Art In Nature : Wild Nevada

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Though it has been a stressful, strange, scary, and confusing time, some things never change: the peace and quiet of the wilderness. Fortunately, social distancing is no problem in the Nevada wilderness, and Aubrey and I have had a chance to get out and explore our new(ish) home state through a few trips over the past 2 months.

Not far south of us are the Pine Nut Mountains, a large expanse of rugged terrain festooned with lumpy granite boulders and, as you might hope, pinyon pines. Earlier in May we explored a small portion of the area, perfectly timed (by chance) with the peak bloom of the desert peach. These shrubs are covered in lovely flowers ranging from cream colored to bright pink. Apparently, in wet years, the fruits are like miniature fuzzy peaches, and delicious according to the Cahuilla.. I look forward to trying them someday!

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Blooming desert peach (Prunus andersonii) along the foothills of the Pine Nut Mountains in Nevada.

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Granite boulders, pinyon pines, sage brush, endless sunshine, and big views characterize Nevada’s Pine Nut Mountains.

Pine nut camp.

For our next trip, we explored the mountains east of Bridgeport, known primarily for gold mining in the early 1900’s. As with the pine nuts, small to medium granite lumps gave the otherwise mostly barren mountains a charming character. For years I’ve been search for rocks that seem to be miniature mountain peaks, and here I finally found one. Technically these scenes are from California, but just 2 miles or so from the border, so let’s just pretend it’s Nevada.

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Wide open spaces, the smell of sage, and small granite boulders that want to be gigantic mountains, with views of the Sierra Nevada crest.

Desert evenings.

The final adventure I have to share is from Northeast Nevada, in the Ruby Mountains. While you would be correct in thinking most of the state is arid sage-land, I can now confirm that there are in fact pockets of lush greenery! But the pockets are small. Much of the Ruby Mountains share the same landscape to our previous destinations, with misshapen granite lumps, and mountain mahogany trees near the hill tops. These shrubby trees are, like the desert peach, in the rose family, and often take on shapes reminiscent of the African savannah.

After exploring the boulder landscape for two days Aubrey and I did a short little overnight out of Lamoille Canyon, the crown jewel of the Rubies. The flowers were just starting to bloom, and up above treeline, the snow had clearly just melted a week or two ago and the corn lilies were putting on quite a show.

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Mountain Mahogany trees dance in the dwindling sunshine of Nevada’s Ruby Mountains. These shrubby trees bring to mind scenes from the African savannah, and seem to grow where nothing else possible could.

Aubrey resting in a pothole.

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Endless fields of emerald green corn lilies burst into life after the winter snow melts. Although the Ruby Mountains were named after garnets found by early explorers, I like to pretend the vivid red sunrise light helped inspire them a little, too.

Tags: nevada, ruby mountains


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