Saturday, September 18, 2010

South Willow Lake Stansbury Mountains September 12, 2010

Looking west from one of the high ridges on the trail

Location: The Stansbury Range is a north-south range in Tooele County, Utah. Deseret Peak is the highpoint of the range at 11,031 feet. The range is excellent for hiking with access points from Grantsville at South Willow, North Willow, and West Canyon. To get to the Stansbury Mountains take I-80 until the Stansbury-Tooele exit (if traveling from Salt Lake City it is app. 37 miles). Follow Route 138 10 miles west into Grantsville. In Grantsville turn right onto Cooley Street and follow until the turnoff to South Willow Canyon.
The hike: I started at the end of South Willow Road with my dog Nevada. Today was the first day Nevada had his pack on and I did not know how it would effect him on the hike. He did wonderfully and other hikers commented that he was a great hiking dog. The first part of the hike I saw some beautiful Aspen stands as we climbed in elevation. At mile 0.7 the trail split with the left fork going up Deseret Peak. After another 1.5 miles I stopped for lunch with a great view of Deseret peak. I then followed the trail over two more ridges to the trail junction for South Willow lake. Overall, I hiked 7 miles with beautiful views every step of the way. This range offers much more solitude than the more popular Wasatch Range, but remember every trail gains significant elevation.
Aspen stand on the trail

View from my lunch spot looking towards the high country

Nevada with his pack

Another pic of the mountains

South Willow lake

Nevada hiking in front of me

Great scenery with solitude

Belmont Mill, Nevada August 24, 2010

Falling down building with Belmont Mill in background

Location: The mill at Belmont is located below Hamilton. From Hamilton follow the road back from where you came a couple of miles and turn left at fork. A sign will show the turnoff. The mill is five miles down a good dirt road. Be careful to avoid rocks in a few places. Remember this is an isolated area: bring water and have a spare tire

History: I have not been able to find any information on how long this mill was in operation but, one can surmise that the mill operated predominately during the Treasure Hill silver boom. Ore cars used gravity to travel down from mines higher in the hills.
Cables coming down from higher in the hills

Cool photo of collapsing building with mill

Inside mill

Some of the machinery inside the mill

Train tracks going into the mill

Another look at the mill

Staircase leading into the upper part of the mill

Ore bucket hanging underneath the mill

Hamilton (Cave City), Nevada August 24, 2010

Mainstreet Hamilton today

Location: To get to the ghost town take US 50 west from Ely, Nevada, 37 miles. Exit onto a dirt road towards Illipah. Soon after you turn onto dirt road the road branches; take the right branch. The ghost town of Hamilton is nine miles on a good dirt road. Look for washboarding in a few spots and rough patches near the old town. This area of White Pine County has a number of ghost towns worth exploring asociated with theTreasure Hill silver boom.
History: Miners first discovered silver near Hamilton in 1867 on Treasure Hill. Before the creation of a permanent settlement, the town was called Cave City. Prior to "White Pine Fever" in June of 1867, 30 people lived in Hamilton. Two years later the town had a population of 10,000 people. At its height the town had 100 saloons, 60 general stores, theater and a newspaper. A number of stage lines ran from Ely and Elko to Hamilton. During this period, 200 mining companies were active in the area.
Uncertainity and fires caused the decline of Hamilton. Most miners wanted easy silver and after it was gone the population shrunk to around 4,000. In June 1873, an owner of a struggling general store set fire to his building to collect an insurance payment. The fire destroyed much of the business district. A second fire in 1885 destroyed the courthouse sealing Hamilton's fate. At this time, Ely became the county seat. (Information from Romancing Nevada's Past By: Shawn Hall)

The remains of the Wells Fargo building

Remains of a building in the old town

Interesting building

Inside one of the only cabins to survive the fires

Ruins in the area

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Valley of Fire August 25, 2010

Classic scenery in the park

I arrived at Valley of Fire State Park late on the night of August 24 after driving down from Ely, Nevada, on State route 93. I spent a sleepless night at Atlal campground. The nighttime temperature was in the mid 80s and at 2am I woke up with my mouth parched from the dry desert air. The next day I woke up at 6 am hoping to see some of the park before it got hot. On this particular day the temperature was well above 90 by 9am in the morning. It would be best to visit the park in the Fall, Winter or Spring to avoid the high temps.
Location: Valley of Fire is located 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off of I-15. Take exit 75 and drive 10 miles to the entrance. For a day pass vehicles need to pay $10. To camp the fee is $20 per night.
Hstory: The park has been visited by prehistoric peoples since about 300 B.C. These indians included the Basket people, Anazasi Pueblo and Southern Paiute. The indian cultures used the park for hunting, food gathering and religious ceremonies. Archaeologists have found evidence of temporary settlements because, the inhospitable climate would have made permanent settlement difficult to impossible. Today the park has many visible petroglyphs including those in Petroglyph canyon and at Atlal rock. (Remember to never vandalize any of these artifacts). Valley of Fire is Nevada's first state park commissioned in 1935.
Things to do: Valley of Fire is a photographers' dream with colorful sandstone and rock formations all over. Likewise, a visitor can visit many wonderful sites including Petroglyph canyon, Rainbow point, or Elephant Rock. Inquire at the visitor's center for a park map.
Plant and animal life: The main plant life in Valley of Fire is Creosote bush, Burro bush and Brittle bush. Animals a visitor might see include the Desert tortoise, Spotted skunk, Coyote, and Black-tailed jackrabbit. Remember the Desert tortoise is endangered so do not disturb it.
The following series of photos were taken in Petroglyph canyon on August 25.

This photo shows the damage of a careless tourist

Photo showing rock formations in Valley of Fire