The Secret and Magical Ruby Mountains

I had heard about the Rubies in Northeast Nevada when working in Nevada fresh out of College in the 80s.  I put it on my list of places I wanted to visit, but just hadn’t gotten around to it.  When Belyn’s friend Jason passed through late summer on his way back from Jackson Hole and he mentioned the Rubies, a couple of things went through my mind:

– It was late September and the fall colors should be in full swing

– I have a plane and it really isn’t that far, so no excuses not to go!

Betsy and I had tough work weeks, so we didn’t leave Friday evening, slept in Saturday until 8:00 and left the house at 9:00.  At that point we were losing momentum and I was wondering whether we should go.  But its only an hour and a half flight, so we took off around 10:00, were shopping for food at a Smith’s in Elko, NV at noon and were on the Ruby Crest trail at 1:00 pm.  That day we hiked to Dollar Lakes, Lamoille Lake and Liberty Lake before turning back.  It was beautiful.  There are a lot of mountain ranges in Nevada (more than any other state) but the Rubies were big enough to hold glaciers, and the glaciers created deep carved valleys that allow forests and wildlife, and also left behind many lakes.  The rubies exceeded my expectations.

We car camped out of the rental car Saturday night in Lamoille canyon and had a strange thing happen.  A small dog started incessantly barking at around midnight at the campsite across the campground road from us.  After about 30 minutes Betsy said she knew from her experience working in Veterinary emergency clinics that this could go on all night.  That wasn’t a pleasant thought, so I got up, pulled on some pants and padded over in my socks – and started to yell to wake him up.  I didn’t know what else to do.  I started in a loud voice, but as I got near the tent and nothing happened I was clapping my hands and yelling.  Lights were going on the campground and another camper came over.  She ventured her theory that something had happened and maybe he was dead.  My wife suggested I unzip the tent and toss the dog inside, but we were in Elko, NV where gun ownership is pretty darn near 100%, so that didn’t seem like a good idea.   During our discussions we noticed we could hear snoring so I restarted my yelling and clapping on the snoring side of the tent and  he finally woke up and brought the dog inside.  Strange.

The next day we decided to hike to Echo lake, a coveted backcountry lake that is hard to get to.   You do the first 1.5 miles on a trail and then you are on your own for a difficult 6 miles.  We met a couple of hunters coming down the trail, and they said, “really, you are going to Echo Lake and back in one day?”.   The truth popped into my head, which was, “Yes, and we plan to be back in California by dinner”, but somehow that seemed like a really stupid thing to say.

It turns out we didn’t get all the way to Echo Lake, falling short about a mile.  But the last mile was a continuation of a very difficult traverse that was tough on us and the dogs, plus a descent.  Already we were doing 4,500 feet of elevation gain that day so we decided to turn back.   On the way back we did the route we should have done on the way in, that is staying in Box Canyon and not doing the technical traverse.

So we didn’t quite get to Echo Lake, but we did land at 7:00 pm in California for a nice Mexican dinner to end the weekend.

Enroute over Nevada
Lamoille Canyon with Afternoon Shadows
Liberty Lake along Ruby Crest Trail
Ande, our Border Collie who taught us the word Indefatigable, swimming In Liberty Lake
Lamoille Canyon Aspens
Echo Lake? Go down box canyon and when it bends left, climb up 2,500 feet to the right.
Late Afternoon in Lamoille Canyon


Approaching Lake Tahoe, about to start descent to home

2 thoughts on “The Secret and Magical Ruby Mountains

  1. Love your blog – beautiful countryside, amazing adventures, and with the family! Please check out our blog, newly started, at I’d like your comments! Happy landings.

    1. I did check out your blog. Nicely done, and beautiful photography! I like it.

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