Jarbidge mountains, NV

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A backpacking introduction to the Jarbidge Wilderness of Nevada falls short of our climbing goals, but is a challenge nonetheless.

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Julie and I try to go somewhere special every year on our anniversary. This was our 17th and we had picked out the Jarbidge mountains. It may seem to lack romance, but our good friend Art and Carol wanted to see the Jarbidges. And we took our daughter Jasmine. We drove over Friday night, getting there in about 4 hours.

We rolled out of camp at about 8:30 Saturday morning and started the hike up the road.

One of the issues with this trip was that we knew a bridge on the road was washed out, but we couldn't confirm whether the quoted mileages were from the old trailhead or from below the missing bridge.

Waling up the road upstream from Jarbidge

Not too far above the missing bridge is another bridge back to the east side of the river, so we started the morning with a bushwhack. Not too much later, this piece of "trail" bypassed a place where the road was missing entirely. And another 100 yards further it began- a series of stream crossings- wading, log walking, rock hopping.... we had them all. That, and the fact that the mileage was from the trailhead, 3.5 miles above the missing bridge, made for a very long day.

A steep trail around a road washout
Nevertheless, this was a fantastic hike. Here's a view of the Matterhorn from the bottom of the valley, roughly 4000' below. The Matterhorn from the valley bottom

In time for a late lunch, we finally got to the junction of the Jarbidge and East Mary's rivers. They're really more like healthy creeks, but who's to argue?

Here the grade increases sharply, and the trail starts looking more like a trail and less like an old road.

The trail above the forks of the mary's and Jarbidge rivers

At about 3:30, we had had enough. Plus, we had actually seen someone, and they had given us some insight. They said that our goal for the day, Jarbidge Lake, was frozen over. We spotted this awesome campsite with a big flat area, the only flat space in sight for miles.

Yes, that is snow in the foreground- this camp was at about 8700'

Camp near the mine

This old miner's cabin was right next door, so with the cabin, the mines, and the multiple trash piles, we had lots to explore. The cabin had been used by people for years by people exploring back here, but at this point was a little lacking. As one pundit had written on the cabin wall: "They stole everything but the cabin."

Miner's cabin
The next morning, we got up early and left camp at about 7:15. Art and I argued over which way to go, but our compromise was the worst decision. We walked ourselves up into this talus trap, with only one way to go- up. What should have taken a little over an hour took almost twice that, and was exhausting. But when we finally reached the top, what a reward! Mary's River peak
This is the Jarbidge crest, looking north from Point 10178. which we are calling a summit. I believe from left to right it is Jumbo, Flat Top, Matterhorn, and Cougar Peak. Jarbidge crest

With better judgment, and seeing that we had bitten off more than we could chew, we contoured around Cougar Peak instead of attempting to climb it. This is looking back.

Cougar Peak

Even the ridgetop was challenging. especially since we were all carrying full packs, and a day's worth of water. I could go on about the route and it's difficulties, or I could talk endlessly about the incredible views. They were equally remarkable.

Art doing the ridge walk

Art navigated us down a ridge into Dry Gulch. It took a little less than 2 hours to get from the ridge top down to the trail. Here we are, with only several hundred feet to go to the trail.

Once we hit the trail, we still had several hot miles to go, with a handful of creek crossings, and finally our bushwhack, which we reached just in time to see 5 ATVs plow through the sensitive streambed. We got back to the cars around 5:30, tired and footsore from our 20 mile hike.

The gang descinding the last few hundred feet back to the trail

As we headed home, the shadows in the bottom of the canyon were already working their way up the opposite side. This picture is a little dark, but if you click for the larger version you can see some of the incredible rock formation lining this 15 mile section of single-lane dirt road.

I'll come back in the fall when it's cool and the water is down, and try this again.

Hoodoos in the jarbidge canyon

Mr. Natural Home | 2006 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski