With a beautiful night of sage brush camping behind us, we packed up our stuff and hit the trail.
The only thing cooler than stumbling upon wild horses while riding is stumbling upon wild burros. I'm not sure why this made me so happy, but who doesn't love a burro.
We had been given a taste of just how remote and isolated Nevada riding can be. Hitting Battle Mountain, we knew we had a very long stretch of riding between gas stops with reports that there was no longer fuel in Denio Junction. We had already had a few close calls with running out of gas, so filled up empty gatorade bottle with extra fuel, gorged on french fries at the local snack bar and hit the road.
The riding was fun and beautiful as always and we were soon filling our tanks.
It was disgustingly hot as usual and we were parched but still found the time to stop to snap the occasional photo.
Rob had to pull over to conduct a few roadside bike repairs, and Mike and I took the opportunity to check out the cool mushroomy rock formation and soak up some much needed sun.
Of course, we made sure to never stray too far from the cows who had been our constant companions for the entire trip.
When we stumbled upon a swimming hole in the middle of the desert in some sort of proximity to Denio Junction, we were overjoyed and promptly jumped in in all of our clothes. As our taint spread across the cool pristine waters, we worried that our filth might have ruined this amazing spot forever.
It was still early, but attached to the swimming hole we decided to stay there forever, or at least for the night.
Out of fuel for my pocket rocket stove, Rob showed me the ways of the home made redbull alcohol stove. This saw me through the rest of the trip.
Setting off in the morning, I started wishing I had brought more extra fuel. Already we had taken a few wrong turns and done a bit of back tracking. The miles we had left in comparison to our remaining fuel started to weigh on me. We couldn't afford any more mistakes.
Unfortunately - with almost perfect route finding for the entire trip - our biggest mishap took place while stressed for fuel.
I have already mentioned that Mike was riding without any GPS, or route finding capabilities of any kind. Totally dependent upon Rob and I, I think he realized his mistake as the riding got more remote and the consequences of getting lost more dire. We had been riding staggered to stay out of each others dust. At each turn we would wait for the rider behind us, who would then stop and wait for the rider behind them.
Unfortunately during one of these stops, with Rob ahead of me and Mike behind, I rode away thinking Mike had spotted me and the turn as he approached. He missed me completely and kept on riding along the fire road.
I soon realized the mistake and turned around to try and chase Mike down. Unfortunately he was blasting along the fire road at 60 mph unaware that he had missed me. After chasing him for over 10 miles I started to realize that I couldn't afford to go much farther without running out of fuel before reaching the next gas stop in Oregon. Eventually Mike figured it out and turned around. Reunited we backtracked having added over 20 miles to our already long ride with limited fuel. We pushed back to the turn off, waiting around for Rob for an hour, worried that he had backtracked in the opposite direction searching for us. We didn't manage to find each other. Leaving a message for him written in rocks on the trail we set off again, hoping that he was somewhere ahead.
Riding hard we passed through the Sheldon Antelope Refuge, passing herds of pronghorn as we pushed for Oregon.
After a long, hard ride we eventually found ourselves in Oregon. Essentially out of gas we were lucky that the last 10 miles or so was a descent into Lakeview. We coasted into town out of fuel and pushed our bikes to the gas station happy to have made it. Rob was sitting on a park bench waiting for us, and we quickly made a beeline for the local Mexican restaurant where we gorged ourselves on burritos and margaritas and met a TAT rider from years gone by who told us about his future plans to ride the Forever West trail.
The day had been filled with delays and unfortunately for Rob it meant that he no longer had the time to finish the trail if he was going to make his flight back to New York. He let us know that he would be slabbing it back to San Francisco the next morning. Tired, exhausted, and anxious to be home it was tempting to ride with him. Having come so far though, I was determined to see the TAT through to the end. Mike and I decided that we would ride on the next morning and push through to the end in two days while Rob hung up his moto jacket and started his trip home.