Tuesday, June 20, 2017

High Water Across the West: Rye Patch Dam and the Humboldt Sink

Rye Patch Dam on April 19th. The water in Rye Patch Reservoir is high, but not at the high water mark that can be seen just past the spillway.
I'm moving slowly on this mini-series about the Humboldt River while working essentially 12-hour days and while (hopefully) recovering from some long-lasting bug I caught on the road or out in Elko more than two months ago. Also, my current work schedule of  9 to 10 days in a row gives me 2 to 3 days off that don't involve driving, so my off days tend to be filled with chores and not that much writing. Anyhoo, there I was traveling south on I-80 past the big bend at Humboldt Station, where I had stopped to take a few photos of the water in the Pitt-Taylor Reservoirs, when I decided—rather spontaneously—to drive down to Rye Patch Dam. As you can see from the first photo, the reservoir is high, but not quite to the high water mark.
Rye Patch Reservoir and Majuba Hill.
Here we're looking just west of north across a shallows, and we can see Majuba Hill just right of center in the distance. The main, deeper part of the reservoir is long and linear where it follows a canyon cut by the river into Lake Lahontan sediments.
The same view in June, 2016, from Google Earth.
A few Western Grebes swim in the shallows.
A closer view of one grebe.
I couldn't resist this view of the Humboldt Range.
Snow-capped Star Peak hides behind clouds. The Cordex Pit of the Florida Canyon Mine operations might be barely visible below Star Peak.
After my brief sojourn at the Rye Patch Dam overlook, I proceeded back to the interstate, speeding ever southward and then southwestward as the road made another broad bend near Lovelock. I was shocked at what I saw when I drove past Granite Point.
The Humboldt Sink had water in it!
At first, I thought it might be a mirage, and although these photos don't really do justice to it, it was indeed water, a small lake that has persisted, at least through my last drive by the area a week ago on June 11th.
A closer view of the Humboldt Sink and the West Humboldt Range.
And that's all for now, time for work! I've got a few pictures of even more water from another trip, but I can't promise when I'll get to it!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

High Water Across the West: The Humboldt River at Winnemucca and Humboldt Station

When I started putting these photos together—while thinking about our last post about the Humboldt River in Carlin Canyon—I somehow (and quite erroneously) figured I could throw a whole bunch of high-water Humboldt River photos together in one blog post. The thing is, I have way too many, from several different localities and a few different days, and I hope to collect a few more before the water ebbs. So for today, we'll stick with these two spots, which I visited while driving I-80 from Elko to Reno on April 19th. The first shot looks westward toward Blue Mountain from the westbound exit onto West Winnemucca Blvd (exit 176).

The flooding in Winnemucca was really quite extensive when I drove through on April 11th (no photos) and then again on the 19th: several backyards and a few basements or first floors of houses near the defunct "Barrick Arms Apartments" were under water. The water had receded incompletely when I saw it last (May 28th).

These first pics show the Humboldt River's floodplain looking more like a marshy lake than it's usual dry self. Water level was slightly lower on April 19th than when I first saw it on the 11th.
Here's a phone-camera panorama, with Blue Mountain way off on the left and Winnemucca Mountain taking up the right half of the photo.
This Google Maps Street View image, a flashback to 2011, shows a more typical appearance of the same panorama, albeit from October rather than spring.
And just because, I've included a picture centered on Winnemucca Mountain. It's a prominent feature and a landmark for miles and miles. If you look closely, you'll see the two-toned "W" painted on its southeastern slope.

On that same day (the 19th), I pulled off I-80 at Humboldt House (exit 138, marked "Humboldt") and drove old Highway 40 back toward Imlay.
I crudely spliced together two or three photos looking northwest across what I thought was Rye Patch Reservoir.
It turns out that the entirety of the water seen in these photos is contained within the Pitt-Taylor Reservoirs, the Upper and the Lower.
Here we see Majuba Hill behind blue water in the Lower Pitt-Taylor Reservoir. The light beige horizontal line between the water and Majuba are bluffs underlain by Lake Lahontan's Sehoo Formation. A narrow part of Rye Patch Reservoir proper runs between us and those bluffs, but we can't really see it, even though the water is running high.
Here we can see both the Lower and Upper Pitt-Taylor Reservoirs. The Lower is closest to us; the Upper is beyond the horizontal pale beige line separating the two bodies of water. The wide upper part of Rye Patch Reservoir lies not far beyond the Upper Pitt-Taylor, hidden from us by some irregular low hills. Off in the distance, we're looking at pointed, snow-covered King Lear Peak, part of the Jackson Mountains. The 8923-foot-high peak (2720 m) is about 45 miles away.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

High Water Across the West: The Humboldt River in Carlin Canyon — With the Carlin Canyon Unconformity!

Well, there we have it: the Carlin Canyon unconformity with the Humboldt River running nearly bankfull on April 11th of this year.
Looking downstream, back toward the tunnels, we're actually still looking at the unconformity, but it's cropping out poorly on the slope below the tilted limestone beds of the Pennsylvanian-Permian Strathearn Formation.
I went ahead and cropped the best photo I took so we could zoom in on the unconformity in it's classic exposure, and then drew a line right along the contact.
The Strathearn lies unconformably over the near-vertical (to locally overturned) Mississippian-Pennsylvanian Diamond Peak Formation, which is sometimes mapped as the equivalent Tonka Formation in this area.

Zoom in on this feature with a GigaPan by Ron Schott. And if you click the Google Earth link below his GigaPan, you can view the feature *and* the GigaPan in Google Earth!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

High Water Across the West: Honey Lake

I've recently had the opportunity to travel across part of the Great Basin of eastern California and northern and central Nevada, and have noticed a lot of high water, almost everywhere. Honey Lake, which has been dry to only partly filled during the last several years, is once again a lake. The first two photos are from the 11th of April; the last three are from the 25th.
The lake is beyond full for what has been typical for several years, with bushes drowned around the edges and fences under water. In fact, you can see a bit of a fence or gate in the picture above, near shore, a little right of center. Most of the fenceline is completely under water.
Here's a relatively broad view of the lake taken on April 25th.
I cropped the previous photo so it would closely match the first photo from the 11th.
And this photo matches the second photo from the 11th. If you look closely at the two matching sets, you can see that the water was slightly higher on the 11th, and had gone down a teensy bit by the 25th.

I have several years of pictures of Honey Lake: there are these comparison photos from 2007 through 2011, these few photos from May and June of 2015, and one photo from early March, 2016. Even more photos can be found by searching the blog for "honey" (along with a few from nearby Pyramid Lake). Most of my photos through the years have been taken from the Honey Lake Rest Area).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Micro-Bloom

I pulled off for a pit stop at Bob Scott Summit and started seeing little tiny wildflowers everywhere. I looked around, hoping to see a superbloom, like so many were reporting this year, but the flowers were either somewhat far between, or—where covering the ground—were itsy bitsy.
Spring was just beginning on the second highest summit along Highway 50 in the Toiyabe Range of central Nevada, so I suspect that these flowers are just the start of what might be spectacular in places later this month, or even in June or early July.
I don't have the names of all these flowers, but the first photo features locoweed (Astragulus sp), and the second photo is of Phlox (Phlox sp.).
Here, a few sunflower-family plants are starting to come up; these are either Wyethia or Balsamorhiza of some type (likely the former, I think). I don't know what the little blue flowers are, but they are beautiful.
And here is some locoweed again, with a few white flowers, possibly Eriogonum, and more unknown tiny yellow flowers.
Barbecue down!
In a few of these shots, I got really low to the ground to try to make it look like some of the more spectacular superbloom-type photos, wherein you can see flowers up close going off into the distance...
...but that didn't really work for me, and getting a good focus was problematic.
Nevertheless, I persisted, and got some good photos of several different types of wildflowers.
Too bad I won't be passing this way until sometime in July. Perhaps the lupine, which has been forming thick fields up on top of Austin Summit ever since a burn in the 1980s, will be blooming then, but the flowers at this lower pass will most likely be done.