Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Well, it's been so long...

It's been a long time—almost a year—since my last real post, the actual last post being a road song with brief blurb. And even though it's been a year, I haven't really started what would be the last in a series of posts reporting on a trip from Winnemucca to northeastern California, with geology and other points of interest along the route. It's been hard getting to that last post and to a few side posts along the route that would be possible if I would just maintain a bit of focus. And the stumbling block is basically that I'm not traveling that way anymore, at least not routinely: I don't live at that end of the road. Yeah, "the lake" is a thing of the past (which is really sad, especially given the exceptional heat that the summer of 2020 has brought to the northern Nevada area where I currently live).

Anyway, that's a roundabout way of getting around to saying...it's been a long time since I visited the Northumberland caldera in central Nevada. The current isolation of living by myself, social distancing to the extent of hardly seeing anyone who doesn't happen to be in line behind me at the supermarket, and WFH—which I've been able to do so far for exactly two months since leaving "the field" of northeastern Nevada—was starting to drive me nuts, as it does periodically, and I wanted to get away.

Unfortunately, it's been very hot here in northern Nevada (and elsewhere in Nevada, and in many other parts of the west), so though I contemplated going on a brief camping trip, it seemed too hot for that (did I mention the heat?), and the upper campground at Wheeler Peak is closed for renovations (I consider the lower camps to be both too hot and too crowded). So, with the highest, coolest camp in Nevada out of the question, I opted for a central Nevada area that I've been familiar with since 1978: the Northumberland caldera.

Yeah I thought, maybe I'll camp in the highlands, up in the piƱon-juniper, but I was unsure of any specific places up there so was sure I'd opt for the more familiar lowlands. Eventually, after much dithering accompanied by equally much grousing about the heat and why it's not a great time to go camping, all the while and nevertheless preparing, then reverting to no it's too hot, then more prepping, then etcetera, off I went.

The trip was a reprise of many, and because of the heat (the highs were around 100°F) I made few stops on my way out to an old drill site atop a location in the northern part of the caldera that we at NEC (Northern Exploration Company) called "The Hot Spot."

The Hot Spot (photo above) is a fairly small mound-like outcrop of welded ash-flow tuff (tuff of Hoodoo Canyon) mineralized with carnotite replacing feldspar sites. At least I think it's carnotite. Maybe it's autunite. That mineralogic tidbit is somewhat blurred by time. I didn't break a single rock out there this time, so didn't check the uranium mineralogy. I did, however, collect a couple nice hand samples of Ts2 and Ts3, formations within the intracaldera sedimentary package.

Anyway, I ended up at the Hot Spot, spent an overly heated night camping in the back of the Jeep, and then I returned via a slightly different route the next day, a partial reprise of trips made in the region as recently as 2012, a time which seems almost as long ago as those first days in 1978.