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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Spurred on my BV's great ride report and with camera in hand, I decided to go up in the high country yesterday and see if I could connect a couple of points on the map. I've been this way once on the motorcycle but it was difficult. Years of disuse and dead fall has left this particular trail scant. But I know it's there!

To make a loop of it I parked down low by Cave Lake and did the 1 hour climb up to the Success summit by dirt road. It was a very pleasant ride despite the parade of hunters and site seers I had to share the road with (Sheesh, I must of passed 10 vehicles!!! It was like freakin' rush hour.) The fall colors here in full bloom, the sky was deep, billiant blue, and the air was clean and fresh like only fall can do.

When I came to the first flaming stand of aspens I whip our my camera to do a "KRob" self portrait, I found that my battery was toast and the old reliable Sony Cybershot was dead. Sorry.

I almost turned back. I mean what's an epic ride report without pics? I'll throw in a couple of pics from the area from last fall just for the reading impaired.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The ride up Success Summit is a nice, albeit long, warm up to a gnarly, dizzying climb up Water Canyon. The aspens up here were spectacular against the saphire sky. Just imagine one of BrianC's GITA pics and you get the picture. Hey, this is even better than doing pics myself. In fact, just imagine the quality pics of BV, PhotoJohn, and Anthonys, for all my pics. ;) There, now doesn't that look better?

At the ridge I usually head north, but I wanted to connect this trail to the one I reported on a couple of weeks ago in Kolcheck Basin to the south. The trail is well established and easy to follow for the first couple of miles, then crosses a fairly steep side hill just below the ridge littered with deadfall. I discovered it was much easier to cross these logs on my mtb than my moto. Pick up. Lift over. Move on.

After a few more miles of this, the trail becomes sparser and sparser, and more difficult to follow. I tried to stay near the ridge and not drop down any of the side canyons but it was more difficult than you would think. Once while following what I thought was the main North-South ridge, I came to a clearing and was staring directly at Wheeler Peak.... definitely to the West. Hmm?

I sat down, ate a energy bar, then scouted around a bit trying to figure out where I was and which way would be the best to proceed. You're never truly lost in Nevada, because the mountain ranges tend to be relatively narrow and separated by big wide valleys, so down will always get you home..... or at least that's what I thought.

Another image from last year. Sorry, again about the camera. D'oh.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
My scouting reveals that I'm at least one canyon away from Kolcheck Basin, heading down a side ridge. I decide to descend down into this canyon rather than climb clear back up to the main ridge, angling back towards the main ridge in hopes of crossing it higher up. As I start to pick my way down through the trees (no trail in sight at this point.... even the deer have good enough sense to not go this way) it becomes steeper and steeper and I go from riding somewhat normally through aspen and pine to hanging my butt waaaaay off the back through rocky scree, to bulldogging/sliding down an impossibly steep and slippery slope.

By this time three very important and related thoughts come into my head..... 1. No way am I going to be able to climb back out of here...2. This is not the way, and 3. No one would ever find me down in this abyss in a million years.

So I guess this just has to work. I continue down, down, down into the unknown (Stupid mistake, I know). This side canyon was not only impossibly steep, but considerably deep. I must've dropped for at least a mile. My hopes were elevated somewhat when I finally got into the bottom of the canyon and found it to be reasonbly open and somewhat rideable.

At first the ratio of ride to hike was something like 80/20, but it soon became more like 20/80, then 10/90, then..... hike, duck, carry, forage, scramble, to "where's my machete", with only fleeting periods of openess. As I went, the sidehills became steeper and cliffier and the canyon ominously narrowed. Oh great.

My biggest concern about going down an unfamiliar canyon is that it would end at a cliff. Not surprisingly..... this one ended at a cliff. "Holy Crap"..... followed quickly by a silent prayer. "Let there be a way down." At first it looked pretty unpassable and I started making mental plans for surviving a night on the mountain as it was already 4:00pm. But wait. To the right side of the dropoff there was a narrow shelf about 2.5 ft wide that looked like it might lead to a way down. I left my bike and followed. After a about 30 feet it ended, but a narrower ledge appeared to lead downward at a steep angle. I climbed down and found I could get down to a spot where the drop was only 7-10 feet instead of 60. I could easily do it if I was careful, but doing it with my HH in tow was going to be tricky.

I tossed my pack down into a bush (no worries about breaking the camera :rolleyes: ) and reclimbed the ledge to get my bike. I was thinking if worst came to worst, I'd just (gulp) toss the HH down into some bushes and hope for the best... Not like I was able to ride it anyway. With one hand on the side wall and the bike in my left hand I proceded to retrace my route along the ledge down. The other thing that made this difficult is that there was a overhanging shelf about 4 feet above the ledge that made it so you had to crouch or crawl along the ledge. Surviving the first part, I now was on the skinnier steeper section of the descent. I lowered the bike below me and holding it by the rear wheel I shinnied down the ledge on my butt, using my feet and right hand on mercifully plentifull hand/foot holds along the wall to control our descent. When I finally got down to the final drop I braced my feet against a couple of pretty good perches and lowered the bike as far as I could..... It was still about three feet off the ground. It was hard to do, but I figured it took harder hits all the time when I crashed, and I dropped it. It hit on the front wheel, bounced once gracefully and landed somewhat gently on its right side against a rock. I climbed down the last section and inspected the damage. Nothing bent, bruised, or broken for either of us. Whew.

It still took another 30 minutes of hacking, riding, climbing and busting my way through scrub brush, mountain mahogany, and rocks to finally make it to the mouth of the canyon, but as you can tell by the fact that I'm writing this, I made it back to the lake and cruised on back to my car on the Cave Springs trail. It seemed so wide, groomed and smooth and felt so good to be actually riding my bike that I think I smiled.

The worst part is I climbed some 3000 feet in anticipation of a great ride down and ended up not getting it.... but at least I got down.

K(not that smart)Rob
 

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pepito
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wow. that's one of the best ride/hike/climb/scramble reports i've ever read! glad you made it back in one piece (same goes for the bike!).

the_dude
 

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wow great story. glad you made it back in one piece and before nightfall. Thanks for the Apsen hit, even if they were last years. we would have known. =)

thanks for the HIT of passion.
 

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Gps

"You're never truly lost ... ", until you get confused - then it's too late.
Back in the dark ages I had a number of adventures, like going through chest deep water and hiking up a steep slope to intersect a trail (home). Now for adventures like that I use a GPS stored with important waypoints. Perusing a topographic map of your expected route is very helpful. Printing it and leaving a copy in your vehicle is even better! Take care, and extra batteries.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
pacman said:
"You're never truly lost ... ", until you get confused - then it's too late.
Back in the dark ages I had a number of adventures, like going through chest deep water and hiking up a steep slope to intersect a trail (home). Now for adventures like that I use a GPS stored with important waypoints. Perusing a topographic map of your expected route is very helpful. Printing it and leaving a copy in your vehicle is even better! Take care, and extra batteries.
Yeah, I really should be more prepared when I go exploring on my own. I'm so technology challenged I'd be afraid of a GPS but I hear they are getting pretty easy to use. I have studied the topos of the area but didn't have a map with me. My wife knew where I was (generally), I'd done the route before, I had food, water, a space blanket, jacket,etc. It does make you realize the things you don't have though when you have to start thinking about spending a night in the wild. .....flashlight, matches, weapon(?),etc.

I'm going to rethink my essential packing list before my next adventure. Maybe a rope wouldn't be a bad idea either. ;)
 

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Whoa!

I never saw this original post.

I bet if it was made into a movie, Hollywood would have you spending the night, fending off a hungry Mountain Lion, and burning your tires for the search party to find you.

Nice post,

jps
 
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