Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Blue Sphinx & Poinsettia Nevada - March 2017 - Part One

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The bright headlights appeared suddenly and unexpectedly behind us. There was speed involved and whoever it was, was gaining on us fast.

It was Friday evening. We had turned off of highway 50 southeast of Fallon, Nevada to access a familiar remote overnight camp spot we've used numerous times. The bumpy, narrow, rutted dirt track required careful, slow driving. Not so for the person rapidly gaining on us. This was the first time we've encountered someone else out this way at night.

"Do you think it's partiers from town or young kids joy riding in their 4x4?" I asked the Lady. "My god they're moving."

The Lady was leaning forward in a awkward position, trying to focus on the approaching vehicle in the side rearview mirror. My intent was carefully driving this road but my eyes kept moving to the now blinding lights in the mirror.

"Finally," I said. "He finally dimmed his headlights! I'm pulling to the right as soon as there is a wide spot to stop."

An intersection was just ahead. I pulled off well to the right. The other vehicle pulled close up beside us. I instantly recognized the brown stripe along the white SUV. The BLM law enforcement officer lowered his passenger window and turned on the interior light.

"Do you have any idea where you are going out here?" he asked without bothering with an introduction.

"Yes we do," I answered calmly and accurately described our planned route to our overnight spot. He appeared surprised.

"This has been a wet winter," he said. "The experts are saying the flood plains are at a 300 to 500 year level. You need to be very careful. It may look dry but it can be mud underneath. You don't want a camping trip to turn into getting stuck and spending all your time digging."

"Been there. Done that." the Lady said nodding her head. "We really appreciate the information. Good to know. How 'bout the roads we're heading out, any mud out there?"

"Not that I know about," the LEO answered. "Those are probably okay. Watch any low spots."

We said our goodbyes and pleasantries and the officer quickly did a hard U turn off into the brush and rapidly returned the way he came. It was obvious he was looking for something else out here this night other than having a safety chat with the public.

What in the world were we doing out here in a place most folks would describe as the middle of nowhere? A mark on a USGS 7.5 minute topo map had caught my eye and imagination, and with finally a forecasted storm free weekend, we were on an adventure to check it out. A spot on the map was labeled "Blue Sphinx." Was an ancient Egyptian treasure hidden in plain sight out in the middle of nowhere? And blue? Had Vegas misplaced a casino icon?

If your curiosity is piqued, we are happy to have you along on this adventure.

It was a drama free night; quiet and delightful with a night walk under the near full moon.

It was another near perfect basin and range morning.

Fallon and the snow laden Sierra Nevada Range were off to the northwest.

Our travel plans were loose. We were expecting to be turned around by wet roads and gumbo. Our main reason for venturing out this weekend was to assess conditions with our incredible return to a wet winter. We were surprised with how dry we found it. This led to the opportunity to visit an additional site. The Lady had seen the name on maps but had no idea what to expect at the Poinsettia Mine. She was pleased and burst out of the truck like a little kid.

This was a cinnabar mine - mercury. There are three shafts down into the mine.

The main shaft is under the now tilting head frame.

One addit appeared to indicate the seam they were following.

This furnace was used to recover mercury from the ore?

We enjoyed the morning in quiet solitude at Poinsettia.

We headed out on a two track. The map indicated it would intersect, after several miles, a main graded road that we'd take to the rough road into the area of the blue sphinx. The road grew fainter and rougher. Tracks of aggressive truck tires indicated it had been used once since the last storm. About where the intersection was indicated to be by the topo map, the road entered a wash. The tire tracks continued on. After a half mile traveling up the wash the tracks exited and continued cross country. We stopped, confirmed our location with our gps unit (we were well west of the indicated main road), and walked for a bit. Off to the south, crossing over a divide, I saw a road cut. At some time the main road had been relocated to along the mountain front. Off in the distance I heard the Lady exclaim, "The Blue Sphinx! I see the Blue Sphinx!" I followed her pointing finger to a spot on the distant mountainside. It was, without a doubt, the Blue Sphinx.

We backtracked many miles and turned onto a road that led to a landmark we recognized from a past visit, the world famous car frame windmill.

After a bit of circumnavigation, we found our road that led up. It was a slow crawl in 4 low. We parked on a highpoint and continued up on foot. There is no substitute to knowing what is ahead. We stopped at a high point and gazed out at the fabulous landscape around us. And, we marveled at the Blue Sphinx across from us.

We headed back down to the truck and the Lady said it was the perfect place to relax and spend the night. We would do in-depth exploration in the morning.

This was our panorama.

The wonderful evening light and solitude embraced us.

The full moon rose and moved up through hazy layers of clouds as the night darkened.

When the moon first appeared, coyotes erupted into song below us. It was perfect.

Our adventure continues in Part Two, final installment. Please Click Here

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