One of my goals has been to climb the highest peak in each of the Nevada counties and so it was with this goal in mind that I headed south from my home in the tri-cities. I met up with felow SP'er Dennis Poulin from Medford Oregon and together we did a peak a day, starting with the 9976 foot high Desatoya Peak of Churchill county. Dennis and I met up at 10:30 p.m. just outside the Cold Springs store / bar on US 50. and from there we headed 6 miles north to where an unmarked dirt road takes off to the right from the highway. After opening and closing a gate, we were on the old Overland road heading for Basque summit.
None of this is signed but by studying topo maps and reading trip reports posted at www.cohp.org and the fine page that ScottyS put up, both Dennis and I knew pretty much how we wanted to get to the summit.
At the six mile mark on this washboarded and dusty road, we pulled off by a fence line at a flat spot and car camped (in our vehicles) for the night. We had noticed a lot of hunters parked in their rigs at various places along the road as we proceeded in. I was glad to have packed some flourescent orange as it looked like we would need it the next day.
As soon as it was light enough to see, we were on our way up the road to Basque Summit (a pass) and beyond to as far as we could push the 2WD vehicle we were in. A rather nasty section convinced us that we were as far as we could go and we parked short of hill 8043 although the 4WD road continued on up and over. We hoofed it from there and within an hour found ourselves at a saddle slightly above 9000 feet. A 4 WD road allows those who have the machines to make it all the way up to this point and even further, reducing the elevation gain to under 1000 feet for summitting. As we made it to this saddle, a vehicle full of hunters pulled up and immediately spotted three deer who suddenly found themselves the center of attention. With two of the teenaged members chasing off to the right of them and the two older hunters heading to the left, I didn't think the deer, two bucks and a doe, had much of a chance. Overall about 12 shots were fired and the deer escaped untouched, much to the chagrin of the hunters.
After the fireworks had died down, Dennis and I made our move but we picked a route that took us above where the deer had been and we kept a wary eye on the hunters to make certain we didn't get into any possibility of a crossfire. Picking our way up onto the ridge we then began to make good progress and were soon out of the hunters arena, we thought, until we looked down slope to our east and saw two other hunters making their way up along the flank of the mountain. We moved to the west and sidehilled around the Desatoya twin that was the shorter of the two and then found a use trail that led to the summit of the more southerly and higher twin.
Desatoya's summit from the side of the north twin
A register was located next to the summit cairn and pictures were snapped but we decided not to linger very long as weather seemed to heading our way from the west. Still, it was a great view point with super views in all directions. I found a note in the register from ScottyS addressed to me and that gave me a chuckle. Ah anticipation. We quickly signed in and headed down.
Scotty Strachan's entry in the register
On our way down we did see some wild horses heading away from a hunter that had topped the ridge above them to the west. We saw signs (horse crap) everywhere and I mean everywhere and in abundance. Large deposits left behind giving us reason to believe that there must be a lot of wild horses in this area.
Before we had made even 500 feet of elevation down, the hail hit and began to pelt us in steady and unrelenting fashion. No matter, we felt we could drop further down and be out of the hail but it seemed to follow us all the way back to our vehicle, which resulted in our clothes being drenched and our bodies bruised from the hour long barrage.
Shortly after getting back to our vehicle, thunder and lightning started in and we were very happy to be safely sheltered and on our way down. Time up: 2 1/2 hours from where we parked with an elevation gain of 2300 feet and about 3 miles each way and an hour and a half back down. I didn't factor in time lost as we waited for the hunters to chase their elusive targets. I was glad to have had plenty of orange on.
Dennis and his 2WD wonder with the clouds obscuring any sight of Desatoya in the distance.
Our next objective was to be Bunker HIll in neighboring
Lander county. Thats where we headed from Desatoya,
Bunker Hill (not the New England version)
"After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world."
--Oscar Wilde on Absinthe