Carlo Luri described the weather as “spicy”. Not to be so kind, it was the WORST! But that is ok. Spring time in Nevada can and will be unsettled. For those who spend time out-of-doors, in all conditions, it was glorious, the clouds gave the sky definition, and cast shadows across the landscape highlighting things you had never seen before if if you looked at them a thousand times. But the weather did not slow anything down. The Rendezvous was a success on all levels. I lead a 3 hour, 17 mile ride on Sunday with 11 riders.
The ride took off from the “inlet”, “cove” below Cassidy Mine at Secondhand Spring. The climb gives excellent perspective to the Black Rock Desert playa. The playa appeared dark and shaded from the rain and broken light from the cloud cover. You can distinguish the Selenite, Granite and Black Rock Ranges, Calico Mountains, King Lear Peak, Black Rock Point, Steamboat and Old Razorback just to get your bearings.
Cassidy Mine is a popular dispersed campsite. It was once operated by a colorful local character, Josie Pearl, (not true!) or so my story went (my apologies for this inaccurate storytelling) . But I was just repeating what I (what I thought I had remembered, but clearly I was confused) had heard, I could not verify this claim with my limited poking around the web. I also heard she wore a calico dress encrusted with $6,000 of jewels. Web sources described her dress but said she wore $6,000 in diamonds on her wrist. While I strive for accuracy I think there is also room for tall tales and growing folklore of wild west characters. But my research has inspired another trip to visit Pearl’s cabin near Leonard Creek and the Juanita Mine. There is value in tall tales if they entertain your imagination to find out more. I think I was associating the Cassidy Mine with an adjacent story of women owned/worked mines in Black Rock Country. My mistake, my apologies.
Cassidy Mine has great views to the north. The mine was known for gold, silver, copper, lead, and arsenic. Descriptions of geothermal breccia and quartz veins were repeated in the technical descriptions of the area. The area was once under 500′ of Lake Lahontan so evidence of tufa calcium carbonate is common. What becomes evident is the natural and cultural history is incredibly dense in this area. These stories inspire a greater connection to the land. This connection to place then inspires stewardship.
From Cassidy Mine we crossed Soldier Meadows Rd. to Hualapai Flat. Cassidy Mine is on a landmass that forms from an extension of the Granite Range and sits about 200′ above the Black Rock Desert playa. Several berms of rock, sand and fine clay sediments separate the Hualapai Flat from the Black Rock Desert playa. I try to imagine the transition from ancient Lake Lahontan, to a wet, humid marshy environment, to our present cooler drier climate over the last 4-10 thousand years. The 3 mile trek to Finley Butte and beyond to where we turned north demonstrated how this landscape was shaped by falling and rising water levels over the millennia.
North bound to the Calico Hills and the Calico Mountains Wilderness Area was on a great road with only a few sand traps. We even had a bit of a tailwind! The Calico Hills are an excellent example of “painted” strata where the oxides of various minerals distinguish the rocks in bands of reds, pinks, blues, and tan. This looped us back to Soldier Meadows Rd. for our return to Cassidy Mine.
We had plenty of time to talk about the limited federal resources allotted to the Bureau of Land Management to manage our public lands especially such a vast area as the Black Rock Desert – High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area that sees dispersed but concentrated use. This is where the role of Friends groups comes in. Ultimately each user needs to have a wilderness ethic that is compatible with conserving our public lands for future generations. Adopting and adapting Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly principles will serve the NCA well.
The ride is positioned to be a primer for bike travel around Black Rock Country. We travel from playa, to a rocky climb, cruise through saltbrush/greasewood flats, approach mountains and wilderness. We follow designated routes, cross options to explore, and marvel the wildlife, natural, and cultural history. All of this must be approached with radical self-reliance as there are few resources other than those you provide.
If you haven’t attended a Black Rock Rendezvous then I put it on your radar for 2023. It is an “open house” for the conservation/recreation opportunities for 1.2 million acres of public lands. The gathering is hosted by the BLM, Friends of Black Rock High Rock, Friends of Nevada Wilderness, and Nevada Outdoor School. The four day event was full of talks, hikes, stewardship projects, and food all within a group dispersed campout on the Black Rock Desert playa below Cassidy Mine. I wish I could have stuffed myself twice over during the Dutch Oven Cook-off! Please join in next year!