Days of Nights

in search of dark skies

Month: September 2017 (Page 2 of 2)

Ruby Mountains, NV. Day Two

On the morning of the second day, I was at the trailhead at Road’s End at 1000am. I was headed for Lamoille Lake a distance of 2 miles, estimated hiking time 2 hours. Liberty Pass was another mile beyond at a considerable rise in elevation. The weather was nice, partly cloudy and warm enough to start  in shorts and t-shirt. I brought another significant layer of clothes just in case. It seemed I would be tagging along with an older threesome who were traveling in the same direction and at the same rate of speed. Measured by the senior member of the group who is probably 75 and doesn’t get out much. It soon become evident to me that I was going to have some difficulty. Stopping every quarter of a mile or less to catch my breath. On some of the steeper sections I had to stop because it felt my chest was about to explode. I could only attribute this to the higher elevation. The hike I had done yesterday was 1000 feet lower. My legs were doing okay. The landscape is absolutely spectacular. It didn’t matter how far I would get, the fact was that I was there, enjoying it all. When we got near the lake, there was a trail sign which read Parking Lot 2 miles. This was terrible. That is the hardest and slowest two miles I have ever hiked. We went on to the lake which is beautiful. Tall peaks surround it and one can see Lamoille Canyon down below. Snowfields reach down the mountainside toward the lake. One of the party had brought a fishing pole and that was his intention and the other two were with him. I felt as if I needed to press further up the trail towards Liberty Pass. I got misdirected and ended up in open territory above the lake. Had lunch beside some snow and a variety of flower I have never seen before. Had to don my sweatshirt as the wind picked up and the sun disappeared behind some clouds. Now it was time to turn back. Backtracking the lake trail, the fork to Liberty Pass was very evident. Another time. I took the Horse Trail down. It’s shorter and not as scenic. Stone stairways have been constructed, for erosion control, but I can see it makes for more sure footing for the horses. And us humans. I returned to the truck, exhausted, and disappointed. Not so much physically as mentally. After dinner was a spectacular sunset caught on the walls of the canyon across from the campground. I intended to sleep out on the lounge chair, but that was abruptly ended by light rain. Back to the truck. About midnight part of the southern sky cleared sufficiently for me to go outside for observation. I didn’t bring any covers with me so I only stayed for about a half an hour. Got a good view of the constellation Aquarius and made some interesting finds about some of its star groups and its relationship to Pegasus, the meridian, and the ecliptic. I made an assignment to become better acquainted with the stars that are directly on the ecliptic. There is always something to learn.


Ruby Mountains, NV. Day One

I decided to go camping. Strange to say when I am towing around my home on wheels. But I wanted to get out and explore some of the landscapes around Elko while I am still here and getting up into the Rubys was one priority. It seemed more of a hassle than it was worth to hitch up drive all around the back country, back into a campsite, unhitch, and then hitch up again. And repack  the truck with what I am storing in the trailer. I have done truck camping before so not a big deal. Forget what I said about never having to make up a list and pack up the truck, and hope I didn’t forget anything. This is a reality too. Sometimes I am just going to go off in my truck and leave the trailer behind. For a day or two. Like I did to go to Reno.

I took the first morning to drive around to the east side of the Rubys, the reverse of the route I did in 2012. The exit off I-80 is just two east of the trailer park. The weather was not so good for touring, but produced some dramatic light and shadow effects for photos. It rained lightly off and on the whole time I was in Ruby Valley. It is largely an agricultural area. Remote, with water. Apparently long-established cattle raising and hay production. The destination on the east side is the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. It consists of the remains of a large ancient lake of which Franklin Lake to the north is another remnant. Now shallow wetlands fed by mountain streams and fresh water springs. I am developing an interest in the National Wildlife Refuges. The seem like a nice place to hang out. There is a Forest Service campground just to the south of the refuge, which was hardly occupied and very attractive.

The weather improved as I crossed over Harrison Pass and made my way up to Lamoille Canyon on the west side. You have to go through Spring Creek. By the time I had arrived at the campground I had driven 150 miles and taken 6 hours to get there. Which Google says I could have come directly in 49 minutes driving 38.5 miles. It’s not the destination. Setting up camp is easy. I have the option of either sleeping in my lounge chair on in the passenger’s seat of the truck. Depending on the weather. Charcoal grill for heating up my pre-cooked meals, And a 7-gallon container of water. The campground has running water and pit toilets. Each campsite has a picnic table. I found a space right next to Lamoille Creek with an open view of the southern sky, what there was of it being in a canyon in the mountains. This week an important factor was going to be the weather.

It was early enough to take a short hike up Thomas Canyon to test my legs and explore this beautiful glacial landscape. We are in the midst of an ecological zone that is dominated by quaking aspen and limber pine. And many wildflowers, which surprisingly this late in the year are still blooming. The trail follows the creek up the canyon, passing numerous small waterfalls and engaging rocks all along its way down from Mount Fitzgerald at the head of the canyon, still displaying large snowfields around its shoulders. I was telling myself I would stop hiking and turn around when I got tired, something in my body started hurting, when I lost interest, when I got hungry, or when I ran out of time. Well, the latter occurred first, but right about the time I attained this significant waterfall, and decided I had had enough exercise. The sun disappeared behind the mountain. I made it back to camp with more than enough time to prepare dinner and eat. I figure I may have gone about three miles round trip. I felt good. Well enough to tackle something more significant up at Road’s End tomorrow. The night turned overcast and I ended up sleeping in the truck. Every time I had to get up and pee, which is frequently, the courtesy lights and the cargo lamp come on when I open the door. Annoying. I kept checking on the skies. There were some tantalizing breaks here and there but nothing sustainable. I was able to orient to Polaris. Always a good thing.



I have a new gadget. Indoor/outdoor digital wireless thermometer.

I intend to stay between 40 F (4C) and 85F (30C).

Not doing so well today. Elko NV.

Baking Bread

I have promised myself not to cut corners when it comes to food preparation. I think I am doing well in that respect. I have three sources of energy: the 2-burner propane stove top, the charcoal cooker, and the solar oven. Each provides a special approach to preparing food. The solar oven of course depends upon a 3 to 4 hour window of steady sunshine. I had to wait until today to make bread because of the weather. I don’t eat as much bread as I used to. This is only the second time I have done it this way. The process is the same. The risings take place in the closed oven without reflectors in the shade where the oven’s temperature is about 125 degrees. Anything above 150 starts cooking the dough and killing the yeast. In the baking, the reflectors are attached. The oven consistently maintains a temperature of 250 or higher. Inside the oven, in the covered cooking pot, the dough tends to steam rather than cook. After baking for two hours the bread is firm enough to remove from the pot, flip it over and return it to the oven, uncovered. After a half hour, I flipped it over again and let it cook this way for another half hour. Edible. This is still a work in progress so each time there will be improvements.

It comes to mind that here is something I might have in coming with some of the folks around here. A modicum of self-sufficiency.

My Story

It was time to take a look at some of the other projects I am supposed to be working on. I took a look at my music files, and opened up what I written on the Psychedelic Years 1965-1970. I left off with music somewhere in 1969. It seemed like a good idea to begin reconstructing the playlist of Woodstock. A very interesting exploration. It’s nice to access to all this material. Sweetwater? Bert Sommer?  The autobiography has left me in March 1968. So I have some catching up to do.  It’s important to have things to work on.

Full Moon. September 2017

The smoke-filled skies produce red sunsets and orange moons.

And from the night before:

Home Means Nevada

I passed a significant milestone yesterday.  I have registered my truck in Nevada. And I have obtained a Nevada driver’s  license. I have surrendered my identity as a Utahn after 24 years, and take on that of a Nevadan.

Markab. 2017

It’s time to start publishing calendars again. These “months” are based on 18 bright stars along the ecliptic as they cross the meridian around midnight. The large numbers represent the nights associated with each bright star’s midnight culmination. The small numbers represent the calendar days we are familiar with, in this case September.  The other features are phenomena that make the nighttime sky interesting.

Markab is the bright star located on the southwest corner of the square of Pegasus. It is a blue-white star of magnitude 2.49 between 86 and 199 light years away.

Elko County Fair. 2017

on the Humboldt.

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