Sunday, April 10, 2016

Oh, what fun it is to build!

There is just something completely awesome about getting new trail on the ground.

The IMBA/Subaru Trail Care Crew blew through town this week. Their goal was to host a couple of days of classroom learning and a few hours of on-the-hill training, getting a great group of volunteers up to speed on how to get new trail on the ground. It's a pretty big deal, as IMBA has only one (count 'em) trail care crew in the country. As it turns out, the local BLM office has a new rec guy who's a bit of a fireball, and one of the first things he did when he clocked in for work was start lobbying to get these guys here. It was a real coup.

Fortunately for all concerned, there was (and is) a shovel-ready project available to use as a trail building classroom - the new bike trail system being built at SnoBowl! So, lucky us, some real trail experts used our local hill as a classroom to teach the nuts and bolts of getting new trail on the ground.

Pinch me, is this for real??  :D

About twenty folks joined Jordan Carr and Lani Bruntz from IMBA after the classroom sessions, and built several hundred feet of very fun new trail over the course of a few hours. Best of all, after the build, the IMBA team walked up the route of the under-construction beginner MTB trail to give us ideas on what we can do to make it a better riding experience for newer riders. Most of the volunteers expressed interest in weekly build days to get a top-to-bottom trail completed before summer, so that we can run the lift for lift-served riding once school's out. 

To call this a banner day for SnoBowl would be a profound understatement.

Here are a few pics of the build:
The pre-talk.  Several of the folks on the crew had not used trail tools before, and the IMBA folks gave an overview of safe tool handling.

A determined bunch

Lani and Jordan demonstrating the work sequence that ends with finished trail.

Putting that instruction to good use

Some very cool progress happening here!

The finished product - a phenomenal upgrade from the previous route

Here's a big, healthy THANK YOU to Mike Setlock from the BLM for bringing the IMBA team in, to Subaru for footing the bill for such a great program, to the City of Elko for the volunteer lunch, Great Basin College for the classroom space, to Jordan and Lani from IMBA for being such enthusiastic and skilled trail evangelists, and most of all to the volunteers who showed up to learn how this all works. It's so incredibly cool to see what we can all accomplish working together!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Some much needed maintenance on the Ruby Crest Trail

Boy, was this ever needed.  Some great work done last summer by the Friends of the Nevada Wilderness, brushing out and maintaining the Ruby Crest Trail between Overland Lake and Harrison Pass.  While they were there, they also did a lot of work on the Overland Trail, between Overland Lake and Ruby Valley.

Too bad these guys can't just move here permanently, there is a LOT of work to be done up there!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Nevada

While I'm on hiking/climbing hiatus waiting for my knees to heal up and my leg strength to come back (Lord give me patience, and I want it RIGHT NOW!) - here's a neat write up on the work the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) did in Nevada during and after the Great Depression.

Those who know and love Lamoille Canyon and the Ruby Crest Trail know their work firsthand, as the CCC built the Lions Camp (Camp Lamoille) as well as the Ruby Crest Trail itself.  Two portions of that trail, in particular, are wonderful monuments to the quality work those men did - the switchbacks and ridge trail west of Echo Lake, and the trail between Lamoille Lake and Liberty Pass.

The next time you hike those routes, take a few minutes to appreciate the rockwork.  And to appreciate the vision of the President who made the CCC a reality.

Anyway, here's the link.  Lots of great photos and Nevada history... enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Missing in action

So... I've been awfully quiet recently...

There's been good reason.  I injured myself in 2013 and am "enjoying" the second of three surgeries, the last of which is scheduled for September. That sounds a lot worse than it really is, but I've not been able to hike since my trip report to Cold Lakes nearly two years ago.

The exceptionally good part is that I'm anticipating a full recovery and hope to be back wandering around late this fall.  Or... at least I'll be able to sit a horse and let HIM do the work.

Either way, that's where I've been.  Haven't been ignoring you all, really.  Just staring out the window, wishing I were at altitude.  Get out there and have some fun for me, OK?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ruby Crest Trail Car Shuttle

I get a lot of requests from folks interested in a shuttle for a Ruby Crest Trail trip, and I've met some exceptionally cool people that way. Unfortunately, I'm pretty well stapled to the ranch these days (check out my Facebook page for Kennedy Ranch) and, as much as I'd like to do it, can't often do shuttles any more.

Cowboy John to the rescue!  Call John Collett at Cowboy John Tours, 775-753-7825, and see if he can help you out.  You might just get an earful of local lore on the way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A little Ely love

Rode the 9th annual Fears, Tears and Beers Mountain Bike Enduro in Ely this weekend - every year I wonder how it can possibly get better, and it does.  Consistently.

This year there were something north of 90 riders, with a good mix of pros and utter gapers like me. They've built some nice trail in recent years, in part with money raised through this race, and the route includes more and more fun, swoopy singletrack every year. It also includes the annual race-start tour of the Jailhouse Casino.

Fears, Tears and Beers - Photo by John Shafer
Photo by my friend John Shafer, Photo-John of Consumer Reviews fame, whose photos of this race and other adventures are well worth finding.

There's no other way to put it - the riding in Ely is worth the drive and it gets better every year. Whether you're down for the race (Father's Day Weekend every year, and yes the race is kid-friendly) or just trying to beat the heat with some mountain riding, it's hard to go wrong by throwing your bike in the truck and heading to White Pine County.

For those interested in making the trip, Ely native and avid rider Kent Robertson has a quality blog going that has excellent info for would-be MTB visitors. Check it out at

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

We Like It This Way

I had a rare day working at my desk today, and in an effort to keep from having to do precisely that, I checked out my "spam" folder and saw that I'd gotten a message from a guy who wanted me to write a piece for his blog.  Kind of cool... glad I didn't just empty the folder like I've been known to do.

He has a pretty nifty premise - he's asking bloggers from around the country to talk about adventures in their home states.  Here's what I wrote for him:


International Car Forest of the Last Church, Goldfield, NV
When I was a kid, somewhat more than 50 years ago, there were about 300,000 people in Nevada.  We didn’t have a big enough population to warrant two representatives in Congress, or even statehood for that matter.  We had lots of silver, though, and the Union needed it for the war, so with a wink and a nod they let us join the America club.  Not that it mattered much to the cows and sagebrush that filled the high desert back in the day.

There are a lot more people in Nevada now, but luckily for the rest of us they mostly live in Vegas.  It takes a little more effort than it used to, but you can still plop yourself in the middle of 200 square miles of nothing.  Real Nevadans like it that way.  Go ahead and dis our state as a wasteland.  Speed on down the interstate.  We don’t mind.
Wendover Will

Nevada echoes… with history, with loneliness, with the ghosts of broken dreams.  With mile after mile of dirt roads and strange, friendly, self-sufficient people who’ll gladly let you through their gates to access some remote stretch of mountain snow, but who’ll warn you that you ought to be packin’ if you go.  Mountain lions, you know, a guy got killed up there a while back.  That’s the story at any rate, and news is so rare in these parts that “a while back” may have happened in the 1800’s.
Photo by Kenny Sheen
I mean, really – you want mountains?  We got mountains, and most of them require some serious map-and-compass skills to adequately explore.  The guidebook-dependent ecotourist need not apply.  There are 300 named mountain ranges in the state – more mountains than in any state other than Alaska.  For my money, my home range, the Ruby Mountains of Elko County, is the prettiest around.  But high deserts are about jewels of oases, and every range in the state has trickling seasonal streams with shady caves of cottonwoods at their bases, bumblebees lazily buzzing in the dappled light.  You don’t have to make it all the way to the Rubies to find Nevada paradise.  Go out and find a special spot of your own.
Seitz Lake, Ruby Mountains
The way to see Nevada, frankly, is to throw away the guidebooks.  They don’t do it justice, anyway.  Get yourself a well-stocked pickup (water, food, camping gear, repair kit, some select maps, extra fuel, a big dose of self-sufficiency) and head out.  “Where does this road go?” is one of my favorite games, and Nevada is the best state in the country to play it.  You never know if you’re going to end up at a cattle trough, an old hydroelectric plant, a mining camp or a washed-out bridge.  Bring some wine and somebody who likes to enjoy a good Nevada sunset, and find a nice high spot to watch the desert turn to night.

Independence Range
Now – keep in mind that people can and do manage to get lost and sometimes killed this way, so take your own safety seriously.  The cavalry may eventually show up – eventually – but even giving directions to AAA in this state is a challenge.  The nearest cross-street may be 89 miles away, assuming that you even have cell coverage to call them (fat chance, generally speaking).
The premise of the #makeadventure theme is to come up with a top five list of things to do and places to see in my state.  My best answer – I don’t know yet, but I look forward to finding out.  No doubt it’s at the end of some washboard road somewhere, in some little bar in a ghost town, complete with friendly fossils holding down barstools.

A few ideas for my next Nevada adventures –

-Dig for opals at the mines near Denio.  Spend some time at the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge while I’m there, see if I can spot some mustangs. 

-Follow the Pony Express Trail.  Bike or horse, whichever works. 

-Look for the old concrete arrows that pilots used to use to navigate cross country.  They’re still there, spaced 10 miles apart, all across the northern part of the state. 

-Go wander out to the bristlecones near Wheeler Peak, see if I can guess which ones were around at the time of Christ. 

-Find the funky – the one-horse towns, the International Car Forest, the showers at Ely’s Hotel Nevada, the Brothel Cookbook, Pioche, the locals just about anywhere. 

Take this sign seriously, folks!

The vastness and small beauties of our high desert will grow on you.  Nevada is windswept, sun-baked, snow-choked, humbling, filled with birdsong.  Spend some time here, and you’ll understand why we’re happy when folks stay on the interstate.


I had a link to his blog, but I just checked it and it's been hacked. So, I've sanitized this for YOUR PROTECTION. Just like they do to the toilets in Tonopah. You're welcome.