(April 26, 2012) Elko, Nev. - This next segment was set up to be a ‘gimme’ and would be a bit of a stretch. We’d departed Vernal Utah late due to a wiper-motor issue with Michael’s truck, and decided somehow that it was worth it to make the sprint across Utah and deep into Nevada to try to rid ourselves of one of the peskier-sections of tarmac that obstructed us from our crossover into the loamy-goodness of the Pacific NorthWest singletrack that awaited.
The kindly Dodge folks installed the wiper-motor but were inexplicably lacking a plug/harness that was required to run power to the motor, yet they kindly made arrangements for us to retrieve said-part from another dealer in SLC (hidden in a garbage bag in the bushes for us, in front of the service dept of a dealership in Salt Lake). We departed Vernal and made the leap across the Wasatch on a gorgeous sun-drenched-afternoon/evening, steaming thru Heber City and Park City just as temps were cooling off and shadows were cast-long from behind the majestic snow-capped peaks and flung across the verdant green valleys below. Spring has indeed sprung. We’d started to encounter a hint of traffic as we closed the gap on SLC, and tacked into the neighborhood of the dealership right around dinner-time with some daylight to spare.
A thought towards my friends Stephan and Philip Drake from #DPS Skis had me firing off a text to Stephan; knowing he was back from AK, as it’d been several months since last we saw one another. A returned-text and and a quick exchange about some ethnic-food (aways either Thai or Indian) had us heading north towards town for a meet-up to savor some of the finer Thai food offerings in SLC, as well as an inaugural sipping of a Thai Iced Tea (my first). It was great to reconnect with Stephan and to hear about their dismal (but fun) last round in AK, as well as to see Philip, whom i haven’t seen in ages.
We said our goodbyes as the sun chased the horizon and left us to the inky darkness of the desert, scattered with twinkling stars, and began our chore of making-work of the remainder of Utah and targeted the Nevada border. We drove in radio-silence to Wendover where a gas-stop and a quick group-meeting at midnight-ish determined that we’d push on to Elko where Brian had sourced a camping spot at the base of a ride he’d busied himself with investigating as he perched upon the navigators-seat in the tow-rig. I steeled myself with gas-station coffee, a water-reload of the bottles and a commitment to sleep better than i had the previous night; having parked us far too close to 191 and all its noise.
We soldiered-on. I cranked up the tunes and rolled-down the windows intermittently to keep my nerves on the boil and to stave-off the weariness that encroached.
We rolled into Elko around 0200 or so, and promptly rallied up a dirt road into the middle of nowhere for several miles, ultimately headed up to SnowBowl Ski area (a lone double-chair graced the vast expanse of treeless grass-laden peaks). The base area was devoid of any modern-structure, and was served by a single lift circa 1950 or so. Additional features dotting the parking-lot-scale consisted of a prefab-structure or two, and several other odds and ends, not particular to the location or necessarily any function that was readily discernable to us.
No matter… we were there to shred, no? We camped out in the parking-lot and upon awaking promptly set about surveying our surroundings in the morning. A few rideable-features were viewable from the base-area, with the most obvious being a large’ish teeter-totter and a drop that were easily seen from the parking area. We set-about breakfast preparations and then packed-up camp, assembled photo gear in backpacks, and made our way up the closest road to the north of the area, proceeding to self-serve-indulge in some gravity craftsmanship, photo gear at the ready…
The area is incredibly well-suited for some isolated self-serve gravity indulgence, with easy road-access and an intriguing network of scorching singletrack that spiderwebs in all directions from the central parking area. Moderate to steep doubletrack uphills are comprised of service roads linking climbs to various descents criss-crossing the area. Descents range from standard alpine-style singletrack to bermed-out and moderately built-up free-ride’y terrain littered with the occasional huck/drop and/or flowy section.
A morning’s worth of hiking, riding, scouting and lighting revealed a gem in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada worthy of a visit should you be happening through the area. Combined with a few other hits in the vicinity, a loop could be constructed linking the trails in Winnemucca, Vernal and a few other choice areas to craft an ideal uncrowded riding-loop of epic-singletrack linked by dirt roads, iconic western-states scenery and burritos.
What could be better? Wait, don’t ask… we’re going to answer that for you…