April 18, 2001—Spencer Hot Springs, NV
The north tub.
Partly cloudy, windy, cool.
The wind has really whipped up since this morning when it was calm. They don’t call this Big Smoky Valley for nothing. Huge plumes of dust are rising from the central playa near and south of Northumberland Canyon, and the strong southerly wind is blowing that playa dust to the hot springs, just the way the westerly jet stream has been carrying dust from a Mongolian Desert dust storm all the way to Nevada (and beyond) during the last few days. The Mongolian dust has cleared out now, so Nevada is back to producing its own. High, thin clouds overhead have created a rather nice, complete circle around the sun. I often associate this kind of ice halo with incoming weather, usually a Pacific front or winter storm.
As far as dust goes (and it obviously goes a long ways), it doesn’t hurt that we are sitting here at the hot springs where a large area of cleared, tracked, alkali dirt is exposed to the wind: we have all the dust anyone could ever want. The only relatively dust-free places are the back of my truck and the hot spring tub. More on that, later, after we soak.
It’s a couple hours later, now, and the wind has picked up all the loose dust created by us hot-spring comers and goers and our vehicles, and blown it away: even though the wind speed hasn’t dropped, we are sitting in a dust-free zone. Dust is still blowing off the playa to the south, but that dust is flying low, swirling and scurrying like an impatient, runaway ground fog moving northward on the west side of the valley near Highway 8A (now S.R. 376). The wind at altitude seems to be nearly westerly; the ring around the sun has faded some.
A Geographic Note:
Please note the spelling of “Smoky” in Big Smoky Valley (it's not “Smokey”). That’s the way the old-timers spelled it, and that spelling is preserved and used on (most) maps of the area. The valley was also called Won-a-ho-nupe in at least one or two early reports.
A Writerly Note:
I started the Highway 8A or Mojave Exploration book tentatively with a few fairly unrelated blurbs, including this post and the last one, and then went on to other introductions that are already partly published on this blog. Consequently, although these blurbs are of interest (at least to me), I may not continue posting them. I do have more on Spencer Hot Spring, though, and that will be coming along soon!
A Few References:
Simpson, Captain J.H., 1876, Report of explorations across the Great Basin of the Territory of Utah for a direct wagon-route from Camp Floyd to Genoa in Carson Valley in 1859: Washington, D.C:, Government Printing Office, 518 pp.
Thomas, D.H., 1983, The archaeology of Monitor Valley: Anthropological papers of the American Museum of Natural History, v. 58, pt. 1, 194 pp.
Why Highway 8A?
Single Digit Highways
A Bit about License Plates
Highway8A Introduction I