Backyard Adventures: Toiyabe Trails - Part 2
Welcome! We're pleased to bring you part two in this series. If you missed Part 1, no worries, you can find it right here.
Nevada is smack-dab in the middle of the Basin and Range topography of the Great Basin so every mountain range is an island poking up out of a sagebrush sea. These ranges are generally quite narrow, so driving from west to east is like driving across a giant washboard. Coming from Reno, our first view of the Toiyabes left us awestruck, not so much from the beauty of the range but the amount of snow that still covered it. I knew it had just snowed a foot and a half the week before but we still weren’t quite expecting the amount of snow still left up high, and we weren’t too psyched (or prepared) to hike in snow for any length of time. Luckily we had planned our route from south to north, giving the higher and snowier northern section 3 additional days to melt out.
[A view of the Toiyabe Range's high point, Arc Dome. Photo: OldSchool]
The southern half of the trail lies in the Arc Dome Wilderness which was given wilderness status in 1989, and at 115,000 acres is the largest wilderness area in Nevada. The trail starts off winding up, around, but mostly through the South Twin River. We were warned to not even try to keep our feet dry and stomp right through, and with some 25 crossings in the first couple miles, it was good, if soggy, advice. The trail follows the river and then climbs up and over a saddle and into the headwaters of the Reese River. The builders must have enjoyed wet feet because the trail crosses the Reese another 20 or so times before turning north and following Sawmill creek up to the base of Arc Dome which at 11,773 is the highest peak in the Toiyabe Range.
As we had hoped, most of the snow that had fallen the week before had melted although there was still an inch or two clinging to the old 2-track that took us to the highest part of the trail. We had planned to summit that afternoon as well but as we climbed to the crest with the wind howling and the temperature dropping, we skipped the summit and headed for the trees down the other side of the ridge. We found a semi-flat spot behind a particularly large tree, set up the tent and jumped in. Being June we didn’t really plan for bad weather but by the morning it was snowing and blowing even harder so we decided to stay put and see what the weather did before moving on. We spent the day pondering, among other things, just why we left the spare dinner in the food stash instead of carrying it from the beginning.
[Above, one of the many (many, many) creek crossings along the South Twin River. Middle, the southern section of the Toiyabe Crest Trail crosses large high-elevation plateaus that offer very little in the way of shelter. Bottom, in this same area, "river" canyons offer water and a welcome opportunity for sheltered camps. Photos: OldSchool]
Ed Note: Longtime readers of The Cleanest Line know we're big fans of the Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot and have been enjoying DJ Don Darue's mountain-music goodness for years. Hopefully you checked out last week's show after reading part one of Old School's post. A new show aired this past Saturday and is now available for download. Stay tuned for part 3 of Toiyabe Trails next week.