February is a tough time of year for Jeeping in the High Sierra. The high elevation roads are typically closed or snow covered or both. While the Tahoe area received a lot of snow in December, both January and February turned out to be pretty dry which is disappointing and concerning for the upcoming wildfire season. The dry winter does mean the mountains east of Reno, NV have limited snow cover. So east I headed. The old Como Road from Dayton, NV to Smith Valley, NV is a gold and silver mining era roadway to what was once a thriving community county seat, Como, NV. Today, it's a gravel, dirt, and rock BLM road that's used primarily by 4x4 vehicles, cell phone companies accessing their equipment, and side-by-sides. There isn't much left of the town and I am amazed by how quickly the desert can reclaim entire towns and structures. As a final note, this was the first trip I took with the new bumper, winch, and rock sliders. None of them were needed on this trip but I had fun installing them earlier in the week and they're ready for duty when that time comes.
What did I learn?
Airing up the tires in a windy area can be tricky, but mostly because I use a compressor that requires opening the hood to access the battery. I ended up shutting the hood to prevent the wind from damaging the hood hinges.
Leaving Dayton I noticed this sign. My destination was significantly farther than the Sunrise Pass Access, so far in fact that I guess the BLM didn't even think someone needed to know how far it was,..
This is a sample of what I carry when I travel alone. Enough to stay warm if I have to wait out a night or two, hiking equipment in case that's my best option at some point, and some personal safety items (i.e. cordless hole puncher). The food and water is in the front seat and enough for two days.
About 1/2 way up the west side of the mountain the road turned muddy and stayed muddy until I made it to gravel, most of the way to Smith Valley, NV. There was never a part of the road that was so muddy or snowy that I was concerned about getting stuck, but I did drive in 4WD to reduce wheelspin.
Looking southwest from the Como ghost town area. This is just before cresting the mountain and heading down the east side.
What's left of Como. Admittedly I didn't look very hard for more, it was windy and cold so I kept driving.
A lot of snow-covered road as I headed down the east side of the mountain...
We don't come across a lot of cactuses in Northern Nevada, at least not on the routes we travel, so it was fun to stop and take this picture as I worked my way south through the Smith Valley.
The last stop for the day was an alkali lake, literally named "Alkali Lake". It was mostly dry and I didn't want to get any closer to the water in case the soil beneath the surface was saturated with moisture. Check this out if you want to see how bad it can get in these dry lake bed conditions.