Friday, January 17, 2014

Pyramid Lake, Nevada and The Cat in the Hat

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

(The events described here happened over 7 years ago and it is now hard to recall where certain roads or gas stations were.  Please check your maps before heading out into this remote area, where only the barest minimum of services available).


I will never attend Burning Man

I did not even know what Burning Man was until 2000, when there was a fuss made about whether pictures on the internet of a nude girl running around BM was Brittany Petros, a contestant on Big Brother One.

Against this background, a long time ago, someone commented on my Pyramid Lake picture. The commentator said that when she saw the photo, it reminded her that when she saw Pyramid Lake's tufa formations in real life, it meant she was getting close to the Black Rock Desert, where Burning Man is held. 


In November, 2007, we were driving from Watsonville, CA to Salt Lake City, to visit friends for Thanksgiving.  Looking at the map, I saw what looked like an interesting back road route between Reno-Sparks and Winnemucca, Nevada, bypassing a portion of boring I-80.  We figured, "Why not?"

We exited I-80 at Reno-Sparks and headed north.  The further north we went, the more remote the terrain became.  Against, this remoteness, Pyramid Lake and its blue/green water, suddenly appear.





After exploring the lake area, we became low on gas, and despite being "Nowhere", we found that "Nowhere" is really the former company town of "Empire".  Empire was a company town for US Gypsum, but is now a staging area for people on their way to Burning Man.

"Nowhere" = Empire, Nevada

The Cat in the Hat in Empire, Nevada

The restroom is not in the desert, it is around the side of the building.
For a picture of the entire "Cat in the Hat" area, see this trip report.

In Gerlach, the next, and last, town for many miles, we filled up our tank in some tiny, lonely and antiquated gas station near not much else of anything.  I asked the attendant, if he knew where the bypass road we were looking for was.  When he told us we passed it, I did not have a good feeling, because we had seen no turn-offs, signs, or signs of a road.  

We backtracked and found the road.  The dirt road was not very well maintained, poorly graded, and therefore super bumpy.  Again, we were starting to not have a very good feeling about things.  We stopped, stepped out of the truck and looked around.  We saw the weather was disintegrating.  The dark clouds starting to pour in made us decide that taking this back-way for an unknown number of hours was not a good idea.

Disintegrating Weather
Disintegrating Weather
So, we bumped our way back to the paved road and headed south the 40 or so miles back to I-80, losing a couple of hours on our trip.  Still, the side trip was an interesting experience and Pyramid Lake is certainly worth seeing with your own eyes.


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