7475 ft (2278 m) – 1960 ft gain
Desna, my wife and partner, was at Planet X for the weekend, it is winter sale time. Although the forecast remained stable with blue skies as far as any meteorologist could see, I figured it was a good day to get into the Black Rock area and explore the Sahwave Mountains. This small but interesting range is tucked into what I call the Bluewing Triangle, that expanse south of the Black Rock playa, east of the Nightengale Mountains, northwest of Interstate 80 and the Humboldt River. There are lots of little ranges in here, and very few people.
There are many access points with roads often straight-lining across the long and wide valley bottoms. I work up to Kumiva Pass, a west-to-east route north of Winnemucca Lake. It has been a while since I was across this road. It is a little worked over from recent rains but a nice route into Kumiva Valley where the Bluewing playa spreads before me. I have a future target peak over there; I look forward to it because I have used the Bluewing drainage on the east side of Kumiva Valley as a model landscape for alluvial reworking of dust – it might be good to walk it for real!
I turn south and find some good, grus-packed two-tracks leading to the mountain-front. The walk up Juniper Mountain is straight-forward. Small outcrops and benches of plutonic granite are struck through be volcanic dikes, but the slopes are generally open and grussy. There is evidence of sage grouse but I see no birds. A herd of horses curiously follows me, cuts my path, and then wanders down a drainage.
For a few moments I think I have veered toward the wrong summit. The map seems correct, and I consider why so many ranges have often discrete summits that reach a similar altitude, as if there is a control on the buoyancy of the mountain block, plutonic intrusion, or erosion. I think of these things walking around and forget to delve into the questions later.
The summit has open views into Granite Springs Valley to the east, nice overlooks of Bluewing, and fading ranges into the Sierra to the southwest. Snowy peaks rise from the Sweetwaters to Mount Rose, looking more like clouds on the horizon than mountains where I have stood.
The drop back to the rig is quick. I have yet to see another car, not a dust trail in the distance. There is no one out here – a gift of the triangle. Back in the truck I work my way northward to the Black Rock Playa, finding the first of several little crowds at Frog Pond at the playa margin. I am not in the peaceful setting of Planet X soon enough.