Sunday, April 7, 2013

Deadman's Creek Trail - Washoe Valley, NV 4-4-2013

A quick work trip had me flying down to Reno, one of my favorite work destinations.  After nine hours straight of sitting in a conference room with no coffee served, this little hike served as a welcome respite.  I had been on this trail many years ago when my folks lived in Gardnerville.  I would fly down every spring break when my boys were young.  It is a very kid friendly hike.  With my Dad passing last year, my thoughts were on him during the hike to the point where I actually yelled out for him.

It had been a long day and I actually didn't didn't start hiking until about 5:30 pm.  The weather was cool, cloudy, with a few light sprinkles thrown in to keep things interesting.  The trailhead is on the southeastern side of Washoe Lake and is within Nevada's Washoe Lake State Park.  The trail starts out gradually up a small ravine and soon follows alongside a well-vegetated area with a flowing little stream.  This clearly is a birder's paradise with water and vegetation tucked into the dry, sage covered slopes at the southwestern edge of the Virginia Range.  I immediately spied a Cooper's Hawk but was too slow to draw out my telephoto.  He was gone as soon as he appeared.

The trail continues a gradual climb leaving the oasis behind.  Stunning views were had looking across Washoe Lake to the Carson Range that marks the eastern rampart of the Sierra Nevada.  The trail tops out at a gazebo shelter, bent somewhat sideways by the frequent strong winds that characterize the Washoe Valley.

I took a different trail down making this almost a loop trip.  This alternate trail passes a spring that certainly is a major contributor of water to the downslope oasis.  It was too early for spring flowers except for phlox growing among the volcanic rock outcrops.  Soon enough, I was back at the car just as darkness was setting in.  I had encountered no other hikers this day.

Streamside oasis and lair of the Cooper's Hawk.  The trees have not yet leafed out.  Washoe Lake and the Carson Range in the distance.

Dead branches along the way suggest a fire here perhaps just a few years ago.

Opening views of Washoe Lake, which is maybe 10 or 15 feet at its deepest.

Most of the trail traverses open slopes.

Higher up, better views of Washoe Lake.

 Higher up the trail.

The gazebo was the high point of this hike.  Mormon tea (Ephedra) in the foreground.

 Strong winds over the years have caused a slight lean on the gazebo.

Route of travel on terrain map (adapted from

Trail view looking east (adapted from GoogleEarth).

Trail view looking west (adapted from GoogleEarth).

A portion of a geologic map.  Most of the trail underfoot is tuff, a volcanic rock erupted back in the late Oligocene/Early Miocene some 20 to 30 million years ago from volcanic centers located to the east in Nevada and Utah.  Full map here: Geologic Map - Carson City Quadrangle

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