My husband and I set out for American Canyon in the Nevada High Desert early on a Sunday morning in October. We caught 400 out of Mill City, drove past Unionville and turned left at a fork onto Old Emigrant Road which runs along the Humboldt Range at the edge of Buena Vista Valley.
Our map almost immediately proved inaccurate so we powered over washboard (deep rhythmic ruts) and through bogs of bug bust (alkaloid powder) until the end of the Humboldt Range came into sight. We then backtracked to a point mid-range where we could confirm one 4-way intersection (the map distinctly showed two, with the entrance to the Canyon being at the second as we had headed out.) On a calculated hunch we turned into the Range and gradually ascended into a canyon that contained an abandoned house, possibly an old miner’s residence.
Beside the house was a narrow dirt road that wove through tall gold grasses. I was eager to linger and explore that road but because we couldn’t confirm our location, we continued to the top of the Range where we discovered an enormous mine, a paved road, and a sign for “American Canyon”–we had found it. It is unusual to see such signs in the Nevada High Desert and while I was gratified that we had successfully navigated an alternate and isolated route to the Canyon, I was bemused at the diversity of approaches and grateful that we took the route filled with silence, solitude and vast beauty. It was such a lovely way to keep the Sabbath, marveling at God’s creations, and of course we enjoyed a trail coffee along the way.