Monday, April 23, 2012

SWxS to SSW of Center: The West Northumberland Canyon Springs and Northumberland Pass

In summer, the spring area in West Northumberland Canyon is one of few sources of water on the east side of Big Smoky Valley, and it's way up the canyon and out of the way for Highway 8A travelers (now S.R. 376). Better bets for finding water while traveling through Big Smoky Valley are the many running creeks coming off the east side of the Toiyabe Range, more than 15 miles across the valley from this often wet and muddy spring area (MSRMaps location).

On our mid-January trek up West Northumberland Canyon, we came to a large ice floe that had completely cut the road in the area of the West Northumberland Canyon springs. The slick ice was easy to track across, though staying to the right was entirely necessary to prevent sliding off into the ditch on the left side of the road.
I didn't stop to examine the ice prior to crossing; I instead followed existing tracks and stopped on the far, uphill side of the ice, to get this shot looking looking west-northwest, back down the canyon.
Like I said, the ice floe went entirely across the road.
In fact, the entire spring area was covered with ice, as seen in this shot looking northwest toward the lower end of the spring and the remains of a small mill.
The frozen spring upstream a bit: Freezing aparently caused the water to flow around the spring and marsh area and onto the road, where it froze solid in a shady spot.

From the springs, we wound our way up a few switchbacks toward the Northumberland gold mine (currently inactive), making it to the pass, which has been somewhat relocated from its original sit by mining activity. (Original map location of Northumberland Pass; a newer air-photo shows the pass a little to the north of the old site.)
We had a fine view from the pass, looking back to the northwest over the north part of the Northumberland caldera, and across Big Smoky Valley, all the way to the Toiyabe Range. The high peak in the Toiyabe Range north of Kingston Canyon (the low-ish spot beyond the reddish hill of tuff of Hoodoo Canyon) is Bunker Hill, at 11,473 feet.

From the pass, we drove down East Northumberland Canyon into Monitor Valley, to the Monitor Valley salt flat, the Potts Ranch hot springs, and The Geographical Center of Nevada.

Related Posts (in order of posting; #s indicate order in real time):
A Soak at Spencer Hot Springs (1)

The Geographic Center (8)

West to Southwest of Center: Beers and Roads and Folds and Things (2)

ENE of Center: Breccia at Devils Gate (3)

South of Center: Potts Ranch Hot Springs (7)

South by West of Center: Monitor Valley Salt Flat or Dry Lake (6)

Backroads: Too Cold to Change a Flat, and other Considerations (9)

SW to SWxS of Center: Northumberland Canyon (4)

SWxS to SSW of Center: The West NU Canyon Springs and Northumberland Pass - this post (5)


Geophysical Surveys said...

You have taken very great pictures of the Northumberland Canyon Springs and Northumberland Pass. I am all of sudden overcome with a wistfulness and a desire to visit this place someday.

Silver Fox said...

Ya, just don't get stuck in the spring like the last surveyors that drove straight into the mud!