Overnight carcamping and dayhiking trip to Wall Canyon, in the Buffalo Hills west of Smoke Creek Desert, part of the Poodle Mountain Wilderness Study Area. Very interesting area. We saw wild horses, and signs of deer and/or antelope and also sheep. Besides scat, a sign for sheep was that several large boulders near the trailhead had strands of wool hanging on the sides – - apparently from sheep scratching themselves in shedding season. Also near the trailhead: an intact horse skeleton with some skin and hair left – - didn’t survive the winter.
A dozen years ago J. and I hiked here, up Wall Canyon to Button Mountain according to my old log book. M. and I didn’t make it that far because the canyon was very slow going, with no trail, dense vegetation in the creek bottom, and loose rocky sides. It’s hard to see how J. and I could have made it that far back then. But that was at the end of a long drought, and likely cattle were grazed in the canyon then, so quite possibly the dense vegetation in the bottom of the canyon just wasn’t there back in the mid-1990s.
We drove to Wall Canyon via the scenic route past Pyramid Lake
and Smoke Creek Desert.
This 100-mile route took 3 hours (with a few stops for photos) from Reno to the turn-off on the main Smoke Creek Desert Road. The dirt/gravel road starting north of Sutcliffe was well graded; it would take longer with the more usual washboard conditions. The return route via Gerlach and NV Hwy 447 and I-80 was 20 miles longer but took only 2 hrs 15 minutes.
GeoLocator for latitude 40.6837387 longitude -119.5966034
(Above) Panorama from Peak 7219.
We car-camped overnight and spent Sunday exploring this isolated area west of Peavine Peak and east of Dog Valley. From a campsite on NFS road 134A, we hiked part cross-country and part on roads up to Peak 7219 (same destination as last year starting from the Copperfield trailhead). Great view of the Sierras from this high vantage point. Also hunted down a geocache near the peak. Returned via Meadow Valley (where we originally intended to camp, but were thwarted by a creek crossing we judged to be impassable–by wimps like us without skid plates), and then NFS road 192 which is on the USFS topo maps but is now mostly non-existent. Saw five deer, two rufous-sided towhees, a herring gull, some hawks, and several ATVs and dirtbikes. This is a great area, and it was nice to be out on a warm if windy weekend before the snow returned this week. What a great place!
Geocache: The Peaks from Peavine
7.67 mi (3.31 mi uphill, 3.24 mi downhill, 1.02 mi flat)
~1670 ft total ascent – 18.9 % uphill grade, 87.3 % downhill grade
5:09:17 total time (4:00:15 moving, 1:09:02 stopped)
0:31:19 pace (1.9 mph average speed, 33.3 mph max speed)
21.6 difficulty, 40.5 effort
Trailhead camp directions: Take Bordertown exit from U.S. 395 at the California/Nevada state line. The access road on the west side of the highway heads north, then turns back south across the railroad tracks to Long Valley Road. Follow Long Valley Road about 4 miles to the Forest Service border signs, turn left at the junction and go about 1.5 miles to a 4-way intersection. Turn left onto NFS road 034A, which dead ends at a creek in about a quarter mile. (Coordinates on Geolocator below). This is a well-used campsite; it required a lot of cleanup to make it comfortable, but was a nice place despite that. Brought home a big garbage bag full of shotgun shells, broken glass, and practice targets of various ilks. It’s not really a trailhead either, but crossing the creek led east through the forest to an open area that was easy to traverse cross-country until reaching roads.
GeoLocator for latitude 39.6064186 longitude -120.0092773