Wheeler Peak, Ruby Dome, Arc Dome

and Charleston


By: Ron Jones



About 5 am Saturday, while Jim and I were still in our sleeping bags, we watched Venus resting right on the limb of the new moon with Jupiter only a short distance away, a beautiful sight. The Valley of Fire Nevada State Park was the location for the 14 of us to meet at 7:30 saturday morning and we drove into the park and took a short hike in the area of Atlati Rock and investigated the many petroglyphs on the surrounding rocks and cliffs. Then on to the Visitors Center where we learned that Highway 169 through the park was washed out near the east entrance. As we had to backtrack west to I-15 and U.S. 93 this caused us to cancel our visit to Rogers warm spring and the Lost City Museum, both at Overton. We drove to Ash Spring and lunched while bathing in the public hotspring just north of the commercial springs in town. Twenty or more people could sit or swim in this nice spring and we saw a camper's tent on the BLM land. After lunch we drove 5 mile north to the intersection of 93 and State 375 and looked for Crystal Hot Spring. The warm water is there but totally overgrown with brush, and it's located on private property, so we drove on. After gassing up in Caliente (which has the sister station to the R.R. depot at Kelso) we visited the White Pine County seat, the old mining camp of Pioche (where 75 men were buried in its Boot-Hill before the first death by natural causes had occurred). Then on to Great Basin National Park where we got the lest sites in Upper Lehman Creek Campground.

Early the next morning we were awakened with a few drops of rain and by 6am the clouds and wind were very threatening. none the less, we drove to the trailhead where we met more strong wind, rain and some snow. Falling back to plan B, we took the tour of Lehman Cave. After our tour, the wind had calmed and there was a patch of blue, so up to the trail and in a couple of hours all were on the peak. We spent that night in Upper Wheeler Peak Campground at 10,000 ft, had an acceptable breakfast at the "Y Cafe and Bar" north of Baker (has showers), then west on U.S. 50 with a jaunt to the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Monument (like the Wildrose charcoal kilns), where some of the group managed to get separated. Then through Ely and north on 93 and State 229 through Secret Pass in the Ruby Mtns to Elko. We spent the afternoon checking out the Western-Stockmen-Gamblers flavor of town, had a Basque dinner at the Star hotel and celebrated Dean Acheson's birthday, and then camped at the Spring Creek private campground.

Tuesday 13 of us climbed Ruby Dome up Hennon Canyon. It was the first time in my 5 climbs there was no snow. I had hoped we would eat dinner at a great family-style restaurant in Lamoille called Breitenstein's. They're closed on Tuesdays and one should call ahead to warn them, but their local reputation is very good. They're on the main highway, east of Lamoille and the phone is: 712-753-6356. That night we camped about 30 miles south of Carlin just off hiway 278.

The next day we toured Eureka, another near-ghost town still-county seat. A few nice shops and 5 cemeteries (we only visited 4). If you're near Eureka and have the time, the excellent Shipley Hot Spring is located in the Diamond Valley north of town. Go north on Hiway 278 about 5 miles north of Garden Pass. Turn east and drive about 6 miles past the Bailey ranch and then north about 2 miles toward the Sadler Ranch. The large hot pool is east of the dirt road. A good spot to camp! From Eureka we drove west on U.S. 50 and turned south-west on the good graded road located about 4 miles east of the Eureka-Lander County line. This road goes over Bottle Summit and down to the prominent Monitor Ranch. We drove 10 miles south of the ranch (and about 2-1/2 miles south of the road going east to the site of Potts) on the Monitor Valley road, which ultimately leads past the turnoff for Jefferson and further to the turnoff for Belmont. At the above point (10 mi south of the Monitor R.) turn east about 1-1/2 miles, go through a range gate and you have arrived at Diana's Punch Bowl, a large hot spring located at the top of a 100 ft high hill. There is a 40 ft drop from the edge of the crater to the reported 140 degree water and it would take a rope to get down. There is a nice drainage from the south side of the hill and the water cools slowly as it flows north. Thanks to Desert Rat, Wes Shelberg, for his info and map. Delightful bathing and excellent camping in the area. But we had more to see, so we turned north again to the Monitor Ranch, the NW through the Toquima Range, stopping at Toquima Picnic Area where we took the trail leading to some of the finest pictographs in Northern Nevada. Then on Spencer Hot Spring for another dip, to Austin (The town that died laughing) for dinner, then south on State 28, past the Reese River Ranger Station and up to Columbine Campground.

The next day we all climbed Arc Dome by the usual route on the jeep trail and returned to our cars cross country north along the crest of the range past Stewart Creek Cirque (where Norm Rohn and I once saw a mountain lion), down to Stewart Pass and then completed the loop to our cars by hiking down the Stewart Creek Trail through many stands of aspen marked with erotic carvings done by Basque sheepherders. This makes a good loop day hike. This was my 6th climb of Arc Dome. Still, the best day hike to Arc Dome is from the east, up Twin River near the town of Carver. After cleaning up, we drove west through lone, visited the Icthyosaur Museum and site and camped at the very fine State Park there (showers available). This was the favorite camp of many.

The next morning we spent an hour touring the restored mining camp of Berlin where Georgina and John left us. We went to Gabbs for breakfast at the only coffee shop in town. This is run by Charlie, the man who claims to have picked up a hitch hiking Howard Hughes after Howard's car broke down in the Nevada desert. He alleges that Howard left him a large sum of money in a never-found will. Carol and Gary, Frank and Ruth left us after breakfast and then it was down to Tonopah, a stop in Goldfield to see the nearly restored Hotel and the Mozart Bar and ending up camping near the North loop trailhead for Mummy and Charleston.

Saturday morning the eight remaining of us set up a car shuttle and started up the South Loop trail to Charleston, along the crest trail to Mummy and 19 miles and 11 hours later back to our cars. Marty left us here. A quick cleanup and then down to the Mirage Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas for what is probably the best dinner buffet in Vegas (for $8.95 and worth much more!). Here we celebrated the wedding anniversary of Pat and Dean and saw the resident white leopards. Following dinner P & D left us to sample the accommodations and we drove up to Potosi Springs to sleep cool. The next morning Doug and Patty couldn't find our cars and missed connections, which left Jim(s) Conley and Kilberg along with me to climb Potosi. Then a hectic drive home in the Sunday afternoon Las Vegas to Los Angeles road race. A GOOD vacation trip.

Jim K had a Nevada Map Atlas which helped this trip a lot with dirt road driving and locating sites. It is titled Nevada Map Atlas, and is a reduced scale copy of all 170 7.5', 15' & 30' quadrangles, planimetric, in 8-1/2 x 11" size. It costs only $12.00 and is available by mail from the Nevada Department of Transportation, Map Section Room 206, 1263 So Stewart St, Carson City NV 89712.

All hot spring locations not described can be found in the Jayson Loam & Dave Bybee Hot Springs book available in many book stores, REI etc.

Thanks to Buckaroos Dean and Pat Acheson, Carol Breyde, Georgina Burns, Jim Conley, Frank and Ruth Dobos, Doug Hatfield, Gary King, Patty Kline, Marty Magaddino and John Rhodehamel for contributing so much to the success of this trip. Good hikers and companions all! And to Jim Kilberg for his considerate personality and a superb assist. We drove about 2,200 miles and climbed about 25,700 ft during the week.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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