Clark Mountain P1K
Peak 6,896ft P300
Agency BM P1K
Black Mountain North P300

May 12, 2014
Black Mountain North
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 Profiles: 1 2 3


Clark Mountain

Clark Mtn is a P1K located in the north part of Storey County, south of I-80 and east of Reno. It appears to be approachable from either the east or west, both distances about the same. I chose the eastern approach based on the SummitPost description, but I don't think it is entirely accurate about the western approach being longer or the eastern approach being more scenic. Both consist of dry desert slopes partly covered in sage and other desert scrub. Wild horses roam these mountains as they do most of the mountains in Storey County, though not as plentiful here as they are in the Virginia Range, closer to the metropolitan area where there are more folks sympathetic to feeding them. I had driven out the night before to USA Parkway and the Tahoe/Reno Industrial Center, self-styled as the largest industrial park in North America. I suspect the claim may be based on the square miles of land set aside for this purpose rather than the actual amount of commercial enterprise taking place. Make no mistake, there are some very large warehouses with trucks coming and going at most hours, but a dozen such entities does not the largest make. I had parked along Peru Drive after locating the dirt road leading into the range towards Clark Mtn, drifting off to sleep after 10p and a rather full day. I was awakened at midnight by a lone policeman out patrolling the remote strip of road I had thought might leave me undisturbed. He promptly informed me that I was on private property but almost immediately said it was ok if I spent the night there. He seemed most interested to know if I had any guns (no) and at first didn't believe my story that I was there to hike. Eventually he became convinced of my sincerity and left me for the rest of the night.

In the morning I found the access road heading SW into Post Canyon was clearly marked No Trespassing and was surprised the officer hadn't pointed this out during our chat. The signs do not appear to be particularly recent and are similar to those I encountered in the Flowery Range the previous day. Several dozen wild horses could be seen milling about the roadway, grazing lightly in the open flats just west of Peru Dr. They looked interestingly in my direction as I started out, but without seeing me carrying a bundle of alfalfa, quickly lost interest. I followed the old road past an open gate, leaving it to head cross-country up Post Canyon where the road crosses over the entrance. A use trail of sorts, mostly created by the ponies it would seem, can be followed up much of this to avoid the worst of the brush. The brush eventually relents higher up the canyon making progress easier. Almost two hours and four miles later I had reached the top of Post Canyon at a saddle just east of Clark Mtn's summit, another ten minutes further. Somewhere in the canyon I had picked up a tick on my pants leg, but it was the only one I saw all day and easily disposed off.

There are two closely-spaced summits to Clark. The benchmark is located at the lower north summit, the register at the slightly higher mound of rocks to the south. The notebook dated back only a few years, but some weathered scraps had entries as far back as 1986. It does not appear to see more than a few visits all year, though interestingly, the most recent party was the previous day. I had seen their distinct footprints during the ascent, following a similar route to myself. I next turned my attention northeastward, choosing to follow the ridgeline in that direction for a change of pace. I found it more interesting than the canyon route with better views and far less brush. Along the way I came across another, smaller herd of horses that took off as soon as they spied me. I also disturbed a rattlesnake that slithered off under a rock almost before I could get its picture, all without making a sound (until I poked it with a stick, that is). I found scattered bones among the dry ground I covered, some almost intact horse skeletons. I went up and over Peak 6,896ft before descending back down via the East Ridge and slopes. Though longer and more time-consuming, I thought this route more interesting than the ascent route. The same horses I had seen in the morning when I started out were still there more than four hours later. The rumbling trucks and busy construction sites didn't seem to bother them in the least.

Agency BM

Back at I-80, I followed the Truckee River downstream heading east along the interstate then north along SR447 towards Pyramid Lake, it's final resting place. Agency BM is a P1K located on the Indian Reservation that encompasses the lake and much of its surroundings. At the suggestion of the sign leading into the reservation, I stopped at the I-80 Smokeshop to get my dayuse permit for $7. A portly indian woman greeted me and asks if she can help me. She can, it turns out, pulling out a pad of permits and writing one for me while I dictate various pieces of information the permit requires. I don't mind donating to the reservation and buy a few drinks to go with my permit. I then drove north to the town of Nixon and finally some sandy backroads to get me within 2.5mi of Agency BM on its western flanks. The landscape here is treeless desert, scrub-dominated hills that don't reach high enough to nurture even a small juniper. Cross-country travel is hardly difficult. I crossed some dry mud flats on my way across the reservation boundary (Agency BM and surrounding hills are mostly BLM lands). A fence keeps out wild horses, outside OHVs, and other unwelcome visitors. At the base of the hill I started up, steeply at first, but mellowing after I've climbed a few hundred feet. In all I have 1,500ft to climb and it took me a bit over an hour to reach the top. A wooden post from a survey tower stood among the summit rocks, anchored by guy wires at three points. I did not find the benchmark itself, but suspect it may be at the bottom of the rock pile I found there. The views are brown and mostly desolate, east across Little Valley to the Truckee Range, south to Black Mountain, and west to the Pah Rah Range. To the northwest one can see a slice of blue that is Pyramid lake and a ribbon of green following the Truckee River draining into it. There is no evidence that anyone but the surveyors have been to this summit (though undoubtedly, others have). As I was returning to the car I took notice of a bump to the southwest that I came to find (via GPS) was Black Mountain, and figured since I had driven all this distance for Agency and had plenty more daylight, I ought to pay it a visit.

Black Mountain

I drove further southeast on the dusty road to its end at a locked gate at the reservation boundary. This put me about 2mi north of the rounded summit I had first noticed from atop Agency. The hike to and from the summit was nothing special, a bit brushier and rockier in places than the previous summit, but as with most desert summits, no difficulties with cross-country travel. I found a large cairn at the summit, but no register. The summit provides a good view of Pyramid Lake and Agency BM to the north which I could not get from any points to the west. Looking south, one sees higher summits several miles away, though they are rounded and not particularly interesting. It was only later that I learned that Black Mtn extends much further than the point I stood upon, the highest point more than 2.5mi to the south. I had been atop the lower north summit, the second most prominent point on Black Mountain.

I was back to the van by 3:45p, taking about an hour and 40min for the outing. I would spend the night camped just inside the California border off US395, behind a small casino on the dirt Long Valley Rd. It was an excellent place away from most of the highway noise where I was able to spend the night undisturbed - much better than my luck the previous night...


Darin Dagwood Dacus comments on 03/21/24:
The Agency Benchmark was indeed buried under the rocks. I found it at the base of the post. I was able to snap a photo of it by moving a couple rocks.
Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

For more information see these SummitPost pages: Clark Mountain

This page last updated: Thu Mar 21 18:56:37 2024
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: