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Note: Please click here for Part Two
The Color of Autumn
We packed up camp after breakfast Wednesday morning and drove south to the Snake Creek drainage. It had been several years since we'd been up this dirt road and were very pleased with the improvements the National Park has completed. Campsites have been designated and improved. CXT toilets have been installed. Trailheads have hardened parking areas and signage. Many new trails have been created. Bravo to the Park Service for good work. We parked at the trailhead at road's end.
Where to go? We had no plans, we just wanted to explore, stretch the legs a bit more and oil the joints. Only two other vehicles were parked. We decided on making a loop by taking the new trail up to Dead Lake and coming back down the Johnson Lake Trail. The sky was surprisingly clear this morning with scattered clouds. It was looking like a beautiful day to be in the mountains. The Lady, of course, signed the trail register.
The aspens were very nice on the steep grade up to Dead Lake.
Many times we felt ghosts were watching us.
To add to the aura of spookiness, Dead Lake was dead, only a shallow remnant.
We intersected with the Johnson Lake Trail after a bit under 3 miles and then climbed a high knob for a relaxing break. We found the perfect granite boulder for a backrest and just looked up and enjoyed a smoke free blue sky above us.
We've been to Johnson Lake before and decided not to return because we were enjoying solitude. The other hikers had gone to Johnson Lake - the popular destination from the trailhead. We did hike up to the old mill site about .8 mile from Johnson Lake.
Nice interpretive signs have been installed explaining the mining history.
We turned back and descended the Johnson Lake Trail.
Ghost groves lined the slopes below Snake Divide, where we had enjoyed the views from on Monday.
The trail passed through one spectacular grove, the highlight of the hike.
Here's a view back up the trail through the aspens.
Many other colorful groves dotted the hillsides.
Towering aspens lined Snake Creek as we neared the trailhead.
There are 7 or 8 designated campsites along the road - and Snake Creek - below the road's end. Only one campsite was taken when we drove up in the morning. With so few people out hiking, we mistakenly thought most campsites would be available on our drive back down. Only one was not taken - this spot must be on some free camping app - but we considered it the best one.
We considered just popping the top and staying at the trailhead but the regulations posted on the signs clearly said camping in designated campsites only. We were good. This is a great little National Park and we wanted to be exceedingly respectful.
There was a spring across from camp and we scoured the area in the evening looking for petroglyphs and habitation sites without success. The area had the proper juju.
Thursday was a day of driving, time to work our way home. In the middle of Nevada we took a dirt road over the crest of the Toiyabe Range, east to west. We stopped at the top.
There are many dispersed sites along the creek draining the west side. But it is big game hunting season in Nevada. We found one empty, pleasant site in the higher reaches of the canyon. It was empty because it was above where a trailer can be hauled to along with additional trailers to haul in ATV's and Utv's. When did hunting become sitting on your butt, driving around on a machine with a rifle, up and down roads hoping to find something to shoot and kill? These hunters sure must enjoy noise and dust.
We were concerned road traffic, engine whine, and dust would be intolerable, but it stopped early and we had a quiet, pleasant night.
We got an early start the next morning. The big hunting camps lined the canyon below us. It was hunter heaven. Camp trailers, fifth wheels, motorhomes, Atv's covered huge areas. Big belly boys relaxed in camp chairs.
The morning was warm. We lowered the windows and returned waves from the hunters. We broke into our favorite hunting song from the Da Yoopers.
"It's the second week of deer camp
and all the guys are here.
We drink, play cards, and shoot the bull
but never shoot no deer.
The only time we leave the camp
is when we go for beer.
It's the second week of deer camp,
it's the greatest time of year!"
Back on the not so lonely highway 50, we entered the urban sprawl that now starts at Silver Springs and stopped and picked up groceries for home at Trader Joe's in Carson City. Next stop were our eye exams in South Lake Tahoe and our trip was complete - an autumn color trip brought about by a satellite image and an eye exam.