11-14-2012, 12:25 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: 20 miles from Santiago Pk.
Day 4 dawns cold, colder than the rest. Ice is on everything, all over the inside of my tent, outside of my bag, Camel Back tube frozen, moto seats covered with ice. That’s nothing a dawn visit to the hot tub won’t fix. Same rigamorole; soak, eat, prep, pack, strut around taunting those who take longer, me pulling a “Dave (W).” Each day it takes slightly longer, it doesn’t matter, we are on vacation and Pott’s is the best campsite yet. Jesse’s bike won’t start, finally it does with a roll start downhill above camp.
We head NW towards Monitor Ranch, up Stoneberger Creek and then Corral Cyn., fun windy double track to Clipper Gap. Tom doubles back and turns off on 194 to the north. We come to a faint steep doubletrack heading west towards the ridgetop. Tom says he wants to check this out and cuts up and I wait. Rob arrives and decides to go see if this is the way we want. Pretty soon he returns and says he didn’t see Tom but we should probably go up there and look around. We all follow and wander the ridgetops looking for tracks or some sign of Tom. Rob and Jesse think they saw him to the east but that seems odd as we aren’t heading that way. We wander aimlessly for a while and then stop for food and discussion.
We’re wasting time. I’m getting a little impatient and propose that we break into two groups. Those that want to wander around looking for Tom and those that want to carry on in the direction of our camp which is still at least 150 miles away. Maybe, if we had the slightest idea which way he went, it would make sense to look. He’s not the kind of person you worry about, at least not until later. Wherever he is, he is fine. It’s already mid afternoon and we have a long ways to go. We know where we are and we know which way we need to go. We better start making tracks or it’s gonna’ be way after dark when we get there. Eventually everyone agrees and after wandering slightly longer we head north on the 194. The 194 follows the ridgeline of the Toouima Range and is super fun up and down doubletrack. The views of the stormy snow covered range to the north are great and before too long we hit the 001 and descend into the Big Smoky Valley. Jesse takes a quick side trip to check out Spencer Hot Springs. We cross the valley and hit highway 50 into Austin.
At highway speeds we all realize it’s damn cold out. I’m fine but I’ve got every stich I have on.
We pull into Austin and find the crew with the trucks and Tom waiting for us on the far end of town. Camp is a long ways to the north; it’s really cold and mutiny is afoot. A couple of the guys are talking about getting a room and Jesse is loading his bike into his dad’s truck. The trip seems to be falling apart before my eyes. Tom and I start scouring the map for a plan “B.” It seems wise to start heading south, the storm is mostly north of us and we need a close hot springs to camp at. Austin has no rooms so that option is off the table. We head over to the burger joint and I borrow Pete’s phone to call home. The best option is to go back to Spencer Hot Springs which we have just passed about 20 miles ago.
We leave Austin and head south and then east down Birch Creek over the Toiyabe Range. It’s beautiful out in the late afternoon with snow falling and the Aspens with full on Fall colors. Back down across the Big Smoky Valley and we arrive at Spencer just after the trucks arrive. The wind is howling but dies as sunset approaches. It’s time to crack some beers again, get a hot springs soak, set up camp, get the fire going and all is good again.
The next morning.
90 miles today; a late start and an early stop.
To be continued…..
De Eee screwed with this post 11-14-2012 at 04:27 PM