Sunday, September 11, 2011

The ice road from Hell

First, allow me to take you back to January.

Yeah, that's about where the intelligence ended....

So Puzzleman comes up with this great idea of going up into the Virginia Range between Hwy 50 and Interstate 80 (most of Storey County) to attempt a 5*/5* cache that's up there. Some idiot who shall remain nameless agrees to go with him and navigate to this difficult cache.

Up, in the mountains, in January. (Just want to make sure that is clear.)

The trip from Hwy 50 to the summit was uneventful and actually resulted in finding a few difficult caches (difficult in terrain not in hide) and found us on a fantastic dirt road heading up into the mountains. We're heading north, which means the face we were on was the south face of the range. It's January, remember...

Once we got to the top, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the entire range, golden grass and white snow under a clear crisp blue sky. (Didja catch that S word?) Our road leveled out as it crossed the saddle between two minor peaks, before switchbacking down into a gully, and then winding it's way northward deeper into the range. We crossed the saddle, and switchbacked down the other (north) side, into a gully, of a snowy range, in January (can you see where this is heading? Just wait....) The road bottomed out and turned back north and magically morphed from a 'road' to a muddy slip-n-slide that was on the side of the mountain. Wheeeeee not.

We live! And we keep going! O_o

Ah, the next fun is a long flat meadow, with a quaint little pond off to one side of the valley, grasses and trees and sage and a dark chocolate brown river of goo heading straight across the lowest point of the meadow. Yeah, let's try driving 10 feet over that way to make sure we don't sink! Rocks? Sage brush? Naw, that is anti mud protection and Titantic insurance.

We made it!! Let's keep going!!! Seriously, we've come this far and we're almost to the cache! O_O

Ok! So, we are now about four ridges deep into this mountain. The unnamed navigator says there is a road that goes straight to the cache! Ignore those first two roads, they take us out of our way... Even though yes they do go to the cache also... Eventually. Look, all you have to do is go that way and turn, it'll be easy! And then we can get out of here! Really!

One of these days he'll learn not to listen to me.... Her... Uh, the um unnamed navigator. Yeah.

But, in this case, he listens and follows the road as it topped out on a hill, and headed down again, into a gully (deep gully) with us on the north side of the steep road, heading down ... an ice and snow covered road in the shadow of the mountain. I'll let you read the title again of this post. :grin:

Now obviously we made it as I am typing this now, but as it is now September and this was in January well, we weren't taking any chances!

So fast forward to today! We're back, intending on actually finding the caches we originally headed out there for. The one rule for the day, AVOID THE ICE HELL ROAD. And we did, I think I did pretty good navigating as this time around I actually downloaded the maps and satellite images before we headed out. We found one cache for me down below, another down a great little canyon, the main goal of the day (after a text a friend), another that sent my lungs over the edge and resulted in me unable to speak due to lack of oxygen, a botched attempt to drive to three hiking only caches, and look we even headed back down the ice road. The winter was not kind to that dirt road. It's now rock.

But the fun wasn't over! Noooo, at the bottom of the gully was an old mine. We knew this, drove through it before, and knew about the locked gate that the power line road bypassed. But why are there concrete barriers on the power line road? Why is there a 5 foot berm on the power line road after the barriers? Hurm, sign.... "Property of US Bankruptcy Court. No Trespassing". Well, that's not good, LET US OUT!! Needless to say, we got out, eventually. And no one shall be the wiser.

Onward to locate two more caches, that are on such a new dirt road, Google maps did not have images for it! So while I was trying to navigate one way, the road was happily going wherever it wanted to go. I gave up after two false tries and just told Puzzleman, "Go that way." We finished our adventure after going up yet another very bumpy road that the recent off road race had not be kind to and found a one last dirt cache before heading north to a few more caches once we hit pavement again.

All in all an excellent day off road, spending way to much time being beaten up by the Jeep as it bounced over some harsh rocks, and generally enjoying this late summer day. We managed to get back into Sparks just as the rain started and the Jeep got a bath as we drove through Washoe on the way back to Carson.

I will say one thing though. On a hot summer day, at the top of a ridge after far too long looking for a micro, chocolate chip cookies hit the spot!

Ice Hell Road

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