Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ride 31: More of Whitney

Lake Mead from Cabin Springs trail
You know, I'll bet that not 1 in 25 or maybe even 50 visitors to Whitney Junction/Pockets know who "Whitney" is/was. I'm not sure even now I understand the whole genealogy thing, but I have it on good authority it goes something like this:

George Burton Whitney settled in Bunkerville in the late 1880's as a farmer and school teacher. He moved to St. Thomas Nevada, taught school and fathered 12…
children as well as serving in the Nevada State Legislature.

When he moved to St. Thomas some of his children, including Luke Whitney, stayed behind and helped settle what is now known as the Nay Ranch, Whitney Pockets and Bunkerville.

The descendants of George B. still own and operate the Nay Ranch and Donald George Whitney owns one of the last remaining grazing permits that exist in Clark County.

What most of us DO know is that "the Junction" is the staging area for about every offroad ride on "the Butte." And, if I didn't say it before, is a great place for a picnic. [For a free Google Earth file of this 22 mi. route see: Ride 31: More of Whitney]

I've posted about trails around "the Pockets" before. This ride expands on those and for convenience the trail map includes both, this ride's unique parts are in yellow. Previous rides in blue, and trails with "BLM Closed" signs on them are in red.

Parashant from Pakoon Road
From the "Pockets" camping area we rode west, behind the rock and stopped just short of Gold Butte Road. There is a good spot to dust of the bionoculars and look at the cliff face at the top of the peak. You can see a bunch of pioneer grafitti but just to the right of that there are some petroglyphs. Unfortunately, my camera chose that moment to malfunction or I would have some photos for you. If any of you have some I'd appreciate hearing from you.

We rode up a couple of un-named trails just north of the junction (see the Google Earth map) which were interesting; but, frankly, became more rocky and off camber than we wanted to endure. One of the trails eventually came to a washed out area just at a "BLM Closed" sign.

Going back east on Nay Ranch Road we took the first trail to the north thinking that we could come up under the cliffs which we had visited on the last trip.  Actually, however, it didn't run up into the red-cliffed "Pocket" but stopped short at a post and cable "BLM Closed" sign.

A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
Ansel Adams
We retreated and rode further east, taking the short Cabin Spring trail up the mountain side. A bit of a climb, but a great view, photo op — and a great place for lunch.

Further up the road we took the next trail to the right (southwest) through a fairly large staging area. We followed it until it became a bit steep and we could see was heading in a direction we didn't want to go. Someone had built a makeshift tin shack (hunting?) and made the effort to haul in some concrete fire grates (looking like they had been "appropriated" from another camp site).

We went up over Whitney Pass and down a ways to the Pakoon Springs Road. We stopped at the family cemetery (unless you are a family member, best just stay outside the gates) which is a great photo opportunity for views into the Parashant area.

The return trip made the whole day worthwhile. In all the years we've been riding the area, we've never seen one of the ellusive mountain goats — until today! The lone animal crossed the road in front of us and scampered up the hillside.

Stopping about half-way up it turned and scouted us out, because by that time we had come to a screeching halt. It slowly sauntered around some bushes and grazed to the top of the ridge then dissapeared over it. What a rush.

Continuing on we then took the trail around Quail Point to the south and went further than we had done the other day. Several side trails had been posted "Closed" by the BLM but one turned north and looked like it was heading back up to Whitney Pass from below. It was washed out, however, so we never found out.

The views coming down from that trail were better than those going up. What a day!


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