Carson River Canyon

pool in the Carson River Canyon
pool in the Carson River Canyon

There is a magical place not far from where I live (well, many places, but…), Carson River Canyon. The Carson River passes the edge of Carson City and then heads into a 10-mile long canyon before coming out at Dayton. Most people call this Brunswick Canyon, but the USGS assigns the name Brunswick to the canyon that comes north down out of the Pine Nut Range and joins the Carson River about a mile down the canyon.

I did a bike-and-hike, riding from my apartment to the Deer Run Bridge across the Carson. With a skinny-tire road bike, that’s as far as I can ride. A road on the V&T railroad grade heads down canyon, becoming worse and worse, though not bad enough to keep out the jerks that use the canyon as a private dump and use their semi-auomatic weapons to shoot up the trees and leave piles of casings. But, that is on other days, and today there were only two vehicles the whole day. The canyon is so silent, especially in winter when the river is low and there are few birds. Carson City is not a noisy place, but there is always the background of cars and the freeway.

I often wonder where the water comes from at this time of year. Much of the Carson River watershed must be frozen, and there hasn’t been much warm weather to melt snow. It got up to a balmy 36 Fahrenheit today, maybe even warmer in the canyon, and on the hike back out the road was becoming very slippery with its fine volcanic clays.

I went as far as my “writing rock” where I often take a break to write in my journal, a large rock that overlooks the river. It is downriver of the where 4WD vehicles are blocked by the terrain, but unfortunately quad runners have blasted their way down a little past this point. This narrow part of the canyon is very pretty, and quiet, and seems a hundred miles away from town.

V&T tracks towards Mound House
V&T tracks towards Mound House

The V&T grade from Deer Run downstream gradually climbs up as the river runs down, ending up high above and then turning north towards Mound House and eventually Virginia City. A spur went downcanyon to the Eureka Mill, and I think continued to become the Carson and Colorado Railroad, going to Ft. Churchill, Mason Valley, and Walker Lake. I’ve not quite been able to figure out how it all fit together, but the grade further down canyon is quite deteriorated. I noticed that there seemed to be fresh work on the grade high above my end point just past Santiago Canyon, so climbed up to it. Indeed, the tracks have been extended from Mound House to this point, which is called Eureka, though it is above the Santiago Mill rather than the Eureka Mill, I think. Maps from the time of mills are vague and conflicting. Until today, I doubted that the tracks would ever get to Carson City, but seeing these new ones gave me hope that it may. The current end is just as the grade curves west into the canyon, still high above the river but with a great view downriver. Another half mile or so would provide a view up and downriver.

photos on PicasaWeb, from this trip and others

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