (sorta) gracefully stumbled and tumbled our way down. Afterward we headed back to Markleeville and the last night of our sweet little vacation. After our great experience the night before we happily ate at the Stonefly again. We had a lovely evening, strolling around town, chatting and testing our our newly acquired Fitbits that Daniel got us for Christmas.
The next morning we woke early packed up our stuff and headed to Grover's for one last soak. We got there about five minutes before the pools opened. We were lucky, when the pools opened we were still the only ones there and we had the pools to ourselves for roughly 10 minutes before visitors slowly started seeping in.
We took our time heading back to reality, we stopped in at the Genoa Bar, The Oldest Bar in Nevada where there are diamonds in the mirror and Raquel Welch's bra hangs from the ceiling. Overall it was a wonderful New Year's weekend!
This blog is dedicated to stories and ideas from our explorations. We hope you enjoy!
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