Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 29, 2010 Cardiff Pass Wasatch Mountains

Fields of wildflowers with mountains in background

Location: Today I am hiking on the trail towards Cardiff and Twin lakes pass. The trailhead is across from Alta ski area in the northern part of the town of Alta. The trail is approximately 1.5 miles straight up to Cardiff pass and another two miles to Twin lakes. A hiker could use the trail to access Brighton ski Resort and Big Cottonwood Canyon.
The hike: Today I wanted to hike over Twin lakes pass into Big Cottonwood Canyon. A mile into the hike I passed some of the old tailing piles which made Alta famous before it became a ski resort. Unknowingly, I got off the main trail into fields of wildflowers most of which were over three feet tall. It is impossible to describe the experience and the aroma I experienced on this hike. This is the first hike I have been on in which I saw five or six different colors of Paintbrush. Some other notable wildflower species seen: Sunflowers, Penstomen, Lupine, Fireweed, Paintbrush, Cow parsnip, Woodland star and Larkspur. Enjoy the photos. For those who want more I will have a comprehensive album on facebook.

Blue flax

Different colors of Paintbrush


July 28, 2010 Red Pine Lake and the Pfeifferhorn Wasatch Mountains

On the ridge above Redpine lake

Location: The trail for Redpine lake is located about 5.5 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Like every hike in the Wasatch this one is extremely popular and hikers should get to the trailhead early in the morning. The trailhead is called Whitepine and it accesses three different lake basins Redpine, Maybird Gulch and Whitepine. The trail junctions for each basin are clearly marked.
The hike: Today I am going to hike the three miles one way to Redpine lake. From the lake, I will scramble up Pfeiffer Horn. The trail to Redpine is easy to follow and well-signed however, the trail is steep and rocky. Hiking to Pfeifferhorn, off-trail navigation and common sense are required, likwise, thunderstorms are numerous in July and August. For this blog I will not describe the route from Redpine to Pfeifferhorn.

Upper Redpine lakes

Looking towards Twin Peaks to the south

Whitepine avalanche chute across the canyon

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bannack State Park July 21, 2010

Mainstreet in restored Bannack, Montana

Location: On the way back to Nevada from Montana, Tara and I explored Bannack, Montana, which was a vibrant mining community in the late 1800s. The old town is now a state park about 21 miles off of Interstate 15 south of Dillon. The route from I-15 is well signed and easy to follow
History: The mining boom began in the summer of 1862 when John White and William Eades discovered gold flakes in what they named Grasshopper Creek. That summer 400 men moved to the area to stake their own mining claim and make a fortune. Life in newly incorporated Bannack was tough because of its isolation. Supplies came in by wagon from Virginia City during the summer. Food prices fluctuated greatly by the availability of goods and winter brought low temperatures.
By far the most interesting story of Bannack concerned Henry Plummer and his Road Agents. Henry Plummer entered the town in 1863 and he was elected sheriff. Henry Plummer headed an outlaw gang of robbers and muderers called the Road Agents. The gang robbed wagon trains and murdered settlers on the road from Bannack to Virginia City. Vigilantes caught a few members of the Road Agents who implicated Henry Plummer as its leader. Vigilante members hanged men from cottonwoods, beams, limbs anything they could find without trial. In 1864 Henry Plummer himself died at the town gallows. In May of that year community leaders (many of them vigilantes) petitioned to seperate from the Idaho Territory. Bannack became its first capital.
At first gold was easy to find and many of the miners used a technique called placer mining (using water to wash minerals out of sand or gravel). As a result, the town prospered with saloons, mercantile and a school. However, by 1890 the easy gold in Grasshopper Creek dried up and most of the town's miners moved on to Virginia City. Dredging and underground mining continued until 1902 under the direction of the Gold Leaf Mining Company. From 1902 to 1935 the buildings lay empty until the last resident Kevin Stallings bought Bannack for $1,400
to create a historical park (Source: Montana: Mining Ghost Towns By: Barbara Fifer)
Tara and Nevada in the town jail

Bannack townsite

Friday, July 23, 2010

Piper Lake Mission Mountains Wilderness July 19, 2010

Piper Lake with mountains in the background

Location: The Mission Mountain range borders the western end of Swan Valley and the eastern edge of Flathead Lake. The higher country of the Mission Mts. is very rugged with alpine lakes and dramatic cliffs. It tops out at an elevation around 8,000 ft. This year June in Montana was very cool and rainy so I decided to go for a hike in the northern part of the range especially when I saw how much snow was still in the southern part of the range. I chose Piper Creek because it is close to the southern end of Swan lake. To access the trail head take Highway 83 to Forest Service access road 966 (a sign for Piper Creek also shows the way).
The hike: Today I went for a hike with my dog Nevada. The hike to and from Piper Lake is a nine mile round trip. The first part of the hike is somewhat monotonous because it meanders through logged forest to the wilderness sign. The trail continues to follow Piper creek climbing the last mile to Piper Lake. From Piper Lake the trail continues on to Cedar Lake and Fatty Creek. Tree life in the Mission mountains is very similar to the Swan Range but this hike had more Western Larch. Remember the Missions have Black and Grizzly Bear populations. Hikers need to be aware and make noise. Backpackers need to hang their food and cook away from their tent.

                                            Bear Grass with Thimble Berry leaves in the background

Nevada looking into the wilderness at lake's edge

Jewel basin Birch lake July 16, 2010

View from outside Jewel basin back towards Flathead lake

Location: Jewel basin is a beautiful hiking area in the Swan Mountains of Montana. The area has over 20 miles of hiking trails which access 20 lakes. The lakes have high populations of cutthroat trout for anglers. All hikers and backpackers need to be aware that Jewel basin and all areas in the Swan range are inhabited by grizzly and black bear. That means backpackers need to hang their food at night and hikers need to be aware of their surroundings potentially hiking with bear spray.
The hike: Today I met my friend Andrew Freeman at 8 am for a hike to Birch lake. We wanted to get started early because the parking lot will fill up with cars by mid morning. We skirted Mt. Aeneas and followed the trail 5 miles one way to Brich lake and one mile beyond on Alpine trail number seven. The weather was beautiful and views were spectacular.

Vegetation and snow around Birch lake

Birch lake and surroundings

Holland Lake trail hike July 14, 2010

Picture taken above Holland Lake with the Mission Mts in the background

Location: Today's hike is taking place at Holland Lake which is located nine miles to the south of Condon, Montana, off of Highway 83. Holland Lake is a popular recreation spot for campers, boaters, and fisherman. Hikers use the area to access trails which run into the Swan Mountains and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The trails are popular with long-haul backpackers and oufitters throughout the summer. Remember the Swan Mountains and Bob Marshall Wilderness is bear habitat. Be aware when hiking and raise food at night. It is recommended to carry bear spray.
The hike: Today I will hike on trail 42 climbing up near Holland Peak to Sapphire Lake. Leaving Sapphire I will hike to Upper Holland Lake and back to the trailhead by trail 35. Backpackers can leave trail 42 and hike into the Bob Marshall by way of Necklace Lakes near Holland Peak. The loop will be approximately 15 miles. Tree life in this part of Montana is predominately Douglas fir, Lodgepole pine and Ponderosa pine in the lower elevations and Subalpine fir and Whitebark Pine in the higher elevations.

Above upper Holland Lake in the Swan Mountains

Sapphire Lake in the Swan Range

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 9, 2010 Gray Lake East Humboldt Mountains

Above Gray lake with mountain scenery in background

Location: The East Humboldt Mountains are a range in Elko County which run from outside Wells, Nevada, to Secret Pass near the Starr Valley of Nevada. The range is overshadowed by the Ruby Mountains to the west. The main entrance point into the range is Angel Lake. The drive itself to the lake is beautiful and well worth it. The easiest hike is to Smith Lake. I enjoy hiking in them because they are less popular but very dramatic. The range has a number of lakes to hike to and dramatic peaks to climb. The tallest peak is Hole in the Wall (11,306). The vegetation is similar to the Ruby range with Aspen, Limber Pine, and Whitebark Pine as the predominate tree species.
Trail: The trail I hiked today leaves Angel Lake and ends at Gray Lake approximately seven miles into the East Humboldt wilderness. The hike is extremely strenuous with dramatic hill climbs and descents. A hiker will be rewarded with fantastic views of other mountain ranges to the west and north. Remember to carry plenty of water because the sun is intense during the summer. This hike should be tried by anyone who is not in good physical condition.

Beautiful mountain scenery

Picture taken from ridge overlooking Gray Lake

Metropolis, Nevada July 8, 2010

The town school with the East Humboldt Mounains in the background

Todays post will be about Metropolis Nevada, which is a ghost town 24 miles to the north of Wells, Nevada.
History: Metropolis has a colorful history as an agricultural experiment. It began as a joint venture in 1909 between the Pacific Reclamation Company and the Metropolis Improvement Company. To lure Utahns to resettle in Metropolis the companies started a promotional campaign claiming fertile land. It was fraudulant because the area was in the Starr Valley of Utah not Nevada.
Before the Mormon church could encourage people to resettle in the new town a dam on Bishop creek had to be built. This new dam would irrigate crops and provide water for the town. Builders used 6.5 million bricks from the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake. Wet years in 1911 and 1912 also facilitated resettlement. 1912 was the boom year for Metropolis. In town a beautiful hotel and school were built (photos below). A newspaper called the Metropolis Chronicle started publication and a daily railroad service transported people to and from Wells.
The boom did not last long for three reasons. First, Lovelock farmers filed suit about water rights on Bishop Creek. As a result, the resovoir could not fill drastically decreasing the amount of acres that could be irrigated. In 1914 the wet years ended which led to a cricket and jackrabbit infestation devastating crops. Finally, in 1916 a Typhoid epidemic swept through town killing many residents. Overtime, remaining residents left and the iconic school and hotel succumbed to fire and vandalism (information from: Old Heart of Nevada Ghost towns and mining camps of Elko County By: Shawn Hall).

The beautiful school in town

The arch in the front of the school

A ghostly image of the school with the desert in the foreground

July 7, 2010 Ruby Crest Trail Hike

Looking deep into the wilderness from Liberty lake

Location: The Ruby Mountains are a beautiful range in the eastern part of Elko County Nevada. The range is over 80 miles long and 12 miles wide. They are commonly referred to as the "Swiss Alps of Nevada" because of their dramatic terrain and alpine lakes. The Rubys run east-west from the end of East Humboldt Mountains. There are many trailheads in the range even though most of them are hard to find and the roads are unmaintained. The main location for hiking, camping, and exploring is Lamoille Canyon. The canyon is to the south of Elko and easy to find.
The hike: Today's hike was on the Ruby Crest trail which runs from the end of the Lamoile Canyon to Harrison Pass a length of 45 miles. The trail runs through the heart of the Rubys showing much of its dramatic scenery. The major vegetation of the trail is Aspen in the lower elevations and Limber and Whitebark Pine in the upper elevations.

Looking back towards Lomoille Canyon near Liberty Pass

Lamoille lake showing ice and snow in July