Ride Report; Desert Creek, Floor to Ceiling

Sagebrush, aspens, creeks, high alpine vistas – visual distractions from all the climbing Photo Marc P

The diversity in the the riding conditions, in the views, and the challenges along the way were a great distraction in this route. I really questioned if I had what it took to climb to Lobdell Lake but it all came together. Everything distracted me from my legs telling me I couldn’t do it. I asked Marc if he noticed it too. Marc commented the views justified the effort. I’ll take that.

Low in the canyon, great geology showing off a violent volcanic past Photo Marc P

I have been camping, fishing, and biking at Desert Creek since 2010. I found the fishing recommendation through the Nevada Division of Wildlife‘s fishing publication. I was getting there 3 times a year on average. I’m not sure when the idea of biking floor to ceiling came about but it was in the back of my mind on each visit. The idea was to follow Desert Creek from NV 338 to Lobdell Lake. The first 17+ miles I had ridden, driven, or hiked numerous times. The middle 10 miles were completely new. The last 17 miles did not completely overlap with the first as we included the Jackass Creek loop from the bikefishing overnight. By the numbers the route is 46 miles with 4,900′ of climbing.

One question I had was, how many creek crossings are there in the route? After my seventh I wasn’t complete sure, is this number seven or eight? I conferred with Marc and by the end we counted 25+. I hiked 90% of the crossings, no need to capsize mid-stream. I was in sandals so no big deal getting my feet wet. Most crossings were hub deep. Here is the hot tip: Carry your bike across the streams. I did not. Marc did. His drivetrain was far smoother running at the end of the day. Mine sounded awful, to the point I thought damage was done. But after getting it back to the shop, tearing it down, cleaning and lubing, everything was back to running smooth. Note to self; carry your bike over water crossings and regular maintenance is good!

Top of the new-to-us/tricky-route-finding section of the trip.

The new-to-me section above mile 17 to mile 20 was tricky. I was lead across the river rather than staying on the west side. I ended up following a cow path rather than the moto single track. I would like to repeat this section again and stay on the rideable singletrack. The hiking and bushwacking was fine, just slow. At least you know the direction you are headed, always head upstream.

Lobdell Lake is just beyond the skyline
The lunar landscape of Mt Patterson Photo Marc P

Eventually the trail opens up into a nicely maintained road. We came to a fork that lead abruptly to Mt Patterson. We were above 9,100′, the road continued above 11,600′. Next trip I can make the time to travel in this unique ecological zone. Marc suggested making Lobdell Lake a base camp and make some clover leaf excursions from there. That style of trip has been discussed by others in our group, but not done. We followed the road along the creek and eventually to Lobdell Lake. While the water level was very low, I was told it is often completely dry. There were a few other users around the lake and we came across a group of three backcountry moto riders, but otherwise it had just been Marc and I all day.

Lobdell Lake
Marc suggested using this as a basecamp and doing rides out of Lobdell Lk Photo Marc P

As they say in mountaineering, reaching the summit is only half way. In my typical fashion I hadn’t looked at the elevation profile in any detail. Our return route started by descending 350′, then climbing 400′ with a max grade above 20%. I try to hike-a-bike at grades above 17%, it saves the legs. Beyond that there was nothing above 175′ of climbing for the next 20 miles to the end. There was a short steep descent at -23% but otherwise it was all fairly moderate. After mile 28 we were on a familiar route from the bikefishing overnight, through Jackass Flat and along Jackass Creek to Desert Creek. Only 7-8 creek crossings to go!

The climbing wasn’t over until it was over.
But when it is over, it is all smiles! Photo Marc P

Just to the west of this area is Rissue Canyon and Arrowhead Mine. I am surprised I haven’t headed that way to explore. That leaves two great trips at least left for the area, Rissue Canyon and Mt. Patterson. Hope to see you out there.

One last creek crossing!

2 thoughts on “Ride Report; Desert Creek, Floor to Ceiling

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