After doing laundry and puttering around downtown Elko on day 6, Perrie and I drove west on I-80, back through Winnemucca and on toward Pyramid Lake.
When I lived in Nevada, I often heard about how beautiful Pyramid Lake was, but never found the time to visit it. Strangely, when we mentioned our plans to friends at the mine, none of them had been there either. Now, after seeing it first-hand, I can say it’s definitely worth the visit.
Water leaving Lake Tahoe flows through the Truckee River into Pyramid Lake, where it either evaporates or sinks into the ground. The 125,000-acre lake, which lies entirely within the Pyramid Lake Indian Reserve, is one of the largest natural lakes in Nevada.
Although the traffic was thick on Highway 447 north of Fernley, almost all of it continued north at Nixon en route to the Burning Man festival which was in full swing at the time.
We picked up a camping permit in Sutcliffe, midway up the west side of the lake, then continued north until we found an unoccupied bay about half a mile after the pavement ended on the highway.
It was gorgeous. To the north, we could see one small, unoccupied RV parked half a mile away. South, (after dark) we could just see the light from a campfire a couple miles away, so it felt like we had the entire lake to ourselves.
After setting up camp and gathering firewood (dry sage and rabbit brush), we went for a swim in the lake, which was almost dead calm. Then we made dinner, watched the sun go down and stars come out.
The wind came up overnight, and the lake was a bit choppy in the morning. More significantly, it made it difficult to cook with our little propane burners. Boiling water for tea wasn’t too bad, but the uneven terrain, lack of a table and strong wind made the pancakes more of a challenge. That, and the fact that we’d forgotten to pack a spatula! Nevertheless, Perrie persevered and we had a tasty warm breakfast.
After cleaning up, it was time to hit the road. After grabbing a geocache near Sutcliffe, the next stop was downtown Reno (to show Perrie what a large casino looks like), then it was off to Lake Tahoe for some sightseeing and another geocache.
Leaving Lake Tahoe, we started the homeward leg of the trip cutting northwest through the mountains of northern California on Highway 89. Our target was Lake Almanor, a large reservoir near Lassen Volcanic National Park, but as the time was getting on to 5 p.m. and we didn’t know exactly what campgrounds would be available, we pulled off at the first one we found in the Plumas National Forest near Greenville.
That turned out to be probably the strangest camping experience of the trip. The Greenville Campground was, to all appearances, a standard National Forest campground, with vault toilets and a potable water source, and campsites cut into the trees with fire rings and picnic tables and parking spaces. But there was one thing mysteriously absent: other campers! The place was clean and water flowed from the tap, but it was eerily silent for a place with 20 sites. We appreciated the solitude, though, and a maintenance guy came around in the morning to clean the toilets and collect our fee. So it was open, just … odd.
Maps below; interactive map is here.)