Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Can See For Miles...

...and miles...
...and miles...

That's basically what I like best about the geology of the area I live in (Nevada in general, the Basin and Range even more broadly), and as I've probably mentioned before, I moved west primarily to get away from what I perceived as an overabundance of biology over geology (see Dana's AW#29 post for more on biology v. geology). I also moved west to return to the general area I grew up in. I've stayed here ever since, except for a brief sojourn in that northern state known as Alaska (Yes, it's a state. Some people Outside — here in the Lower 48 — don't actually know that.)

And so begins my short but sweet post for Accretionary Wedge #29 (almost too late for an entry due to winter weather, winter un-wellness, and winter work), a Wedge which is being hosted this month by Ann at Ann's Musings on Geology & Other Things. The questions? "What Geological features about the area you call 'home' do you love? and what do you not like?"
I love the mountains. (Note the trees and above-tree-line alpine terrain, a sometimes underated or underexplored feature of the Basin and Range.)
I love the valleys. (Note the hot springs in the foreground, a nice and warm geologic feature of the Basin and Range.)
I love viewing the mountains from the valleys. (Note the prominent range-front fault, one of the many fascinating geologic features of the Basin and Range).
I love viewing the mountains and valleys from the tops of mountains whenever possible. (Note that you are looking at the south end of one of those huge Nevada-style, mid-Tertiary calderas to the left of Mount Jefferson, the third highest mountain in Nevada, and also that you are looking at the place where that green helicopter pilot left me out all night many years ago in mid-October. Brr.)
If there's anything about the geology of Nevada and the Basin and Range that I don't like, it's that there is just too much of it for me to see it all!
This post has been brought to you by the Basin and Range of Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona (primarily Nevada in this particular case). Basin and Range also occurs in Mexico, and I've seen a patch of it up in the Yukon (with Artemisia!). [And I forgot Utah!] More on the Basin and Range here. More on the range-front fault shown above here.
Basin and Range! Yeah!!

What Is a Road Song?

For those of you who may not know, I have a series (or at least a tag and a page) about road songs. The road songs are often posted as videos, sometimes with lyrics or links to lyrics, usually without much fanfare. Occasionally, I attach a story, or weave the road song into a story or blog post in some way. You might wonder, though, looking through my list, what exactly qualifies a song as a road song?

Road songs began back in the mid-1980s, when a colleague of mine in the Denver office of Former Mining Company made a tape or two containing a bunch of road songs. That year — it would have had to have been 1988 — I was traveling to other districts, going from project to project, visiting other geologists' properties and projects in a kind of geologist-exchange program. It was educational for me, and the idea was to foster communication and exchange of ideas between districts, and also to foster camaraderie. The districts I'm speaking of here aren't mining districts, which are fairly small geographically, but rather districts making up the company. FORMINCO(Former Mining Company), like many other mining companies including the earlier and now totally defunct Northern Exploration Company (NEC), was organized into districts that were tightly to loosely based on geographic territories. At FORMINCO, we had four districts defined by state lines. The offices of two districts were in Reno, offices of the other two were in Denver.

So one day, I'm in the passenger seat of some other geo's truck, being driven from place to place through thick trees and over rutted and roily dirt roads somewhere in central Idaho, in search of particularly fascinating outcrops — any outcrops would do, given the number of trees and lack of visibility — and JS, the geo-type whose projects I was visiting, pulled two of his newly made road tapes out of the glove box. The tapes, filled with road songs, were meant to be played while on the road, any road. Brainstorming while we listened, all the while watching for outcrops, we came up with a million more road songs, and a rather loose definition.

A road song must contain a word pertaining to roads — road, highway, freeway, byway, street, interstate — or it can instead contain words pertaining to cars, trucks, semis, and railroads or railway cars. Travel songs without mentioning the roads or railroads or the vehicles don't count, and airplane or boat songs are generally out. Exceptions to these rules may exist, but I can't think of any.

The broad definition leaves a lot of room for inclusion, which is why a song like Pancho and Lefty — mostly not about roads or travel, but mentioning "the road" in the opening lines — can be considered a road song, and a classic one at that, because it initially refers to the life of living on the road.

After being inspired by the two JS tapes, I went home and immediately began making 90-minute tapes of my own. I think I made three. I no longer have these tapes, but I sent copies to JS way back when, and he eventually put them on a media more permanent than casette tapes. Then, sometime last year, while talking about old stories at some geological meeting, he mentioned that he still had the songs as originally taped, and he cut me a CD and sent it in the mail. The CD has two of my original three tapes, two or three of his, one or two of someone else's, and several audio cuts from movies that relate to roads, travel, gold, discovery, or the west in general.

And that's the way road songs began: way back when, on a back road in central Idaho, on a mining property I barely remember and would never be able to find again.

Photo: Old Highway 50 (formerly S.R. 2, now S.R. 722) in Smith Creek Valley, looking due east toward the Shoshone Range, with Bunker Hill of the Toiyabe Range in the background (MSRMaps location).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Record Low Temperatures for November

We thought it was a little cold at our little house on November 25th, Thanksgiving Day; the temperature according to our thermometer went down to –14° F in the early morning, before slowly rising to about 20° F in the late afternoon. All across central and eastern Nevada, record lows for November were recorded on the 25th: the Ely Airport low was –20° F, breaking a –19 record set the previous day (24Nov2010); the Winnemucca Airport recorded –10, breaking a –9 record set in 1880; the Wendover Airport recorded 5, breaking a record of 6 set in 1993 and 1955. (All temps in Fahrenheit; all data from the Weather Underground.)
Record lows were also set for November 25th: the Ely Airport low was –20° F, breaking a record of –4 set in 1992; the Elko Airport low was –14, breaking a record of –9 set in 1898; the Eureka Airport low was –12, breaking a record of –10 set in 1992; the Winnemucca Airport low was –10, breaking a –6 record set in 1993; the Wendover Airport low was 5, breaking a record of 8 set in 1938; the Tonopah Airport low was 8, breaking a record of 13 set in 1993. (Again, all temps in Fahrenheit, and all data from the Weather Underground.)

We had a little pipe freezing problem at our little house, which we noticed early in the morning. Initially, four pipes (cold and hot to the bathtub and kitchen sink) were frozen, and turning the heat up, running the hot water at the bathroom sink, and turning our little space heater toward the bathtub thawed those two pipes (and the tub drain, which had also been frozen). We then concentrated on the kitchen sink, placing the space heater under the sink, which finally got the cold water running, but not the hot.

The pipes in the crawl space under the house are insulated with thin foamy pipe wraps, but the outside cinderblocks around the "pipe room" are mostly uninsulated, meaning that although heat goes down through the floors in the kitchen and bathroom into the crawl space below, it escapes easily and has little chance of keeping the pipes warm. Poor design.
We finally moved our little space heater into the crawl space, ran a long extension cord to it, turned it on to max and ran it for some time. I also moved another space heater to the open cabinet doors at the kitchen sink and cranked it up, until MOH noticed that the extension cord was getting hot (we have sub-standard wiring). So, I turned that space heater to I from III, while the little heater below kept cranking heat into the void of cold air pooled under the house. It took about an hour and a half to thaw that final pipe, not counting the two hours of interior heating we had concentrated on prior to running the cord below the house.
Yes, it was cold.

Later, we took a hike up the hill, on a path MOH had made by mashing down with snowshoes what had been one-foot deep snow. By then, 20° F in the sun felt warm, but hands and chin were tending toward icy, so it was a short hike.
I noticed some interesting wrinkles in the snow, which appear to be mini-slump features formed around buried clumps of grass and bushes.
The snow sparkled in a rainbow of colors, with the deep periwinkle blue really standing out from some angles, possibly suggesting a particular orientation to the snow crystals. These colors were a little hard to photograph; a few other colors besides blue show up when enlarged.

It's been warmer these past two days, partly sunny with a little snow, and highs above freezing. Today is bland and gray so far, the temp is above 24° F already, and it's snowing and blowing once again.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Fault Photo: Where's the Fault?

It's great to see faults with nice outcrops, but not all faults expose themselves well.

This fault, partly hidden by trees (and now totally under snow), shows a nice linear outcrop pattern but nowhere does the actual fault surface crop out, though I suspect the fault plane lies less than 5 feet to the left of the above exposure of brecciated limestone, possibly within a foot or so. Likewise, the fault contact between the two (or more) faulted rock formations is not exposed, at least not in this area. Instead, one can follow a roughly linear outcrop of limestone — sometimes brecciated, sometimes veined or marbleized — and one can find a bit of fault breccia float and a trace of slickenside float here and there where the fault goes under cover. So far, there is no indication as to which way the fault actually moved, though one can assess relative motion and deduce a couple possibilities.

Some faults with large displacements show no surface outcrop at all, at least across broad areas, but instead can be found in relative low spots such as valleys. I found this to be particularly true back east where exposure is not as good as it is in the west, but it can happen anywhere. In fact, some geologists swear by an axiom stating that the faults that actually crop out on the surface are small faults (apparent offset I'd guess of less than a hundred feet or certainly less than 50), and that large faults rarely crop out. I can't say that I buy in to this way of thinking. Some very large faults with huge offsets and some large faults with large offsets have great exposures, some don't. Likewise with small faults. Many of the faults I find in the field are, indeed, small faults with offsets of 5 to 50 feet or so, and that's because there are a lot of faults in the Basin and Range, and they range in size from tiny to very large (as measured by amount of offset).

Many times, small faults are not mapped because they are considered insignificant. If they are part of a larger fault zone, however, they may be cogent to what you are trying to figure out. For example, several en echelon or sub-parallel faults with small displacements can, across a wide fault zone, offset stratigraphy, ore deposits, and faults and other structures in a way that will leave you wondering what is going on, possibly causing you to bend contacts where they don't actually bend. Of course, the scale of mapping has something to do with how many small faults you can show on your map, and you may have to lump several small faults as one fault trace.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things You Find in the Field: Old Trough

One of the truly great things about going into the field is all the historic neatness you find: old buildings, mine shacks, old mine mills, foundations, and miscellaneous old junk. This trough first popped into my view on my first field day a couple summers ago. It was early in the morning, and I had a little time to look around.
A closer view of the "front" end of the old trough shows that people have decided to deposit miscellaneous junk inside. I didn't find anything of value (like an intact old bottle or gold coins). Those look like bullet holes on the side and a large, rock-caused hole near the bottom.
I walked around and examined the trough from all angles...
...finally coming to the "back" of the trough.
The trough is long, longer than can be seen in any one photo, always partly hidden by waist-high sagebrush and rabbitbrush.
A straight down-sun shot reveals some shape but little texture. Both sides are lined with wooden planks.
This is the middle of the trough, with neither end in sight (an air-photo is obviously needed).
The trough is located near the spring that caused this waterhole and near this old car door (no longer propped up, but still present). I suspect it was used to water cows, sometime prior to the bushes growing quite so tall, prior to the paint fading, prior to it being shot up, prior to...me driving by.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another Stolen Blog: WaterWired

WaterWired, a blog written by Michael E. 'Aquadoc' Campana, is being scraped by a the Atmospheric Water Generation website/psuedoblog, an outfit selling water products. They have scraped his entire blog content word for word, including his most recent post protesting their action.

You can email them in protest by writing to "Gary" at gary@tivolinaturals.com, presuming, that is, that the email address is legitimate. Commenting on the "blog" is not possible.

UPDATE 20Nov2010 1:26 pm: Gary has written back saying that "the webmaster did this without authorization." He has removed all the WaterWired content! No need to write more emails. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

To Map or Not to Map...

sky That has been the question this fall, a question that actually began earlier this summer, when field work was an option but was postponed for reasons beyond my control. I'm not really going to get into the nitty gritty, but because I haven't been blogging much this month, I'll just go through a bit of my recent timeline, with the aid of a few pictures.

Immediately after our first snow late last month, the temperatures dropped: lows went significantly below freezing, even to 16°F, while daytime highs stayed in the 40s, gradually rising into the 50s and 60s. The first snow was minimal and melted quickly. On the 30th, I awoke to an inspiring sunrise.
leaf1 The next day, glare ice developed on the windshield of my truck.
leaf2A few fall leaves, which had fallen mostly before turning yellow or red, got stuck in the ice. I became concerned about the ground freezing out in my field area, but daytime highs were still high enough to offset lows. Frozen ground — if it stays nice and frozen — can make it easy to get in and out of an area, but it can make certain kinds of sampling difficult to impossible. Frozen muddy ground that melts in the afternoon can make getting out impossible.
mountainsage It turned out that the north road in was passable, muddy in places on the first few days, drying quickly as the days passed, staying muddy near a couple small springs. I went out, got in a few days of mapping and sampling, noticed the wind increasing the last two days and the temperature dropping on the last day. I didn't take many pictures, but managed to get this nice view of distant mountains just before a real storm came in a week after Glare Ice Day.
snow1 The first "big" snow of the year on November 8th doesn't really look like much at 6500 feet, but my mapping area was above 7000 feet. Would the snow melt up there?
ice1Temperatures dropped again, with lows in the valley going into the 20s and then to 15°F. Lows at elevation and up canyon no doubt went lower.
ice2 I knew there was no reason to get out there immediately, just to try to see the rocks through snow. Qs, we call that, a map unit not worth mapping in most places.
snow2Two days later, it snowed again, not quite as much, still covering the ground and our garden. You can see the little chard nubbins, and the hibernating chocolate mint. Temperatures dropped again, this time going as low as 8°F, though highs were still in the 30s to 40s, maybe the low 50s locally.
field1I've been pretty impatient, I guess, having waited most of the summer and fall, so four days after that first "big" snow, the sun shining and the wind having died down, I drove into the field taking the supposedly better south road, stopping often to walk through the mud and snow in front of my truck, always looking for a turn around spot ahead of me so I might not have to back through a particularly squishy turn I'd slid through near the beginning of the road. It was a little questionable, I thought, but I had multiple electronic devices capable of reaching people or satellites if the need arose. (That may be a whole other story: the number of electronic devices I now carry in the field, adding to the weight on my back. Safer, but heavier than in the old days.)
field2 I didn't make it all the way in with my truck, but did make it within walking distance. I slogged uphill slowly, avoiding the snow as much as possible, unable to avoid the mud. This is a mostly south facing slope, covered with junipers and piñon trees, dense in places. The snow isn't deep, but the place is muddier and going to get worse as more snow melts (if it melts). The south road in will for sure get worse; the north road will stay closed. And all north slopes are inaccessible for the rest of winter: no melting there!

I decided to bag it after realizing that there were many places I wouldn't walk: through snow-covered and hidden branches under trees, across slippery muddy slopes, into wet and jagged limestone outcrops, into snow-covered areas where I wouldn't be able to see any holes in the ground should there happen to be any. In short, no more mapping for the year, not unless it gets really balmy for two weeks or more.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Road Song: Pancho and Lefty

Two versions of this classic Townes Van Zandt song: Emmylou Harris, 1977. For the next one, you'll have to turn the sound down (compared to the first one). Merle Haggard / Willie Nelson, 1983 Livin' on the road my friend Was gonna keep you free and clean Now you wear your skin like iron Your breath's as hard as kerosene Weren't your mama's only boy But her favorite one it seems She began to cry when you said goodbye And sank into your dreams. Pancho was a bandit boys His horse was fast as polished steel He wore his gun outside his pants For all the honest world to feel Pancho met his match you know On the deserts down in Mexico And nobody heard his dyin' words Ah, but that's the way it goes. (Lyrics from Emmylou Harris, 1977, as heard by myself.) Originally recorded on the "Tucson to Tucumcari" road-song 90 minute tape back in the 1980's.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Update From the Lake: Part of The Return Trip

Okay, so the update isn't supposed to be from Pyramid Lake, and it's a little late (about three weeks), but we did drive by that turquoise gem on our return trip after going to Middlegate the long way (up Ophir Canyon, through Ophir, to Ophir Summit, and over and beyond) and then going to our place at the lake. [I was going to add something about "I. C. Russell's white line" here, but can't find it being called that anywhere, so maybe later.]

I took zero pictures at the lake, if you can believe it. The leaves on our backyard aspens had only partly turned yellow, we had visitors, it rained all of one day. The rain was great: the sound of it hitting our nearly flat metal roof, the smell of it out in the evergreen trees, the almost Alaskan mistiness of it all. We ate out for dinner every night. One night we ate at two restaurants, and due to faulty order taking at the first one, we ate there for free the second night.
After visitors left, I raked some pine needles, disconnnected the drip system, moved one surviving blue spruce and one itsy-teeny black spruce — grown from a seed taken in Alaska — to a space underneath one of the pines.

All and all, it was a good trip. And on the way back, we went the long back way through Pyramid Lake. The back way turns out to be about one hour longer, and by the time we got to Sutcliffe I was hating it and was quite hungry. Hunger can make me cranky; we stopped in Fernley at Taco Bell.
Prior to arriving at Pyramid Lake, while on the long dirt part of the back way, we stopped at a little oasis in the desert, somewhere generally east of Honey Lake, probably located here, which I wrote about earlier.
As we got out of the truck, a huge predator-type bird flew out of the tall cottonwood tree and dropped the remains of a chukkar at our feet. It all happened too fast for me to get any kind of bird description other than dark with a very long wingspan — likely a turkey vulture, golden eagle, or bald eagle, although I suppose osprey isn't out of the running.

We then saw two amazingly shot-up signs. One was here, near Double Check Well, a major road junction if you happen to be going to Burning Man from California. I'm not saying that Burning Man attendees did it — many signs in Nevada are shot up — but I've never seen one quite like these two, and I do know that desert antics have increased manyfold since Burning Man moved to the Black Rock.

Sand Pass Road
Sutcliffe (unreadable miles) <--
Smoke Creek Road Jct 24 <--
County Rte 447 Jct 51 <--
Gerlach (unreadable miles) <--
Susan(?)ville 25 <--
Fish Springs Rd Jct .3 -->
Sutcliffe (unreadable miles) -->
Reno (unreadable miles) -->

Below, underneath red spray paint:
Reno (unreadable miles) -->

Below, with gray duct tape:
Gurlac [sic] 56 mi ... <--

Friday, November 5, 2010

Green Tomato Salsa

This recipe is modified from a recipe on Farmgirl Fare.To see the recipe, click through to the original: Farmgirl Susan's No Sugar Green Tomato Relish. I haven't copied the entire recipe here because it's copyrighted, and because I didn't really change it that much. Thanks to @LizEnslin for the tip.

For me, it made about 2.5 pints.

My modifications, for freezing and not canning, are as follows:

  • One of my green tomatoes was actually a slightly pink tomato on the inside. I don't think this matters much, unless you are canning, perhaps, where the acidity might make a difference. I chose what I thought were perfect green tomatoes, the kind that won't ripen, because I'm trying to ripen the rest of my greens! (And some recent luck on this: we have 2 more red tomatoes left. :))
  • Instead of a red Bell pepper, I used one red and one yellow Bell pepper, and I added 2 large and 3 to 4 small Anaheim peppers, to boot.
  • I used white rice vinegar; I didn't have any apple cider vinegar, so used what I had on hand. Also, because I wasn't canning the salsa but instead froze it in 2 pint containers, I used 1/2 cup vinegar. About 20 minutes into the 1 hour boiling process, I thought it smelled too vinegary {vinegar and I don't get along well), so I dumped some of the liquid and added some water, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup. (I didn't measure.)
  • I added half of the jalapeño peppers 15 minutes before the one-hour boiling time was up, then added the rest to boil for the additional 5 minutes, instead of adding them all at the end. After munching on this salsa for a while, I'd say one could at least double the jalapeños. With the prescribed amount, the salsa is less than mild. (The heat seems to be strongest immediately after cooking; it diminishes later as all the flavors blend.)
  • I added way more than 2 T cilantro, but didn't measure - a small batch bought at the store. Maybe that was a 1/4 to 1/3 cup?
  • Initially, after all the cooking and mushing was done, I thought the 1 t cumin was way too strong. I might start with 1/2 t cumin next time, though the cumin seemed fine after the salsa sat overnight.
  • The resulting salsa tasted too tart to me, so I added a small amount - 2 large "pinches" - of brown sugar. This is an old Sicilian trick, adding sugar to spaghetti sauce, which I applied to this non-Sicilian recipe. Just add a little to taste if you're not familiar with using brown sugar, or sugar. Of course, the recipe is no longer "no sugar" as in the original. Later, this seemed a little sweet to me, but didn't seem that way to MOH, so you may have to experiment.
This is an excellent, tasty, colorful green salsa. Yum!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Backroads: Ophir and Out

...well, to Middlegate, anyway.
We're on the downhill run from Ophir Summit to Middlegate, NV, trying to beat the sun. Middlegate is beyond that first mountain range, the Shoshone Mountains, and beyond the ranges seen to either side of the high part of the Shoshones: the Paradise Range and Desatoya Mountains — two semi-contiguous Basin-and-Range mountains that happen to have different names. It's a long way to go, and we've already estimated that there's about 2 hours and 15 minutes to actual sunset, which would put sunset at about 6:55 pm.
We'll be going into Reese River Valley, toward the center of the photo where it looks as though several roads (and one river) are coming together. The predominant line running through the valley, from south to north, is the Reese River.
In a somewhat zoomed in view, the Reese River is behind the partially turned aspens. No, we won't be following the road through the aspens.
The road on the what I think of as the downhill side (west) of Ophir Summit is much gentler than the road on the east side, because of the often assymetrical uplift of many Basin-and-Range ranges. The Toiyabe Range horst block is steeper on the east side where most of the uplift has taken place, and the whole block tilts westward — except for the part of the range just south of Austin, where the mountain is steep on both west and east. The steep eastern side near the mouth of Ophir Canyon, with faceted spurs, can be seen more clearly in this post showing the more recent faulting and uplift on the east side of the range (also see the Google Earth image below with Quaternary faults of various ages).
Google Earth image, with reference cited below, and color scheme for faults listed, as given here.

This image is from: U.S. Geological Survey and Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, 2006, Quaternary fault and fold database for the United States, accessed 10-27-2008, from a no longer active website. (All faults in the Toiyabe Range are now shown as green on the new active interface.)
Historic faults are the most recent, with known movement being less than about 150 years (in red).

Holocene to Latest Pleistocene faults are younger than 15,000 years (in orange).

Late Quaternary faults are younger than 130,000 years (in yellow).

Mid to Late Quaternary faults are younger than 750,000 years (in green).

Quaternary faults are younger than 1,600,000 years (in blue).
We're farther down the west side of the Toiyabe Range, now, looking off to the south. And whether or not I've got the picture tilted somewhat, you can see how this side is dipping off to the west less steeply than the steep eastern side we drove through earlier, and you can also see the somewhat planar nature of the westward-dipping surface, as though a relatively low-relief erosion surface had developed across the area prior to Basin-and-Range faulting.

We'll be down in that colorful aspen grove soon, where a small hunting camp is ensconsed.
We've almost arrived at Point B on the embedded map below, inside the Yomba Indian Reservation in Reese River Valley, and we're looking down the valley toward the headwaters of the Reese. The headwaters of the Reese are more than 15 miles SSE at the western base of Toiyabe Dome (Little Jett Creek and Trail Creek) and more than 15 miles to the south (Indian Creek). The headwaters, and especially the upper reaches near Little Jett Creek, are a wonderful place to visit in spring to mid-summer. I'm not sure how far in one can drive anymore: the map shows a jeep road or pack trail.
At Point B, we jogged across the main paved road through Reese River Valley — which may or may not be called S.R. 21 or 22, and may or may not be paved everywhere — over to this turnoff to Ione. This is one of those famous Ione signs out in central Nevada, except that this time we're within striking distance: only 8 miles away! It's now 5:26 pm, and the sun isn't down yet.
We arrive in Ione (Point C) at 5:40 pm...
...and pass through without stopping, although "The Town That Refused to Die" looks like a good one in which to spend more time.
Okay, here we are at Brunton Pass (Point D); it's 6:01 pm and the sun is looking pretty low.
In fact, as we're heading down the west side of the pass at 6:10 pm toward the Point E junction where we turn north onto S.R. 361, the sun is going behind the far mountains.
At 6:24 pm, while we are about half way between Gabbs and Middlegate, the sun has gone completely behind some mountains over near Rawhide, and is probably down below the horizon.

What was our estimate? We estimated sunset at about 6:55 pm. Sunset in Fallon, some miles to the WNW, was at 6:16 pm. We were at least 20 minutes off, and because darkness was enhanced by western clouds, we should have used a more conservative time if planning to make camp by our estimate. Generally, one can add about 45 minutes to the estimate because darkness doesn't come right after sunset. Fortunately, we would be staying in a room at Middlegate (Point F) rather than making camp in the dark.

And thinking about this, one usually doesn't make a sunset estimate at above 10,000 feet on one mountain range and then drive toward the setting sun while dropping about 4500 feet in elevation. Not sure when the alpine glow would have hit Ophir Summit; would have to use sun mode in Google Earth to find out, perhaps. And that time (according to Google Earth, which may not be precise) was somewhere between 6:18 pm and probably 6:35 pm, with total darkness by 6:55 pm.

The Moral: be conservative in making your estimate, or calibrate your hand before using it.

The Hand Method: Place your arm straight away from your body toward the setting sun, then place your hand sideways with the fingers essentially parallel to the horizon; measure one hand down from the sun for each hour, which means that each finger is about 15 minutes. I measured 2 hands and one finger at the top of Ophir Summit, which = about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
It turns out that we were lucky to get a room in Middlegate. (We've always just dropped in and have never made reservations.) The motel was booked the next night and into the weekend: it was prime rib night!