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Ryan and I were awake at 6a in our motel room in Carson City. Day 2 of our three day road trip had us heading to the Storey County highpoint near Virginia City. The city is rich in mining history as the focal point of the Comstock Lode that first put Nevada on the map, so we planned to make a short tour of the place when we were done with our hike.
In reading some of the trip reports for Mt. Davidson, I got the impression that it was not easy to navigate around the old city streets to find a suitable trailhead, but we did not find that to be the case at all (maybe we just got lucky). From the SR341 junction at the south end of town we turned left onto B street, heading north until we could turn left again and then again. This took us to A street, then to the road leading to the highest home in town, at the the base of the Spanish Ravine. It was easy to find a parking spot off the paved road, just south of the dirt road heading up Spanish Ravine.
We could have taken the direct route up to the summit which would have taken us past the white "V" high on the hillside, but it looked brushy and probably would have been a tough haul for Ryan. So we headed up the dirt road in the ravine instead. With a 4x4 vehicle we could have driven the road as there was no gate barring access. In fact, a jeep headed up not five minutes after we had started out shortly before 7a. Where the road forks (the easier grade to the right switchbacks up to Ophir Hill) we continued straight up the road that follows alongside the utility poles. This portion of the road does not seem to have been driven on in a number of years, and we found it very steep for almost half a mile. Where the grade eased we continued following it along gentler ground, then left the road to head cross-country south up to the summit ridge. The brush was sparse here and easy to negotiate. We gained the road on the summit ridge where a small utility shack is located. From here we turned southeast, following the road to Davidson's summit.
It was 8:15a when we reached the top, taking about an hour and a half in all. We checked out the old flagpole, about 135 years old now, still embedded in the rocks just below the summit. Mark Twain mentions this flag pole in his highly popular book from the era, Rought It. There were various names carved and scratched in the pole and nearby rocks going back to the 1870s, along with a tribute to the victims of 9/11. We took a break to eat what food we brought with us, and after about 15 minutes or so we started back.
We took the road out heading northwest past the utility shed to the ridge connecting to Ophir Hill. It was a little too early to be done so quickly, so I had us tag Ophir before heading down. Not much at the second summit, other than a few antennae, and we found no register on either peak. It would have had a better view of Reno to the north if there hadn't been a good deal of smoke blocking most of the view in that direction.
From Ophir Hill it was easy enough to follow the road down towards our starting point. This was the same road that the jeep had taken on the way up, and after a few switchbacks along the ridge we were descending, the road joined up with our ascent route. We were back before 10a, making for a total of just over three hours.
The rest of the morning consisted of touring the very touristy town of Virginia City. For $6, we took the mineshaft tour out of the Ponderosa Saloon. Seems someone sunk a lot of money into the mine, extracting a total of less than $500 over its ordinary life. They make far more than that in a week of tours I imagine. The tour guide is a whizzened old man with a white beard and too many days spent outdoors. He talked in a monotone voice, far too softly and fast to make out half of what he was saying, and without much context I don't think Ryan caught a even a tenth of it. At one point near the end of the tour he looked at Ryan and said, "Iwannastanthere." Ryan had a blank look, clearly having no idea what the guy said. The guide raised his voice and again, "IWANNASTANTHERE!" Ryan probably thought he was standing on a trap door or some other egregious mistake, but had no idea what he as supposed to do. Before the guide could attempt to bewilder Ryan yet further, I acted as interpreter, saying, "He wants you to move." Ryan and I both agreed afterwards that the tour was a waste of money.
We took a second tour at the Gambling Museum, mostly a collection of old slot machines down through the ages. This self-guided tour cost us $4 and we thought it was a much better deal. Ryan particularly liked that they had some slot machines that he could play himself. Rough calculations showed we saved the cost of the tour in the money we didn't lose while playing the five cent slot machines. We visited the Bucket of Blood Saloon, saw the Suicide Table, and almost forked over the money for the Mark Twain Museum (but by now we were wary of "tours" in Virginia City). The town has all the usual trappings of a bad tourist town, including candy shops, antique shops, rock and gem shops, old-time photo shops, and the like. We were pretty tired of it after a few hours.
We drove back to Carson City, had lunch at a pizza place whose name I can't remember (but it was the same building as the BR 31 store), then went back to the motel. I got to take a nap while Ryan quietly amused himself with various activities, one of which was stealth photography. I'm not sure why I needed the nap, as the hiking was some of the easiest we'd done. I think it was the exhaustion from putting up with the tourist trap...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Davidson
This page last updated: Mon Jul 7 16:06:44 2008
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