This trip was quickly turning into a reprise of my favorite ride report on advrider: In Search of Water in the Desert
--we were jumping from hot spring to hot spring, but that was the best way to cope with the cold weather we chose to ride in.
We rode through the Panamint Valley, up over Towne Pass through the Panamint Range and dropped down 5000 feet in 15 almost ruler straight miles to Stovepipe Wells. Gas is cheaper there so we filled up and made some quick calls--hadn't had cell phone coverage since we left Kernville 3 days ago.
The Spot Messenger was leaving tracks and OK messages, but everyone at home still worried a bit. Nothing like a phone call to ease their minds.
We finally turned south down the long stretch of Death Valley itself, past Badwater Basin, and now South would be our heading until we hit the end of the Baja peninsula. I'd look at the map at the end of each day, kind of amazed at how far we still had to go. It's a long way down there, and back...
We'd got a weather forecast from my wife, and it was calling for cold temperatures--highs in the mid 40's, lows in the upper 20's, and a chance of rain in the next couple days. We were prepared for it and just kept riding, although I admit I wasn't really looking forward to riding in the rain. We were planning on just hunkering down in our tents or even checking into a motel if it got bad, but for now it was dry and cold and we charged ahead.
We stopped at the Famous Crowbar Cafe & Saloon in Shoshone to warm up with a cup of coffee.
It was a friendly place, the food looked good, but all we needed was warmth. There was an old-fashioned gas fired radiant heater going and I stood next to it for awhile....ahhhhhh. Across the street was a small general store so we stocked up on supplies--they had what looked like homemade bread on the shelves, and it turned out to be amazingly good, glad we bought a loaf.
Not much farther down the road we arrived at Tecopa Springs...after the way it had been talked about by other people we'd come across I'll admit I was a bit........underwhelmed by the place.
Apparently there's some tug of war going on with the BLM, I don't know exactly, but while there are some natural open access springs nearby, the main attractions are the 2 or 3 competing private campgrounds that have their own gated pools. They charge for pool access, or it's including with the camping fee. We picked one, set up camp and made our way to the pool. I use the word "pool" as that's pretty much what we found--chlorinated indoor smooth plastered pools, no clothing allowed, men and women in separate areas. The water was hot and clean, but felt more like the local YMCA (from about 50 years ago) after experiencing Saline Valley and the Kern River. Not that I'm complaining or anything.
And there's no way I was going to bring a camera in there, WoodsChick.
The campground was your basic dirt field, with a numbered rock to indicate sites.
No potable water, but the table was nice. I noticed that, in my mind, our tents looked like something out of Star Wars. Somehow, it had an expression that looked droid-like, or like it wanted to fly...
Good think I had rocks to keep it grounded.
Our neighbors were a trip, literally. They were there to take part in a dance to create the new paradigm
as the the new year began. They invited us to participate and, still not quite sure what was going on, I asked if they were doing traditional folk dances......"No man, we're, uh, like you know,....shamans, man. We're bringing in the energy to like, create world peace, this is a very energy-filled location..." They were so sincere and well-meaning you just had to like them.
It had been a relatively easy day.
We'd been averaging about 200 miles a day up to that point, which was about as much as we could do in the cold and short days. It was nice to have pulled into camp well before it got dark and cold, and relax a bit. That night was clear and cold and Bryn & I hiked up the ridge behind our camp where there was a cross with a bench that looked over the valley. We enjoyed the bright stars and could hear the drums and guitars and singing from the large tent they'd erected for the dance. By 9 pm they were done, and we all slept well, new paradigm or not.