|There's gold in them thar hills.|
I can't help but imagine though, that the bands of Northern Paiute who inhabited this area years ago ascribed more inspirational names to these carpets of gold—"Fields of Sunshine" perhaps, or "Sunrise Touching the Hills".
These first manifestations of spring ambushed our senses as we climbed Hinkey Summit Road in the Santa Rosa Range of the Humboldt National Forest in north-central Nevada.
Our two-day trip to the Santa Rosa Range included other sensuous pleasures as well. Driving past a spindly half-dead tree on the hillside we noticed a nest cradled in its branches. After stopping the truck to inspect this find we spied two fuzzy heads bobbing in the nest. And then we heard it, that tell-tale piercing scream—you've probably heard it on the soundtrack of a western movie or television show—of a Red-tailed Hawk. Red-tail chicks! I had never seen them in the wild and so Tim and I tentatively crept up the hill toward the tree.
The screech we heard earlier meant that mama hawk was nearby and sure enough she flew into the nest, gave her chicks a scolding for allowing themselves to be seen, and then dive-bombed the two of us. Warning taken. We scrambled down the hill and away from those razor-sharp claws. And the chicks didn't surface again. Those youngsters listen to "Mom" when she tells them to lie low.
|Red-tail Hawk family. On our return down the mountain we saw the entire|
family in the nest. This time, using the truck as a blind,
Tim took this zoomed photo.
Mama and Papa hawk didn't pay any attention to us—so long
as we stayed by our truck.
Solitude and scenery. Can't beat it.
|Brilliantly colored lichen adorns the granite in the Santa Rosa Range.|
Our final visual treat was the town of Paradise Valley, a virtual ghost town now inhabited by 109 souls. The town was named "Paradise" after an early settler exclaimed: "What a paradise!" upon viewing the mountains to the west. With its abandoned buildings, rusty vehicles and towering old cottonwood trees the town these days would be better-suited as the setting for an episode of The Twilight Zone.
|Paradise? Or the scene of a horror show? You decide.|
As with most everywhere in rural Nevada the town of Paradise Valley and the remote Santa Rosa range are accessed by one lonely dirt road. If you choose to experience the treasures of north-central Nevada, mid-June is the perfect time to view its fields of sunshine and fledgling birds of prey.