The sky narrows to a ribbon as we enter the canyon. We have walked up from the eastern edge of the canyon, out in the Mud Meadows southeast of Soldier Meadows, where we have spent the morning volunteering to restore habitat for the desert dace. The work finished for the day, we leave the group to explore into Fly Canyon. The canyon was created when a natural dam holding back High Rock Lake gave way and unleashed a torrent of water that carved the steep walls and drilled holes, known as "potholes," in the canyon bottom. Read more about this at the Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock geology page.
From the distance, the canyon is unassuming, but as we near it reveals itself, a massive slice through a high ridge. We scramble down and the narrow steep walls envelop us. Twisted rock forms abound while puffy high desert clouds cross the ribbon of sky. We enter farther and the canyon deepens. We start to have to work our way around potholes, smooth and deep pools of unmoving water. Finally we are turned back by a rickety ladder climbing from one level to another and the lateness of the day.
We'll be back Fly Canyon! It is easily accessed from roads heading east from the main Soldier Meadows road. We camped at the Soldier Meadows Hot Springs, which had led to a long soak and many encounters with red spider mites, which left this writer pocked for a couple of weeks after our excursion, so be careful.
Clark Mountain, the highest peak toward the northern end of the Virginia Range east of Reno, appears a humped desert peak from downtown Reno. It is usually overshadowed by the Carson Range and Mount Rose to the west and Peavine Mountain to the northwest and even sometimes by Spanish Springs Peak in the Pah Rah's or the colorful hills of Hidden Valley, although there is a splendid view of Clark Mountain from UNR looking east. It might not attract much attention, but it is much more than meets the eye! Before the Sierra Nevada even rose, Clark Mountain would have dominated the landscape as a volcano in the style of the Cascades, and in fact was created by the same process of subduction. These volcanic processes took place from 35 million to 7 million years ago, when volcanism mostly stopped this far south and the Sierra processes started.*
Much of the Virginia Range, and this part of the Basin and Range in general, was created by these same volcanic processes, and its more well-known and larger southern neighbor, Mount Davidson, overlooking Virgnia City, was a stratovolcano during this period. Vegetation would have been much different at this time as well, their being evidence of the existence of redwood (or redwood ancestors) in the region.
Read an account of climbing Clark Mountain here. This climb is from McCarran Ranch rather than climbing via Lagomarsino Canyon as per the mountain's summitpost.com entry.
*Probably a massive simplification, any amplification in comments is welcome!
For as long as humans have crossed the Black Rock Desert they have aimed for the desert’s namesake, the dark rock point that marks the trail and an important water source.
A piece of the Oceanic Plate with a series of volcanic island chains eventually collided with and accreted to the western edge of the North American Plate. This newly attached land contained volcanic rocks inter-laced with oceanic sediments, such as the black limestone of the Black Rock. These rocks now make up or underlie much of northwestern Nevada, including the Black Rock, Pine Forest, and Jackson Ranges. The Black Rock itself, the namesake of the desert, is a piece of an ancient island chain.
From Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock geology page
Daniel Montero of RaD Explorations wrote a beautiful piece about the time we spent on the ephemeral Quinn River. We were recently back by the spot we paddled and the water has moved on, the channel now dry. The Quinn River has a special place in our hearts as it is the river our creek feeds and since its occurrence is rare, we reveled in the chance to experience its momentary passage into the desert.
Below is a small excerpt from Daniel's post. You can see the entire post on RaD Explorations Blog.
Ephemeral water. Water that exists and doesn’t exist. That exists in this time, but not in that time or the time before that, or after that. And then it exists again. It questions our notions of permanence.
This year we spent Christmas in Las Vegas. We turned the road trip down and back into a fun and unique sightseeing tour. While in Vegas, we skipped the strip and opted for the more wild side of Vegas; we visted wetlands, a mesa, petroglyphs and Spring Mountain Ranch!
I'd love to spend more time in all of these amazing places!
Over Halloween weekend 2016, we came across this amazing ghost rainbow when the low clouds were rolling over the Black Rock Desert. It was an awesome sight! Ghost rainbows, also known as fog bows are made up of tiny water droplets, due to the small size of the water droplets light is not reflected and refracted (as they are in rainbows, with larger droplets) within the drops, but is diffracted by them instead which produces a pale, broad bow! Cool!
Wow!!! Check out this gorgeous map by Imgur user Fejetlenfej, a geographer and GIS analyst with a ‘lifelong passion for beautiful maps,’ it highlights the massive expanse of river basins across the 48 contiguous states of the United States.
Click on the map to learn more about the project!
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3860062/The-veins-America-Stunning-map-shows-river-basin-US.html#ixzz4O1452X6N
Can nature enhance your health? There’s a strong case to be made that it can.
The idea that getting outdoors — on national wildlife refuges, for example — can improve your state of mind and, with it, your physical well-being isn’t exactly new. But there’s a large and growing body of research behind it.
Even small doses of nature can make a difference in the inner city.
In Baltimore, executive coach Mamie Parker, a former assistant director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps teens and their families discover a positive connection between health and nature, in the form of nearby parks. “I tell them, ‘If you’re frustrated, you’re angry, you’re tired, you’re bored, look to the outdoors as a way to substitute. It can help you feel better.”
Some students are coming to agree, including those she brings, with the help of the Service and its Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, to a reclaimed brownfield called Masonville Cove through a local partnership. “Because when they’re out in nature, no one’s telling them not to be loud, to use ‘inside’ voices,” says Parker. “They can run. They can be free.”
Around the country, national wildlife refuges are reminding visitors that nature experiences can enhance health.
The first Saturday of each month, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers a scenic “nature walk for health.” Outdoor recreation planner Carmen Leong-Minch, regional representative to the Healthy Parks Healthy People Bay Area Collaborative, invites nature walk participants to “refresh your spirit with nature.” In spring and summer, she leads nature yoga sessions on the refuge.
With kids, Leong-Minch is wilier. “I'm not sure if being healthy is a motivator for kids, so I try to sneak it into programs.” The Amazing Refuge Race, which she created, is one. “I don't think they know it is about getting them to move outdoors — just that it’s a competition.”
At St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on the Florida panhandle, environmental educator Lori Nicholson subtly steers the conversation to health when she talks with school kids on field trips. After some routine questions — “How many of you been here before? When you were here, what did you do?” — she slips in, “ ‘Do you ever just come to sit and enjoy the nature sounds around you? You should try that, see how it makes you feel.’”
Says Nicholson, “I have had lots of parents and students tell me they really enjoy the peace and quiet of the refuge, that it helps them to re-focus.”
St. Marks Refuge supervisory park ranger Robin Will represents the Service on a Florida coalition that, with a grant from health insurer Florida Blue, has trained more than 75 Leon County physicians to write “nature prescriptions” for their patients. “The refuge is a resource for physicians to give their patients to get outdoors,” says Will.
Will tells of a counselor at a Tallahassee mental health facility who sometimes brings her patients to the refuge to relax and de-stress. Says Will, “Hearing the splash of water and birds calling has a way of calming individuals and getting them to talk….Peace of mind is a huge part of what makes refuges so amazing.”
In Oregon, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is exploring partnerships in Portland to boost nature-and-health connections. The urban refuge already partners with Soul River, a nonprofit outdoor health venture founded by Navy veteran Chad Brown. Brown says fly-fishing helped him recover from PTSD; now, he and the refuge bring inner-city youth and veterans together on local rivers to heal and learn from one another.
First-timers sometimes express surprise at the calming effect of a refuge. “The city is too much chaos,” says Joshua Rodriguez, a young Californian who was filmed (https://vimeo.com/141553860) while visiting Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, just south of San Diego. “Here it’s just open wildlife, and you feel so immersive in a different world.”
Back in Baltimore, Parker can vouch for nature’s calming power: “I’ve gotten letters from kids saying, ‘This helped me deal with problems that I have.’…I’ve heard from parents that [their kids] seem more content. It inspires me to keep making the connection, that’s for sure.”
Find a national wildlife refuge near you: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/
Flickr album, health and nature: https://flic.kr/s/aHskux4p18
From Conservation Magazine:
Many studies have shown that planting strips of wildflowers amidst croplands can help replace some of the biodiversity that is lost in the quest to feed a growing, global population. More recently, studies have demonstrated that the increased biodiversity found in these strips includes species of insects and birds that act as an all-natural pest control, reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides.
How these strips affect crop yields, however, has been largely unexplored. That’s the topic researchers tackled in a study published recently in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. They found that the presence of nearby perennial, species-rich wildflower strips increased winter wheat production by 10 percent as compared to control fields.
“Farmers care about biodiversity and they likely also know about the importance of natural enemies of crop pests,” said lead author Matthias Tschumi. “But what is mostly decisive for the farmer is what he gets in terms of yield at the end of the day.”
Scientists from Agroscope, the governmental Swiss Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Research, conducted the research on Swiss winter wheat fields, which are often plagued by the cereal leaf beetle—a major pest in Europe, Asia, and parts of North America. They took advantage of the many farms that have implemented wildflower strips as part of a government subsidy program that aims to boost biodiversity on farm lands.
Learn more here: http://conservationmagazine.org/2016/02/planting-wildflowers-could-help-feed-world/
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