I really need more comfortable camping equipment. The sunrise could not have come soon enough, I've been thinking only of coffee and increasing my carbon footprint for the last few hours. Breakfast was good, coffee was great. We pack up the camp and load the pickups so the babes can head east. We also head east. Slab it downhill from Bob Scott Summit to Big Smokey Valley. Dirt again. Won't see pavement for a while. We mob it across the valley, the morning air is still cool, on the pegs and on the fucking gas. I really love gasoline. Up Pete's Summit we go, quick look at Toquima Caves. Nothing more than a hole in a cliff protected by a chain link fence. Dropping down into Monitor Valley, to the Monitor Ranch. We wave to two people on quads. We are only a few miles from the geographic center of Nevada, a very unremarkable aluminum cap on a piece of rebar pounded into the brush. We need to check out a few things down south from here so we head for Dianas Punch Bowl. It is a hot spring. It is a very strange hot spring. A big pimple in the middle of the valley, standing alone. A volcano?
We estimate the water to be about 40 to 45 feet down, and the diameter of the hole a squish bigger. It is hot. You can feel it. You can see the steam. Sheer walls. Not going down there without climbing gear. Deep, too. Seems bottomless when you toss a rock in, you can watch it sink for a long time.
You can see a long way. The bikes are off and it is quiet, The solitude is smothering. And liberating.
Back north now, to Potts Ranch. No one living here anymore, but a very active ranch. Lots of old buildings and barns, sheds, etc. Not far away is Potts Hot Spring. This is bitichin'. This alone would have been worth the trip just to see. Clean, fast moving water, perfect temperature. I didn't want to leave.
Cows. Horses. Space.
The Captain approves.
OK, we need to get over the Monitor Range via White Sage Canyon, over the summit and down Rye Grass Canyon. This was really fun. Really good dirt with no rocks in the road. Twisty, turney, water bars, rollers, in the trees, tall brush. It was like a twenty five mile amusement park ride. Our crew was bisected by a spooked antelope herd. We watched about 40 of them go between us. It took about a minute and they were only twenty yards away max. That was a perfect time to mention among ourselves that we were all on paid vacation leave from work for the whole week. Riding. More fun. We get down into Antelope Valley and find an obscure wagon trail of a road. I go ahead to take a few pics and find some props. Laughing now.
This goes for miles. It's hot now. The inventor of the Camel Bak is worthy of Knighthood. We pass Fish Creek Ranch and keep on keeping on, heading toward Red Rock Summit. Options. During the "planning" stage, a possible route through Duckwater was discussed. Duckwater to Currant to Lund to Ely. We decide trees and high country sounds better. I'd rather have swamp-ass in the mountains than on a dusty playa. Doesn't make me bad. We fiddle our way through the Pancake Range up in the trees then head for Green Springs Ranch. More flat bottom desert riding. From Green Springs, it gets good. Back in the segmented Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest gaining elevation, temperature dropping. Sadly, we missed the turn to go up Cathedral Canyon, but we got on a well marked Forest Service road with signage leading us toward the Hamilton Mining District, home to many ghost towns, mill sites, cemeterys, and random oldness. A lot of miles so far. Food.
Peanut butter and jelly somewhere near Hamilton, NV. 8000' ish.
Heading down the old Hamilton-Pioche Stage Line Road now and liking it. Trees. Water crossings. Cows. Have not seen a vechicle on the trail for hours. Sputter. Cough. Sputter. Out of gas. We stop. Dang,
4 gallons out the pipe already. Rather than flopping over to reserve, I dump the contents of the Kolpin can in, as does the rest of the crew. Three Kolpin 1.5's, one two gallon lawn mower can, and two 22 oz MSR canteens are emptied. The two headed monster on the XR Valdez is confused by our behavior. It smells like Cheech and Chong. Oh, it is just the two headed monster. Passing the USFS Ellison Guard Station now, getting down into some ranches. Pavement. Haven't seen you in a while. 5 minutes of slab on US 6 to the SR 318 Jct. We find the old highway paralleling US 6. Watch out for the oh shit dips. Asphalt up Murray Summit to Ely, NV.
Rooms waiting for us at the Prospector Hotel and Gambling Hall. Parking lot out back is unoccupied, serving us well as bike prep area and camp kitchen. The babes are working hard. We love the babes. Tri tip, beans, bread, fruit, more green salad, more cookies.
I'm looking forward to a shower and a bed. Filters cleaned and oiled. Chains lubed. Tanks filled.
Trip odometer agrees this is better than working.
Day two. Done.