Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Winnemucca to Hwy 395 north of Susanville, Part 2

Well, it’s taken me awhile to get back to this road trip—for various reasons, including work schedules and personal things—but I’m going to give it a try again. Part 1 was the July 14th post, Winnemucca to Hwy 395 north of Susanville, Part 1. Part 2, as far as distance down the road goes, was actually an earlier post about Sulphur, Things You Find in the Field: Sulfur at Sulphur, on June 19th. Also see a little about the spot we ended last time, Pulpit Rock, though I don’t have much on the geology of that geographic landmark.

And I guess I should really pool some photos of mine taken of and near Hycroft’s gold mine sometime, but that would take a little more effort than I have time & energy for right this moment, so we’ll skirt past Hycroft, unless you’d like to stop at Sulphur briefly and look back, which we did on June 19th.
Looking east from Sulphur toward the barely active Hycroft gold mine.
Anyway, we’ll proceed westward. The road we’re on, the Jungo Road, would have been largely under water during the high stand of Lake Lahontan, which was in Sehoo time about 13,000 years ago. Consequently, there are several good spots along this stretch of road to see old Lake Lahontan shorelines, including the highest shoreline.
And here’s one such spot. The road goes just north of an elongate, somewhat oval hill with two rocky basalt knobs that would have been two small islands when the Sehoo lake was at it’s highest. The dark, rocky horizontal lines are some of the higher old shorelines.
Here’s a closer view. All of the upper, rocky portion of this knob was an island during the Lake Lahontan high stand. The break in slope, where the hill goes from bushy to rocky, is at about 1334 m (4377 ft). But wait, what do I see?
When I zoomed way in, I could see that the back side of this knob (the east side) is formed of the tops of columns! And the rubble or talus at the base of the knob consists of broken columns! Read more about columnar jointing here at Evelyn Mervine's blog, Georneys.
After crossing the spit coming northward off the elongate, dual-knobbed hill, we get a nice sideview of both knobs, looking south. The far knob, which has the highest elevation, and which we can call Hill 1362 because it's labeled as such on the USGS topo map (the hill is 1362 m high), exposes some nice basalt columns, slightly tilted. And shorelines. The entire hill is encircled by shorelines. The tops of both of these knobs stuck up out of the highest stand of Lake Lahontan, which was at about 1334 m (4377 ft) in this area.
Google Earth view of Hill 1362.
A USGS TNM Viewer map of approximately the same area.
Driving onward...
...here’s what the elongate hill of two knobs looks like looking back to the east from a little farther down the Jungo Road. Perhaps much of the talus is composed of chunks of basalt columns. Next time I’ll stop and check.

These photos of basalt and shorelines were taken on various trips I’ve taken on the Jungo Road. The first three are from 5/24/2007; the next, a browner, dryer picture, was taken 8/3/2012 in high summer; the last was taken 6/14/2006.
We'll continue farther, on our mid-June, 2018, journey. About 2½ miles closer to Gerlach, I stopped and grabbed this photo of the Black Rock Desert, the playa shining in the sun. The hills on the left of the photo are low hills belonging to Pahsupp Mountain; the mountains in the farest distance are the main part of the Granite Range, which runs northward out of Gerlach.

Numerous views can be had of the Black Rock Desert from Sulphur to Gerlach. Light and shadow change with the seasons and with the passing of clouds. Sometimes the playa is brightly lit, other times it’s in shadow, with the mountains around it glowing in sunlight. There are a few notable places to stop along the road, one being Trego Hot Springs and another being the Frog Pond (although it’s usually posted No Trespassing and the gate is usually locked).

On this trip, I hurried past those spots and others, and declined to drive out onto the playa, as it looked like it might still be a little muddy from winter. Nearer to Gerlach, I pulled off on the side of the road, mostly for a pit stop, and also to see if I could find some Prince’s Plume. Alas, it was past the best blooming date.
Not finding any Prince's Plume, I realized this was an excellent spot to take a photo looking more or less to the northeast, across the railroad tracks and across the desert toward the playa arm going up toward Soldier Meadow. The pinkish Calico Mountains are mostly in the sun just left of center, and the southern part of the Black Rock Range is mostly in shadow way over to the right.

After a moment, I noticed a nearby lizard, who kindly didn’t run off while I took this photo.
I’m a little surprised I saw it, camouflaged as it was amidst the patchy desert pavement.

It was already getting late by this time—well, it was 2:30 pm, anyway—and I had miles and miles to go, so I drove through Gerlach without stopping, but only after doing a gas mileage calculation to make sure I would get to the next gas station, which would be almost 91 miles down the road, across another desert, up a creek, over a mountain, and down the other side.
Nearly an hour later, after passing through Gerlach without stopping for ravioli or anything else, I made it to the northwest side of the Smoke Creek Desert and stopped to see if there was still any water in the playa. There had been quite a bit in the spring of 2017, just a little more than a year before this trek. Straining my eyes to see, I decided there wasn't any water, but I took this photo, thinking maybe I'd spot some water later. The desert does look little shiny near the center of the photo, in front of Pah-Rum Peak and a ridge of the Fox Range, but probably that’s just mirage. Toward the right of the photo, the playa is darkened by cloud shadows.

Not much farther down the west side of the Smoke Creek, I pulled over for a quick examination of some tufa.

To be continued...

Selected Reference:
Adams, K.D., Wesnousky, S.G., and Bills, B.G, 1999, Isostatic rebound, active faulting, and potential geomorphic effects in the Lake Lahontan basin, Nevada and California [link to access pdf]: GSA Bulletin, v. 111, no. 12, p. 1739-1756. https://doi.org/10.1130/0016-7606(1999)111<1739:IRAFAP>2.3.CO;2

Related Posts:
Winnemucca to Hwy 395 north of Susanville, Part 1
Blue Mountain (2012)
Pulpit Rock (2012)
Things You Find in the Field: Sulfur at Sulphur
Smoke in the Black Rock & Smoke Creek Deserts (2102)
Where in the West: Black Rock Desert (2008)
Where in the West - June: A Second Look (2008)
Where in the West - June (2008)
Name That Place (Gerlach, 2008)

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