Thursday, May 21, 2015

Did I say 'summit'? Arriving in Ely, NV - thanks to a great deal of help from a visiting friend from home, and a local family!

Ely, Nevada reminds me a little of Truckee, CA, where I spent several working winters.  The altitude is similar, I think, at about 6400'.  There are mountains all around, some of then snow-capped. Temperatures have been on the brisk side and the weather is changeable.  I'm told that they have had an unseasonable amount of rain this spring; it has rained off and on every day so far, and certainly is crowding the forecast as I try to figure out what day would be advantageous for departure.  To top it off, on my last night of camping the new-this-year REI tent snapped a pole(!) right where the repair piece that comes with it was rendered useless...  Bungee cords and merciful weather helped that night, and the timing was actually quite fortunate in that the tent can be replaced here in Ely.  After consulting at length about repair possibilities there didn't seem to be a choice. Another 'letting go' opportunity!

The expanse between Tonopah and Ely is about 170 miles, with no services. There were 4 summits to climb in that stretch and there will be two more between here and the Utah state line.  (Nevada is the most mountainous state in the lower 48.)  As mentioned last post, my support team of one(!) came from San Francisco to meet me in Tonopah, and helped me across the first part. After that I was 'handed off' (with logistical help from the mail carrier!) to a local lady who lives in the Railroad Valley area, and she took care of me as I walked for the next few days before her son and daughter-in-law (who live on the east side of the same valley) took over!  Thanks to these generous folks, I slept in a bed for another week after I left Tonopah, and got spoiled with meals and showers every day. 

Contrary to common assumption, the high desert is not flat, although there are flat stretches (some of them extensive) between mountain ranges.  It is also called the 'Sagebrush Sea' and covers parts of many of the western states.  I have seen wild horses and bighorn sheep, many flowering desert plants, and at moments have been stopped in my tracks by unfamiliar and elaborate birdsong.  Here and there hot/warm mineral spring creeks flow down from the mountains. In and between towns, defunct ranches and shuttered businesses stand, along with refurbished 19th/20th century hotels, expanding oilfields and mining operations, all of it bearing witness to rising and falling fortunes, and people moving on.

Also contrary to common assumption (mine, at least) there are plenty of people who are concerned about climate and its effect on economy, among other things.  These days a certain awareness of the impact of human activity on our environment seems to cut across the range of political persuasions.  It has been surprising to encounter hunters/gun enthusiasts, rodeo professionals, ranchers and hard working tradespeople, who, like me, also want to see money kicked out of politics and are concerned for their children's future, what with the abuse of shrinking global resources and the competition and violence that so often comes with it...  I have been very moved by many gestures of support and feel blessed to have this opportunity to connect with people; we have much more in common than we are generally given to believe! 

(Sorry! For some reason photos don't want to attach this time.  Will try again when I have a chance!)

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