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December 22, 2009

Thanks for a great year!

Looking back and peering forward

The days have grown short; Charleston Peak is covered in snow, and we are nearing the end of another year. As I look back on 2009, my thoughts turn to all of our members and volunteers who gave the precious gifts of time and treasure by working hard and donating generously to support Nevada Wilderness.

So, to all the folks who made those tough hikes and the long drives, who tabled at events and wrote checks — to everyone who worked so very hard — I say thank you. I can't begin to tell you what an inspiration your commitment has been and what a difference you have made for southern Nevada wilderness. You are Friends of Nevada Wilderness, and you have deeply touched my heart.

Looking ahead to 2010, I know we are going to have an exciting and fruitful year. While the snow is in the high country, we'll spend the first part of the year working on the Wild West Side of the Spring Mountains with some clean-ups, route restoration projects and monitoring projects. Later on, we will be working with the Forest Service on invasive weed removals and seed collections in the Mt Charleston Wilderness. We will also be doing some trail maintenance, naturalizing & restoration, and monitoring projects.

If you're a "people person" and you love to hike the Mt Charleston High Country then maybe you would be interested in becoming a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger on the Spring Mountain Wilderness Team. This brand new program is designed to get volunteer "boots on the ground" and to take wilderness outreach and Leave No Trace outreach right to the folks in the field, where it is needed the most. I'm very exciting about this program, and I believe it is the key to keeping the Mt Charleston Wilderness WILD.

I hope that you are having a great Holiday Season, and I wish you a very joyful and prosperous 2010...see you in the Wild.

For Nevada wilderness,
Kurt Kuznicki

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Colors in the Clover Mountains Wilderness
Colors in the Clover Mountains Wilderness © Howard Booth

Camping at Fountain of Youth Spring

By Kate Prengaman

Notes from my nights camping near the Fountain of Youth Spring in Cottonwood Canyon, Clover Mountain Wilderness, Lincoln County, Nevada, September 19th-21st.

The best part of life in the desert is the evenings. No one will disagree with this. In the setting sun, the canyons glow, the harsh heat fades, the cylidropuntia's spines shine and sparkle, and the growing shadows give everything an air of mystery.

You put your pack down. You take your boots off. Rinse your face and hands. Cook some dinner. Eat and chat with your companions. The best of life's simple pleasures. Easier to appreciate in a place where simple is all you've got.

The stars and the bats come out one by one, slowly at first, but increasing along a seemingly exponential curve so that soon, you have no chance of keeping count. There's no light pollution here to dim their shine. Grasshoppers, cicadas, screech owls, and coyotes all contribute to the night's songs. On this lucky evening, we've chosen to make our camp by a small stream, so we are treated to the rare burbling of a little brook. In total, it is a rhythm you almost feel more than you hear, lulling you toward well-earned sleep.

Some people put up tents. I prefer to sleep out, watch the stars until my determined brain finally gives up. I sleep well out here, a cool, clean night breeze over a tired body, my soul distracted by world class star gazing. I haven't yet woken up with a tarantula on my face or a scorpion in my hair, although I've heard plenty of such stories, so I guess I'll keep sleeping out until I do.

As much as I love these nights, just perfectly cold to curl up in my bag but not yet enough to wake up and find myself frosted over, I can never enjoy them for long. After a twelve hour day climbing over rock scree and under scorched junipers, I hardly make it past 8:30. Maybe because I am exhausted, maybe because I am at peace in this wilderness, I sleep more soundly in my bag here on the canyon floor than in many urban beds. The tired body and the mental calm go hand in hand for me, that is why I'm hiking up this canyon ... into these steep and scrambling mountains (Well that, and the Clover Mountains have some pretty cool endemic plants).

Tomorrow, we'll keep exploring — up the ridgelines to admire the view, to the east there are rows and rows of mountain ranges, the west, you can see Rainbow Canyon where the trains run and we left our truck. It's nice to know how far you've come. And how far you could go. But that's tomorrow’s adventure. Too many lonely moths flock toward my headlamp, for their sake, and mine, I always give up on my book quickly.

Or this essay.

Goodnight. The next mountains can wait until first light.


Kate Prengaman is a Field Botanist with the Public Lands Institute who also writes and volunteers for Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

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Boy Scout Canyon in Black Canyon Wilderness
Intrepid hikers contemplate the jumping-off point for Boy Scout Canyon in the Black Canyon Wilderness © Kurt Kuznicki

Kurt's terra incognita:
our lesser-known wild areas

Black Canyon Wilderness

I must admit that I have fallen in love with southern Nevada just like a child who tries strawberries and ice cream for the first time; I just can't get enough. So, I've decided it might be fun to highlight a different wilderness area so we can share a big bowl of southern Nevada wilderness and let folks know about the wonderful wild areas we have in the southland.

The 17,220-acre Black Canyon Wilderness, designated in 2002, is located in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (managed by the National Park Service). Black Canyon is a maze of canyons, where steep ridges give outstanding views of the surrounding rugged volcanic landscape.

This is some extremely rough country that should not be taken lightly, but for the experienced desert hiker, Black Canyon provides some very challenging primitive recreation opportunities in a quality wilderness setting.

I suspect that most visitors to Black Canyon travel down the Colorado River by boat or kayak which is a unique experience in itself. Nevertheless to really know Black Canyon you must put on your pack and either hike down one of the many canyons and washes or climb up one of its steep slopes. Beauty and adventure await around every bend.

We decided to explore Boy Scout Canyon with it's unique canyoneering opportunities and hot springs, but there are many other challenging routes and lots of other beautiful places to explore in Black Canyon. As I mentioned before, exploring Black Canyon involves some serious desert hiking, but even a peaceful drive out to its boundary or a short hike down one of the washes to the first pour over can be a rewarding experience. Just plan ahead, prepare, take the proper precautions and ... enjoy.

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Upcoming volunteer projects and events

January brings four wilderness stewardship opportunities to the Lovell Canyon area on the west side of the Spring Mountains: three day trips for clean up and one day trip for a route restoration project.


Friday, January 8, 2010   West side of the Spring Mountains clean-up

Stewardship — Clean up litter and trash in the wild Spring Mountains - just outside Las Vegas. Details


Saturday, January 16, 2010   West side of the Spring Mountains clean-up

Stewardship — Clean up litter and trash in the wild Spring Mountains - just outside Las Vegas. Details


Wednesday, January 20, 2010   West side of the Spring Mountains clean-up

Stewardship — Clean up litter and trash in the wild Spring Mountains - just outside Las Vegas. Details


Saturday, January 30, 2010   Route restoration in the Lovell Canyon area

Stewardship — Reclaim a user-made route in the wild Spring Mountains - just outside Las Vegas. Details


Many trips through the year are listed at Friends' website. If you want to help keep these great opportunities coming, please click the button to donate:

Visit our website's TAKE ACTION pages for other ways to get involved with Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

Funding from these great organizations helps support Friends of Nevada Wilderness' efforts to protect wilderness and engage volunteers in southern Nevada.

Conservation District of Southern Nevada logo
Conservation District of Southern Nevada

REI logo
REI grants



Friends of the Forest logo
National Forest Foundation

Mt Charleston licenseplate logo
Mt Charleston License Plate Grant

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