I was not sure I wanted to spend another day in Lagomarsino Canyon. It is one of my favorite places do to its surprising geology and biodiversity. After a very technical 5 mile ride it opens to the Lagomarsino Petroglyphs, one of North America’s premier locations for rock art. But there are so many new places I want to explore.
Nonetheless, it was a blustery spring day with a winter storm warning in the forecast. Dean thought the canyon might provide shelter from the wind. I think of Dean as the mayor of Lagomarsino as he has made the most trips there, hiking and biking, showing it off to anyone who will follow.
The town of Lockwood is easily accessed east of Reno/Sparks on Interstate 80. After a quick drive up Canyon Way, Long Valley Creek runs under a bridge at the pullout/trailhead at the mouth of the canyon.
Climbing Lagomarsino Canyon/ Long Valley Creek would be very challenging for the uninitiated. Luckily for me Dean is an outstanding guide. Route finding this trip was much easier than our last trip over a year and a half ago. We did this ride in November 2014 during a drought cycle. This spring we are in a “normal”/ El Nino weather pattern and the surface water hid some of the route markers. Most of the route was recognizable with the addition of inch and half frogs hopping all around.
This is not a “good ride” in the sense that you ride 5 miles through a beautiful rock canyon with views of basalt columns and golden eagles soaring in blue skies. At first there is the hope of riding through the canyon but river boulders and eroded steps have you dabbing and pushing your bike through sections. Then the creek crossings begin. The first time you dab in the water you are cursing your soggy footwear. But you might as well embrace it, you will be hike-a-biking in calf deep water in no time. Here I am projecting my feelings about riding in wet footwear on your expectations. It really is half the charm of this canyon. The water is what makes this area unique.
We spent a casual lunch at the petroglyphs site. But I did not spend the time I wanted there as the rain and snow of this winter storm were developing. We decided to return via the jeep roads rather than back track the canyon. A family visiting the site from Virginia City gave us the first few turns to follow to get us back to Lockwood. We were off, rain and snow falling- sideways.
Adverse conditions are fine when you are properly dressed. This was a great field test for my new Bellwether Aqua-NO Alterra jacket. As a full featured, seam taped, hooded shell I was very pleased with its performance. Fortunately the ride and weather were broken up with climbs and fair weather periods.
Route finding back to the trailhead was challenging. Our first decision to stay on the main jeep road rather than climb a secondary road took us on a much broader loop back to Lockwood. Luckily we realized we got onto Lousetown Rd. that would eventually loop to the southwest linking Lockwood to Virginia City. The network of high roads through the Virginia Range opened our eyes to the days of exploring ahead of us.Exposure to the elements limits the times of year travel in this area would be comfortable. But these roads provide backroad routes from Reno to Dayton, the gateway to the Pine Nut Mountains.
Finding a jeep road route back to Lockwood and seeing Lagomarsino Canyon with as much water made this ride notable. The Virginia Range, as is the rest of our region, is showing off to its visitors an amazing wildflower bloom. I got a new perspective of our close public lands that feel like a world away.