Our Historic Mining Expedition On Crystal Peak & Dog Valley - 7/6/19

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Jul 18, 2019, 7:23:10 PM7/18/19
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The first time I ever learned about Crystal Peak is when I did a small ghost town cemetery below it a couple years ago. Its not the highest peak in the region but it is found within the Diamond Mountains of the sierras above Reno. Most of the winter its covered in snow hell back this winter I tried to get to the top of it and was hampered by a snowstorm that dropped 9' of snow so its a no joke sort of place in the cooler months.

But I promised myself when the snow cleared recently from the peak id make another go at it. You see Crystal was a small town that developed in the mid 1800's. While they may have done some mining it was mainly a lumbering town. It had stores, stages, saloons, black smith, saw mills etc it was fairly large. But it started off with a toll bridge overshadowed by this peak. Today very little is remaining of the original town as buildings were either moved or consumed by the growth of Verdi Nevada.

I love Verdi its a pretty little river town just a short drive from Reno mixed with high desert and lush forest. Its very unique and diverse home also to the Sasquatch Tavern. I am positive that these creatures roam this region of Nevada its remote once you leave the pavement up here. But its kind of a busy area also because of it being so close to the city some folks can take 2wd drives up to the peak if they take the less rugged away.

Personally I prefer a more rugged route because the scenery is probably better and you see more nature. They called this peak crystal peak because the entire crown of this mountain is quartz crystal. In the 1840's it was alluring to miners seeking gold and instead they found crystals. During WWII the crystals would be used in soldier radios for the war effort so there is some history here just not enough unless you begin the ghost town of Crystal below which also took on the name of the peak.

The peak itself is really on the state line of Nevada and California if you were to cross over the diamond range there is a nice little area known as Kyburz. I seen a massive 800lb bear not far from here on the other side of Crystal Peak once and we even stood on the fire tower of Sardine Peak. I also did some bigfoot expeditions not far from here near the Stampede Reservoir and visited the ghost town of Boca nearby. So the area offers allot but besides good hiking or offroading crystal peak offers free mining for those who want to perhaps camp, look for bigfoot and hit the peak in search of the peaks beautiful crystals.

I was excited to get started bought a pickaxe at an estate sale to dig some holes. You can use a shovel or other tools to but I wanted to get a couple feet down to see what good stuff I could find. There are two to three ways to get to Crystal Peak if you want to drive to it of course you can hike to the top in the historic town of Verde. I love Verde one of my favorite little towns in Nevada when Crystal died Verde became a railroading town so whether your on the peak or in town you can hear the trains roaring through here just like back in the 1860's.

Like any good adventure all of them start with coffee maybe a snack early in the morning as it should considering I left at 5am. The nice thing about it is I get to watch the sun come up and it was gorgeous along Washoe Lake. I also seen some wild horses and it was really starting off to be a great morning.

Crystal Peak & Dog Valley
Verdi Historic Park

There are two ways you can head up to the peak the easy way which goes through Verde where you will pass this historic park which we would explore. The harder way is much further to the NW further along the diamond mountains. Basically you can hit the peak from the north or south. The way I went is much longer yes and more rugged yes but its a gorgeous journey that gradually climbs to the summit from miles away.

I would start off at a place called Bordertown which is considered to be a part of Reno. Its a small hamlet a couple casinos and homes. Quite a few older large ranches which you will see before you head up into the national forest. Its a very pretty drive because you start off in a scenic high desert then you cross these old abandoned tracks where brush is now growing between the ties. You follow the tracks pass a couple ranches then you begin to enter a mild forest as the road curves slowly ascending into the Diamond Mountains.

Its a slow going journey their are quite a few ruts in the road and holes. Their are rocks here and there to so its not a road you expect to take to fast. Also their are quite a few side roads I seen quite a few people on four wheelers and dirt bikes. I have no idea where the roads go there are plenty of places you can go up in this range to camp, hike, fish, hunt, explore and adventure at. Some roads are in super bad shape but great for jeeping and rock crawling.

I would eventually make it to Crystal Peak the deeper you go into this place the more forested it becomes so its pretty cool how you can go from desert to lush green forest. I would be climbing through and above dog valley which is an amazing place its actually Kyburz's twin meadow only separated by a narrow range which you can hike over if you have the gear and don't mind going primitive because there are not really any hiking trails up here so you go in then you explore wherever. Keep in mind bears do live in this range big bears and yes they will eat you so bring bear mace or be armed in case you came face to face with the monster I did a couple years ago.

When you reach the top of crystal peak you can see white domes beyond the trees. There is an area you can park trust me it gets busy here its a major spot for Reno residents to go. That is why I tried to go in the middle of winter so I could be up here alone it just did not pan out that way lol. So when I arrived there was a couple vehicles here including a large family of six hiking ahead of us. The crown of the peak is heaps of rock, quartz and much of it has been strip mined. Its easy to see holes other folks have dug looking for crystals. There is a sign before you go up to the top that tells you your allowed a five gallon bucket of crystals of course that is not only allot of crystals but in my opinion far to heavy to be trying to carry around the peaks steep rocks.

Tammy and I explored around the crown of the peak then we went to the very top. This peak is only around 8k so its not even as tall in comparison to many of the other peaks surrounding it. But when you stand on top of it you can see the high desert far off to the left, forest floor below, granite cliffs a 1000' laced with trees and off to the SW Reno.  Although you cant see the city you can see the valley a bit over a ridge. You can also see three lakes from the top and great views of the diamond mtns around you. Also to the very south you could see the snow covered sierras even during the summer which is one of the reasons I live where I do because I get to experience snow even in the summer its awesome.

We mined up there for about four hours I forgot about getting gloves so the pick axe tore my hands up they were bleeding by the time I was done. Did I care? No! I was so into digging holes and minding ledges at the top of the world I never thought twice about it. I mean where else can you mine for crystals at 8k with views so pretty? The peak does offer some shade to which is great but its not allot just a few trees which you can mine around. We had some cute brunette hanging out with us for a couple hours. Wherever we mined she joined in next to us like I said its kind of a busy place your not going to get much privacy up here. People also bring there kids to rock hound and its not a bad place to do that at.

I did this expedition so it could go with my ghost town addition on our website. Kind of educate folks on this great site with its history and what it offers. I think this is a great place to take the family for a few hours hell the nurse that works at my pain place camps with his son by the peak so all in all its a nice place to get out of the city for a bit. I enjoyed mining up here and ill be able to share my experience with everyone. I found some beautiful crystals including some pieces of copper and other minerals. The copper can be found in the pieces of crystal some of it is ore other ones have oxidation or iron infused within it. Tammy found a few perfectly clear crystals those are rare supposedly if you dig deep enough you might find some pieces up to five pounds like this. I tried for four hours and we filled a half of bucket with small and larger crystals.

Before I left it had gotten busy two pretty girls showed up sprawling out on some rocks 20' away from me. They were going to try to dig for crystals because the blonde girl wanted to see mine and told me this was her first time doing this. I was enjoying looking at them gals while swinging my pick axe and not in the creepy way but for me I like to surround or be surrounded by beautiful women. So it was a nice addition to my day even if it was for a half hour. I just was getting a bit ready to go two guys took there dirt bikes up to the summit its not very large and the one almost fell off the edge spinning his tires hitting folks with rocks.

On my way down the steep slopes hiking back to my truck the crystals caused me to lose footing and I slid. My leg bent inwards and I hurt my knee pretty bad. It has been hurting me now for a couple weeks since I went as a matter in fact on that fall it scraped against the sharp glass like quartz and it was bleeding from three different areas. I shrugged it off blood running down my leg me limping carrying over 50lbs of quartz and copper in my bucket. It was a rough hike back I had to go slow because its very steep to climb off the peak and about five hundred feet to the truck so woo was I beat after that.

I would spend the second half of my day up here exploring because we had mined for awhile but there was to many folks showing up even as I left. I was ready to go offbeat a little so I took the roads around Crystal Peak and eventually made a descent into Dog Valley. Oh man Dog Valley is gorgeous lush green meadows, patches of large old trees, ponds, seasonal creeks, beautiful views and what looked like an old sheep ranch. Would not surprise me the Kyburz Meadow use to have a stage stop, large ranch, bask ovens and a barn. They use to use these meadows to graze sheep and other livestock.

Dog Valley is called Dog Valley because back in the day packs of wild dogs roamed this area. Today not so much but the name lives on. Not sure I would want to come across a hungry pack of wild dogs but at one time people did. Its so green here its surreal some of the grass is rich lime in color its really amazing. Due to an intense winter the mountains are full of sites like this and seasonal creeks are flowing. Parts of the valley were rather still marshy great to find bigfoot tracks perhaps. I seen some groves in the distance that are far away that might contain solid tracks unfortunately I did not have enough time to explore more of dog valley since I still had an investigation up in Verde to do. Today  your less likely to see dogs in this meadow and more likely to see deer grazing like the buck I seen descending off the mountains prior to getting into Verde.

I took a series of dirt roads which would take me into Verde downtown man the nature I seen such as deer, lizards, wild flowers, eagles, birds etc etc was truly magnificent. I stopped at the river and nearby was a plaque which said O'neils Crossing which talks about the toll station that was here at one time. Now the station is gone and in its place is a bed of wild flowers. But the station was a place you could bunk up for a night perhaps water down your horses that sort of thing while you were traveling the Henness Pass. The Henness Pass was a freight and stage route it still skirts around Crystal Peak and if you take it for twenty miles there is a turn off for the ghost town of Summit City and the old Webber Hotel and Stage Stop. So the route today still exist and it goes through Verde.

When I came down off the Diamond Mountains I would stop real fast as the Crystal Peak Cemetery and I have to say this graveyard looks entirely different when its not buried in snow. I got some good EVP's here though a couple years ago so I have to at least state that while the town may be long gone the town site along with its cemetery are haunted! There is some strange stories told about the place such as an unmarked burial ground or rather Chinamen who worked on the railroad. Despite that others died in tragic accidents or even from the elements which back in the day were brutal up here.

Not far from where the pass goes through is Crystal Peak Park which resides along the Truckee River. The park has some historic sites, nature trail, some nice spots along the river to fish, ponds and other sites of interest. The park is an important site because it was the site of Verde Lumber and really was once the heart of the town of Crystal or as some called it Crystal Peak because the peak does overshadow the area. Hard to believe when you look up you think man I was standing way up there and yet they still are two different worlds when you think about it.

I wanted to finish the day off hiking around the park I mean its such a pretty place squirrels everywhere, variety of plant life and trees. It was the site of the towns saw and lumber mill known as Verde Lumber Company. They had bunk houses, factories, warehouses, dormitories, a saw mill, mill ponds, loading docks and even an engine house. It was a big complex that employed most of the town the railroad actually ran right along side of it so the wood could be loaded on the train so that it could be used in many of the local mines and construction of towns like Virginia City Nevada.

Dog Creek and the Truckee River intersect within the park at one time a few shortline railroads or spurs ran out to various camps in the area where heavy lumbering was done. One of the spurs ran along Dog Creek which if you follow it that takes you into Dog Valley. The valley is full of lush meadows but most of the trees were chopped down which is why its so open and barren today. So you can start to see the connections I was making on this trip.

Back in the day some men did not want to lumber they wanted to strike gold so they would go up to Crystal Peak finding out that this quartz did not contain gold and if it did it was not of good grade or substance. I think I found a few pieces of gold but then again its probably Pyrite or fools gold. Everything surrounded the Verdi Lumber Mill over a century ago. You had mining above the town while lumbering around the town. At one time more trees stood in and around Verde but they cut thousands and thousands of trees.

These lumber camps in the region were vital to the growth of the American West including cities like Truckee which some of you I know have heard of up by Donner Lake. Plus wood was necessary to heat homes and businesses winters are harsh up here at times trust me I know I burn logs in the winter up here and Verde is not very far of a trek for me. Back in the day you could hear steam whistles, horns going off for worker shifts and definitely trains chugging along. This was a booming area today  not so much its now just a park.

Along my hike I would stop at a variety of sites Id id not run EVP till later on got side tracked so I have no idea if the park is haunted but there is energy here just like any other place that was bustling in the west. The first place I hit on the trail was remnants of the old Verde Glen Resort. All that really remains is a giant foundation then behind it remnants of a stone chimney and fireplace. I guess this was a standalone bbq facility. The foundation was some sort of pool or fountain and has an I shape towards the back which were dressing rooms back in the day. Today its just concrete ruins the resort burned down a couple times and really never made a comeback. But it resided back here from 1924 till 1938 after lumbering became a past time.

I like seeing history but the area these remnants once stood is now a place of nature. Their are wild flowers growing, variety of trees, birds everywhere and the skies were getting a bit overcast so things were cooling down a little. You can hear the nearby Truckee River roaring lots of snow is melting off peaks right now so the river is flowing well into summer. Back in the day the lumber camp utilized the river to move the logs and redirect them to a couple of mill ponds. The ponds still exist today I seen them on the way in while getting on the trails back here.

There is another site I found not to far away from the first historic site which is this massive concrete wall which the hiking trail goes right through. Its very grand at least 75 x 40 feet in size just a rough estimate could even be larger. Parts of this foundations are overgrown with trees and bright green grass growing everywhere. But you can hiking through it I left the trail ran along the top of the wall and traced the contours of the entire thing for fun well the parts that did not have trees growing through anyhow.

If you continue you can take this stairwell down then if you turn around the wall now stands a bit higher so you get an idea of its size or that this at the time was probably going to be an entrance into whatever this would have been. Nobody knows what it could have been just that it was never completed and may have been part of the Verdi Glens newer additions which perhaps never transpired. Maybe it was going to be a small hotel or even a home. But others think since the river was so close that the plan was scrapped due to repetitive flooding. Outside of the foundation there is a series of stones or a slab rather which appears to be the early beginnings of a fireplace that just never came to be. Maybe this was going to be the new BBQ fireplace but it was being built in the 1930's.

I have seen old photos of what this place use to look like and man has it changed. Nature has a way of consuming everything like with my next location on the trail which is this old building from the 1800's. Its made of stone and concrete probably was a dormitory or housing for the lumberers maybe even for the foreman and his family if I were to guess. Then again who knows but you cant see it from the trail yes you have to travel a side path which is very overgrown with tall brush and duck down in a bunch of brush and trees. In fact the foliage is so thick the sun cant even get through so its a little dark but this structure is really all that remains of the old Verde Lumber Camp. Since the dormitories resided where the structure sits today I believe that is what it was used for. This use to be a large site with many buildings I mean hell when the town of Crystal grew which was consumed by Verdi there were a couple thousand folks living up here.

I was a bit worried about ticks or the spread of Lyme disease which is becoming more prevalent in the region due to climate change but I still went through it so I could go explore this small building. It was small inside about 10.5 x 8 a tree trunk growing through one window while another brush. The top of the ceiling would have came up to my head as you can see where the roof once went which slanted at an angle for bout three or four more feet. So it was more or less built like a small cabin. When you enter there is three windows in total but the one that is across from the entrance into this structure is partially cleared of some vegetation allowing for sunlight to pour in a little. Their is also some concrete block with an iron bolt in it. Some vegetation does grow on inside of the structure such as shrubbery and this is all hidden or rather obscured away from any eyes who might be hiking on the path.

But also overshadowed by Crystal Peak and today a rural park not the most private there are a few homes nearby but the nature here is calming and I have to take into account the history also. The work I do is not about thrills for me its about sharing these less known places with the world. Sometimes it takes me a few times to work with a region to connect the dots. For example we visited the cemetery and other historic sites in Verdi. But most of the old stuff is gone however this park once a resort and lumber mill site today has some relics of the past. The mines were just as vital as the mill and lumber camps in the region. While Crystal Peak offers mining below it offered lumbering thus men were hungry for work.

I did stop at the mill pond some guy shows me this three inch fish in a bucket. They have five to six species they stock in these ponds of fish. When the Lahontan Cuthroat Trout were nearly wiped out the hatcheries have revitalization there population by stocking them in these ponds then later releasing them into the river. Also Crystal Creek comes down off the peak and flows through here also. So its a really lush place squirrels running all over, scenic views, butterflies, flowers etc. The trail here goes around a large meadow with historic sites along the way. You can also stop along the river there is this cool bridge you can fish near and near the bridge is where I finished my journeys.

The ponds were so so also but to many folks fishing and no fish. Its more of a place to take little kids fishing but not good if your looking to bring home trout for dinner you sadly will be in for a disappointment lol. They have a couple docks you can also fish off of but before these ponds held fish they were use to hold logs. You see this part of California had quite a few saw mills then again the forest was many more times dense in the 1800's so big trees or logs were floated here. Which ended up being used as timber in the mines and the construction of many larger towns in the area. For example Reno, Virginia City, Truckee and everything in between!

When I left the park I found one more stone structure its very small but it may be something dating back to that era to. It was such a gorgeous day out and to finish it off at this river park to go with the mines above will make a nice addition on our site. I was tired from swinging this pick-ax earlier but also ready for dinner so I was going home and we decided on pizza while watching Fear The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones woo was I beat busted ass all day. But ill tell you if I was living in the apocalypse I could be happy running around with barely anything in Verde or around this peak. This is a Nevadan Jewel a small mountain town with woods, desert, history, railroad coming through town etc. Not to many places you can go offroading at then crystal mining then pull up along the river and explore some historic sites.

I plan on going back up there in a week again not sure ill Bigfoot investigate since this is a favor to my gf and one of her clients. But just being up there mining above Verde in the woods up on a peak and knowing that back in the day the miners up here heard the trains also the whistles of the lumber mill below is a bit exciting at least for me it is. I go to some of the most beautiful places and I cant see enough hell their is no time to see enough. I cant even put the places quick enough on our site. But the one thing I can do for now is share that adventure with all of you. I came home with some nice crystals, hiked, urban explored, made an attempt at fishing, offroading 30 miles and smoked the best bud. Can I complain? No and I cant wait to go back!
LR aka AngelOfThyNight
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