Friday, July 29, 2016

Nevada Beyond the Neon: The Ruby Crest Trail

          Remember the "word association" game?  If I say the word "Desert", for example, you might say "Cactus" or "Sahara".  (Or Nevada.)
         Now let's try the game with the word "Alps".  What word or place did you think of—Switzerland perhaps?  It might take some time before someone would say "Eastern Nevada".  But that's just where the mountains called "America's Alps" are found.

         The Ruby Crest Trail is a 32 mile-long hiking, backpacking and equestrian route across the Ruby Mountains.  I've hiked only a few miles of it but those beginning miles gave an outstanding glimpse of what this trail has to offer: alpine lakes, rocky summits, aspen-lined creeks and wildflower meadows.

The trail begins in the open meadow of Lower Lamoille Canyon.

The trail passes rushing Lamoille Creek.
Views downstream of Lamoille Canyon grow more
impressive with each step.

Switchbacks along the mountainside lead to
Lamoille Lake.

Lamoille Lake is cradled in a deep snow-filled gouge in the
West edge of Upper Lamoille Canyon.

         The next time you're socializing with friends on your deck—playing word association or a similar game—impress them with your knowledge of names and places associated with the word "alps" by mentioning Nevada's Ruby Mountains; you can't lose.

         Note:  Global climate change is affecting mountain ranges worldwide and the Rubies are no exception.  Snow no longer dominates the ridge lines in July as it did in this collection of photos from 1999.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nevada Beyond the Neon: Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge


         Can you tell a ruby from a garnet?  I can't, and neither could early settlers who inhabited this sweeping valley in Northeastern Nevada.  This case of misidentification was responsible for the places now called Ruby Valley, Ruby Mountains, and Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

         More than 200 springs feed Ruby Lake's 37,632 acres, supplemented by snowmelt from the mountains bordering the refuge.  The marshes are host to nesting sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, and white-faced ibis, egrets and herons.  Songbirds inhabit the brushy areas around the springs, and raptors patrol the marshes and upland meadows in search of a meal.  The refuge serves both the Pacific and the Central migration corridors and thousands of ducks fly through during spring and fall.
         Dikes around the marshes support monster trout from the state run fish hatchery.

Tim fly-fishes the dikes around the marsh.

A Yellow-headed Blackbird sings from the reeds.

Snowy Egret.

A Great Blue Heron,  hoping to catch a fish.

White-faced Ibis stroll the marsh.

         The red stones found here were actually garnets and some of them still exist in the area.  If you go in search of the precious stones be aware that most of them are only a few millimeters in diameter.  But whether you're seeking garnets—or just one of the loveliest spots in North America—don't miss this gem of a place.

South Ruby Campground, nestled at the base of the
Ruby Mountains, is the perfect base camp for exploration
of the surrounding area.