Summits and Rock Art in Nevada's Mojave Nov 8-10, 2016

John Morrow

May 22, 2015
OK, so no one knows where Lincoln County Nevada is. Well, I'll tell you it is in the heart of the geographic province known as the Basin and Range. Deserts meet here. The basins fall within the Mojave Desert ecology, while the ranges reach up through the Great Basin desert ecology zone and often up into the snowy bristlecone forest zone. It is a very special place if you have an eye for such things. Free camping can be found at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge protects a spring fed lake system with great birding right from the campsite.
My goal was to hike or scramble some summits while I searched below for the prolific rock art that Lincoln County is known for. Ancestral cultures met here, too. The Fremont and Anasazi of the Colorado Plateau left us messages in the stone occasionally among the much more widespread Pahranagat culture. Pahranagats were more ancestors of the Mojave cultures now south of here. A striking particular style they were known for is the patterned bodied anthropomorphs, or "Pahranagat men". It is these folks who were calling me.

Nov 8th I set out to find an site known as the Shooting Gallery, due west of Alamo, Nevada off US93.
I was able to get my Civic close enough to turn it into a neat loop hike up an unnamed canyon to the Gallery, returning via a ridge to an unnamed limestone summit. First, since I could actually drive a bit further, I saw this Peak 5748' with a nice looking NW Ridge. A quick jaunt to stretch the legs found me on fun Class 2 sedimentary rock to the top for a great view of the Pahranagat Valley.

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Then I drove back down canyon to hike the roadless canyon, about 7 miles RT, to the Shooting Gallery. Wow! These pics barely touch the surface of the extensiveness of art panels.

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It took hours to walk through all the art sites and then I had to make tracks onto the ridge above the canyon. I paralleled back on a ridgeline above the canyon and over Peak 5718'. The peak also had some fun limestone scrambling.

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Nov 9.

Another range in the area is known as the Meadow Valley Mountains with a wilderness area of the same name. Two dramatic summits in this range are the Highest Point, Cathedral Peak 5772', and its neighbor Peak 5678'. 5678' is informally known as JJ Freake Peak. The west draining canyon between them makes for the approach and both have their share of scrambling on the north or NW ridges. Cathedral being a near vertical pitch of hard Class 3 (for me) on the north side of the summit block. Good stuff. I will say, the canyon approach was a bit tedious loose cobble, so that prevents me from considering these desert "classics"!

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Since rock art was hard to come by, I visited a site I could walk to from the campground back at the NWR. This is what the P-gat culture art is all about:

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Nov 10.

Another nearby wilderness is the Big Rocks Wilderness comprised of the N. Pahroc Mountains. Why not meander some meadow country to its highpoint at 7017' and find some rock art around the fringes? OK, you convinced me....

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Some art at the base:

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Thanks for sharing some stuff off the beaten path! Looks like a great few days! Those petroglyphs and pictographs are awesome.
Nice presentation...Nevada is probably the most under-rated state for hiking/backpacking/photography...Nevada has more miles of mountain ranges than any other lower 48 states..
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