To the following members, please note that your membership will expire this month:
Please make your
check payable to the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club and mail to: P.O. Box
36026, Las Vegas, NV 89133-6026.
You won't find a register book on Toiyabe Dome -- and if you did, chances are it would contain very few signatures. The "normal" route up Jett Canyon is a 14-mile round-trip if you can get your vehicle past the first 2.5 miles of fiercely paint-scratching bushes; if you opt to walk that stretch, it's a 19-mile round-trip. So we elected to climb the north ridge of Cove Canyon.
The acceptable Cove route is about 4.75 miles one way, with just over 5,500 feet accumulated elevation gain. The start of the trip is a rough, unobvious dirt road that turns west through a gate, perhaps 1.8 miles north of the town of Carvers (on SR 376). This road is marked "aqueduct" on recent USGS 7.5' topos (the aqueduct is actually a near-buried pipe). The route follows a ridge west to about 10,500 feet, then cuts south on a gentle slope to the summit.
Walter negotiating the ridgeline
The first part of the Cove ridge route is class 2 to 3, and is very steep. This initial section proved unsuitable for Snoopy, who was wearing low-traction dog booties, so Howard took Snoopy back to the car. Other folks labored on 'til they had finished 4,300 feet of net elevation gain -- mind you, they had climbed Boundary and Montgomery the day before, and gotten five hours sleep for two nights previous -- and said "this huge fun doesn't justify coming down the knife edge in the dark." That left Walter and me to help Joel win a bet with Mike, so Joel would be able to pay for two new tires. (Walter had also climbed Boundary and Montgomery the day before, and had to get up at 4 am the day after, so this was really an altruistic goal.)
The route down into Cove Canyon is not recommended for people who value their skin. In fact, if someone tells you that s/he wants to go up or down Cove Canyon, shoot him/her right there -- put that person out of their misery. The brush below 8,800 feet is brutal, consisting of thickets of thorny roses, thorny Ribes, and stinging nettles. We opted to climb back up to our ascent route, and ended up with a total of 6,200 feet accumulated elevation gain.
OK, listen to this one. A day hike to McFarland is not something that can stir too much interest in a bunch of veteran and professional hikers like you, but when you add a dead deer, a horse, rain, hail, and a 2 to 3 month-old pony taking a nap on the trail, I think I have a story to tell you.
After the rendezvous at IHOP at 7 am, I drove up to the Bristlecone trailhead in Lee Canyon. As soon as we were ready to go, we hit the trail. I had not even taken 10 steps when a guy in a pickup truck zoomed into the parking area asking for help. What could've this guy wanted at 7:30 am from a bunch of hikers? At first, his request simply stunned all of us, and it took us a few seconds to decide if this was a joke or for real. He said, "I need your help. I just killed a buck and I need to drag the body from the ski lodge to my truck. Can you help me?"
After we looked at each other, I decided to go and see if this story was true. I got in his truck and we drove back to the ski lodge entrance while the rest of the stunned group waited for me at the trailhead. This guy, whose name was Roger, had been bow-hunting since 5:30 am above the ski slopes near a pond. A group of deer came to the pond to drink and he struck a buck with an arrow.
What made things really creepy is that when I got in his truck I noticed that his hands and clothes were completely covered in blood. Roger told me that after he killed the buck, he pulled a knife and opened it to remove all the guts with his bare hands. I couldn't believe what he was telling me. After a short walk from this truck, I finally saw the dead buck on the ground.
This guy had attached a rope around its neck and dragged it from above the ski slopes all the way down to the lodge. He was so tired that his hands were shaking. He just coudn't pull it up the hill to the parking lot. Roger told me that this animal was approximately 150 pounds, and I'm sure it was at least that, after helping him drag it up the hill!
Since I had never touched a live buck in my life, I certainly had no idea how to transport a dead one. He told me that I could use his ears to drag him while he would take his legs. I did as he suggested, but its ears kept slipping out of my hands and we had to take several rest breaks during the 300 yards to Roger's truck. Once at the truck it took the two of us a little bit of an extra effort to load it onto the bed, but we finally managed.
I walked back to the rest of the group, and after I told them the story everyone was completely amazed. What a start for a dayhike. With Roger and the buck gone, we finally hit the trail and after about three miles on the trail we saw a beautiful wild horse roaming free only a few feet from us. I was just hoping that Roger was not going to be around as I would have laughed hard, had he asked me to drag it back to the parking lot!
The rest of the hike was uneventful until just after leaving the summit when we got peppered with hail (damn, it hurts when you're bold like me). Following the hail, we got a nice rainshower as we were coming down the steep gully, just enough to make us slip left and right and sometimes on our butts.
On the way back, we were startled when we found a pony sitting down on the trail taking a rest. The pony jumped up and it moved a few feet off the trail to let us through. We thought it was lost and was calling for its mother. What a beautiful animal...we took plenty of pics and we continued our way back to the car. Total trip time was about seven and a half hours with about one hour spent between a rest break and lunch on the summit. Overall, it was a fun day with some little twists to make it more interesting.
P.S. If you encounter a guy named Roger, tell him you just had back surgery, because you never know what kind of animal he might ask you to help him drag to his truck
Click on the link above for a paid column by Nathan Petrosian
CLICK HERE FOR LVMC EVENT SCHEDULE
The Las Vegas
Mountaineers hold their monthly meetings at the Sahara West Library,