“So, how much does your bike weigh?”
I don’t ask that question. But it gets asked of me more often than not. I’d be lying if I said I never wondered about it, or tried to estimate it, or wonder how to make that number smaller. But I have never acted on it. I responded to Ky, “It’s like asking a woman how old she is, best not to do it.” Then I grunted as I hefted my bike into an upright position.
I’m not sure how many times I have visited the petroglyph site. I know I have visited in all four seasons. My first ride in the area was around 2000. I had just moved to Reno. The local guidebook had a ride for Lousetown Rd and Petroglyphs. I rode out of the Virginia City Highlands and rolled around in the pinyon-juniper forest until I was running out of water or daylight or both. I don’t think I was anywhere near the petroglyphs but I was in awe of the terrain.
It wasn’t until Dean Magnuson took me up Long Valley Creek ( then in 2016, other route in 2017) that I actually got to the petroglyphs. After that I have soloed, taken one person or a small group by a variety of routes other than the slog through the creek, though it has its value in biological, geological, and historical diversity. At some point I settled on the Washington Hill route as the easiest way to share this destination with others.
I have heard from so many locals that they have wanted to visit the site. I have always had limited time at the site to explore so I figured an overnight or S24O would give plenty of time to take in as much of the 2000 cataloged glyphs. I also wanted to point out the potential routes through the Virginia Range. Interestingly so much of the Virginia and Flowery Ranges are private that exploring them can be challenging. Winter overnights can be challenging but even so I had some interest and inquiries. On the morning of the event I made my way to the meeting point via Super Burrito for provisions. First I saw Shay, then Lennart, Nick and Carrie, then Ky. We were a group of six plus my dog Lily. Perfect! I get to share this route and destination with five others.
Rolling out spirits were high. Most of us were on mountain bikes, me on my Falconer, Nick and Carrie on Manzanitas (Nick is Manzanita Cycles), Lennart on his Cannondale bike, Shay on her Bridgestone, and Ky on a gravel/touring bike. Nick, Carrie, and Ky were going to do it as a day trip, and Shay, Lennart and I were camping. A great mix based on the flexibility of the route. Most of the routes climbing is in the first third of the route. As we regrouped at the routes high point, I got the news that Lily had decided she was going back to the car. Ugh! Change of plans. I’ll go get my dog, everyone else continue onto the petroglyphs.
Lily is a 15 year old Weimaraner. Very capable, and very headstrong. It’s the breed and her personality to do what Lily wants to do. I wasn’t too worried, we have been doing this a long time, but still concerned. I was disappointed to not be guiding the group pointing out various side canyons and routes along the way, but this was a good group, so not to worry. I was descending quickly through all the challenging climbs. I was scanning ahead as well as off into the canyons just in case Lily had chased after a squirrel or rabbit. At some point I realized I was within a mile of our starting point, and there was Lily. I caught up to her but she was only interested in heading to the car. I decided at that point we would stop and make camp. So there we were…
It was mid-afternoon and we were in a canyon crossroads so we went for a hike. We checked out some of the cliff walls and got a bird’s eye view of more roads to follow before we crossed the canyon to some ruins below Washington Mine. The remains of the stone walls were far more involved than what I typically find. Usually there is a single room, rarely multiple, and possibly a fireplace with chimney. This building had multiple rooms, a walkway, and was on multiple levels. Sadly being so close to a main road the area is popular for target practice and graffiti. Later when looking on the USGS maps for any clues there is a grave nearby.
I was expecting Nick, Carrie and Ky to come through the canyon before dark. Nick and Carrie came through first. They had a great time but had a dinner date with a pizza to catch. I look forward to future trips with them. We will have to plan a “pollinator ecology” trip so Carrie can bring the flowers, bees, and butterflies to life for us. Ky came through shortly after. There is always one more petroglyph panel to checkout. We will have more adventures as well. This has been my most fortunate year for riding with new people. As night fell it was just Lily and I back in the tent.
It was a cold night. My cold weather kit isn’t quite warm enough. I am using the Patagonia Hybrid Sleeping bag. To be realistic, how much insulation do you expect to get from a bag that packs down to a size of a 1L Nalgene water bottle. Being that this is a Patagonia 850 fill down product you are getting the most you can expect. But maybe you wont be warm in low teen temperatures. But overall I was fine. For Lily I had a light down blanket that I stuffed in an old space blanket, like a duvet. She was warm on her doubled-over foam pad. This seemed to work.
The next morning Lily and I crossed over the canyon to warm in the morning sun. We packed up and made the quick ride to the car to wait for Shay and Lennart. I took the time to dry out my tarp and sleeping bag, make coffee and hot cocoa, then Lily and I hiked up the canyon to take some photos and greet the others after their cold night. Lily and I hiked most of the way back to our camp before Lennart and Shay swooped down on us. They had a great adventure and we were looking forward to our next overnight, March 20, Pah Rah Petroglyphs. This trip showed how the same route resulted in several ways the trip could be experienced. Let the good times roll!
I find when I am in a group I don’t take as many pictures. Check out Nick’s (@manzanitacycles) and Shay’s (@shaydelami) Instagrams for a more complete story. Thanks to our growing bikepacking group, BurritopackingNV, we had 3 new riders on this trip. Our monthly overnights have been a success!
The GPS track to the petroglyphs is here.