Some gems are hidden in plain sight, like this one in Eastern Nevada. We rode it on Sunday of a holiday weekend and saw no one else in almost three hours out. I noted one set of bootprints in the dust but precisely zero tire tracks other than our own. Being far from a population center is preferable when touristing.
Straight out of the trailhead I note a preponderance of what I think of as old-growth sage: So tall, so succulent. One hand immediately and automatically reaches for a few tender leaves to crush and mash between gloves, the better to be infused with it throughout the ride. Each time I mop sweat, wipe nose, or bring the camera to my eye I am brought screaming back to the moment by the sweet intensity.
We leave the small creek and begin climbing a reasonable grade into the hills to the east. Sage gives way to rabbitbrush, creosote, p/j, aspen, and eventually doug fir and engelmann spruce, each bend of trail revealing an aspect better or worse suited to certain species. The ascent is engaging and requires attention, yet when possible I swivel my head and try to keep up with the changes. In the end I can be certain only that sage vanishes on northern hillsides and doug fir doesn't exist on the southern aspects.
The desert recedes and I struggle to identify an increasing amount of flora, and am then flustercated by an inability to recognize the cheeping and tittering of so many LGB's in the trees around us. I snap a few pics to help with identification once back home, then note that Jeny is far, far ahead. Time to catch up, or at least dawdle less and hope that she takes a break soon.
Soft, unseasonably warm breezes caress and cool us as we continue our ascent. Trail intersections tempt us with options: Jeny uses the time spent waiting for me to deduce the best route given daylight and energy levels, such that when I arrive she is ready to go. No rest given, nor is any needed at my tottering pace.
Already overloaded with flora and fauna, I turn attention to the land itself. I note volcanic intrusions, alluvial fans, vague sedimentary layers, eroded pockets in limestone, and the bigger picture of the basin and range stretching west. And then, a change: Tight switchbacks appear in the trail, demanding focus, precision, intensity. When we fail to put them all together, we walk bikes back down and try again.
The grade steepens and we wind into a sort of inner basin, views immediately different -- more intimate -- than any from earlier. And then, although ridges reach far above us to the east, the trail goes no higher and we glide and carve, swoop and giggle, all attention focused on the sinuous, playful path stretching ahead. We both note and comment that the trail is really well thought out and built.
Eventually we close the loop, refreshed from the sunshine and invigoration at least as much as from the new-to-us trail and scenery. We had no expectation for what we might find when we started, and find ourselves delighted with the place, the trail, the day. It's a keeper.
Thanks for checkin' in.