Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday from the Road: West Gate

As mentioned briefly in a long-ago post, West Gate is the westernmost of three geographic notches that Highway 50 passes through near Middlegate Junction: West Gate, Middlegate, and Eastgate. The three notches can be seen on this MSRMaps topo map, although only Eastgate is labeled. West Gate is here, with Middlegate Junction called "Middlegate," Middlegate (the notch, not the junction or the station) is here on the edge of two or more maps (which gives MSRMaps fits sometimes, so I zoomed way in) and Eastgate is here (likewise with the MSRMaps bit). You can click over to air-photo view in MSRMaps anytime to avoid these map gaps.
through trees You can get to West Gate from either the west or the east on that famous Nevada road, Highway 50. From the east, it is rather unprepossessing, as seen above from just a little west of Middlegate (the gate or notch) and a little east of Middlegate Junction. West Gate is that barely visible drop off seen through the fallish tree in the center of the photo (November, 2008).
near m-gate As you approach a little closer to West Gate from the east, while coming closer and closer to Middlegate Junction, West Gate appears as a gap between two hills and as a drop into Stingaree Valley. This photo was taken in the spring after things had greened up a bit (May, 2008).
50 sign Even closer still - right at Middlegate Junction and the turnoff to Middlegate Station and Gabbs (sometimes pronounced Gaaa-aaa-aaabs, like a lamb baaaa-ing, and never "gobs" like in "goblin") - and West Gate still doesn't look like much, as seen above through the Highway 50 sign. The photo was taken in the spring before things had greened up (April, 2008).
into stingaree Okay, enough of West Gate from the east! What about West Gate from the west? Above, in the distance, beyond the brown Earthquake Fault sign near the black car, and across Stingaree Valley, you can see the notch called West Gate. In fact, if you know where to look, you can barely see Middlegate the notch, and beyond that, you can make out where Eastgate would be if the east part of the Clan Alpine Mountains wasn't in the way.
corner Ah, now we've crossed Stingaree Valley and are rapidly heading into the notch-gate called West Gate. It's just the gap between the hill in shadow on the right (south) and the hill not-in-shadow on the left (north). The snowy Desatoya Mountains can be seen clearly in the background.
west gate Now we're arriving quickly into West Gate, coming into the shadow cast by the late afternoon sun.
moon Oh my! Suddenly the entire notch is in shadow and the moon is up! That's the difference made by about one year, two months and one hour (from January, 2009 back to November, 2007 - and back again below). A little artistic license, we'll call it!
windmill And why, you're thinking, might you even want to go to West Gate? There are several reasons: 1) the road passes through it and otherwise you will have to go way out of your way to the south on U.S. Route 6 to get across Nevada, or way out of your way to the north on the sometimes boring I-80, 2) the West Gate windmill is at West Gate (surprise!), and 3) there might be a bit of geology...

Oh, that will have to wait for later.

A little more about the geography:
West Gate is a notch cut into the western splay of the Clan Alpine Mountains, Middlegate is cut into the eastern splay of the Clan Alpine Mountains, and Eastgate is cut in a mini-forerange of the Desatoya Mountains. Eastgate Wash heads above the notch at Eastgate in the Desatoya Mountains, where one main upstream branch is called Buffalo Creek and another is called Big Den Creek. All the washes and creeks that feed Eastgate Wash are shown as intermittent, but there is almost always water in the deeply incised creek bed at Eastgate. From Eastgate, Eastgate Wash makes it westward across Highway 50 and past The Shoe Tree, through Middlegate (the gate), and then is channeled along Highway 50 to West Gate, after being joined by Bench Creek, which comes south out of the Clan Alpine Mountains. From West Gate and to the west, the wash either joins or becomes Dixie Valley Wash, depending on what map one uses. Dixie Valley Wash bends northward and ends in the Humboldt Salt Marsh in Dixie Valley.

Eastgate Wash is often dry, anymore, near The Shoe Tree. It is often damp to running part of the way along Highway 50 between Middlegate the gate and West Gate. It is almost always dry when I stop at West Gate, which really isn't very often, so I don't have good year-round-eyeball water data. In the cool and wet late 1970's, the wash at West Gate was dry to damp to running. This water information, such that it is, should be considered anecdotal at best.

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