Ichthyosaurs, petroglyphs, ridges, valleys and more from Central Nevada

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by climberevan, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    With the threat of a knee surgery looming, and cold weather on the horizon, I decided to get out for one last motocamping trip this year. Living in Carson City, I've taken many trips right from home, but somehow there was blank spot in the Toiyabe range & adjacent ranges south of Austin.

    The goal: rectify that situation.

    I started with a night drive to Middlegate along Hwy 50, and camped near the station for a morning start. The sunrise was great, and the day dawned cold but beautiful.

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    Quickly I found myself gaining altitude, and passing some of NV's fun, random stuff.

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    Up valleys & ridges, and down the sometimes steep sides of ridges... Cool rocks, expansive views, and fine riding were the rule of the day.

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    Part of my goal for the trip was to visit some of the out-of-the-way touristy places. I'd been to Belmont & Bodie on previous trips, and enjoy the whole "ghost town" vibe, so I thought I'd cruise through Ione & Berlin. Ione turned out to be kind of lame, but Berlin, which has been turned into a state park, was well worth the detour.

    The ichthyosaur part of the park was especially interesting, and not something I'd even been aware of prior to researching this trip.

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    NV is covered with mountains, but they occur in distinct North-South ranges, with typically flat valleys in between. This means that a trip such as this will include rugged mountain riding in between stretches of flat, straight roads. Luckily with some planning pavement can be avoided.

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    I wanted to go over Ophir pass, which is one of the higher ones in the state. It turned out to be really easy on the E side, and a bit rocky but no problem for the mighty Beta on the other.

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    The canyon on the E side of Ophir Summit offers fantastic riding with lots of stream crossings.

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    Yep, another flat valley. After stopping in Carvers at the Shoshone Market for fuel I crossed this one on some vague tracks I'd found on Google Satellite view, but they turned out to be cattle paths. No problem...I just kept going in the rough direction I hoped for & eventually found a more navigable road. Naturally several miles out there I found a stack of giant loader tires.

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    As evening came, I found a very isolated house with an airplane hanger & airstrip beside it. It looked vacant, but they have a fantastic view & year-round stream....

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    Pushing on, I hoped to find a nice camping spot that would catch early-morning sunlight. I have enough trouble getting out of bed early without camping in some canyon where it's cold until 0900... Along the way, I found some cool rocks.

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    Night fell, and I found myself on a ridge with incredible views. Camping just ahead!

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    This marks the end of Day One.
    #1
  2. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    684
    Location:
    Oregon City
    I'm in- we were in the area Labor Day
    #2
  3. WRGUY

    WRGUY Been here awhile.

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Heading back to Nevada in a month for a ride, I'm in.
    #3
  4. 1wicked55

    1wicked55 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    215
    Great report and pics
    #4
  5. blackSP

    blackSP 62 6c 61 63 6b 53 50

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    743
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    And here I am, stuck in the Netherlands. What a drama!
    #5
  6. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    Here's a map of Day 1. The gpx file is on gpsxchange.

    It starts with some mellow dirt road riding, and eventually diverts to some more rugged terrain through the southern part of the Desatoya Range. Then after the Smith Creek valley, it's up & over the Shoshone Range via some fun riding. In Reese River valley I opted to take the graded roads over to Ione & Berlin to check out that area. This whole loop was pretty mellow, which was welcome since I was a little concerned that my fuel wouldn't get me to Carvers. I'd forgotten to take extra...

    I then went over Ophir pass & down to Carvers, and then on some neglected tracks & some "I wonder if this goes through..." types of tracks along ridges before arriving at my amazing ridge-top campsite.

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    #6
    bjur, Bob, Extremenc and 2 others like this.
  7. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    684
    Location:
    Oregon City
    If you came down the east side of Orphir on a fully loaded Beta, that knee has some more miles left in it.
    #7
    Extremenc likes this.
  8. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    Yeah, I could definitely have put off the surgery. It was just a minor meniscectomy to deal with some flappers that have caused my knee to lock painfully twice in the past couple of months. I went from running 50k on trails to barely being able to manage 10mi without pain. It's done now, and I feel way better than expected. They said it would be 1-2 weeks to return to work, and I worked 2 days after the surgery (I'm a contractor, so it's not exactly a desk job).

    Anyway, on with the trip report!
    #8
    Extremenc likes this.
  9. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    My choice of the ridge for camp was driven by several factors. Chief among them was the fact that the sun would hit me early, waking me from my coocoon. The view was a pretty great side-benefit, and I'd also hypothesized that there would be a temperature inversion which would make the valleys colder. I was right on those counts, and the night was comfortable & the day dawned beautiful!

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    The other great thing about sleeping here is that I was on a barely-marked old USFS jeep trail, and I'd get to start the day with some rugged riding, which would keep me warm (notice a trend here?).

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    This section allowed me to engage in my customary practice of bushwacking/trail connecting. I came upon some excellent singletrack which, naturally, petered out & left me to just ride cross-country until I encountered another 4x4 road. Good times!

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    After making it back down from those ridges & into the next valley, I decided to eat stage 1 of my Shoshone Market sandwich. This one was called "Roast Beast" on the menu, and it tasted great!

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    On my way back to the mountains I caught my second glimpse of some of NV's iconic wild horses. These put on a perfect show, and gave me a great opportunity for a shot.

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    I headed back out into the flat valley to check out Diana's Punchbowl, another crazy NV tourist stop that I've so far missed. It was well worth the side trip! The water is reputed to be way to hot for bathing, which is all well-and-good since if it were 106 degrees there would be 25 RVs parked all around like at Spencer Hot Springs.

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    Back up into the mountains:

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    I found a tapped spring, which gave me an opportunity to fill my water bladder.

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    Continuing the theme of checking out ancient/strange stuff, I cruised over to Toquima Cave. It has some of the best petrogylphs I've ever seen, and the campground at the parking area is beautiful. It would be a great stop for someone on a GS or something, since the road is graded the whole way.

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    More flat roads, and a waypoint in the middle of the state, literally.

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    By this time I was running low on fuel, but wasn't worried since I had more in my new Big Ride Supply bladder. I've used MSR Dromedaries in the past, but after losing the lid to one on my last trip I decided to spend a little more money & get something burlier. It's a great product at a fair price!

    My fuel ran out (hit reserve, anyway) just as I entered the first section of Fesh Fesh I have encountered in a long while. I was just getting acquainted with the familiar feeling of being in a cloud & not being able to see my wheels while dealing with hardened ruts when the engine stopped! Bad timing. After a couple of miles of it, I was finally free.

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    Ah, gates. They are one of the more annoying things to deal with as a solo rider in the West. On this ride there were probably 50, but I didn't keep track.

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    I had planned to stop at Spencer Hot Springs, but the hordes of people there kept me away. I kept going to Austin & fueled up. I was kind of hungry & had hoped to get something to eat akin to the Shoshone sandwiches, but the only place open was the crazy MAGA cafe, which I declined to patronize.

    Austin has, in recent years, tried to bill itself as a mountain biking destination. I met 2 separate couples riding south of town, and both seemed happy with the area. It's certainly ripe for all sorts of 2-wheeled riding, but the lack of singletrack will keep it from being a MTB star, IMO. The scenery & dual-sport riding, however, is incredible. I left town & headed onto the ridges S just at the right time!

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    Once again, darkness fell--the days are short this time of year! Naturally I chose to head cross-country on some barely-there 2 tracks. My $30 Nilight pods have held up really well, and are excellent for riding up to about 30mph, but above that I need more light. This went on for about 8 miles, and I then encountered some graded roads. I headed to the other side of the valley to find a place to camp, and ended up just in the middle of the sage near the road. It was a nice, flat, sandy spot, though, and I slept soundly.

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    Here's the track for the day:

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    #9
    Extremenc, AZ Mark, oldenuf and 5 others like this.
  10. Bigbugberg

    Bigbugberg Meatbucket Supreme

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    488
    Location:
    1313 Mockingbird Lane
    oh boy!!! I've had my eye on this area for quite a while!!! Lookin a little chilly up there now. Hafta wait till spring.

    Thanks for the tracks!
    #10
  11. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Rotoiti, North Is, New Zealand
    Great stuff! I love those last couple of shots of the trail disappearing off along the ridge in the evening light :thumb

    Cheers
    Clint
    #11
  12. Norseman2014

    Norseman2014 n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Great pictures and TR Evan!!
    #12
    climberevan likes this.
  13. 2 SPOT

    2 SPOT bring the rape whistle

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,231
    Location:
    Payson AZ
    that area is great! was the rope still at Dianas? i climbed down there and it is indeed fricken hot water.
    #13
  14. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    There was no rope at Diana's...but I was pretty curious. I'm a climber, so I'm sure I could make it safely, but not with moto boots... Thanks for the first-hand report!
    #14
  15. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,303
    Location:
    Gardnerville NV
    Ive done most of this riding and its some of the best IMHO
    #15
  16. DADODIRT

    DADODIRT Long timer

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    Location:
    Durango,CO(not quite Purgatory)
    Thanks for posting.
    #16
  17. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    Day 3 is upon us!

    I woke in my sandy roadside spot after a very pleasant night, and headed up into the hills. Naturally, this required several miles of indistinct but navigable trail.

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    Eventually I ran low on fuel again, and had to transfer from the aforementioned bladder. I love this RFS-based Beta, but I do wish I could acquire a 4.5-5gal tank.

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    I then encountered what threatened to be a real snag: a locked gate. I was under the impression that gates accessing USFS property wouldn't be locked, but someone clearly thinks otherwise at this spot. Perhaps it's the devastating grazing that's happening behind the gate that they are trying to keep contained....

    Anyway, luckily this gate slides down onto its hinge-posts from above, so with some muscle I was able to lift it off & get through. Putting it back on was another story: I had to build successively taller piles of rocks to lift either end until I managed to wiggle it back onto its hinges. Whew!

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    Just a few hundred yards past the gate I came upon some serious game-camera setups. The posts with little fences around them are interspersed along my route, but this valley holds a higher concentration of them than others. Can anyone offer some insight into this?

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    The main reason I continue to ride a real dirtbike on these trips (instead of, say, 690) is that when I encounter truly burly sections of singletrack or no-track, I can get through them. This particular section was only about 1/2 mile long, but culminated in a VERY steep hillclimb that I managed to make it up in 1 go, but only thanks to the excellent conditions. It was one of those ones where if I'd lost momentum I would have had to go back down. It was tough keeping the front end on the ground!

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    I came from the canyon with the rocks just above the moto here.

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    Found some more yummy spring-fed cattle water.

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    More petroglyphs. This time they are in a random cave/scoop along a non-descript trail.

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    Then I rode some really fun 4x4 roads through the N end of the Desatoya range (definitely worth a return visit!) & came out in the broad valley with Hwy 50. The wind had really picked up, right on schedule, and there was kind of a dust storm to the west.

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    Ultimately I ended up in Eastgate, and then on to Middlegate, where I enjoyed a hamburger & set off for home. It was a great trip, and I look forward to further exploring that area next year.

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    Today's track:

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    #17
    Extremenc, AZ Mark, oldenuf and 3 others like this.
  18. Skowinski

    Skowinski Deuterostome

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    10,513
    Location:
    Mojave Desert
    You packed a lot in a few days. Reports like this really make me want to go ride this part of Nevada. :beer
    #18
    Extremenc likes this.
  19. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    684
    Location:
    Oregon City
    Same spot? Between Smith Playa where we camped and Cold Springs to the west. There is private land up there and we did a turn around.
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    We camped off the 722 - west side access to Smith Playa & the Hot Springs
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    #19
  20. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    Looks like the same valley. I didn't see any private property signs; only the USFS one on the gate. Hmmm...

    Sent from my VS996 using Tapatalk
    #20
    tundradirtbiker likes this.