Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Winnemucca to Hwy 395 north of Susanville, Part4

And now we’ll say goodbye to the Smoke Creek Desert, which we saw on the last leg of this cross-country journey, and make our way south for a very short distance, where we’ll turn off the road skirting the entire west side of the desert, and head west up Smoke Creek. Photos you’ll see in this blog post are from three different trips taken between the Smoke Creek Desert and Highway 395 during May through August of 2006, 2014, and 2015. Which means that although we’re returning to my June 15, 2018 trip from Winnemucca to Susanville, which began here,I didn’t take any photos during this section of the 2018 trip.
Immediately upon leaving the great tufa mounds of the last post, we come to a hill with a view of distant trees that are growing along lower Smoke Creek. The sign indicates our upcoming turn onto the Smoke Creek Road. The smaller, hand-painted white sign says “Smoke Creek Road,” so we know we’re on the right track. (Photo: 17May2014.)
On the left side of the road, just as we turn right, a bullet-ridden sign points south toward Sutcliffe, a small town on the west side of Pyramid Lake several miles beyond our turn. This will be our last view of the Smoke Creek playa and the Fox Range to the east. (Photo: 14Jun2006.)
We’re now heading about due west toward the valley of Smoke Creek. In this area, a lot of the creeks and canyons are named on USGS topo maps, but very few of the hills are. As an example, the highest point on the volcanic-covered hills above is merely marked with an X and the elevation 6186 feet, along with a small triangle for a survey point with the name Smoke. (Photo: 17May2014.)
Smoke Creek Road
US 395 Jct 30
Litchfield 39
Susanville 55
The basaltic hills, and the sagebrush in the foreground, were fairly green in mid-June of 2006. The buff-colored hills are underlain by Lake Lahontan lake deposits, possibly the Sehoo Formation, which are inset into the older, Miocene basalts. (Photo: 14Jun2006.)
We’re about to round the bend and drop in the valley of Smoke Creek. (Photo: 17May2014.)
Here you can possibly get a better idea of the younger lake sediments being inset into the canyon, such that although the buff-colored deposits are lower in elevation than the reddish brown basalt flows, they are not underlying them in a stratigraphic sense. This hill also shows the first example of Lake Lahontan tufa plastered on basalt (pale brown tufa on dark brown basalt in the upper left part of the photo). (Photo: 17May2014.)
The older sediments that underlie the basalt have been baked to a bright red color in this view not far up the canyon. (Photo: 14Jun2006.)
And there’s more! A large mass of light brownish tufa sits atop vaguely spheroidally weathering dark brown basalt. For locations of these photos, check out the map linked near the end of the post. (This and next photos from 15Aug2015.)
Less than a half mile from the sharp turn near the west end of the canyon, we come upon the “Cave in Smoke Creek Canyon,” which is along the Nobles Trail section of the California Trail.
“There is a cave ... in this canon, the entrance of which will admit a man on horseback several of the company having entered on horseback but I do not think that they saw much for it was dark as pitch in the cave” – Mary C. Fish, Sep 7 1860
The signs along the various trails are maintained by Trails West. A photo tour of the trail can be found on their website here.
Our first view of the mouth of the cave, as seen when coming in from the east.
A closer view.
The cave with wild roses in bloom. (This and next photos from 17May2014.)
The cave has plenty of room overhead, and people obviously camp within. The roof is darkened by soot from many fires over the many years.
The view from the cave.
Across the creek from the cave, I spotted a cinnamon teal

to be continued...
Google Maps location map.

Related Posts:
Winnemucca to Hwy 395 north of Susanville, Part 3
Winnemucca to Hwy 395 north of Susanville, Part 2
Winnemucca to Hwy 395 north of Susanville, Part 1
Things You Find in the Field: Sulfur at Sulphur
Blue Mountain (2012)
Pulpit Rock (2012)
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 (2008)