Friday, August 27, 2021

Mountain Biking the Iceplant Trail in Ely, Nevada

I have a really nice mountain bike, bought used from my brother. Unfortunately, it doesn't get used nearly enough. I just feel intimidated by mountain bike trails, and my husband and kids aren't particularly interested. Fortunately, there are a bunch of mountain bike enthusiasts in Ely, Nevada who have been building and promoting the mountain bike trails there. After seeing a bunch of posts, I decided to give the Iceplant Trail a try. It's rated Easiest (green).

The first task was to find the trailhead. It was down a road I had never been on, not far from the high school. I had installed the Trailforks app on my phone and had a 7-day trial of the pro version, and it helped me figure out what unmarked road to take and where to park. 

I got out my bike, reinflated the tire that keeps going flat (sigh--the other one is tubeless, thank goodness), and set off. I soon got to the gate pictured above. There's also good parking right here. 

On the other side of the gate, it becomes delicious singletrack, heading out in the pinyon juniper at a slight incline.

I was grinning as I rode. I was doing this!

It wasn't too hard at all. Along the way there were some more advanced features next to the beginner track.

One was this narrow bridge over a gully. Maybe someday...

I puzzled over the piles of rocks until I realized they were jumps. Maybe

The views were nice, not spectacular, but pleasant enough. 

I stayed on the easiest trails, going from the Iceplant Trail onto Senior Moment. Soon the fun began--the downhill. I don't like a lot of speed and was by myself, so played it conservative. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the banked turns and ups and downs. 

I ended up at this sign and went back uphill a little bit on the Tin Pan Alley trail and reconnected to the Iceplant trail.

It really helped to have the Trailforks app, as then I knew where I was. Most of the trail junctions are marked, but not all. 

Overall, it was a great experience. I imagine a lot of the people in the area don't know what a fantastic resource this is, just like me an hour earlier. I intend to go back and take the family. Many more bike trails are in the process of being planned and built. Hooray!

Here's an overview of mountain biking in the Ely area.

Trail map

Nice article about mountain biking in Ely

Hopefully this serves as an inspiration to go out there and give it a try, even if you're a newbie like me. It's worth it!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Summertime in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada

In July I had the opportunity to go up to the Ruby Mountains for a few days for a workshop. I took the route through Secret Pass and then on some gravel roads to Lamoille Canyon. The views were spectacular.

Then I started up Lamoille Canyon. I remember the first time I drove up this canyon, about 19-20 years ago. I felt my breath taken away and thought that this area could be a national park. That was before I understood Elko politics!

Instead of delving into politics, I set up my camp at the Thomas Canyon campground.

It was after dinnertime and I knew I didn't have much time until it got dark, but I still had a little time. So I decided to drive the two miles up to the end of the road and was treated to some beautiful light on the glacially-carved canyon.

I pulled over to the side of the road to admire the amazing display of wildflowers. I was so excited, I felt like a kid. It is so nice to just be able to fully appreciate the beauty of where you are in the moment. I felt so grateful to be there.

When I got up to the trailhead I went over to the creek and to my delight found streamside orchids! I still can't get over orchids in Nevada, the driest state in the nation.

There were a few cars in the parking lot, but I had this little trail all to myself.

The California corn lily was impressive (but is apparently quite poisonous).

I found these fireweed very close to the parking lot. I first got to know them when I worked in Alaska, and they are one of my favorite flowers.

I was so excited seeing all these amazing flowers that I came up with a plan. We were meeting for a workshop at the trailhead at 9 am the next morning. If I got up at 4:30 am, I could go for a little hike to some mountain lakes first. So that's what I did. I packed everything for the next day, went to sleep, got up early, and hit the trailhead before sunrise. That got me up to Dollar Lakes, about 1.5 miles up the trail bright and early.

Next it was Lamoille Lake, 2 miles up from the trailhead. I sat and enjoyed the serenity, eating some breakfast. This was as far as I had planned to go. But I still had time...and energy...and a huge sense of curiousity.

So I continued on, leaving gorgeous Lamoille Lake.

I saw huge patches of fireweed and even snow up a gully.

Flowers decorated the mountains. Even though I wanted to cover a lot of ground, I just had to stop and take some photos.

As I got closer to Liberty Pass, the trail got rockier. I had hiked up here with my husband so many years ago that I couldn't remember exactly what it was like. I knew this was part of the Ruby Crest Trail, a 42-mile long trail. Seeing this gorgeous alpine and sub-alpine terrain made me want to see more.

It was quickly approaching my turn-around time, but I just couldn't turn around. I entered the Ruby Mountains Wilderness.

Just a little bit beyond I had a marvelous view of Liberty Lake, with Favre Lake in the background, blending in. I sat and had a quick snack, seeing tiny dots of tents down by the lake's edge. 

Then it was time for me to hustle back to the trailhead to make the 9 am workshop. I took the shorter horse trail, and found this gorgeous flower array. I'm not trail running this summer to let my knee recover from a running injury, but I was shuffling as fast as I could. Did I make it? Yep, I got there 3 minutes early. A little sweaty. And maybe breathing a little hard, but with a big smile on my face.

The workshop was fascinating, a group of specialists in high elevation five-needle pines. We learned more about some of their threats, like mountain pine beetles.

We examined mistletoe up close. I never knew there was male mistletoe (below)...

...and the bushier female mistletoe.

We discussed the non-native white pine blister rust, fire, and climate change. We got to know each other across a bunch of agencies and organizations. 

I enjoyed some pinecones. And met whitebark pines for the very first time (I thought they were limber pines--they look very similar.)

On the way back to camp, I stopped and admired this amazing beaver dam.

The next day was a field trip to the top of the Rubies further south, where we overlooked Ruby Marsh. What a sight!

I have to admit I got quite distracted by the alpine plants. The Whitney's milkvetch, with its speckled, inflated pods, were quite obvious.

We had more great talks, including by David Charlet, who wrote the amazing book Nevada's Mountains, where he catalogs what tree species live on all 319 of Nevada's mountain ranges. Not only is Nevada the driest state in the country, it's also the most mountainous. 

A quick view of bristlecone pine, because that's one of the coolest high elevation five-needle pines, in my opinion. 
A mudslide has closed Lamoille Canyon at the moment, with hopes that it will reopen by Labor Day (from the Thomas Canyon campground page.) Here's more info from Travel Nevada on the area. I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

4-H Dog Show with Fun Costume

As we get close to the end of summer (at least for the kids), we get really busy doing 4-H activities. At the end of July it was time for the dog show. Desert Girl hadn't practiced as much as last year, but she had done some, so we went in to Ely for her to compete. She did agility first.

Finn isn't so great on the teeter-totter. And going through the tunnels, he grabbed his leash in his mouth and played chase with Desert Girl. I was trying to hold in my laughter. Desert Girl was frustrated, but kept going.

Then it was time for obedience. She had to do a few different things.

This included walking around the sitting dog and then going to the end of the leash and have the dog continue sitting. This went better.

There was showmanship and rally (following written instructions at several stops), and although Desert Girl wasn't super pleased with how she and the dog did, I told her it was fine and she should just have fun.

Last was the costume part, and this is where she really did have fun. She told me about the costume idea earlier in the day: Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Finn made a lovely Little Red Riding Hood.

All the costumes were quite fun. The judge didn't know how she was going to judge them!

In the end, Desert Girl was the only participant in the junior division out of about 8 participants total. That meant she got five grand champions. She calculated her prize money and chuckled. I wouldn't be surprised if we go back next year!
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