Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Buffalo Valley Nevada & Beyond - May 2017 - Part Two

please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version

Monday morning, Memorial Day, dawned a couple of degrees warmer than the previous morning. We wandered across the hot springs area for our morning walk. A Loggerhead Shrike joined us.

The volcanic ejecta scattered about suggested the explosion of several small volcanoes along the edge of Buffalo Valley was a recent geologic event here.

A female speed goat attempted to sneak up on us as we ate breakfast.

Our plan was to head east out of Buffalo Valley. We would leave exploration of Hollywood (aka Squaw Tit) and the Buffalo Chip to another trip next spring. There is so much more to explore to the south along with the line of volcanoes that it will be well worth a return trip. The Buffalo Chip is a mass of interesting volcanic rock that oozed straight up and the still molten top dripped over the edges like taffy. Hollywood is similar rock but with additional layers, intrusions, and capped with rock that forms, dare I say, the nipple. So many things to see out here!

We had another airway beacon to find and that took priority. An old pronghorn buck said goodbye as we left the hot springs.

We parked the truck on the broad divide between Buffalo Valley and Valley of the Moon. It would be around 2.5 miles across rough country to the beacon location. We discovered that this area was extensively explored for mineral deposits and claimed, many years ago, by Howard Hughes.

We came upon a land survey marker that pinpointed our location.

And out in the middle of nowhere was the airway beacon we sought. It was also powered by acetylene.

As the Lady was exploring outside, she got the feeling she was not alone.

Two about 4 week old redtail hawk chicks were watching her.

We did not want to disturb this nest so we headed out immediately. We also kept an eye to the sky. One of the parents soared high above and we were pleased it did not show any sign of distress.

Past the huge gold mine complex our road intersected with highway 305 with the now alien feel of pavement underneath our tires. We headed into Battle Mountain for one last stop on our airway exploration. The Battle Mountain Intermediate Field is still used as an airfield. Although the concrete arrow is long gone, a high beacon still remains in use.

We have now visited every airway site along the route between Battle Mountain and Fernley.

We decided to head south on highway 305 toward Austin, our first time to travel this route. A long time on our list, there was another hot spring to visit.

This was amazing. The source bubbled up with an incredible flow of hot water.

A plastic cattle watering tank was a bit askew but was filled with two plastic pipes from the springs.

The water was hot. I was able to put my arm in past my elbow but only for a short time. This could be pleasant and soakable in cooler weather. We would want to drain the tank, clean it up, and refill. There would probably a bit of a wait to allow the temperature to drop to a delightful level.

The highway 305 corridor down to Austin was wonderful. There is a lot of potential for exploration and solitude out here. We arrived in Austin around 4:30 in the afternoon and topped off the gas tank and then decided on an overnight at Bob Scott Campground. To our surprise, the campground filled up on this weekday evening. We found the solitude we need by crossing highway 50  and enjoyed the wonderful Toiyabe Range terrain to the south.

The next morning we stopped at a well known spot in the Great Smoky Valley, a place to avoid on a holiday weekend, but quiet on this Tuesday morning. Invasive species were in abundance.

A drive over Pete's Summit brought us down into Monitor Valley. We visited what many people feel is the finest hot spring in all of Nevada and found things have changed.

Diana's Punchbowl - I do wonder who Diana was - is a major hot spring that has built up a large travertine dome, that, very unfortunately, is being destroyed by thoughtless motorheads who have turned it into a hill climb challenge. So sad.

We walked away from the destruction and enjoyed the broad expanse of Monitor Valley.

We climbed back up over the dome and found Desert Globemallow still surviving in an area too steep for vehicles.

The layering of travertine has voids that readily collapse and crumble under turning tires and vehicle weight.

We found ferocious noseeums at Pine Creek so we continued south. On a whim we turned up Meadow Canyon, a place we have visited several times. We were alone in glorious surroundings. What a spot to spend an afternoon and night!

The meadow system is extensive.

We wandered about and stopped by the old Forest Service guard station.

The cool clear water from the spring out front was darn near perfect.

We returned to camp for supper and a shower.

After I warmed water for our showers, the Lady was getting her clothes off inside the camper as I waited outside. I noticed a large animal down canyon about a half mile or so in the meadow. I opened the camper door.
"I believe a feral horse is down canyon in the meadow. May I have the see mores?"
I took a look down canyon and returned to the open camper door.
"You want to pop out and take a look see," I told the Lady. "It's not a horse. It's an elk."
The Lady was excited and watched the elk through her see mores until it moved out of sight.
This set the stage for our evening. We were going looking for elk.

A very vocal redtail soared above. Possibly it had a nest nearby.

We wandered until dark, turning around about 2 miles down the meadow system.

We moved over to the road and walked it back to camp. We didn't find any elk but it was still a darn near perfect evening. Yes, we slept well this night. And, coyotes woke us with their songs.

We woke with the sun and wandered back to the guard station. The Lady wanted more of that marvelous spring water.

The weather was changing. By afternoon it was dreary and dripping rain. After a mid afternoon stop at Walker Burger, we decided to head home.

What will we do now that we have visited all the beacon sites on this remote section of the transcontinental airway system? What next will pique our interest? I've been gazing at maps as I often do. I found this spot up on Oregon's Steens Mountain - Whorehouse Meadow. Even though the name has been officially changed to Naughty Girl Meadow, it still might be worth a visit.



  1. I love the view for elk watching. So beautiful! And there will be so many more adventures to come! Thank you for posting!

  2. Who knew Nevada could be so green? Thanks for taking us with you!!

  3. Love the beacons. I’ve got a photo of that same burro in Smoky Valley from 2006 (it looks identical). Sad Dinah’s Punchbowl was closed off. I have visited only once, in 2006. My buddy, driving his truck, drove straight up, while I took the circular route around the north side. My buddy was excitedly yelling into the CB for me not to come up quickly like he did ... I’ve camped that same trip at Pine Creek (the winter of 2005/2006 was wet thus the road up and the creek were pretty much one). Never knew of Meadow Canyon. That vista from the guard station is probably the most gorgeous view I’ve seen!