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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 11:22 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:03 pm
Posts: 174
Location: Winnemucca, NV
Golden Leaves and Blue Chimney Tour:
Backyard Winnemucca Sunday Afternoon


September is almost over. It was one of the warmest Septembers on record for northern Nevada – with daytime highs hovering 10°-15° above normal and nighttime lows not even near frosty. The first of October is coming and the weatherman says October is coming in with a vengeance – below normal temperatures and a heavy freeze.

But today is Sunday, September 27, 2009, and it was a warm one. It was a nice day for a reconnoiter around my backyard.

Yesterday I made a run north to the Oregon border. Coming back down US95, I spied up in the Santa Rosa Range bright yellow streaks – the aspens are turning! That made up my mind for a destination to take my wife and Otis our Lhasa Apso dog – Hinkey Summit. I’ve been to Hinkey Summit numerous times, some of them even chronicled here. But I’ve never been there when the aspens are golden. I also wanted to check out an area that I’ve heard about but never visited – Chimney Reservoir – situated at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Little Humboldt River, east of Paradise Valley. A decision on a whim brought us home yet another untried path. It was an afternoon of adventure and scenic beauty.

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Northbound US95 out of Winnemucca after filling the tank on my Toyota Tacoma TRD 4WD pickup. Inside were my wife, my dog and me. My basic Garmin eTrex GPS unit recorded our travels, while my Delphi NAV200 showed me the way ahead. All chronicled digitally by my Kodak C713 digital camera. Turning off onto NV290, we made our way north to the scenic community of Paradise Valley, a tiny niche of old farm houses and huge trees nestled in a grand valley of the same name.

Northbound to the foot of the Santa Rosa Range, the aspens immediately began to line Indian Creek. Some of them were even beginning to take on their autumn tinge. Upward the road climbs, leaving the canyon bottom and resorting to switchbacking up the steep slopes punctuated by colossal granite spires and blocks poking up from the earth’s crust.

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The Hinkey Summit area of the Santa Rosa Range is part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

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Some yellowing of the aspens show here in this scene taken midway up Hinkey Summit.

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Some of Hinkey’s dramatic geology enhanced by the changes of the season.

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Golden leaves and jagged rocks as one climbs higher upon Hinkey Summit.

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Dropping down the north side of Hinkey Summit. The country beyond – barely visible at the left side of the image, is the valley of the North Fork of the Little Humboldt River. This river runs east, then swings south, then southwest into Chimney Reservoir, which at this point is a considerable distance southeast of my current position in this image; then continues west, then southwest to dump into the Humboldt River near Winnemucca.

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The dark stains of 8,017 foot high Chocolate Mountain contrast vividly against the golden hues of changing aspens.

All the way from Paradise Valley to Hinkey Summit we met with only one other vehicle. My wife and I turned up Lye Creek canyon a couple of miles to the nice campground, it only occupied by two campers. A quick use of the bathroom facilities, walk Otis a bit and we then retraced our steps south again to Paradise Valley.

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Looking southeast as we prepare to turn off the road to Lye Creek and back onto the main Forest Service road that came up from Paradise Valley.

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Down near the bottom of the switchbacks and nearly to Indian Creek, I scared up this bevy of chukars.


After we returned to Paradise Valley, we turned east, then south. Chimney Reservoir was our next destination.

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It’s lonely country out here, yet Chimney Reservoir is a popular fishing hole. It’s a sizeable reservoir, so boating is also a popular pastime.

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The Bull Head Ranch and the North Fork of the Little Humboldt River.

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Large and ornate buildings of the Bull Head Ranch.

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The lonely country west of Chimney Reservoir.


Upon arriving at Chimney Reservoir, my wife and I found a large campground, comprised of seemingly countless heavily weathered wooden benches and steel barbecues on pedestals scattered all around a sagebrush covered hill. Several cinderblock bathrooms dotted the sage covered hill among the camping spots. A long concrete boat launch ramp ran down to the water’s edge. From the “bathtub ring” around the basaltic column’s across the lake, I surmised the water was down about 25 feet from maximum. A large earthen dam held back the waters of the two forks of the Little Humboldt River and it appeared the lake was pretty large.

It was very quiet at Chimney Reservoir – two pickup trucks and about four to six people were shore fishing by the dam. Two boats played in the water, but came ashore to be loaded up shortly after we arrived. And that’s all we found as far as humanity at Chimney Reservoir. Nothing like Nevada! A spot like this in some other location would be overrun by humanity!

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Chimney Reservoir.

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Chimney Reservoir.

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Loading up the boats.


My wife and I four-wheeled a short distance along the lake’s shoreline. We found a small bay and parked. Fish jumped for bugs a short distance from our vantage point; occasionally I’d see a sizable fish’s back sticking up out of the water as he’d cruise the surface of the lake in search of editable insects.

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Looking south. The boat ramp and dam can be seen.

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The view east. The mountains in the distance spawn the South Fork of the Little Humboldt River. Note the dry ground in the foreground that normally would be below water if the lake were full.

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Proof that my parking spot would normally be under water, as indicated by my Delphi NAV200.

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Instead of seeing murky water and fish, this was the view out the windshield of my Tacoma from that same vantage.


It was now past 5 PM and it was time to head back toward Winnemucca. My home was only 44.9 miles away in a direct line, but by road considerably further. And most of those roads were dirt.

On the way back toward Paradise Valley, a street sign at an intersection near the Bull Head Ranch indicated Eden Valley Road and that it was seldom maintained and I was to travel at my own risk. Glancing at my Benchmark Nevada Atlas, I found that this road ran due south between the Hot Springs Range and Osgood Mountains and terminated at the old railroad town of Golconda, 16 miles east of Winnemucca. It was enticing, we had been to Paradise, now we were heading for Eden? We turned south.

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Turning south in Eden Valley.


Risk? What risk? A comfortable ride over smoothly graded dirt and gravel allowed speeds of 55-60 miles per hour. The bottom of Eden Valley was one miles long alfalfa field, with multiple skyscraper high stacks of hay the size of houses about two east of the road. But I could not find any home at all to indicate population.

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One of the many sections of alfalfa fields and hay stacks in Eden Valley. The Osgood Mountains are in the background.


In time the road climbed up out of Eden Valley, then started down a long draw. The scenic and neat Frazier Ranch was passed, with a myriad of cattle grazing in the fields.

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The Frazier Ranch.

Pretty soon, the road turned southwest and we could see Winnemucca in the distance as we looked into the sun lowering to the horizon.

Then the road turned south again, allowing a view of Golconda.

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The first sighting of Golconda.

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The Humboldt River and Golconda. Silos of several industrial companies dot the town next to the two sets of railroad tracks passing through the town.

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Golconda.

Back on pavement at the bridge of the Humboldt River, I took the Tacoma out of 4WD and drove through Golconda, then took the onramp to Interstate 80. It was a short hop to Winnemucca, then another south into Grass Valley a few miles south of town to my home.

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Sunset nearing my home south of Winnemucca.

Trip data (by truck odometer and Garmin eTrex):

Starting Mileage on Tacoma: 130,801.
Ending Mileage on Tacoma: 130,969.
Trip Mileage: 167.6 miles.
Trip Time: 5 hours, 19 minutes, 38 seconds.
Maximum Speed: 75.5 miles per hour.
Average Speed 31.4 miles per hour.

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D.A. Wright
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:37 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2004 6:36 pm
Posts: 562
Location: Las Vegas
Thanks for the pictorial tour.
It's beautiful!

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"Zeek, I don't think we're in Kansas any more"
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2005 10:08 pm
Posts: 840
Location: Caliente, NV
What? No pics of Paradise Valley?

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Someday when I have lots of time and money, I want to make it back up there to explore around.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:38 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:03 pm
Posts: 174
Location: Winnemucca, NV
GaryB wrote:
What? No pics of Paradise Valley?

I've been inside that Micca House building in your photo, on my June trip, which I posted elsewhere on this board. I think I also posted one or two images from the inside.

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~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.


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