Today I hiked to the summit of Star Peak (9836 feet), the high point of Pershing County and of the Humboldt Range northeast of Lovelock. It was my fourth attempt on the peak; the first two times I was turned back by impending darkness and the last time by excessive snow. This time was relatively easy; I drove my Nissan Pathfinder into El Dorado Canyon, followed the road past the abandoned Blackjack Mine, and bumped and banged my way up to about 7000 feet. I probably could have gone higher in the Pathfinder -- but I had only a single, marginally inflated spare tire, so I decided not to risk it. As it was, I had a relatively straightforward route to the summit, hiking through only a few small patches of snow along the way.
On the way back down, I spotted a huge yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris) watching me through the sage brush along the edge of the canyon. We shared a moment before it scurried to a perch on top of a rock to watch me from a safer vantage point. I was struck by how fat the marmot was at this early time in the season, although I imagine this winter hasn't been particularly severe.
The juniper trees are thick with berries, and I saw several different species of butterflies and some swarming bunches of ladybugs. I also flushed a pair of sage grouse on my way up the mountain. A warm, sunny day, with a wintry breeze at the summit. A splendid day for a hike.