Exploring Carpenter Canyon from Pahrump, NV

This is the terminal end of the Carpenter Canyon jeep trail, which is about 300 yards beyond where the U.S. Forrest Service signage suggests you stop. I expected to see travelers today, especially since it was the Veterans Day holiday, but on the way up we only came upon a lone motorbike that was heading down the mountain. This group (an informal Razor Club) arrived at noon, but we did not hear or see them until we returned from our fishing exploration. Good people from Pahrump, several of whom where veterans.

In the 1970s I developed an interest in U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps (i.e., topo maps). Hunting and fishing with my brother Neal often involved these topo maps. While the first satellite global positioning system (GPS) had been created by the US military, civilian use did not materialize until 1993. Civilian access to the Internet also occurred around 1993, but cell phone GPS was not available until 1999. Until civilian GPS became available, topo maps were the best way to explore the outdoors.

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Desert National Wildlife Refuge – Mormon Well Road

From the Yucca Forrest, this view looks southwest back towards the Spring Mountains, with Mt. Potosi (about 8,500 feet elevation) being that faint shadow on the far left in the most distant background, and the Mt. Charleston peaks (over 11,000 feet) visible through the saddle in the center of the photo.

Most every adult in southern Nevada is knowledgeable of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Mount Charleston (i.e., Spring Mountains National Recreation Area), and has likely visited at least one, and probably all of three within their lifetime. As a young adult in the 1970s and 1980s I could find solitude by hiking just a mile or two in all these national treasures, but not today. Today the Red Rock Canyon trails feel crowded no matter which trail you take, and at its southern end the mountain bike trails have all but decimated any semblance of adventure while hiking to the lesser known springs and petroglyphs of Red Rock. The youngsters of today have no knowledge of what it was like 45 years ago when the valley’s population was 300 thousand residents compared to the 2.3 million here today. Back then, if one-percent of the population visited these areas on a weekend that would be 3,000 adventurists scattered in the hills. Today that would be 23,000 people, or almost eight times as many people.

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Multi-Generational Camping

Uncle Brian and Pops taking Tom’s son on a short hike into the small aspen forest along Cave Creek, upstream from Cave Lake. It was breezy and the aspen leaves were performing their ceremonial twisting in the wind, which resulted in a rustling sound. My grandson asked, “Pops, what’s that sound?” I explained that aspen trees were referred to as “quaking” aspens because their flat, broad leaves are attached to long, narrow stems such that they twist in the wind making a quaking or cracking sound. Did you know that aspen stands like these are often created by stems arising from long lateral roots? The result is many genetically identical trees, which in aggregate are called a “clone.” There appears to be some disagreement over which state has the largest clone aspen stand, but one such clone in Utah’s Fishlake National Forrest covers 106 acres and contains an estimated 47,000 stems (see The Gazette article on Utah’s claim).

I know several grandparents who have experienced camping with their children and grandchildren. All of them expressed the joy of passing on the liberating experience of camping to their descendants, whose opportunities for learning appreciation and reverence for nature continue to diminish over time. Getting out of our urban cities to dwell in nature for a few days seems to free our souls. We leave behind our to-do lists and the technology that drives so much or our waking hours, replacing it with the freedom to soak in a deep, satisfying peace. We are released from our daily routines, free to explore and discover without restrictive agendas governing our daily lives.

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Brotherly Assault on Comins Reservoir & Ruby Marshes

This is a scenic view of the eastern side of the Ruby Mountains, taken from the spring heads of the Ditch that feeds the Ruby Marshes. It is one of my favorite photos of the Ruby Range. (Photo by Bruce Vincent.)

When is enough, enough? How many fish does it take before you lose interest in fishing? Okay, I admit that saturation is unlikely for die hard anglers, but can your most successful day fishing (measured by count, and perhaps quality) wipe the memory of fishless trips off the board? As a long-time trout angler, I can say for me the successful trips are long remembered, and the “skunkings” are quickly forgotten. And I am grateful for that.

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Life Within a Pandemic

The view of Red Rock’s bluffs from the trail to the Ash Grove in  Spring Mountain State Park.

Hopefully I got your attention with some scenic photos of places visited during this awful time of pandemic horror. For my daughter and I, these were necessary diversions designed to help us remember that life, given to us by the Lord, is meant to be lived. Lived in joyful hope, not in fear and worry. By design, our lives are to be relational, both with the Lord and with each other. It is unnatural for us to be shut away from our loved ones, regulated to phone calls and FaceTime. I can tell you that my wife and I long to touch, smell, and cuddle with our grandchildren. While the separation is said to be temporary, it is not what any parent or grandparent would want.  

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Elko County – Wild Horse and Billy Shaw Reservoirs plus Marys, Jarbidge, and Bruneau Rivers

Our first look into the Copper Basin. Copper Mountain (9,911-ft) is off the page to the left, and the 9,500-ft mountains center-left in the photo include Coon Creek Peak. I assure you the photo does not due it justice.

Prologue

Having raised six children I’m keenly aware they do not retain most childhood memories. I also have my own childhood experience to support that conclusion. My father died when I was three, and that’s the exact number of memories I have of him (one of them was being left in the waiting room at the hospital where he died). Our family moved out west five years later, and I have maybe 30-plus distinct memories from those years preceding our relocation to Nevada (about 5 of which relate to the removal of my right kidney at age 6 due to the discovery of a Wilm’s Tumor). Of course I have many more memories from my teenage years, but I find it remarkable what I cannot recall from my early youth.

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Cave Lake State Park, outside the City of Ely, White Pine County, Nevada

A hawk (I believe a Harris’ hawk) perches on rabbitbrush to survey his domain. This picture was taken near Cave Creek, the southeastern inlet of Cave Lake that gives Cave Lake State Park its name.

My daughter was promised a camping trip before she returned for her school’s fall semester. As the Dog Days of summer began to sap everyone’s energy, I was reminded that “back to school” was but two weeks away. I quickly began planning a short, overnight camping trip.

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Fish Taco on the loose in Cold Creek

My new Toyota Tacoma SR5 4×4 (a.k.a., the Fish Taco) visiting the Cold Creek Pond for the first time.

Those of you familiar with my blog might recall I affectionately referred to my 2007 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4×4 as the “Trout Truck.” Although it was my daily driver, its underlying purpose was to get me in and out of the destinations where the trout angling was better than average and where inclement weather, which is often good for fishing, can make passage difficult. I had gotten stuck a few times in my previous 4×2 Dakota, but the 4.7L V8 4×4 never got stuck which was a great comfort to me and certainly increased my angling time. 

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Dacey Reservoir in the Late Fall

Trout Truck at Dacey’s rustic boat launch site. The sign says:
“ARTIFICIAL LURES ONLY ONE TROUT LIMIT, ALL YEAR
UPPER END CLOSED
NO MOTORS FEB 15 – AUG 15.”
These regulations help to keep the Dacey trout fishery in top condition.

This is the time of year elementary students are cutting, painting, and creating all sorts of Thanksgiving papers that their moms and dads will affix to various kitchen appliances and cabinetry in celebration of the things the child is thankful for.  You never really know what your youngster might write on these papers, particularly if their teacher doesn’t attempt to influence their selection so as not to embarrass the parents.  You can imagine parents across the country rhetorically asking, “What the hell are they teaching my kid?

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Maiden Voyage of Water Master Grizzly Interrupted by Heart Attack

Here’s a Dacey Reservoir rainbow trout that I was trying to bring to net on a previous trip in April 2014.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know that I’ve been ignored by NFO Scadden regarding a warranty repair to my Outlaw Escape.  After conducting a little research I contacted Richard Stuber at Big Sky Inflatables to discuss their Water Master Grizzly, and how it compared to what I saw as deficiencies in the NFO Escape.  I first became aware of the Water Master in 2005 or 2006 while watching the Trout Bum Diaries vol.1 that featured these fishing rafts.  Richard said the Water Master would not only provide me with a more reliable boat that will last the next 20-plus years, but that it would hold and row much better in the wind than the Outlaw Escape.  The larger tubes and their 360 degree contact with the water cause the boat to sit much higher on the water while maintaining a large footprint.  Big Sky offered a “real” lifetime warranty on the raft.  I couldn’t resist; I always wanted to be a Trout Bum anyway.

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