Sunday, April 25, 2021

Buena Vista Valley, Jersey Valley, Buffalo Valley Nevada - April 2021


please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version & highlighted text are links to additional information


The Road to Recovery


It happened while she was sleeping. The Lady woke at home on a Saturday morning and her right knee didn't work. Her legs must have been tangled up someway during the night and the knee was tweaked. She could barely walk for three days. It was time for the inevitable. We knew it was coming. Several injuries,  multiple surgeries over the many years; the x-rays revealed no surprises - no ACL's in both knees, bone on bone both knees, deformation of the joints with the left knee the worst, the tibias listing to off to port. Those knees have been well used and well loved. The first total knee replacement surgery is April 30th. The second will be three to six months after.


Knee deep - yes, that's a pun - in pre-op chores we finally had a short break for three nights out into Nevada, our adopted state. It would be one last quick trip before out with the old and in with the new, and starting on the road to recovery.


We've searched many times for remaining evidence of the U.S. Air Mail route between Fernley and Beowawe - a remote section of the San Francisco Salt Lake City AirWay. On this trip we searched for more. I will not report much here on what we found, that will follow in a future blog post where I'll pull all our information together. This trip story will focus on the wide open spaces and solitude that refresh and restore us.


We got an early start and were in the south end of Buena Vista Valley by mid morning where we explored the remains of the Humboldt Department of Commerce Intermediate Landing Field (DOCILF) - every 30 miles along the route was an emergency (flat) spot to put a plane down.



Much of the debris is from later mining activity.






The center of the field was marked with concentric concrete circles and a painted yellow dot dead center.






We stopped to investigate two other sites across broad Buena Vista Valley.






A helicopter was the only other vehicle traffic we encountered.






We stopped to see if any progress was completed on the agreed upon restoration of Jersey Valley Hot Springs - not much except for several pink flags in the ground.






I believe our last visit to Jersey Valley was Memorial Day weekend in 2017. At that time the road up to and over Golconda Pass was impassable due to washouts and severe storm damage. We were surprised to find it freshly bladed, as in ours were the first and only truck tire tracks. We found a nice spot to overnight at the ruins of the old Allard Ranch in the sage and junipers.





















A large stone barn was built into the hillside below the main house and a small reservoir was once below the barn.












After dinner we wandered through the sage and along the ridges as darkness came.






It was overcast the next morning. Mount Tobin was shrouded in clouds.






The broad valley to the south was lit by the sun.






Our first stop was at Jersey Summit overlooking Buffalo Valley. A historic topographic map indicated an airway beacon once stood in this area. Could we find any evidence?






Another old map indicated a beacon on the eastern end of the flats of Buffalo Valley. Would we have any luck with this one?












Yet another historic map showed an airway beacon on a highpoint in the Fish Creek Mountains. This would be a climb and a five mile or so round trip on foot after the rough two track was no longer driveable.






Storm was building to the west of us and moving to the southwest. We kept an eye on it as we climbed.






We took a happy "horny toad" break along our route.






The Lady loves these tiny dinosaurs. I call 'em anteaters with scales.


The views were wonderful.






The airway beacon sat here. The Lady was our scribe for notes.






The descent was a visual feast.









The afternoon found us in the middle of the broad flats of the northern Reese River Valley. An airway beacon was once out here somewhere. A beat up old road took us as far as possible with the truck. It was back to hiking.






We found sections of a possible service road that once led to the site.






We did not find much, but enough to spur further research and searches.






In the late afternoon we drove back across Buffalo Valley. The southwest end of Buffalo Valley holds two prominent highpoints. Only one is named on the USGS topo map and carries the offensive name Squaw Tit. The second is squat and more rounded. We call it the Buffalo Chip in honor of the valley but it reminds us more of a giant cow pie. Behind it is a fun spot to camp.


Our walk before dinner took us to the top of the Chip.









Buffalo Valley stretched out to the north and the crest of the Fish Creek Mountains were above to the south.









The Chip looks to be a chunk of welded volcanic ash.






We most always eat outside. The changing sky was marvelous to watch as we sat in our chairs and ate dinner. We were so distracted by the light we almost missed four pronghorn who had walked up to us before scurrying off.















Coyotes sang throughout the night and woke us the next morning.






It was back on the Chip with morning coffee.









We stopped in the middle of Jersey Valley on our drive west. The scent of the small purple flowers was almost overpowering. The wind negated any chance of getting a detailed photo of one of the delicate flowers.  The after storm, clearing wind was strong.









Our search for another airway beacon took place in the far southern end of Pleasant Valley. This was another climb to a highpoint indicated as a beacon site on an old topo map. The primitive road in was immediately impassable by a washout at a stream crossing. We much prefer to walk anyway. It was three miles to the highpoint.






The anchor rods are all that remain of the airway beacon.










I'd estimate wind gusts on the beacon point were over 50 mph. It was hard to stand. We did not stay long. What goes up must go down. We returned to our waiting truck.






In the late afternoon we were back at a favorite spot on the eastern edge of Buena Vista Valley.






Feral horses were our entertainment as we ate dinner. A large band of over fifty were strung out along the base of Fencemaker Ridge about 1.5 miles from camp. See mores were used for viewing between bites.


We wandered the ridges and watched evening light descend on us before turning in for our last night.












In the morning we finished the drive across Buena Vista Valley - stopping for a badger in a hurry to cross the road - and drove south to Fallon and Highway 50, our road home.


This was a wonderful short trip and was a great start on the road to recovery.


Our cousin, The Big Guy, sent this note to the Lady upon hearing about her upcoming knee replacements -

"My best wishes to Julie as she has knee surgery on those beat up knees that have stood up to so many rugged miles on mountain trails and off trail too. They've given you their best now it's time to bring in the reinforcements."


  1. Another wonderful trip and report!

    We send Julie our best for a complete and speedy recovery with both knee replacement surgeries.


    1. Thanks Mr. Sage! Julie is anxious to get back out there.

  2. Monte thanks for this great trip.Great that Julie will get new knees.
    Lots of great places yet to explore.

  3. Thanks for another great treip report on Nevada - and the photo of Mt Tobin. Have been by it a couple of times but never had the time to hike it. That will be trip once I retire. Best of luck to Julie on her surgeries - I am five years post op on one knee and not having the daily, chronic pain of bone on bone is a huge relief. Many more miles to go in the future!

    1. Thanks Taku, and thanks for the encouragement with the knees! Yes, lots more miles to go.

  4. Soon the Lady will be better than ever. Good healing!

  5. Thanks for another great trip repost. Going to send you a PM on WTW about Julie's knees

  6. So sorry to hear about Julie's knees. Hang in there -- life will get better. Thank goodness we live in a time when some joints can be replaced.

    1. Professor Dan, thanks for the nice comment and right now, at the beginning of recovery, Julie is sure working hard wanting to get back out on the trail.