So...before leaving Seattle, I made a bunch of calls regarding Ophir pass. It is high (10109') and rough (on the east side). My first call was to the forest service. I cheerfully asked if they knew the condition of the pass and whether or not it was snow free. Was I got back was a canned answer. "We do not recommend using Ophir pass road". Yes, but we are experienced riders on capable dual sport motorcycles. "We do not recommend using Ophir pass". Ok, we accept the risk. Is there snow up there still? "We do not recommend using Ophir pass". Ok. Thanks NFS. Does that now stand for No F_cking Service?
Next I called the store at Carvers. Hey, anyone been up Ophir? Oh, yeah, the kids just went up there this weekend on Razors and got all the way to the top. Kick Ass. Its clear? We'll the kids say it isÖ.
Well...the kids were mistaken:
It didnít look so bad at first...until we walked down and climbed out on the one big remaining drift. There was a 20 foot drop on the down hill side and the snow was so soft we sank in up to our knees in several spots. No way over it, and the terrain above and below was too steep to ride. Crap.
So...we took a group shot and we braced for plan b (more on that in a minute).
Let me momentarily resume my NFS rant. Here is the markings on the "no turn around" sign at the top. Wording consistent with what I heard on the phone. "We donít recommend Ophir pass"Ö.
OK. I feel better now. On with the story of Day two.
Fortunately, we had planned for the possibility of Ophir being impassable, given that the significant consequence -- given gas limitations and no other way over the range, our only option now was to go 80 miles to the south and circumnavigate the Arc Dome wilderness. So back down the west side of Ophir and south through the Reece valley.
At this point, there is a huge gap in our pictures, as we were running 50 mph plus (actually hit 75 on the 610 through one very open gravel section) all the way down the valley and back up the east side of the range to Carvers. It was almost 1pm by the time we hit the pumps. The plan was to be there around 11. Oh well. Adventure...
I thought I had more pictures of Carvers, but I guess not. Trust me, you aren't missing much. We stayed overnight here last year. THAT was clearly the worst place I have ever stayed.
So...from Carvers, we headed over Jefferson Pass to the Belmont ghost town. More adventure. We came over Jefferson last year east to west. I vaguely recalled it being nice and smooth on the east, and a little chewed up on the west. I was wrong. The west side is INSANELY chewed up. Coming down it isnt as memorable as going up. The road ran straight up the stream bed, then turned up a long series of rocky steps that we tricking to climb on fully loaded bikes freshly loaded with 5+ gallons of gas! On the 610, I just motored up. But Greg's wr250 was panting a bit, and Danny's KLR was...well...being a KLR -- motoring up, but with poor suspension and a lot of weight. Bottom line...Jefferson is hard west to east!
A few pictures of Jefferson (I didnít stop to take many):
Sitting around at the top of the pass waiting for everyone at the top, I took this selfieÖ
After our traumatic climb it was down the east side and an easy cruise into Belmont.
We found that the inn was open and the owner was there, his Husky Terra parked out front. We grabbed a couple of drinks and chatted with him a while, noting his restoration progress since last year.
We showed him our route and discussed our alternatives, given that it was now about 4pm and we still had three passes to summit on our planned route. We scrapped our plans and decided to blast straight up the gravel mainline between Belmont and Hwy 50 (Monitor valley, picking our original route up again after about 30 miles.
Some pictures of Belmont
The next stop on our planned route was Diana's punchbowl, a geothermal cone and crater full of scalding hot water. This being Nevada -- where there are no laws -- there are no warning signs or safefy rails. You can ride right up the cone and on into the abyss if you arent careful!
I am sure others can provide better shorts of the punch bowl, as my telephoto lens would not open for a very wide shot.
After teetering on the edge of death for a little while, we rode about 1 mile to our next destination and possible camp for the night: Potts Hot Springs. The innkeeper in Belmont had warned us that the new owner of the hot springs property didnít like campers at the springs, but had given us directions to his ranch house to ask permission. After getting to the springs however, we determined that a) it was pretty exposed and b) the area was infested with cows (and cow deposits). We DID, however, fill the tub and go for an AWESOME soak. Greg has pics...I was too busy relaxing.
Note the cows in the background:
After reluctantly putting all of our dirty and hot gear back on, we headed to the west side of the range and looked for a place to camp. We quickly came across a sign for Ikes Canyon, and rode up about a mile for an awesome campsite for the night.
A few more wild horses along the way:
Here is our campsite and a quick inventory of camping styles by individual:
Greg, the consummate professional camper:
Greg photo bombing the picture of the water sterilizer.
And...the sun slowly sets on Day 2. It didnít go as planned, but was plenty scenic and action packed!