The first thing Lightning Dragon found was a piece of broken bowling ball. It was a warm day, but getting cold and we were nagging him to put a jacket on. And that’s probably why there’s discarded outerwear strewn about with the relic yellow schoolbus hulks disintegrating in the high Nevada desert.
It had been a warm day. Cool, though balmy for the second day of 2018. Not enough snow to call us up to the mountains, we packed a picnic and headed out to the dry lakes, scraggy peaks and endless dirt roads of northern Nevada for our first All-Terrain Adventure of the year.
Winnemucca Dry Lake
East of Reno off Interstate 80, State Highway 447 heads north past Pyramid Lake and on north past the Black Rock Playa heading north before crossing back into California at Surprise Valley. Just past Pyramid Lake, though is Winnemucca Lake which is perennially dry enough that Dry is usually part of the name. This is a beautiful area, even if it’s deathly hot in the summer months. Most of the winter and spring it is a great place to visit. The Nightengale and Selenite mountain ranges host named peaks, with described routes and several derelict mines and countless 20th century relics scattered on a number of mapped and un mapped roads in ever changing states of disrepair.
At the north end of the Nightengale mountains is a canyon named for two school busses that have been sitting there in the elements for a lifetime. Look for a road that runs up the east side of Winnemucca Dry Lake and follow that north. Be ware of sand if you cross the lake off road, and be ware of moisture if you try to cross the main body of the lake.
Half way up the valley you’ll find what’s left of the MGL Mine mill site. It’s a nice place to stop for a snack and explore the ruins. The mill site is all steel and concrete, and there are various other structures and artifacts around as well as some 4×4 challenges up the drainage behind the site.
As you head on up the valley, you’ll find detours around washouts and ruts. They were easily passable by our 4Runner, but you may find it different after significant storms. The road to Schoolbus Canyon heads up slope into a drainage over a steep canyon that soon flattens and broadens into a wide valley. the school busses are sitting on flat ground with plenty of parking. I haven’t been able to find any info about how or when these got here so If you know, fill me in please.
It is obvious that at some point someone shot them with some kind of cannon punching large holes right through them. The projectiles were bowling balls and the broken ballistic remnants remain scattered about, save the piece we took home with us as a memento. I know that happened at least before 2014 as there is a blog post about it on The Fly Syndicate.
There is some 4 wheeling to be done past the busses up the canyon. We did not explore that at all, but you can learn more about it on EricsxXJ.com. I do want to go back sometime and check that out. I believe you can make a circuit around the Nightingales and see the famous Nightengale Mine on the east side of the range. There’s also more to MGL Mine and you can see that in Alex’s vido below. Be sure to subscribe to Full Size Adventures.
So we have a tradition of taking a family photo on or about New Year’s Day. So we decided to do it here. Because that’s how we do it. So we wish you a belated Happy New Year and hope the whole of your 2018 is an adventure worthy of a campfire story of two.