The previous three days had Dennis and I doing the ones below:
Day one - Desatoya Peak
Day two - Bunker Hll
Day three - Diamond Peak
After getting back into our vehicles when we finished Diamond Peak, Dennis and I headed for Elko Nevada. The sign to Carlin on I-80 said it was 88 miles (no gas) on highway 278. Make sure you fill up in Eureka before you leave that town cause there is NOTHING between Carlin and Eureka. But then, that is part of the beauty of Nevada roads, lots of nothing. Despite the sparsity of towns, there was plenty of traffic and the speed limit of 70 MPH is nice until you look behind you and see in your rear view mirror, a double trailered semi truck bearing down on you doing over 80 MPH. Yikes. After this guy passed us, I just settled in behind and let him lead the way. For 60 miles, we just flew until the outskirts of Carlin were reached and mr. trucker guy slowed down to a crawl at a mere 55.
From Carlin, its about 22 miles to Elko and our goal was to get to the Spring Creek Association place so we could pick up a key to the campground that they run. By staying in the campground, you can camp right at the TH and save 1.2 miles of walking both ways and over 500 feet of elevation gain. This drops the round trip mileage to a mere 13 miles versus over 15. However, the savings isn't without a price tag. It costs ten dollars a day or twenty bucks for each and Dennis also put down a 25 dollar deposit for the key. The phone number is
775-753-6295 and you mention that you would like the key for the campground. Mention if necessary that you are planning to climb Ruby Dome and you probably won't get asked if you are a member. They were very friendly and helpful. 8-5 M-F and they are located at 451 Spring Creek Parkway, just before a sheriff's substation on the north side of the road. Access from Elko via the Lamoille Highway (SR-227) and it is roughly about ten or so miles from downtown Elko.
We made it in time to pick up the key and a campground map. The campground is a big disappointment, not in good shape nor a place I'd take my family but for our purposes it was fine. (the outhouse was closed and most of the tables didn't exist anymore) The place hasn't had any upkeep in years but it served its purpose, it put us close to the TH so we could get an early morning start. I noticed a few mosquitoes so I would imagine earlier in the year it would be a place where'd you wear a lot of repellent. Since we sleep in our cars, all we had to do was find a spot that was level enough and even that took a little doing. About 9:30 at night, two guys and a dog stumbled past us on their way down. They had summitted at nearly 4 pm and had run out of light about Griswold Lake. Then they realized that they didn't have headlamps with them and had a rough 4 miles getting back to the TH. The poor guys were beat and had the experience of getting lost before they got their bearings and chose the right canyon. I gave them a small light that would help them make it down the road to their car, parked outside of the locked gate.
Morning came early so Dennis and I were up and moving with headlamps by 6 a.m. and used them for the first half hour or so until it became light enough to put them away. The day looked good as all the clouds that had been present the night before were gone. I didn't mention that the cars were parked at an elevation of 6500 feet and with the summit of Ruby Dome at above 11,400, we had to drop down a 100 feet below the cars so we could make it an official 5000 foot day. Just a game but 5000 just seemed like a ton more than 4900. Go with me on this but we wanted the day to be a 5K day. OK, back to the climb. We made Griswold Lake at about 9 a.m. so it took us close to 3 hours to do the 4+ miles and 2700 feet to the lake located at over 9200 feet. The lake was perfectly still and we were treated to a mirror like appearence. I took several pics of the reflections as did Dennis but realized that the lighting was somewhat poor for getting good pictures. We took a brief break and pondered the route. From the lake, it didn't look too easy and it looked like all cliffs to deal with but the trip report we were reading said that if we go to the left, the route will just open up for us as we worked our way up. That turned out to be right on and we found it easy work to make the ridge a thousand feet higher. At ten a.m., we took another short break and studied the map and the trip report we had brought along. Once again, the trip report author was right on. Often, when we tried our own way, we found that the TR was the way to go everytime.
Working our way up and through a ledge system, we found ourselves 600 feet below the summit at the ridgeline and from there it was just careful foot placement up a jumbled mess of a talus slope, with recent snow patches that I avoided on the way to the summit. Dennis who had summitted before me was up there hollaring like a crazy man. Then I realized he was listening to his echo which would bounce from one canyon to another before it would die out. While we had clouds forming up, we had an almost perfect day on the summit. Just a little breeze and plenty of sunshine. So nice. We signed into the register and saw the names of those two that had stumbled down in the dark. It listed their summit time as 3:45 p.m. but just before them was another signature, a third person had summitted about an hour before them and then I remembered the headlamp of a man who came past our vehicles at the TH an hour before the other two showed up. What made this interesting is that the weather the day before was cloudy and threatening. What a contrast today was. Oftentimes the mountains are like that, huge swings in just a 24 hour period.
Realizing that we had a long way to go to get back down in time to return the key before 5 p.m., we had a quick bite, I called my wife and we headed down, carefully picking our steps back the way we came. Down, down, down. Why does it seem like it takes forever to get down even though you are able to travel faster and with more ease. It was great to finally reach the vehicles and make our way back to the Spring Creek Association where Dennis returned the key and we headed into Elko to get a room and some real food. Four days and four peaks, a shower would be a real treat. The buffet at the Red Lion was another treat.