PCT 12 – Besides Lonely Desert Waters
Somewhere in the music and drink of a great Thursday night in Mammoth, I said yes. By the next morning, I was in a old Volvo driving away from my beloved Sierra Nevada Mountains, and cruising along a straight road out into the Nevada Desert. Here in the Basin and Ranges, let mountains and valleys are countless. Yet there is a lonely silence as only the sounds of the tires on the pavement, and a few conversations with eyes outstretched to the horizon bring. We were heading to the final resting place of the Sierra Snows of the Walker River, north of Yosemite. After the wandering of the rivers course through valley and gorge alike, the end in a Salt Lake just north of the town of Henderson, NV. There, to collect aquatic insects with two young scientists that I had meet before playing in a Bluegrass band at the Local's favorite "Tap."
We entered into a broad valley surrounded by two high ranges. Desert on the floor, yet snow highlighted mountains graced the sides. At the Lakes edge a fine white of the evaporated salt could be seen even at this distance. We traveled through a long valley with hundreds of concrete bunkers, holding the instruments of pain for a war that never occurred. An eerie silence passed over us as we looked at each, with derelict rails and trains between the rows and rows extending out across the valley.
By the time we reached the lake, I was relieved, yet realized that I was far from the mountain home I had been walking through before. But then we saw the pipers fly in large flocks, elegantly along the shorelines edge. With bucket and net, we tromped down towards this inland sea, enthusiastic about the day's task. Collecting rocks, while damsel flies mated just above the waterline, flashing in their long blue lines, I felt a sense of discovery, that over came the desert sun on my back. With the black lab Katadin, chasing after the rocks we tossed back in, after collecting our treasure into small plastic cups, it seemed like a holiday from the act of walking. And soon we had sampled all, of the coves of the lake, which extended out for 5 miles.
Leaving our Desert lake, as the sun came near the horizon, there was a beauty to once again seeing the birds take flight. Long wings outstretched, almost touching the lake, yet gracefully they skimmed by. The road we followed back, was just as long as the first, but turned around Pinyon Pine and Incense Cedar groves. With the rounding of a pass, to the western views, the rise of the Sierra Massive came into Clear. The reflections off the calm waters of Mono Lake seem to give giants like Dana, Virginia, and Matterhorn their full charm. And soon, we were back to Mammoth Lakes, with only the last fading ember of light touching the sky.
The desert always has a certain draw to a man, much like the lure of the Arctic ranges. It is the space it fills, and with what seems to be empty, but full to the eyes of the patient. The wide skies and the foreign landscape seems to open the heart and the eyes. And in the end, one is left in a dreamlike trance, wondering what was just around the bend…
-- RidgewalkerMore Entries at http://ridgewalkernw.blogspot.com/