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Desperately seeking spring

Column by Pam Cosmo Gooch

Drinking coffee in the dark at 4:30 Saturday morning, it seemed somehow mystical to hear the repeated hoots of an owl. It sounded like a good omen. We were going on a little adventure in search of an illusive spring and reportedly good fishing at a little locals’ lake called Sworinger, outside of Cedarville, in Modoc County, Calif.

So it was up and over Spooner Summit. Spooner Lake was beautiful as mist settled over it. Soon it will be planted with cutthroat trout. We drive past the herd of Oreo cows in the fields just beyond Carson City. Then through Reno, heading toward Pyramid Lake (and I do mean “heading.” My husband is driving. He is one of those who is born with a magnetic compass in his head, which is good, because my sense of direction barely handles “left” and “right.”) The area around Pyramid Lake is the bottom of what was once a vast shallow ocean with cliffs that look like petrified sponges. We stop at a little dumpy store made irresistible by the large, ugly sign that reads, “Last store for 93 miles” and get gas in Gerlach, arguably one of the most ill-equipped towns ever, and the absolute bottom of the scenic barrel.

Beyond Gerlach and the gypsum mine where all drywall begins, things pick up as the road begins climbing to a higher elevation. There are wildflowers and bright crimson whispy willows and cattle and antelope and sandhill cranes on open range land. It becomes surprisingly green and lush until we get to high chaparral, which is a dull gray/green again.



I am trying not to dwell on the fact that on this “most-traveled day of the year,” we haven’t seen another car on the road since that crappy little store … this is UFO country. If anyplace was ripe for an abduction … no, wait … I don’t want to go there.

My husband decides to let me in on the secret of his new toy. “Have I shown you my new Starlight binoculars? He’s excited. Then he is off explaining photon enhancers, phosphorus amplifiers and laser illuminators. “Well, by golly, Honey, I don’t know how much longer we could have gone without one of those! They’ll come in handy next time we play ‘Gulf War.'” (What do you say about night vision equipment?)



Then it began to rain. Actually, we had a good time searching for springtime. The lake is between Eagleville and Cedarville. It is up County Road 42, after eight miles of gravel road. The fish are rainbow and kokanee, bright and fat and feisty. Each time we caught one it jumped out of the water four or five times and often shook the hook. Between the two of us, we caught eight fish just standing on the dam when the wind and the rain died down. Ralph was using a fly he made up and I was using a rapala and a gold castmaster. I caught the first two.

We stayed at a friendly and immaculate motel called the Sunrise in Cedarville and ate at a terrific little cafe. I even had to admit that looking around at night is kind of fun with the nightscope. I could see the starlight right through the clouds.

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