Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cleve Creek Canyon

 Friday night I took the kids to Cleve Creek Recreation Area for a night of camping with coworkers and friends. I was looking forward to exploring the area, as I hadn't seen much of it previously. It's located in the Shell Creek Range in White Pine County, Nevada. We accessed it via Spring Valley, off paved Highway 893. Then we turned onto a good gravel road for two miles.

The campsites were beautiful, with big shade trees, neat fireplaces, and the sound of the creek soothing our senses. It was time to relax and eat some delicious food!

I didn't try to take any photos, as the light was soon dim and the kids were a handful. At nine they wanted to go to bed, so I took them to the tent. Then they resisted going to sleep long enough that I was tired, too, and just stayed in the tent. It was probably a good thing, as Desert Girl started getting fussy at 3 a.m., despite the surprisingly warm evening. By 6 a.m., I had decided we had better get out of camp or everyone would be upset with us! So we piled into the truck and headed up the canyon.

The road forded the creek several times, so I was glad we had four-wheel drive and high clearance, as the creek was still running high. In fact, according to the nearby USGS gauge, it was about 13 cfs. The long-term record on this creek made it a study site for University of Nevada-Reno scientists to study the climate of the area, comparing pinyon pine growth to streamflow. You can see the interesting abstract for their article "A 550 Year Reconstruction of Streamflow Variability in Spring Valley, Nevada, USA" here.

I was very intrigued to see that most of the water in the creek was coming from the north fork of Cleve Creek. The road stayed to the west fork. I just had my Nevada atlas and not a more-detailed map, so I didn't know too much about what I was getting into. Sometimes it's more fun that way!

The atlas indicated pictographs, but we never could locate them. Instead, we did find an old cabin with tailing piles nearby. We got out to explore.
 We wandered around a bit.
 Near one of the tailings piles we saw an old mine entrance and this sign explaining about the importance of bats.
 A bat gate and culvert had been installed above the old mine entrance. According to the Geology and Mineral Resources of White Pine County, Nevada (Smith 1976), the Cleve Creek or Kolchek District was small and centered around the Kolchek mine. Miners searched for gold beginning in 1923 and found enough to construct a 4-ton amalgamation-concentration mill. Mining didn't last long, and the 15-person district soon was forgotten. In 1951, when tungsten prices were high, miners returned. They didn't find a tungsten ore body until 1953, but they did make a few shipments of gold in the meantime. The total recorded production of the district was 234 tons of gold ore containing 86 ounces of gold and 363 ounces of silver and 32 tons of tungsten ore.

 The single cabin was the only building we saw in the area, and the sun was just rising high enough to light up the canyon beyond.

The kids were taking their time, which gave me the opportunity to shoot some additional photos as the first rays of sun light touched the cabin.

 It would have been a beautiful place to have been a miner, at least for a few months each year. The rest of the time it would be beautiful but cold!

 While I was searching for other angles, I noticed some bees clinging onto this grass. I'm not sure what they were doing.
 One more cabin photo! I liked the old trees nearby. Most were poplar, but there was one locust.

Then we continued up the canyon on the rough road, rarely reaching 10 mph. It was 6 miles from the campsite to the end of the road. I hiked up what looked like the most-used route (it couldn't really be called a trail, as it was fairly indistinct and there was no trailhead, sign, or map). I soon reached the wilderness boundary marker (but it didn't say what wilderness).

I'm guessing this area is used by hunters more than any other interest group.

I scampered up the hillside to get a better vantage point. Two other vehicles were sharing the parking area with us, and one had passed us as we had been exploring the cabin.

Here's part of the road, where the tributary creek has jumped its channel and flowed down the road for awhile.

On the way back down, we stopped at the Kolchek Trail 078 trailhead. I'm guessing the trail goes back into the side canyon behind the Kolchek mine, but there was no map at the trailhead and my map didn't show a trail. If you know, leave a comment!

There were several side canyons that looked fascinating. A good excuse to go back and do more exploring. The fishing is also supposed to be good, but we hadn't brought any gear.

While some of the rock looked metamorphic, I also noticed quite a few limestone cliffs, and some had holes in them. Hmmm, caves?

The zoom showed that these holes might go back a body length or more. The kids weren't interested in checking them out. I don't know why not!

By the time we got back to camp, everyone was up (and some had left). We went over to join them for breakfast.

The kids and I had grits for the first time. I have learned to appreciate that camping is all about the food, and I sure enjoyed the culinary experience!

Desert Boy and Erik had a serious conversation. Desert Boy was certainly serious about how many marshmallows were in his hot chocolate.

Nice hair, eh?

The adventures continued soon after...


I Am Woody said...

What a beautiful place! That's a lot of exploring before breakfast!!

Silver Fox said...

This looks like a *really* neat, fairly close-by area. Thanks for posting about it! (Another place to add to our long list of places to visit.)

Anonymous said...

Loved the pix of Desert Boy with his Rod Stewart doo. Or, is that his imitation for the upcoming Thanksgiving turkey 8-)


Shawn said...

Great Shots you've captured there!

Carrie said...

My family used to camp at Cleve Creek every summer throughout the 70s and 80s. Seeing your picture brought back a lot of fond memories! What a cool spot! I hope the kids remember it as fondly as I do someday.

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