It is great to have serendipity play a pivotal role in the success of a ride. Do to our spell of wet weather in Reno I was looking to get out of town in a quest for drier dirt. Our clay soils, once wet, no matter the rock or sand content, will gum up wheels inside the stays and fork crown as well as render one’s drivetrain useless in a matter of feet. Our storms come in from the west and tend to be so localized that a short trip east will yield “good dirt”. After consulting weather radar and freeway maps I settled on exit 78 off Interstate 80. The dirt roads to the north looked promising and with a mind for the desert northern Nevada does not disappoint.
Passing exit 65, Nightingale Hot Springs, reminded me this was a route through Sage Hen Valley to the Nightingale historic mine site. This is where Dean and I lunched after climbing Coyote Canyon from Lake Winnemucca. This area was a potential starting point but I opted for something a little further out, Jessup, not surprisingly another historic mining site.
Our route took off from exit 78 of Highway 80. We passed a gravel pit with a hand made sign indicating Jessup was a mile out. Just off the dirt road was dry wash with some great geology to explore. I had picked this route because of what appeared to be a gentle rise through the Trinity Range that would open to Granite Springs Valley. A distant goal is the Bluewing Flat playa on the east side of the Sahwave Mountains.
There is nothing distinct marking the Jessup site, but the Superior Mining Claim is the next obvious feature. The open mines are roped off to alert passers of the dangers of these holes in the ground. The area looks like the work of giant gophers. I hope their efforts are paying off!
The ride was was relatively easy. Dean noted that this was the easiest ride I had taken him on. We were on our fat bikes with 4-5″ tires. They made easy work of the road/dry wash that was sandy and rocky in spots. It didn’t appear this route saw much traffic. We were surprised by the few flowers we saw as well as little wildlife. We climbed about 1000′ over six miles before we descended into Granite Springs Valley. I had not planned a detailed route through the area so we picked dashed lines on our GPS’s that corresponded to what we could see from our vantage.
The weather was cool, clouds loomed reminding us the conditions were still unsettled. We descend equal elevation to what we had climbed following similar road/ dry washes that eventually disappeared beneath us due to lack of use. I could just see the edge of the Bluewing Flat in the distance. I could identify Ragged Top Mountain of the Trinity Range to the east. We followed our GPS to Ragged Top Road to create a tiny loop on our return.
One spectacular specimen of wildlife we saw was the Zebra-tailed Lizard. Most notably it was perfectly camouflaged in the coarse sand then it would rise up and sprint away at ridiculous speed. While they were quite fast, they were equally comical as they took of with a bow legged gait.
On our return route we missed an over grown turn-off but serendipitously came across an old mining structure. The old cabin was quite broken down but a great relic of what life was like for the miners at the turn of the century. We noticed the floor boards removed in one spot and wondered if treasure hunters were looking for hidden gold, the fruits of the miners labor.
The sky became heavy on our return, the temperature dropped, and a light rain began to fall. Luckily we had a 6 mile return with 1000′ descent at this point. We had a blast on the descent through the dry wash back to the car. The fat tires let us slide through the turns without ever letting us down. It was a great finish to the day’s ride.