I drove north on old 47 (now S.R. 265) to Blair Junction.
|Blair Junction is the intersection between S.R. 265 (old 47) and Route 6 (cosigned with U.S. 95).|
|Mineral Ridge, looking south from near Blair Junction.|
From Blair Junction, it's a little more than 6 miles to Coaldale Junction, where Highway 95 splits off from this section of conjoined Highway 6 to head north, and Highway 6 continues west toward California.
|These old buildings are part of the site of Coaldale, which was active in its day.|
|Volcanic rocks south of Highway 6 near Coaldale Junction.|
From the NV-CA state line, just north of the north end of the White Mountains, it's 7 miles to Benton and 8.5 miles to the north terminus of Blind Spring Hill.
Here's a good view of the White Mountains, looking south from close to the state line (Google Street View).
Boundary Peak, Nevada's highest mountain at 13,140 feet (4005 m), is the snow-covered peak above treeline on the left; Montgomery Peak, at 13,441 feet (4097 m), is California's higher peak just to its right. Boundary Peak is often considered a subsidiary peak to Montgomery Peak. Without Boundary Peak, Wheeler Peak, in eastern Nevada would be Nevada's highest mountain at 13,063 feet (3982 m). As for the White Mountains, Boundary Peak is practically a low hill: farther to the south, the Whites reach the even higher height of 14,246 feet (4342 m) at White Mountain Peak.
From U.S. 6 at Benton, I took California S.R. 120 toward Mono Lake and Lee Vining. Highway 120 is the road that ultimately goes over Tioga Pass to join Highway 49 on the other side of the Sierra Nevada near Moccasin Reservoir, about 30 miles northwest of the western entrance to Yosemite National Park. If you have never taken 120 over the Sierra, you should. If you’ve taken that route, I recommend driving 120 between Benton and Lee Vining, in either direction (I most commonly drive it from east to west). The route is typically closed in winter, so you might have to wait a couple months.
The section of Highway 120 route I'm recommending (Google Maps).
This rather obscure, back-country paved road will place the White Mountains either in front of you or in your rearview mirror, depending your direction of travel. You will either begin or end on Highway 395 at the south end of Mono Lake near Lee Vining, where you'll be at the north end of the flow-dome complexes of Mono-Inyo Craters and just south of Panum Crater. No matter which direction you end up traveling, you will be in for some great views, and you will be driving through some incomparable volcanic geology.
After getting on Route 120 at Benton, on my first journey ever through the area in 1976, I drove west toward the small outpost of Benton Hot Springs, which didn't look at all inviting to me. I didn't stop. At the time, besides being focused on completing my journey, I was plagued by my usual reservations about being observed by people while in the field, and I felt out-of-place and conspicuous. Despite these feelings, I probably did enjoy a lunch or two in Benton during my intermittent stay in the area (or was that later, when doing field work and reconnaissance for Former Mining Company?).
Because of my qualms or suspicions around people, rather than turning south at Benton Hot Springs, I almost certainly drove a couple miles farther to turn onto dirt. Without a doubt that turn is the way to go into the area if coming from the west, which I did at least once, maybe twice or three times.
This is the turnoff into the area, as seen from the west (Google Street View). The prominent mountains are the White Mountains. Blind Spring Hill is the low, inconspicuous range in front of the Whites.
My campsite, 14.5 miles from the state line on the dirt road I took and about 215 miles from home, was centrally located at about the middle of the hill’s western range front. I had a smallish tent, one large enough to sit or kneel in, but not tall enough in which to stand up. I had a sleeping bag, a cook stove, a small table, and afolding chair.
Beyond camp, the dirt road steepened, zigged or zagged a little, and began its ascent of Blind Spring Hill’s western face to the numerous old workings. My 1976, light blue Opel sedan had easily traversed the dirt road from pavement to camp, but I could see I’d better walk up the road before committing the Opel to it. It’s a good thing I did, too. A 4WD would have been able to drive partway up the road, sliding around the gullies and dodging the gigantic boulders, but the road was completely washed out right at the top of the hill, so I would have had a long way to back down, something I wan't that proficient at in those early days of field work.
I walked up and took a look around.
|The spliced Benton, Casa Diablo Mountain, Glass Mountain, and White Mountain Peak 15' quads, courtesy USGS.|
|A strangely distorted view of a bar in Dyer, NV.|
Note: I would now choose Mineral Ridge and the Mary Mine hands down over all the other areas I examined, perhaps barring the Betty O’Neal mine up near Battle Mountain. I’ve always had a lingering fondness for the Betty O’Neal, but would still choose Mineral Ridge. For one thing, it’s not located near Battle Mountain!!!
Albers, J.P., and Stewart, J.H, 1972, Geology and mineral deposits of Esmeralda County, Nevada [available for sale only]: NBMG Bulletin 78, 80 p
Thesis: Finding an Area
Finding a Thesis: Battle Mountain to Austin to Gabbs
Finding a Thesis: Pole Line Road
Finding a Thesis: Pole Line to Belmont
Finding a Thesis: Klondyke District
Finding a Thesis: A Joshua Tree Aside
Finding a Thesis: Into the Palmetto Mountains
Finding a Thesis: Farther into the Palmetto Mountains
Finding a Thesis: A Bit O' Geology in the Palmetto Mountains
Finding a Thesis: Future Stories from the Palmetto Mountains
Lida Summit Roadcut
Finding a Thesis: Next Stop, Silver Peak!
Finding a Thesis: Coming into Clayton Valley
Finding a Thesis: On the Southern Route to Mineral Ridge
Finding a Thesis: The Northern Route onto Mineral Ridge and a Little Geology
Finding a Thesis: Up to the Millsite and Back
Finding a Thesis: Views and Geography and ... Oh, What's That?
Finding a Thesis: A Cinder Cone Aside