Tue, Jun 1, 2010
Day 4 of our Central Nevada tour had us climbing North Shoshone Peak in the Shoshone Mtns. Though not a county highpoint, North Shoshone is a P2K summit as well as on the WSC list. We were parked for the night just south of Petersen Junction off State Route 722, a short distance from our starting point. Three of us piled ourselves and gear into Bill's Subaru, then headed up the rough dirt road into Petersen Creek Canyon. Knowing the road to get worse ahead, we were happy to get 1/3 of the way up the canyon before we called a halt to save Bill's car from further abuse. The weather was continued overcast from the previous day, but without the misty precipitation. It would stay like this for the entire day.
The route was straightforward and held no surprises of note. We spent more than an hour hiking the road up the canyon, the hardest part being a couple of easy creek crossings. At the head of the canyon we continued on a steep 4x4 track up the NW Ridge which gave out after 100 yards or so. The cross-country up the ridgeline through desert scrub was steep but easy to navigate through. For more than an hour we made our way up the ridge, keeping mostly to the west side to avoid snow. Near the summit we encountered some lingering snows. In the lead, Adam began postholing up to his waist as he neared the summit. I could only laugh as he tried to fight his way through it. I took a picture of him in his struggles, then found an easy way around to the right that avoided the deep snow patches.
It was 9:50a when we reached the top, almost three hours after starting out. Bill would be another 25 minutes behind us, but it was a pleasant enough summit on which to while away the time. There was an old wooden survey structure still standing at the summit. In the rocks below were a benchmark and several registers dating as far back as 1962. Pete Yamagata had been there as part of a 1983 NAS Sierra Club party. 1991 saw a visit from MacLeod & Lilley. Other names I recognized included a 2002 visit by Don Palmer and a 2004 trip by Scotty Strachan. There were ladybugs in scores about some of the summit rocks, a curious habit of these tiny insects that we'd seen a number of times before.
Our descent was much quicker, taking only an hour and a half to return to the car. Much of this was due to the use of long stretches of snow found on the eastern edge of the ridgeline. The consistency was near perfect for quickly descending and we managed to make good use of it for about 3/4 of the ridgeline descent.
Now noon, we spent the next two hours driving back north on SR277 and then east on US50 to New Pass Peak, another P2K summit. Half of this time was on the dirt roads off US50 leading to near the summit of the peak. They were dusty and long (we didn't take the shortest route, as it turned out), but we got two vehicles nearly to the crest where the road was blocked by snow. Embarassingly, the hike took all of 15 minutes from where we'd parked the car. Though a communications tower stood nearby, the highpoint was left unmolested except for the dilapidated wooden survey stakes and a reference marker. A register placed by the Mt. Tamalpais (Marin, CA) hiking club dated to 2000.
The greatest bit of excitement came on our return. Bill was driving back to California while Adam and I drove back towards Austin with a few more days of climbing left. Not far from US50, we heard a single loud "BANG!" from under Adam's Ford Escape, immediately followed by the sounds of a rather rough-running engine. Adam stopped the car, and we got out to look. Our untrained eyes caught nothing unusual, but the rough sound of the engine was unmistakeable. My best guess was that he had blown the exhaust gasket and what we were hearing was the exhaust escaping from around the seal on every fourth piston stroke. Adam was even more clueless and offered no guesses at all. Not knowing if we'd be doing more damage or not, we decided to drive on to Austin, about 50 miles away, to seek repairs there. Though it sounded terrible, we made it to Austin without further incidence.
We were soon directed to Franks Automotive, the only repair place in town. As luck would have it, Frank was at his shop though it was after 5p. He was busy with another gentleman working to install plumbing for a bathroom in his shop. Frank knew by sound as we pulled in that we had blown a spark plug and was able to confirm it in less than a minute of looking under the hood. We ended up spending almost $400 to get the car fixed, but we were grateful for the help and service Frank provided. He was kind enough to give me a ride back to my van parked 30 minutes outside town, and we were able to continue our climbing trip in the van while Frank repaired Adam's car over the next two days. We simply piled whatever gear we needed from Adam's car into the van, had dinner in town, then drove east on US50 to our next destination. Adam would worry about the car over the next two days, but it came to naught - Frank did a fine job taking car of his car.
In Eureka, we turned off the highway and made our way on excellent dirt roads to Newark Summit, south of Diamond Peak. It was dark before pulled in, but we managed to find our way without getting lost. At nearly 7,500ft it would be cool at night, but not to freezing. I slept rather cozily in the van while Adam made a home of his tent. It was not hard to fall asleep - for me at least; I think Adam was still worrying about his car as I drifted off...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: North Shoshone Peak - New Pass Peak
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