Less than hour east of Pahrump is Lovell Canyon in the Spring Mountains Recreation Area in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Camping in the canyon is dispersed only so it’s up to you to find a good spot. I did. The Lovell Canyon Road is paved. Nice. The campsite is on a side road. I had to take the truck and trailer down and up the creek crossing. Fairly rough dirt road a mile or so in, but a relatively clean site with a decent amount of vegetation throughout. Pinyon, juniper, sage, manzanita, and some plants I have never seen before. Time to get educated. The campsite across the road had very little left growing and much broken glass and shotgun shells. Humans are really messy creatures. Thanksgiving Day getting acquainted with my immediate surroundings and a pre-prepared dinner. Star gazing is seriously compromised by the light pollution from Las Vegas. It’s like the first light of dawn all night long. Friday what was to be a light hike up the northern end of the canyon turned into a 6-mile hike. Easy well-maintained trail. I love the pinyon forests. They are peaceful places with a lot of biological diversity. Saturday a bit of housekeeping. Sunday a leisurely day as I decided to stay a night longer than I had planned. Too nice to leave. Monday morning came in really windy with storm clouds racing above. It cleared up by 1000 am and I set to work packing up the trailer and hitching up. No phone signal for 5 whole days. Saturday was the only day there was any traffic on the road. A shooter up the road off and on all day long. Even though it is prohibited and there are signs posted all around. All in all I had an enjoyable stay here.
Walker Lake is the remnant of a much larger body of water produced by melting glaciers 12,000 years ago. It is not necessarily connected with Lake Lahontan. It is fed by the Walker River and has no natural outlet. It is surrounded by barren mountains and sandy playa. Since the European-Americans arrived in the late 19th century water has been diverted by agricultural interests. There is a dam as you come towards Schurz. The lake has shrunk dramatically in size, and consequently saline levels have risen to the point that the lake cannot support very much life. The sandy shores and boulders have all acquired this alkali frosting. It’s starting to look like the Great Salt Lake. The night skies are dark. But the lights from Hawthorne and the Army base, and the traffic along the highway are significant distractions. I am able to take refuge behind the trailer and turn my back to the road to gain significant observation time. It gets cold here at night. And windy. I took in the stars along the ecliptic between Algenib and Hamal. Made a sketch. They are basically the southern “v” of Pisces and the head of Cetus. Also later sketched the “rabbit tracks” south of Sirius. Haven’t had a good view of them in a long time. Venus and Mars before sunrise. We are right on the new moon here. Good timing. Some other campers pulled in last evening just above me and were gone quite early. Another rig showed up later just passing through. Had a pleasant conversation with the woman who was out walking the dog. For some reason I feel a need to tidy up my campsite. Picking up trash of course, and sweeping clean areas that I am going to be using most. Not the circle I did at Sand Mountain, but I built a circle of stones around the grill and oriented the four directions and cross-quarters. I then rebuilt one of the fire rings out of mostly stones from the other fire ring. This time also with the orientation. Tonight is the new moon and the celebration Diwali on the Hindu calendar. I remember doing this 2 years ago up Judd Creek in the Simpsons. I built a fire and collected more firewood. There is a good supply of dead tamarisk around. For someone with a chain saw. Cooked up the eggplant and peppers I got at Sprouts on the grill and a pot of linguine on the stove top. It got too windy to light the fire so maybe tomorrow night. The sky remained clear but wind continued strong. Was out at 300am and the clouds started rolling in. By 400am the wind was so strong it was rocking the trailer. Then it began to rain. There was no hope for sleep so I turned on the radio. An app on my smart phone. Nice. By daybreak the skies were clearing, but the wind continued. Evidence of snow on Mt. Grant to the south. The sunrise through the clouds over the wind-whipped water made for some neat photographs. After breakfast explored the shore of the lake to the north. Large granite boulders left by the glaciers I assume broke up the sandy landscape. There were areas along this beach that were algae free and clear water, but I was still not tempted to go wading. The wind was considerably less as sunset approached, so I lit my Diwali fire. The next day there were only two campers at this end of the campground. I went out to explore the south end of this campground and the other campground to the south. More sites that look like pull throughs but lower levels look just as sandy. The other campground is what remains of a more established area with a paved road and paved campsites. Some of them even look level. But you are much closer to the highway here. So pick your priorities. An uneventful evening and night. Set out for Beatty at 1000am. I have at least a 4 hour drive. Stopped to chat with my neighbor. Nice guy. The bonds of shared common experience in helping in difficulties never dies.