11-24-2012, 08:21 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: 20 miles from Santiago Pk.
It starts cold again. The snow level on the mountains has dropped a thousand feet or so and the snow flurries make their way towards us before stopping a mile or two away. The hot springs and a good breakfast beckon. A couple hours of leisurely morning routine and we are ready again. The plan is to go south all the way back to Fish Lake Valley Hot Springs and maybe do a ride around there tomorrow.
We leave Spencer H.S. and head south down the Big Smoky Valley on a seldom used double track. A mile or two south and it dawns on me, I forgot the map. Arrrgh, what a knucklehead I am. Dumb shit. For a minute I consider continuing without it, Jesse suggests I go back for it. Heís right, there isnít any other choice. I turn around and blast for camp, I hope the crew is still there.
They wait for me.
I pull into camp and they are still there. They canít find the key to Tomís truck but the spare key is hidden in the shell and they know where it is. It requires unloading the whole mountain of stuff once againÖno other choice. I dig out my duffle and the map and do a quick turnaround. Tom and Rob have waited and we take off in pursuit of the others. He remarks that the key is on the side rail just inside the back door butÖthey know where the spare is soÖ.no big deal.
Jesse leads and soon the track fades to nothing, he continues cross country. We are weaving through a weird area with thousands of little peaked dunes with bushes on top. I hit a three foot tall tepee shaped one square and the bike flys up into the air, my feet are above my head. Iím going down hard but somehow stay on two wheels. Iím right in front of Rob, he thinks itís hilarious.
We hit a fence line and go east. It is super sandy and I go down. My knee brace locks at a 45 degree angle and I canít straighten my leg. I have to unzip my pant leg and with Chrisís help we get the knee brace working again. It takes a while. Soon we hit a gate and follow the track on the other side to the west, south of the fence eventually hitting the highway 376.
South again and weíre looking for the turnoff to Ophir Pass. We find it and wait to regroup and the trucks pull in as well as all the riders. Everyone tops off their tanks and Jon takes group pictures by the historic landmark sign.
We head into the Toiyabe Range again planning to stop at the ghost town of Ophir for lunch. The climb up is very steep in places and very rocky as well. Itís a full on hardcore 4x4 road. I ping pong my way up one section totally out of control. At the mine it is very windy and we seek shelter near the wall to enjoy lunch. Several of the guys climb into a camper shell sitting there to get out of the wind. The rest of us bombard it with rocks.
I take off first so I can get some pics of the others coming up this beautiful canyon. Itís still rocky and Iím a little nervous so I go all the way to the pass at over 10,000 feet before stopping. As I crest the pass the full force of the wind hits me. Itís blowing 70 mph or more up here and it almost blows me over, I barely save it. I find a slightly sheltered spot where itís only blowing 50 or so to park my bike. Chris is coming and I snap a few as he comes up. There is no one else in sight so we decide to go down a ways to get out of the wind and wait. Soon we are all there. Later Mikey tells me he got blown over at the pass.
The descent ends in the Yomba Indian Reservation in the Reese River Valley. We head south for many miles over the Cloverdale Summit eventually leaving the mountains. Iím pushing it to keep up and come into one off camber decreasing radius turn too hot. I lock it up scrubbing almost enough speed to save it but then slam into the ditch and grind to a stop on the road cut. Iím shook but fine and there is significant new damage to all the plastic on the right side. Pete and Chris come up while Iím shaking it off. Less than a mile later I almost do it again in a much more serious location but save it after I lay it all the way down and the peg hits the ground popping me back up. I would have gone flying off a cliff. Iím shaken and itís time to slow it down a full notch.
We head out into the desert again. Itís desert but we are still at 5000í-6000í. We follow a dirt superhighway for a couple of miles and then turn off to the west on a faint double track. It turns way fun again and we stop for food.
We take off again heading SW with Jesse in the lead. Itís pure fun but I fade to the back after my previous incidents. Iím goiní 40 but everyone else is going 50. We regroup when a larger herd of wild horses cross our path. At one point I see Pete recovering from a dismount in a gnarley rutted section. After another undetermined distance of miles we come out on highway 50.
More wild horses.
As soon as I get there the lead takes off (it doesnít even register who it is to me) and I go too. I donít need to rest, I just need to keep up. At this point we should be heading towards Emigrant Pass to the SW. Iím looking at my compass (Voyager) and we are heading east. That is the wrong direction. We are on a big wide dirt road but eventually it fades to untracked wash. Everyone stops after many miles and I catch up. They are debating if we are going the right way etc. and where Tom is. Rob pulls out the GPS and just before the battery dies Jesse and I find our map location. Yes, we have been going the wrong direction since highway 50. No one is even sure if Tom is ahead or behind. Mark, Jimmy and (we think) Chris have already blasted ahead. We are near the pass of these mountains and If we just continue for a few more miles we will hit the Paymaster Ridge road leading south towards the Lithium mine and a way back to Fish Lake Valley.
The sandy wash continues and we hit a couple of steep short technical waterfalls. Finally we come out on the alluvial fan and I can see the Paymaster road a mile away. Itís getting dark fast.
We regroup on the road. Robís headlight isnít working and Pete, Jimmy and Mark are almost out of gas. We decide to blast as far as we can before total darkness hits. It wonít be long. There is no sign of Chris and this confuses us. Did he blast ahead or what? Where did we last see him? It doesnít make sense. Why would he take off on his own? None of us knows.
Darkness hits. We stop and Robís big tank is shared between all. We can see the lights at the lithium mine and decide to regroup there. Mikey and I agree to be Robís light and the three of us will hang together.
We hit the mine and head towards the pass above camp. At the pass we all stop. Itís now way after dark and it seems stupid to be in a hurry. I suggest ďletís stop and eat.Ē We are on vacation and there is no reason to be in a hurry. We ride off into the trees a ways and Jesse suggests having a fire. Yes, what a great idea!
We get snacks and a fire going. Pete is pissed and worried about Chris. He feels responsible for us losing him. Jimmy proposes that Chris blasted ahead while we were looking at the map and caught Tom. Then the two of them continued without waiting. Pete is sceptical but the more we kick it around the more it seems like the only explanation.
Itís the last leg to camp. Jesse and Jimmy jump ahead. The rest of us pull into a squadron formation with Mikey and I on either side and Rob near the middle. Between my X2 HID and Mikeyís modern LED there is plenty of light.
We arrive at camp and, sure enough, Chris and Tom came in together. We get a big spaghetti dinner going, hit the hot springs and, whew, that was a long day. 204 miles.
Jimmy proposes his explanation.