Great Basin National Park – Wheeler Peak

An early September snow storm dusted the Wheeler cirque on the 1993 camping trip with Doug and Tom. I sure got my money’s worth out of the 1979 Toyota Hi-Lux 4×4, as primitive as it was back then. It was one of the big reasons I decided on my 2018 Tacoma 4×4. 

Before the Great Basin National Park (GBNP) came into existence in 1986 it was simply known as another National Forrest with a privately owned and operated cave complex named after the miner who discovered it, Absalom Lehman, in the mid-1880s. The park lies within the Snake Mountain Range just east of Ely, NV as it runs along the Nevada-Utah border. The U.S. Congress’ creation of the national park brought the caves into the federal fold. While I am thankful the park is protected, it is also true that such status creates a higher level of interest. Thankfully, its remoteness minimizes some of the throngs.

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Beaver Dam Creek, the Early Years

Beaver Dam Creek 100 yards downstream from Schroeder Reservoir spillway, from a May 1982 trip.

Beaver Dam Creek is where I learned the subtleties of fishing a small stream. Stalking is the name of the game on that modest creek. It was a fine place to become educated in the way of the trout and the tactics necessary to catch them with a fly.  

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Cave Lake State Park – Ely, NV

Tom, me, and Doug in front of the Cave Lake boat dock – June 2000.

My brother Neal is responsible for my development as an outdoorsman. I suspect the seeds were planted as a boy growing up in Hooksett, New Hampshire, but someone needed to water them. In my early teens he took me on my first fishing trip to Kingston Canyon south of Austin, Nevada. He gave me a cheap, ultra-light spinning rod, lures, and a canvas creel and set me loose after just a few minutes of instruction. Neal was never long on patience, and he never really offered to teach me the art of fly fishing. In college I bought several books on fly fishing, and after years of dreaming about it I finally taught myself.

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Mammoth Creek, Southwestern Utah

My brother, Neal, fishing Hatch Meadow in 1984.

In 1981 I left public accounting for good to start a new career with EG&G Energy Measurements.  EG&G was a 40-year contractor at the Nevada Test Site, or NTS (now the Nevada National Security Site).  At that time, late into the Cold War era following World War II, the primary mission of the NTS was testing the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile as well as new weapon development, from both weapon physics and weapon effects perspectives. I envisioned this was to be a long-term career change.

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Cutting Christmas Trees – Beaver Dam State Park

Our cat, Buffy, inspecting the Piñon Christmas Tree at 5100 Margo Drive.

While rummaging through a picture box recently I ran across photos of two trips to Beaver Dam State Park to cut Christmas trees. Denise and I were married on Groundhog Day in 1980, and for three years in a row I traveled to Beaver Dam to cut our Christmas tree. We were renting a small cinder-block house from Uncle Art on the east side of town, and the wide-bodied, pear-shaped piñon pine trees really filled up the living room window during Christmas. 

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Martis Creek, Lake Tahoe

The new family: Kathy, Jill, and Bill. 

From the early 1980s through the late 1990s I worked for EG&G Energy Measurements. Las Vegas was our headquarters, but I often traveled to our satellite locations. We had seven offices scattered throughout the United States (and one in Europe) that supported the various national nuclear weapon laboratories. One of those facilities was in Livermore, California, obviously near the Livermore National Laboratory run by the University of California. These business trips to Livermore got me within reasonable driving distance to Sacramento where my good friend, Bill Bergan, lived.

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Ruby Mountains – Elko, NV

Bill snapped this photo as I struck a Brook trout that slurped an Adams dry fly on Favre Lake. Liberty Lake lies above and to he left of this picture.

I was just a fledgling angler in my early 20s.  Just out of college and working for a certified public accounting (CPA) firm to achieve my Nevada license, my audit practice supervisor was Bill “Bergie” Bergan.  Bill was a weekend climber, and we somehow agreed to exchange hobbies with each other (see Early Climbing / Mountaineering Adventures for the details of that story). 

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Early Climbing / Mountaineering Adventures

The post-climb descent from Yosemite’s Munginella, circa 1982 (note Lost Arrow Spire to right in background).

My acquaintance with Bill Bergan began when I was a young staff accountant working for a local Nevada certified public accounting (CPA) firm. Bill had recently moved back to Las Vegas to manage the audit practice of the firm I was working part-time for while attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I was assigned to perform “grunt work” for Bill on an audit engagement, and we quickly became good friends upon discovering we shared certain skills in sarcasm. Bill is nine years my senior, so that made him about 29 when I met him. As a practical reality of our age difference, our relationship began as mentor-protege. We obviously shared a career interest, but it turned out we shared adventuresome spirits and love of the outdoors.

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