Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Winnemucca to Hwy 395 north of Susanville, Part 1

We began our northern Nevada road trip about a month ago at this blog post about Sulphur, Nevada, a real ghost town located more or less a third of the way along our route. To continue with the trip, we’ll take a step back for a re-start in Winnemucca (The Griddle, above is a good place to stop for breakfast or lunch), though we could just as easily start somewhere to the east, say Elko, although the trip then would become longer. Our goal will be to make it, eventually, to the NV-CA state line west of the Smoke Creek Desert, and from there to U.S. Route 395 north of Susanville. We'll get to 395 by way of a fairly obscure dirt road that will take us from the Smoke Creek Desert in Nevada to a nearly non-place called Viewland, CA. See my Google Maps plot of this route, along with photo locations and other points of interest along the way. I'll add points to the map as our trip progresses.

The Jungo Road (Nevada S.R. 49 and 48) will be our gateway to the Black Rock Desert and points west, and to get on the Jungo Road we'll take U.S. Route 95 north out of the center of Winnemucca a very short distance, where we'll turn left onto the Jungo Road almost immediately after crossing the Humboldt River. Right at the Winnemucca convention center, essentially our starting point, you’ll note a sign stating that the road north (U.S. 95) is part of the Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway.

If you're inclined to travel northward instead of westward, have a look at my 2010 Oregon Trip Series, a series dedicated to road tripping over a portion of the Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway and other roads as well.
Lo and behond, the Jungo Road starts out paved as it leaves Winnemucca. That’s Blue Mountain nearly straight down the road.
At this point, just about 6 miles into our journey, we get a good view of Little Tabletop Mountain, which is a basalt-capped mesa south of the road. MOH and I used to call these hills “The Pancakes.” From the south side, they look a little like a tilted stack of pancakes.
"The Pancakes" from the south, as seen in Google Earth.

It’s difficult to get a photo of these hills when driving 80 mph on I-80, unless you happen to be sitting in the left passenger backseat, so I resorted to a G.E. view.
Before long, the paved portion of the Jungo Road ends; it becomes a magnesium-chloride treated road...a magged road. I figured the magged road condition would extend all the way out to the Hycroft gold mine, but I forgot that they are not operating with a large crew like they were a few years ago when the mine was active. Hycroft is still running their heap-leach operation while testing the feasibility of operating a sulfide leach pad, but the large crews are a thing of the past, at least for now (see Hycroft’s January 10th press release [pdf] for more about sulfide leach testing).
Here we are at the same locality as the previous photo, about 9 miles west of Winnemucca, looking back towards Winnemucca and the Sonoma Range.
The magged part of the Jungo Road currently ends at the turnoff to the Blue Mountain geothermal field, aka Blue Mountain Faulkner 1, which is just on the west side of Blue Mountain. Magging prevents dust, so the road is dusty to the west. One good thing about dust: you have a better chance of seeing that someone is heading toward you. A bad thing about dust: breathing it, of course. Magged roads have one particular disadvantage: they are very slippery when wet, almost like driving on greased snot!

Although the sign at the turnoff to the geothermal field says "NGP Blue Mountain 1 LLC," the power plant is now owned by AltaRock (or not - UPDATE 15June2019). The field was discovered during gold exploration conducted in the 1980s or 90s.
I often stop on a small-looking playa near Jungo—it seems to be a good spot for a pit stop, being about 1 coffee from Winnemucca, and when it’s hot, which it was on June 15th when these photos were taken, it’s definitely time for more hydration. It turns out that this playa is the southern part of the larger Desert Valley playa, which extends 46 miles north-northeast from about 6 miles south of Jungo, all the way to the Quinn River about half way between Winnemucca and Denio. Desert Valley is the 10-mile-wide basin between the Jackson Mountains on the west and the Slumbering Hills (a mountain range) on the east. The Sleeper gold mine was named for it's location in the Slumbering Hills (and also because it was a "sleeper?").
Here we are coming into Jungo, which is a railroad siding located at or near the junction of the Jungo Road with the Bottle Creek Road, which heads up toward the Bottle Creek mining district and the main part of Desert Valley. The well-bedded rocks in the hills ahead of us—a northward continuation of the Antelope Range or a southern part of the Jackson Mountains—are part of the Jungo Terrane, a thick pile of turbiditic shales with sandstone and limestone interbeds that were deposited in Late Triassic to Early or Middle Jurassic time (Luddington et al, 1996 and Crafford, 2007).
Not recognizing in the moment the exact location of Jungo, I took a photo of the junction with the dirt road that comes up with Imlay. If you happen to start this trek in Imlay, you'll cross the Humboldt River just above Rye Patch Reservoir, and you'll pass by Haystack Butte, a geographic marker that can be seen from the Applegate Trail.
I don’t do it often, but on this trip I went ahead and took a couple photos of two of the old mining cabins at Mandalay Spring. I’m not sure why these shacks are present (besides the spring) or what era they date from. I’ve been inside at least one of them—for some reason the entire enterprise struck me as depressing (maybe it was the peeling wallpaper or strings of disintegrating clothes; maybe it was just me).
This cabin is located a little closer to the spring and at about the same elevation; whereas the first cabin sits up above overlooking the spring.
I took this photo at one of the first spots to pull over and get a good look at the Black Rock Desert, which on this day was partly obscured by summer haze. Black Rock Point, for which the desert was named, is a small, dark hill just to the left of the road as it points off toward the vast playa; a closer view of the point can be seen here. The little hill in the foreground is part of a Pleistocene Lake Lahontan shoreline. There was another obvious shoreline just 200 m east of this smaller one.
We'll end this part of our trek at Pulpit Rock.
Google Maps location map.

Selected References:
Crafford, A.E.J., 2007, Geologic Map of Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 249, 1 CD-ROM, 46 p., 1 plate.

Ludington, Steve, McKee, E.H., Cox, D.P., Moring, B.C., and Leonard, K.R., 1996, Pre-Tertiary geology of Nevada, Chapter 4 in Singer, D.A., ed., An analysis of Nevada's metal-bearing mineral resources: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Open-File Report 96-2, p. 4.1-4.17, 1 sheet, scale 1:1,000,000.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Road Song: Stairway to Heaven

Led Zeppelin: Stairway to Heaven (lyrics)
Album: Led Zeppelin IV, 1971

I've don't often think of this song as a road song, but it does mention "the road" twice and "two paths" once, so is definitely a road song by any definition. It's also a gold song, for any of you miners out there.