Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back to Midas

At long last, we're back on the Tuscarora Loop, with the turnoff to the small town of Midas just up ahead. On our loop trip, taken way back in early June, MOH and I passed Midas by, in favor of making it all the way to Tuscarora. At the time, I had been to neither place, but Tuscarora seemed more out-of-the-way, and therefore more exotic, so down the road we went.

We came back in mid-July, and instead of following the main road, old S.R. 18, to the right, we took the side road up the canyon to the left.

Signs at the turnoff to the Midas road.

Sign at the entrance to the town of Midas, and green trees.

Acme Beer sign, reportedly dating to about 1936.
I was on the lookout for a bar that had been open in 1979 or 1980, a bar I knew as Kirby's Midas Bar, a name given to me by a friend of mine, a young woman who was working as a geologist while staying in Midas in a company trailer. Seeing the old sign for Andy's Midas Bar made me somewhat hopeful about finding either Kirby's or Andy's bar, although Acme Beer dates back primarily to the early 1950s and before. Acme Beer did have a short revival in 1975 to 1979; could it have possibly been being sold in Midas while my friend was in town?

While in Midas, my friend could make or receive phone calls on one of the two phones in town, which had the phone numbers of Midas #1 and Midas #2. Phone numbers like these were fairly common in the 1970s and early to mid- or late 1980s in the small, outlying towns of Nevada. These numbers confused operators outside the state to no end. To place a call into Midas or Getchell, for example, you would dial 0 for an operator and then ask for Midas #1 or Getchell #2 as needed. If dialing in from out of state when trying to reach one of these types of numbers, one learned quickly to ask the out-of-state operator for a Nevada operator, because many outside operators didn't believe that phone numbers like that could even exist.

While I was looking for, and not finding, the bar I'd heard of long ago, MOH and I were hoping that the one known-to-be-operating establishment in Midas, the Midas Saloon and Dinner House, would be open, but it wasn't. This became a concern during a later, uphill, in-the-rain adventure of ours.

Mine dump, ore cart, and portal (?) a little ways up Midas Creek.

Old cabin, garage, or storage shed.

Road to somewhere.
After a quick pass through town, we headed up the hill to the west on this relatively innocent-looking side road. The partly cloudy weather became more and more threatening as storms to the south moved in, creating an unexpectedly muddy situation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain, Nevada.
Driving by Blue Mountain the other day, I composed a little song, sung to the tune of On Top of Old Smokey.

On top of old Bluey,
Never covered with snow,
I spied some sweet outcrops
And a herd of antelope.

The Black Rock is nearby
And so is a mine.
You can see both from the top
Anytime the sun shines.

I wondered and wondered
Where the Blue name came from.
There's no blue spruce or turquoise,
And no rivers that run.

Okay, so you can barely see the mine, and sometimes the mountains gets a bit of snow:

Barely seeing the mine (yellow pin in distance) from Blue Mountain.
Blue Mountain and snow shower, beyond fallish tree.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Recent Hike: Snow and Fall Leaves

About a week ago, MOH and I decided to brave the snow to take a hike up our current hiking hill. The first thing of note was a lone cottonwood with bright yellow orange leaves that glowed against the white backdrop of the Sonoma Range. The tree sits along the main dirt road, below the first campsites scattered along the creek coming out of Water Canyon.

I haven't blogged much about this newish hiking hill of ours, although through spring and summer we took as many hikes as my schedule would allow. On this snowy day, after parking at the road-end parking area, we hiked past the last campsite, crawled over a metal bar in the closed and locked gate, and went around the snow-slippery cattle guard. Above the gate and cattle guard, the trail follows a variably passable old road that is only open to motorized traffic in summer and early fall.

The creek runs down this part of the road in spring and early summer, making the first part of the trail quite eroded and somewhat rocky. I was surprised to find the creek flowing in it's regular channel adjacent to this rocky section, because that lower section of creek had dried up during the summer.

The creek was also flowing quite well here, where it crosses the road just past half-mile canyon (our name).

A little past the creek crossing, I spotted this dammed-up portion of the creek. Some trees have fallen across the creek below the little dam, possibly causing the stacked tree limbs to be caught during higher creek flow, although the dam also looks like it could have been man-made by neatly stacking the fallen or cut tree limbs.

Leaves behind the dam.

A bird was furiously scratching in the snow across the creek, presumably trying to find some seeds. It seemed to be using more energy than it could possibly have been replacing! We also saw a chickadee, a magpie or two, and one deer. The deer had come up out of the dammed portion of the creek, and had then walked along the road until it heard or saw us. Before we could get close enough for a photo, it jumped up hill and ambled away.

We made it up the main canyon past this fence; then we turned around before making it to one-mile tree. It was cold, and it was looking dark behind us.

Leaves under ice and water.

Looking down the main canyon after turning around.

Aspens in the rocky section of the lower trail or road.

Rose leaves showing their fall colors.

The lone cottonwood on the road out.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mid-Monthly Art: Aspen Leaf

Aspen Leaf
A yellow to golden brown and slightly reddish aspen leaf, inspired, no doubt, by leaves like these, which can be found every fall around the lake.

Copyright © 2012 Looking for Detachment.
Original work Copyright © 2003.
All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brief: A Trip to Rochester Canyon

Looking west down Rochester Canyon.
It was a partly cloudy day that progressively became overcast, and after a so-far-unreported trip up Limerick Canyon to Rolands Canyon and the lower part of the Champion Mine, MOH and I sped up Rochester Canyon to take a look at the old town site of Lower Rochester, main Rochester now being buried beneath the waste dumps of the active Coeur Rochester Mine. I didn't know whether I'd be finding anything familiar from one of my first Nevada field trips taken back in 1976 or 1977.

We were disappointed to find that the area had succumbed to one of several summer fires, a fire that had destroyed most of the wooden structures of Lower Rochester, other than those near the old Looney Mine. I took few pictures, mostly of tailings from one of the old mills.

The entire canyon was remarkably unfamiliar to me, and I suspect that the area I remember from long ago was either the main site of Rochester, or an upper site called Rochester Heights (location not presently known to me).

Pictures of Lower Rochester from before the fire can be found here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Update from the Lake: Fall Leaves and Some Snow

While at the lake most recently, about three weeks ago, fall started acting a little like winter...

...although it seemed as though it must have been a late fall: aspen leaves were green, yellow, and orange all at once.

Yellow aspen leaf.

Reddish leaf, unknown variety, with shadows.

Another yellow aspen leaf.

Shadows of aspen trees across pine needles and aspen leaves.

The last day we were there, it snowed on the higher hills.

Leaves with raindrops.
It rained down near lake level, with snow barely sticking in a few cooler places around our yard. We decided to leave (no pun intended).

Snow along the road.
And so we left, having turned the place off for the winter. Shortly after our trip we passed into a fairly late Indian summer, and after a week or so of that, we went into winter, with snow falling in desert basins below 4000 feet.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

V is for Vein

Gypsum veins form a V in sandstone.
Apologies to Evelyn Mervine and her Geology Word of the Week, but I just couldn't pass this one up.

Rock found by MOH on a barely recent hike.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Temperature Readings at Sulphur Works

Continued from this earlier post:

MOH and I went back to Lassen Volcanic National Park about two weeks ago, taking our IR thermometer and a water or snow thermometer. Our intention: measure the sidewalk temperatures near the boiling mud pot at Sulphur Works, and—if possible—get a reading or two of the boiling mud in the mud pot.

The boiling mud pot at Sulphur Works.

Approaching the boiling mud pot area at Sulphur Works.

We approached the mud pot on the sidewalk, taking our first temperature reading 60 feet west of the approximate center of the mud pot. We continued taking several readings, until we were about 105 to 110 feet east of the center of the mud pot. Most measurements were taken at the center of the sidewalk, about half way between the curb and the inner edge. Reading #9 was outside the sidewalk curb, near the outer edge of the reddish concrete of the sidewalk, just inside the black asphalt of the road. Reading #10 was near the inner edge of the sidewalk, just inside the inner curb.

MOH was in charge of our two thermometers and of taking readings, I was in charge of determining our approximate location (by pacing) from the center of the boiling mud pot, and I was also in charge of recording the readings taken.

Looking back toward the mud pot from the area of the farthest reading. The steaming mud pot is just beyond the large whitish area.
  Reading #1,        60' west,   center of sidewalk:           66.1° F
  Reading #2,        35' west,   center of sidewalk:           68.6° F
  Reading #3,        10' west,   center of sidewalk:           74.8° F
  Reading #4,          0' west,   center of sidewalk:           76.5° F
  Reading #5,        25' east,    center of sidewalk:           67.5° F
  Reading #6,        55' east,    center of sidewalk:           98.4° F
  Reading #10,      60' east,    inner edge of sidewalk:    149.0° F
  Reading #7,        95' east,    outer edge of sidewalk:     97.3° F
  Reading #8,      105' east,    center of sidewalk:          107.8° F
  Reading #9,      105' east,    beyond the curb:             128.0° F

The two hottest spots on the sidewalk that we could find were some distance from the center of the boiling mud pot. The first and hottest area—reading #10, with #6 nearby, located about 60 and 55 feet east of the center of the mud pot—was near a little side drainage from which steam was barely issuing. The second hottest area that we measured—readings #8 and #9, located about 105 feet east of the center of the mud pot—was near a small, steaming hole in the ground.

Reading #10 was taken along the inner edge of the sidewalk here; #6 was slightly closer to the center of the mud pot, near the center of the sidewalk.

Closer view of the general area beyond reading #10. 
NOTE: All measurements were taken on the sidewalk, not beyond in this hot, crusty ground. Scalds and severe burns can result from breaking through the ground in the hydrothermal areas in the Lassen area, so we didn't venture beyond the fence.

The ground was steaming slightly in this area near reading #10.

Reading #9 was taken near the outside of the sidewalk pavement, just inboard of the highway; #8 was at this location in the center of the sidewalk.

More growths along sidewalk cracks near readings #8 and #9.

This small, steaming hole in the ground is located inside the fence near readings #8 and #9.

Here we are back at the boiling mud pot, ready to measure the temperature of the mud.
After completing our sidewalk measurements with the IR thermometer, we went back to the mud pot to measure the temperature of the boiling, muddy water. Our first dip of the thermometer, which was attached by foil to a walking stick that MOH hung over the fence railing into the water, was somewhat disappointing: a mere 140°F or so, though we read the thermometer after it was pulled from the water.

We took a second reading near a small boiling area just west of the main mud pot. This time, I captured the reading with the camera: about 172°F. We went back to the main pot, and the camera captured a temperature of about 160°F.

Temperature at the center of the mud pot: about 160° F.

Temperature in a small side pool slightly west of the main pot: 172° F.
Approximate locations of sidewalk temperature readings.

All readings were taken on 21Oct2012 between 11:31 am and 12:02 pm PDT. I regret that I didn't take a GPS and instead relied on my somewhat variable 5-foot pace for locations.