9-21-2007: After driving south from Highway 50 east of Austin onto old Highway 8A, now Nevada S.R. 367, we stopped at Spencer Hot Springs and soaked briefly in a lower tub, one just below and west of the main spring. It’s a tub that MOH and I hadn't been to before, although it’s possible that I camped next to it a number of years ago while at the springs with NJ&O. The tub was well set up and was at a good temperature.
From Spencer, we drove to old Highway 8A and then south to Kingston Canyon.
View of the Toquima Range from Highway 8A.
We're looking across Big Smoky Valley toward the Northumberland caldera, with the wide, flat-topped mountain in the far right being Mount Jefferson, the sixth highest peak in Nevada, with the third highest prominence.
We wound through the small village of Kingston, driving by the rundown cabin I lived in back in '79 and '80, and by the land-uphill, takeoff-downhill dirt airstrip. The road meanders through town and then into Kingston Canyon.
The Kingston Canyon road, a good graveled road, then goes through and under willows and cottonwoods, past a small lake or two, past a campground, a couple fishermen, and an old ranger station.
Up ahead, the road switchabacks up to the pass.
Just past the ranger station, the road crosses Kingston Creek, shortly thereafter making a broad turn to the northeast. After the turn, the road abruptly steepens to switchback through a rocky section, 4WD usually (always?) required, to the 8660-foot pass between Kingston Canyon and Big Creek Canyon.
View northward from the pass between Kingston and Big Creek Canyons.The road then descends less abruptly and with gentler turns into the southern high reaches of Big Creek Canyon—a long, north-south canyon full of aspens, scattered quartz boulders, abundant sagebrush, steep slopes, and a creek stocked with trout.
Quartz-vein boulders littering the west slopes of the 11,000-foot-plus Toiyabe Range ridgeline.
One of the larger quartz-vein boulders.
Old ore bin in upper Big Creek Canyon.
After passing Big Creek Campground, we drove out of the canyon onto the western slope of the Toiyabe Range above upper Reese River Valley.
We then drove forthwith to Fallon, stopping only at Middlegate Junction to get a soda and snack. Middlegate Junction, as is often the case, was suffering a horrendous dust storm due to strong winds coming north up the valley from Gabbs. Wind was blasting Highway 50 at a perfect 90º angle. Farther on, sand was spraying from Sand Mountain, making life miserable in the RV city sitting at its base.
We got a room in Fallon that night, then went for a fine Mexican dinner at a little cantina south of the main drag (Highway 50). The chips and salsa were excellent; the waiters and waitresses were dressed in black and white outfits like tuxedos. We had first dined there many years ago after retreating from a subzero winter trip to Spencer Hot Springs. The temperature in Big Smoky Valley had been -18º F, and amidst unknown electrical problems, a moonless darkness, and a foot of snow, the heater in the camper wouldn't kick on. Fallon was the closest place for repairs on that earlier trip; it was a welcome stopping point four years ago.