Thursday, March 14, 2019

Deadman's Creek alive

Straight cinnamon-white thorns around a red-brown stem of a Deadman's Creek woods' rose
Deadman's Creek is located between Washoe City and Carson City. In 1998, a fire damaged much of the riparian zone, but the willows and aspen trees have returned. There is a mysterious gravesite at the trailhead of Deadman's Creek Trail and the local history is mysterious as well: two dead pioneer ranchers found at what became knowns as Dead Man's Ranch.

Today, Deadman's Creek is alive, considering its animal and plant life and all the hikers, who come to climb uphill to the gazebo and enjoy the panoramic views of Washoe Lake and the Carson Range. The riparian section of Deadman's Creek Trail is an interpretive nature path introducing visitors to common desert plants of Nevada and some animals frequenting the Virginia Range foothills of Washoe Lake State Park. In the following, you will find the trailside text of some of the signs describing the local flora and fauna and giving hints what to watch. Early spring is typically the best time to see wild flowers such as phlox covering the ground around the gazebo. Detailed trail descriptions are available online [1-3]. 

Wild Rose (Rosa woodsia)

Wild Rose (Rosa woodsia) is a shrub that can grow up to six feet tall. It has small, fragrant flowers, but watch out for the thorns!
Local Native American tribes used this plant in many different ways. Its seeds were cooked and eaten for muscular pain, young shoots and rose hips were brewed into a tea rich in vitamins A and C, and the older branches were to make arrow shafts.
I didn't find other references to Rosa woodsia. I think the current scientific name is Rosa woodsii (a species of the family Rosaceae), also known by the common name Woods' rose. Between willow branches, I zoomed in on a wild-rose stem lined with thorns, shown in the top picture.

Mormon Tea (Ephedra viridis)

Mormon Tea (Ephedra viridis) is easily identified by its bright green, apparently leafless stems (it actually does have tiny, scale-like leaves). It can grow up to 4 feet high. Mormon Tea is found across Nevada and throughout arid areas of the Southwest.

This plant was widely used by Native American and pioneers alike for its variety of medicinal properties.
Mormon tea, also known as Indian tea and green ephedra, belongs to the genus Ephedra, the only genus in the plant family Ephedraceae.

Mormon tea: curtains of nearly aligned yellowish-green stems

Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)

Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is Nevada's state flower and a familiar sight for anyone in the Southwest. It is easily identified by its silvery three-lobed leaves.

Big Sagebrush blooms in late summer and fall with tiny yellow flowers.

Native Americans had many uses for this plant: rope and clothing were woven from the stringy bark and leaves were brewed into a medicinal tea.
The silvery-leaved state flower of the Silver State belongs to the sunflower family (Asteraceae).

Bitterbrush (Pursia tridentata)

Bitterbrush (Pursia tridentata) covers tens of millions of acres and remains one of the most ubiquitous shrubs, next to sagebrush. It can be found in a variety of habitats, ranging from arid flats to alpine zones well above timberline.

During the spring, these shrubs are covered with spice, almost “cinnamon”-scentedyellow flowers (Great Basin Wildflowers).

Bitterbrush is an important browse species for Mule Deer.
Bitterbrush belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae).

Rubber Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosus)

Rubber Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosus) is common throughout the Great Basin. It is a gray-green shrub that blooms late summer and fall with golden yellow flowers. When a piece of the plant's leaves are crushed, it emits a strong odor. The plant's common name refers to its high latex content. It is one of the first plants to grow back after a fire.
Rubber rabbitbrush, also known as gray rabbitbrush, belongs to the sunflower family (Asteraceae). This species is also known as gray rabbitbrush. And indeed, after brightening the desert landscape with its full yellow bloom in late summer and fall, rabbitbrush transforms into a bunch of thin, gray stems and branches.

One shade of gray: rabbitbrush stems and branches in winter pressed down by the weight of a recent snow blanket


Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)

Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) have long, toothed leaves and are found near water. When touched with bare skin, these plants produce a painful rash. Keep an eye out for these plants along the creek side of the trail. The young leaves of this plant are edible when boiled, however, wild plants should not be eaten unless the consumer is positive it is non-poisonous.
The stinging nettle is a member of the nettle family (Urticaceae).


Snakes and other reptiles are frequently seen on this trail. Some common reptiles in the area include: western fence lizards, desert horned lizards, striped racers, Great Basin rattlesnakes, and Great Basin gopher snakes. The Great Basin rattlesnake is venomous and should be observed from a safe distance. Please view all wildlife from a distance and leave them undisturbed.

Bird Life

Many different species of birds, such as Black-billed Magpies and Great Horned Owls, have been known to nest in the willows and cottonwoods surrounding the lake. Some common birds that can be seen in this area are Red-tailed Hawks, California Quail, and Turkey Vultures.

Lichen on the rocks near the rock shelter alongside upper Deadman's Creek Trail

References and more to explore

[1] Rich Moreno: Washoe Valley's Deadman's Creek Trail. Backyard Traveler, January 5, 2007. Link:
[2] Hiking Deadman's Creek Trail. Link:
[3] Sam Bauman: On the Trail with Sam Bauman: Dead Man's Creek trail offers easy hike, views of Washoe Valley. Lahontan Valley News, May 13, 2010. Link:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Art attack in Carson City: swinging and swirling around a blowball

Street art at Carson City's Brewery Arts Center: commissioned mural by Bryce Chisholm
Commissioned mural created by Bryce Chisholm, seen from S Minnesota St./W Second St. intersection in Carson City (January 2019)

The blowball
The Brewery Arts Center in Carson City celebrates art, music, dance, theater and all the arts [1]. Nothing expresses this celebration of cultural confluence better than the merry wall painting on South Minnesota Street: a young girl blows the seeds from a dandelion seed head and the swirling seeds are turning into notes. Watch and you will hear the music!

The Arts Center website features the mural under the title “Strings of Imagination” [2]. The artist is Reno-based Bryce Chisholm, whose portfolio includes mural arts. Bryce Chisholm describes his style of art as “a clash of fine art and street” [3]. The street in front of the commissioned mural has been remodeled into a gathering area with picnic tables—or are they drafting tables? Anyway, a great community place to relax, enjoy outdoor art and get inspired by art and artists.

Can you hear the music?

Keywords: street art, experimental art, mural arts, stencil graffiti, sight-seeing Carson City, northwest Nevada.

References and more

[1] Art attack: Brewery Arts Center, Carson City, NV
[2] Strings of Imagination: see slide-show banner at
[3] Bryce Chisholm - A Stencil Artist Profile:
[4] Map of historic Carson City to locate the “mural  intersection” of  S Minnesota St. and W Second St. in the lower section of the blue framed area:

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Christmas Brush next to Lower Thomas Creek Trail

A christmas bitterbrush near Reno
Small lobed leaves and big balls: a christmas bitterbrush 
Tired of christmas trees? Check out the christmas brush next to the Lower Thomas Creek Trail in the northern Galena-area south of Reno. Hiking uphill from the Arrowcreek Parkway trailhead to Timberline Drive, I found—at a random location (?)—a bitterbrush ornamented with red and silver christmas balls. This glitter-brush is on the left side of the path through open sagebrush land not far from the Thomas Creek bridge trailhead at the end of Timberline Drive with access to Dry Pond and the lower section of the Rim-to-Reno-Trail.

Balling up hikers and mountain bikers: who is in charge?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hobart Reservoir

Between the trees: Hobart Reservoir near the dam with angler

Hobart Reservoir is located west of Carson City in the Marlette-Hobart Backcountry of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. This area is accessible, for example, by ascending the unpaved road from the Lakeview Gate Trailhead at the end of Hobart Road in northwest Carson City to a rusted metal multitube named “Ghost of a Sawmill”. Continuing the stiff ascent for about another mile and then descending into the valley of Franktown Creek leads to Hobart Reservoir (at an elevation of 7,850 feet or 2,393 meters)—and the historic Red House further downhill. This is a popular mountain biking route. Backpackers, day-hikers and mountain joggers also love crisscrossing this subalpine landscape.

Also, the single-lane Ash Canyon Road, which was closed throughout most of  the year 2017 after suffering slides and wash-outs, is again open for public use, including four-wheel vehicles. The steep, five-mile long road starts at the end of Winnie Lane in Carson City. Passing the water tanks and the Ash Canyon Trailhead (Ash To Kings Trail connecting with Upper Waterfall Loop), the road winds uphill, westward through a steep V-shaped canyon. Past a switchback the road continues eastward with views of Carson City and sonns bends left to traverse a more densely forested area to the Hobart Reservoir parking lot.
Hobart Reservoir fishing regulations

The reservoir itself is closed to vehicles: Hobart reservoir will be found a half mile north. A steep, 1/4-mile-long trail connects the parking lot with the dirt road between the “Ghost of a Sawmill” and the reservoir. Following the road northbound, you will catch your first glimpse of the lake through the trees and soon arrive at the signboard with fishing regulations and other information.

With a maximum depth of 15 feet, Hobart reservoir is relatively shallow. A surface area of approximately 10 surface acres has been reported.

Reed-bed habitat blurring southeast shoreline of Hobart Lake
With the exception of the south-corner reed beds, the lake shoreline is easily accessible via trails. On a hot summer day, swimmers enjoy the lake. Throughout the fishing season you will find anglers around the lake. A primitive campground can be found near the lake. Hobart Reservoir contributes to the municipal water supply of Carson City.

Trout fishing

The season is open from May 1 until September 30. The only self-sustaining population is brook trout. In addition, rainbow trout, cutbow trout and tiger trout have been introduced to the reservoir. The cutbow trout is a hybrid between a rainbow trout and a cutthroat trout. The tiger trout is a hybrid between a brook trout and a brown trout. Its name derives from the black-on-white vermiculation pattern evoking the stripes of a tiger.

Vermiculation pattern of tiger trout
Vermiculation pattern of irregular, worm-like lines and yellowish underside of a caught tiger trout

The lake may not be what you are looking for to catch big fish, but is an excellent site for fishing in a scenic environment.
Catch of the day: tiger, brook and rainbow trout

What is that device floating on the lake?

That's SolarBee. A PUBLIC INFORMATION NOTICE explains that the State of Nevada - Marlette Water System has installed this high-flow long-distance circulation equipment to improve the water water quality and enhance the recreational value of the lake. The machine is entirely powered by solar energy. Its long distance water circulation helps to prevent lake water stagnation, control blue-gree algae blooms, improve the lake ecosystem and provide a healthy environment for fish, frogs, crayfish and other aquatic organisms.

Floating SolarBee machine
SolarBee with “half-under”angler in the background

Other Carson Range sites and trails

References and more

Nevada Wildlife > Hobart Reservoir:
Hipcamp > Hobart Campground:
Angler Guide > Hobart Reservoir:
SolarBee technology:

Hobart Reservoir
Hobart Lake seen from dam at northern end

Friday, July 6, 2018

Reno Playa Art Park

Identity Awareness Family
You will encounter sculptures and murals around every corner in Reno. The downtown Reno Playa Art Park—across from the Circus Circus casino murals at 520 N Virginia Street—is a place surrounded by painted walls that features a yearly changing assembly of sculptures. These are installations you, or your children, can walk through and climb on. As the name of this urban sculpture sanctum suggests, the objects give a playful Burning Man flair.  Once, they actual were part of a Burning Man event.

The Reno Playa Art Project was a Burning Man 2017 Global Art Grant recipient. The art piece called Identity Awareness Family, shown above, was created by Shane Pitzer, who has experienced Burning Man with his whole family. The large heart is kept in balance by family members signifying love and support for each other. Next to the heart stands the sculpture named It's A Chicken And Egg Situation by Andrea Greenless and Andy Tibbetts.  Here, children climb the chicken frame; while it was on the Playa, the chicken contained pillow-like, foam-filled eggs for Burners to lie on, hug or contemplate about the traditional chicken-and-egg riddle.

Lumpy the Gate Skull was created for the 2017 Burning Man by Reno locals,  Jeremy Evans and Bill Tubman. The skull was placed at the Playa entrance. It was the first peace of art seen by participants and will return to the Playa event of this year.

Climbing the skull: Lumpy the Gate Skull

The experimental installation Trasparenza (frequently misspelled Transparenza) by Andrea Greenlees is made from laser-cut, clear cast acrylic panels. This Leonardo-da-Vinci-inspired, seethrough sculpture can be entered. The imagery of geometric patterns can be enjoyed from both inside and outside. 

Temple of Transparency: Trasparenza

Another acrylic-based sculpture is the Electric Dandelion by Abram Santa Cruz. Actually, there are two. These LED-animated structures come to life at night, when they simulate a firework show. 

One of the two Electric Dandelions
One of the two Electric Dandelions

Note:  My brief descriptions of the Playa Art Park creations are based on the onsite #renoplayaartproject board.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Bandalooping down Reno's City Hall

Renoites love the verticals. The downtown climbing wall has been a spectacular hotspot for years. After a vertical dancefloor rehearsal on June 30, Artown 2018 was opened the next day with an amazing performance by Bandaloop from Oakland, California. The cloud-reflecting windows of the south-facing side of the Reno City Hall served as the vertical platform—or should I say background—for the aerial dancers. Here are a few snapshots.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

2018 Reno Rodeo Parade through Midtown

Reno Rodeo wagon in the parade celebrating the Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West

On the morning of Saturday, June 16, the Reno Rodeo Parade took place along Virginia Street in Reno's Midtown. Locals and visitors enjoyed the different parade entries at the Virginia/Arroyo staging area and the various performances while the parade moved north towards Liberty Street. You bet, horses and lasso(e)s were the theme. Not to mention all the cowgirls and cowboys in action. And there was much more to see—and to get. Here are a few snapshots.

Parade participants on their way through Forest Street to the staging area

The dairy coach of the Nevada Dairy Council

The Rodeo Express Train

Little Cowboy

To watch rodeo competitions, bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding, steer wrestling and other perfomances you need to schedule ahead for a visit at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. During the parade, lasso-swinging boys and girls were trying to get the spectators in rodeo mood.

Goodies thrown from an oversize shopping cart

You need to be fast to get the best of the goodies

McQueen drummers passing India Kabab

End-of-parade interview with a little cowgirl

Après-parade poop control

Saddle up!

Reno Rodeo: