04-Mar-2001 -- Northeast California doesn't end at the Sierra Nevada. This
part is Great Basin: narrow mountain ranges, alkali flats between, lots
of sagebrush, and here and there a river that never makes it to the
To get to 41N 120W we drove south from Cedarville, passed Middle
Alkali Lake, got off at Duck Lake Loop (a dirt road circling a
lake-shaped and presumably relatively moist expanse of grass), went over
the south end of the Coppersmith Hills and left our car at 120W, just
west of the Nevada state line.
The walk south was easy for a bit, with nothing in the way except
sagebrush, until we reached what the topo map called Express Canyon.
It's an endearing name for what we would otherwise have referred to as
Really Big Steep Muddy Gully. Eventually we found a way down into RBSMG,
and after a while we also found a way up the other side. The little
creek at the bottom of the 30-foot canyon was flowing east. It probably
sinks into the ground at Duck Lake.
Then sagebrush and more easy walking, and an immense black bird with
a white head flapped up out of the brush. After hearing the
description, Kathleen's father (Hank Hansen) said it was a bald eagle.
He has 624 species on his life list, so we trust him. So hey, bald
Oh yeah, there was also lots of mud. The desert is dry and
fine-powder-dusty most of the time, but after some rain all the fine dry
dust turns into slippery mud. So, mud mud mud and then we were at the
The exact point (within 6 metres, said Etrex) is down in a still-icy
creek bed with a steep hill on the side. All the juniper trees that
live there enjoying the water made it hard to take a picture that looked
characteristic of the area. Picture 1 is much more like what we saw
everywhere except in the creek bed, and it was taken (just barely)
within 100 meters of true 41N 120W. It's a long stretch of sagebrush,
and to the north, the Coppersmith Hills.