Day 2. Also known as "how I learned to operate my GPS"
Ready to roll.
The route had come together over hours of playing with Mapsource, City Navigator, Topo USA and the Benchmark Altases. I had doublechecked most of my routes by looking at them in Google Earth to at least confirm there was some sort of scar on the planet where we planned to ride. Having been raised to look after the environment I am a bit torn over my latest choice in recration. While I enjoy the ability to openly ride in many places, I am opposed to "free riding" across untracked expanses in the name of fun. Mind you, I do
beleive we should have places set aside for "tearing it up," I just don't beleive in doing that everywhere. If you want to be a nut, go to Dumont or someplace like it. If you want some fantastic trails/roads, the Nevada desert is a fine place to go looking.
Wow. Allow me to step down from my Soapbox.
I should also mention that the 640 Adventure is not a light bike by dual-sport standards, and loading it with a bunch of camping gear doesn't make it handle the dirt any better. Semi-established roads were going to be important if we were to make the trek in any reasonable amount of time.
A cold morning brought us back out into the open desert where things warmed up nicely. Following Risue Road to the south-east, we crossed over to Nine Mile Raven, then up Lucky Bay road toward Hawthorne, where gas and lunch would be waiting.
But first, a detour up the hill. It was treacherously steep and loose, with a nice long drop for poorly managed motorcycles. With each foot in altitude gained my jetted-for-sea-level bike was less likely to idle if I chopped the throttle when the going was rough. Many restarts and several close to tossing my bike over the edge calls later, we topped out at the top of a hill next to Corey Peak. The obvious communications hub of this corner of Nevada.
So many roads, so little time.
We did get a nice downhill though. Groomed well enough for the propane trucks to service the generators at the top of the hill.
We spoke with the Sheriff after arriving in Hawthorne and getting gas. He told us that the military chases people off the top of several mountains in the area, and we had chosen a good one to scout. I don't have any pictures, but Hawthorne appears to exist soley for the Army Depot nearby. The town even has an Ordinance Museum in which they seem to keep every model of rocket, bomb, missle, and bullet the military ever made. Banners line the street as the "Patriotic Center of the United States" or something like that. Nevertheless, they take their military seriously.
We also decided, that since breakfast and dinner were to be easy camping food, we'd sit down and eat a good lunch every day. Maggie's was pretty good. Lucky for us it wasn't too hot to sit out on the Patio.
A small bit of highway riding brought us to Garfield Flats road, and alongside it a powerline road that dipped and dodged through the washes. At times it was steep and loose, and others a very pleasent "two-track" road which eventually put us right back on the road near the summit to continue down the the little town of Mina. The place has gas and that's about it. It is practically a ghost town alongside Highway 95.
Across the street and up Dump Road brings us to Bettie's Well.
If Bettie was digging for dirt, she surely found it. Looking over the top I was not surprised to discover, after letting my eyes adjust to the "dark"... dirt. Surprise. The well is about 3 feet deeper than the surrounding earth, and if the locals have their way, will be filled with bottles and cans sometime soon.
The other surprise was that we encountered no dump on Dump Road. Funny how the names of places create expectations... Perhaps someone came out here to... well, nevermind.
After a while the open desert appeared. Until now we had been travelling along what appeared to be well groomed, heavily used, wide roads that looked to service the numerous local population. Even if we had only passed one car outside of the towns, I hadn't felt "alone."
With the crossing of a minor pass, we were out in it. Nothing around but mountains, valleys, and vegetation. No active signs of humans. And no paved roads for many miles to come.
The further out we went, the smaller the roads became. We missed a turn, took a minute to confer with the gods of electronic maps, and decided we could overcome. Out into the desert we went again, on small two-track roads that looked as if they hadn't been travelled in years.
The GPS is a truely wonderous thing. Out here in the desert lay some abstract points I had never visited at which I was supposed to adjust my direction. We could ride right up on the waypoint and not see the road until we stopped and took a minute to look around. This is where I had discovered the excellent quality of the "stacking maps" (for lack of a better name) in my 276C. I had both City Navigator and Topo USA loaded onto the memory card. Since most of the route was actually shown in City Navigator, I could "turn on" that map, use the "autoroute" function to establish the turns, then "turn off" Navigator to look at the Topo maps. Because the route had been established in Navigator, it continued to show, overlayed onto the Topo maps without having to recalcualte to the "off road" setting- which is the only setting avaiable in the Topos. Thanks to JohnLt for showing me the trick to the maps thing. Making time on a trip like this is almost depended on a GPS, as the route decisions come often, and investing the time prior to leaving prevents having to break out the paper maps each and every time.
A high speed, well groomed road brought us around the south end of a range where we split off to the north into a little canyon and the National Forest campsite called "Peevine Ranch." An established site with pit toilets and picnic tables but no running water. It is here that we met a nice couple from Missouri who were doing a bit of touring before they had to report to work as Geologists for one of the gold mines in the area. Nice people. The gal even went around a picked up all the trash in the site so they could take it out to a proper garbage can tomorrow. I sure hope their stint as geologists for a mining company doesn't sour them on their chosen field. They both seemed very environmentally concious, and we all know that the environment isn't the first item on the list at a mine.