Fall in Far Eastern Nevada

Nice location, needs work: the old Wheeler Mine in the Snake Range.

We recently spent a few days “out East” in the Snake Range of Nevada, near the town of Ely. Mike needed to collect some field data for his thesis project, so we packed up a University rig with gear and food and headed out U.S. 50, known as the “Loneliest Road in America,” through the burgs of Austin and Eureka and Ely, almost into Utah.

This is bristlecone-pine country.

Part of the Snake Range is included in Great Basin National Park; although relatively remote, this park is definitely worth a visit.

Here are some pictures from the weekend so you can see what a mountain fall looks like in this part of the country: rocky ridges draped with sparse groves of aspen among the white fir, Englemann spruce, mountain mahogany, and bristlecone pine up above the signature pinyon-juniper woodlands of the Great Basin.

Moving from plot to plot beneath the towering limestone ramparts of Mt. Washington and the old Wheeler Mine. The road switchbacks up and right from the mine to the ridgetop, an extremely steep and sporty drive. But our field rig was a very capable 2012 Ford Expedition with a very capable low-4!
Using the GPS to find the plots: “Tell us where we are, dammit!”
Further up the road from the plots, we pass through a scorched area …
… to a pretty darn good view of the southern Snake Range and Spring Valley far below. Fall color was out in force!
Cozy camp in the four-season Ford, summit of Mt. Washington.
Greatest Hits of Great Basin National Park: View north from Mt. Washington over to the summit of Wheeler Peak (~13,000′), about 6 miles away. We planned to do a ‘run’ along this ridge once we finished with fieldwork, and camped three nights at 11,000′ to acclimate to the elevation. [credit: QT Luong/terragalleria.com]
Adit, Mt. Washington. I dared not get any closer to this deep hole!
Lightning strike and small burn, Mt. Washington. The bristlecone and spruce grew in well-spaced clumps, so if lightning hit one, the fire was unlikely to destroy other trees.
Camping in the lee of the wind, with plenty of warm clothes!
Chef Mike cooks a curry, cozy in puffy clothes.
Incoming rain on our final morning put the kibosh on our exposed ridge run over to Wheeler Peak. It was 36 degrees and windy, and we could see black clouds to the west. Sensibly but with sadness, we bailed and headed back to Reno.

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