Kinney Camp (sort of), Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada

San Francisco, CA

My partner and I along with the gang—7 y.o. No. One, 5 y.o. No. Two, and 3 y.o. No. Three—spent the second day of our Sheldon expedition at what was supposed to be Kinney Camp, but perhaps wasn't. Internet pictures of Kinney Camp feature the scattered ruins of old stone houses. There decidedly weren't any where we wound up. Still, it was a nice place to kill a day. For logistical reference, we took a left-hand turn off of eastbound NV 204 about a mile short of the Virgin Valley turnoff, and headed up the slope of the surrounding bluffs on a dirt road that became more of a rock strewn trace as we went on. Another logistical note: if you enjoy cool weather, when presented with a choice of bluffs to the north vs. the south, choose the bluffs to the south, (facing north), as they will provide covering shadows before dark. The other sort, not so much. Having said that, we found ourselves driving into the northern bluffs because that was where Kinney Camp was supposed to be. We pulled off to the side of our little road as it all but disappeared, with each successive rock rising closer and closer to our oil pan. We found ourselves completely exposed to the desert sun on a large plain below a majesitc volcanic bluff to our south. To keep cool, we hidout below a nearby rock outcropping (location: 41°54'25.2"N 119°06'10.1"W), while we waited for the sun to set. Naptime had arrived, so three and I did what came natural, which is to say we napped along with Maya, our dog. The rest of the gang used out little hidden escarpment as a home base, returning for shade between jaunts building rock-people or looking for large chunks of obsidian—the surrounding slopes were covered with the stuff. Rock-person construction work took place on the top of the escarpment that was providing our shade. This is the only time I’ve heard the parental admonishment, “Yes you can build rock-people, but if a rock comes over the edge to down here, you’re in big trouble.” After the obsidian harvest, the gang had a blast working with my partner to make arrowheads. They used a harder rock to chip the obsidian down to (mostly) random smaller chunks and slivers. Some of the slivers were so thin they had a smoky translucence when held up to the bright light outside our little rock den. An afternoon of napping and rock chipping later, we headed back to the Trooper, used the tent’s rain fly as a makeshift shade, and whiled away the hours till sunset eating sandwiches, and reading from the collection of books and comic books we’d brought along for the trip. With no campgrounds in sight, we setup the tent on the ground near where we’d pulled off the of the little rock trace. The night was warmer than the previous evening at Catnip Reservoir, nothing froze. My partner and I managed to sneak out of the tent before the kids woke up, and were treated to an incredible desert sunrise. An hour or so later we were headed for Steens Mountain in southeast Oregon.