September 2, 2011

Last Chance Trail

The Last Chance Trail crosses, what else, the Last Chance Benches. The trail runs beneath the dramatic red Roan cliffs at the portal of Desolation Canyon.
It's a historic cattle trail between the river at Three Fords, and the ranch in Range Creek. It's not that much of a secret since the USGS has it plotted on the 7.5 minute topo map. However, it does cross some private land and eventually enters the Research Ranch in Range Creek, both of which require permission before stumbling into.
This hike has been on my list of things to do for a good many seasons. I knew it was going to be a doozy of a walk. Until now I've never really had the right company along to do it. Mostly I needed company to get me in so I didn't get both my feet chopped off by Corrine for trespassing, but I also needed someone that wouldn't pass out. This time I happened to have the splendid company of my girlfriend along who spent a couple seasons working for the field school, and knew Corrine well enough to save our feet. Besides, she's tough as a bucket of nails (sorry Lisa). We planned a full day for the walk and it was a good thing because this is definitely one of the tougher hikes that I've ever stepped into.
Most of the supposed trail has long since been obliterated by time immortal. When a USGS quad shows a trail plotted it's usually no more than a passable piece of terrain. In this case cows haven't been grazed on Last Chance for a bunch of years, and since there's no trail crew working to keep the trail looking like a trail it gets over grown and washed out and, as they say, reclaimed by the wild nature. 
Sometimes I like to just put my head down and stomp out the miles, on a nice trail, but such novelties don't really exist within 50, or so, miles of Deso. The Last Chance is a fun exercise in 14 miles of route finding across big open country, with attention on the map.

One of the sightings that surprised me was seeing a collared lizard. I've never seen a collared lizard in Deso before.

...and a cute little Elko corner notch.

We arrived back at the beach at Wirefence about a half hour before dark. Just in time for a cold dip in the river, some dinner, and icy cold beverages out of the bottom of the cooler.

Ya know how when your watching an IMAX film and the camera starts on a specific point, like a guy fishing, then slowly pans out until the screen is showing 30 or 40 square miles of country? Well that's how I felt out in the middle of the Last Chance Benches.

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