Catnip Reservoir, Sheldon Wildlife Refuge, Nevada
We—my partner and I, with the gang, 7 y.o. No. One, 5 y.o. No. Two, 3 y.o. No. Three, and our 11 y.o. Labrador/Shepherd mix dog— spent our first night at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge at Catnip Reservoir. The reservoir and its resident avian conglomeration are gorgeous! We saw Canadian geese, wood ducks, and sandhill cranes. (OK, I didn’t just see sandhill cranes, I was loudly escorted out of one section of the reservoir by a pair of sandhill cranes who had decided I was just too close to their hidden nest.) The campsites are ‘primitive’ which in this case means they don’t have running water, but they do have a tent pad of sorts, and a fire ring. The campground also has a lone bathroom. The eaves of the outhouse are populated by nesting (cliff?) swallows. ProTip: If you take the campsite in front of the outhouse, the swallows have decimated the local mosquito population. We hiked up and across the bluff bordering the reservoir in search of an attractive looking fishing spot and a trail down to it. We found neither, but the hike was a blast nonetheless. The gang invented a game of leaping from lava stone to lava stone as we crossed the top of the bluff. After they finally talked me into trying it, I found out it’s a much more efficient way of hiking than crunching through the brush. Interspersed in with the lava rock were occasional chunks of obsidian. Camping overnight was loud and fun. The kids went right to sleep, but the frogs were up and conversing about an hour later. A few hours after that the cacophony of ribbits finally quieted down. We came to Sheldon just to look at the stars, and it paid off. The high desert night sky was clear, and perfect for constellation spotting. It was cold enough over night that I found frost in low spots along the shore of the reservoir, but in true desert fashion, the temperature went right back up as the sun rose. We were comfortable as could be in our 20 degree sleeping bags overnight, and back into short sleeved shirts by the time we were packing the tent away to make our next hop.