Backyard Adventures: Backpacking the Yoiyabe Crest Trails, Part 2
Welcome! We're pleased to bring you part two in this series. If you missed Part 1, no worries, you can find it right here.
Nevada is smack-dab in the middle of the Basin and Range topography of the Great Basin so every mountain range is an islandpoking up out of a sagebrush sea. These ranges are generally quite narrow, sodriving from west to east is like driving across a giant washboard. Coming from Reno, our firstview of the Toiyabes left us awestruck, not so much from thebeauty of the range but the amount of snow that still covered it. I knew it hadjust snowed a foot and a half the week before but we still weren’t quiteexpecting the amount of snow still left up high, and we weren’t too psyched (orprepared) to hike in snow for any length of time. Luckily we had planned ourroute from south to north, giving the higher and snowier northern section 3additional days to melt out.
[A view of the Toiyabe Range's high point, Arc Dome. Photo: OldSchool]
The southern half of the trail lies in the Arc DomeWildernesswhich was given wilderness status in 1989, and at 115,000 acres is the largest wilderness area in Nevada. The trail startsoff winding up, around, but mostly through the South Twin River. We were warned to not even try tokeep our feet dry and stomp right through, and with some 25 crossings in thefirst couple miles, it was good, if soggy, advice. The trail follows the riverand then climbs up and over a saddle and into the headwaters of the Reese River.The builders must have enjoyed wet feet because the trail crosses the Reeseanother 20 or so times before turning north and following Sawmill creek up tothe base of Arc Dome which at 11,773 is the highest peak in the Toiyabe Range.
As we had hoped, most of the snowthat had fallen the week before had melted although there was still an inch ortwo clinging to the old 2-track that took us to the highest part of the trail.We had planned to summit that afternoon as well but as we climbed to the crestwith the wind howling and the temperature dropping, we skipped the summit andheaded for the trees down the other side of the ridge. We found a semi-flatspot behind a particularly large tree, set up the tent and jumped in. BeingJune we didn’t really plan for bad weather but by the morning it was snowingand blowing even harder so we decided to stay put and see what the weather didbefore moving on. We spent the day pondering, among other things, just why weleft the spare dinner in the food stash instead of carrying it from thebeginning.
[Above, one of the many (many, many) creek crossings along the South Twin River. Middle, the southern section of the Toiyabe Crest Trail crosses large high-elevation plateaus that offer very little in the way of shelter. Bottom, in this same area, "river" canyons offer water and a welcome opportunity for sheltered camps. Photos: OldSchool]
Ed Note: Longtime readers of The Cleanest Line know we're big fans of the Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot and have been enjoying DJ Don Darue's mountain-music goodness for years. Hopefully you checked out last week's show after reading part one of Old School's post. A new show aired this past Saturday and is now available for download. Stay tuned for part 3 of Toiyabe Trails next week.