Monday, August 2, 2010

Oregon Trip Day 1: A Brewery, Some Geology, Wildlife, and Other Stuff

I just returned from a mega-trip with MOH into central Oregon, where I met with family at an annual reunion-type affair on a basalt-capped bluff overlooking a small Oregon town. We spent four days getting there, spent three days there, and rushed back in two days.

Our first stop was the Ruby Mountain Brewing Company at Angel Creek Ranch, which is a little south of Wells, Nevada.
The brewery is a small affair on an operating ranch along the eastern range front of the East Humboldt Range. We had a taste of two brews, then purchased a couple cases, which we took with us for delivery to the reunion, keeping it cold in a large ice chest in the back of the Prius.

We like the Angel Creek Amber Ale and the Buckaroo Brew Pale Ale. The pale ale, which isn't listed on their website, was originally made for the Western Folklife Center and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko.

Be sure to call ahead if you plan to visit this brewery, otherwise they might be out dealing with cows, horses, hay and the like.
Photo: Leaving the Great Basin; Mesas are capped by welded tuff.

After driving north on Highway 93, we crossed the California Trail and then left the Great Basin by dropping into the Snake River drainage region. The photo looks a little north of northwest from Highway 93 near Henry (Google Maps Street View). The mesa on the very left is Big Devils Table, the mountain on the right is Ellen D Mountain, and the main drainage cutting the mesas a little right of center is Salmon Falls Creek (MSRMaps). According to this map, the dark brown mesas are capped by Tts, which includes ignimbrites and tuffs of the Idavada Formation and may include the rhyolitic Cougar Point Tuff (Tcp). Sediments mapped as Ts3 underlie the capping rhyolitic tuffs. The dark-brown mesas look like basalts from a distance but aren't.
Photo: Dipping beds and granodiorite.

After making a turn to the northeast, the road goes toward the siding of Contact and passes by China Mountain, where you can see some sedimentary layers (center and right) dipping moderately to steeply to the south, away from a granitic pluton (left). The plutonic rocks are mapped as Jgd (Jurassic granodiorite) on the same geologic map; the seds are mapped as PMl (Upper Mississippian to Lower Permian limestone, along with shale, chert, orthoquartzite, and siltite). The intrusive contact between the sedimentary and plutonic rocks might be what the siding of Contact is named for; it also might be named for the contact-metamorphic mineral deposits and prospects of the Contact mining district. This aerial photo shows the beds and contact fairly well.
Photo: A closer view of the intrusive contact.

Highway 93 then cuts through the Jurassic granodiorite for at least a few miles, providing ample opportunity for closer viewing at roadcuts.
We drove by an old hot springs south of the NV-ID border and wondered about its status, but didn't check it out. It's not listed in my hot springs books, and not shown on the topo maps (building is in the upper center of this air photo).
We crossed Salmon Falls Creek not once or twice (above), but three times, the third being a crossing at Salmon Falls Dam.
After what seemed like a long trek on the Jarbidge Road across variably flat to hilly country with the occasional canyon, we dropped into the canyon of the East Fork of the Jarbidge River heading for the Jarbidge Forks. In my two drives down and one drive up this part of the road, I was too busy looking at the canyon to notice this man-made rock wall.
A view of the rock wall looking straight up: the wall is on the left, it then meanders over to the center where it joins a horizontal flow basalt capping the ridge.
We took a quick drive through Murphy's Hot Springs, which doesn't have an active commercial operation at the moment — but maybe it's for sale! Murphy's Hot Springs is mostly a small, private settlement, with at least one road crossing the East Fork of the Jarbidge River.
We arrived in Jarbidge after very slow driving on the narrow, one-laned road (read more about the road in here). We checked in, checked the place out, and went for a walk around town, where we flushed out a deer or two.
We didn't see any dingoes.
There are a lot of old pieces of this and that kind of equipment and relics around town, including a photogenic old CAT from an unknown era.
Finally, we stopped in at the Outdoor Inn, whose sign boasts "Booze, Grub, Rooms."
This is the current beer selection. MGD? Or a Ruby Mountain ale?

Trip report to be continued...

Some References:
Bonnichsen, Bill, 1991, Geology of Scenic Jarbidge Canyon Near Murphy Hot Springs, Idaho: Idaho Geological Survey, GeoNote 16, 2 p.

Hope, R.A. and Coats, R.R., 1976, Preliminary geologic map of Elko County, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report OF-76-779, 1:100,000.


Gaelyn said...

I love this kind of road trip, geology, beer and hot springs.

Silver Fox said...

A true roadie! In the west, it's hard to drive anywhere without passing within driving distance of a hot spring. Finding a brewery is another matter, at least in Nevada...