Water in the desert at 12:30 pm: Seyler Reservoir, looking north up Big Smoky Valley.
I took a road trip last week, south into Big Smoky Valley (MSRMaps), in order to grab a few photos from areas I visited in 1976 while on my thesis hunt.
I started fairly early in the morning while the weather was surprisingly cool — though the day warmed towards summer as the road dropped elevation to the south. I stopped for lunch at Carver's Station (sometimes called Carver's, or even Carvers), after making a brief run up Kingston Canyon to look at a cabin I used to stay in way back when. (It's still there, a different color, but still there.)
The trek from the Peavine Campground turnoff to the Pole Line Road, and then back again, on varying types of dirt roads — all the while making assorted turnarounds to check things out and to, well, turn around — took about two hours. (See my Pole Line to Belmont post for the route.)
Mirage in Big Smoky Valley, looking north from about San Antone Ranch, at 2:30 pm.
I had started out the day feeling anxious, agitated, or rushed — though sometimes merely intent and interested — and I went in and out of these various phases as I zoomed down Big Smoky Valley, actually achieving nearly laid-back feelings during lunch repasting. I kept thinking that the agitation and anxiety might be echoing the way I felt back then, back in '76, when I took off down roads I'd never seen before and went to places I'd only heard of.
Big, wide Big Smoky Valley looking north, also at about 2:30 pm.
I'm not sure why I was feeling that way last week while driving roads I'd been on and going to places I'd been to (although some places I hadn't seen in a couple or three decades). It felt a little like overdrive, like I had decided to try to get it all done in one day, therefore I had a deadline and had to rush to meet it. It also felt like agoraphobia: the wide, open, bright blue sky getting larger and brighter the farther south I went and the longer I stayed on the road. I'm sure that banging up and down and across bright beige, washboardy to nearly washed out roads didn't really help matters. I barely stopped anywhere for photos; took most of them on the run.
A closer view of the east side of the southern Toiyabe Range.
I realized later that I'm better off going somewhere — some place, a pre-identified, pre-chosen place — arriving there in the mid to late afternoon or early evening, getting a room (yes, that's right, a motel room, not a camp spot for my truck). Settling in calms me down from any overdrive or hyper-roadness I've accumulated while being wired for driving; I can walk around, get some dinner, have a beer (or not, as the case may be), sit in an air-conditioned room (rather than running through the summery desert and steppe in a hot, non-AC truck), and chill. That way, the next morning I can calmly — after breakfast, and after getting some lunch fixings — get in my truck and drive to a few specified (or even impromptu) areas or roads or towns or whathaveyou.
The same mountains at about 4:30 pm, from just north of the Manhattan turnoff.
Anyway, the glaring, not-yet summer-hot sun can be a detractor while trying to remain calm in desert conditions, and wide-open spaces can be counteracted by spending a couple days indoors doing paperwork or staring at a wall. They can also be relieved by days spent in amongst trees, even those as small as found in a typical piñon-juniper forest. Tall trees are even better. Tall trees and cool water.
A cool-looking ranch on the range-front at Pablo Canyon.
Hmm... what am I doing here? Well, it would be a 16-hour round trip and about $120 in gas just to escape to the lake for the weekend. Or, it could be a similarly long round trip and about $??? in an airplane to get away to that cool north country known as Alaska.
(Oh. And on the way back, before even making it to Carver's Station, the battery gauge started reading lower, and lower, and lower, and... )