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Old 09-13-2014, 08:36 PM   #1
canyonman OP
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Joined: Dec 2008
Location: St Louie
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Searching the country for hot springs on a Yam XTZ12

Searching for hot springs on a Super Tenere

This would be the first cross country road trip where I didn't work out every road and place to stay ahead of time. The only thing I knew for sure this time was that I wanted to spend some time in southeast Oregon to find some hot springs and explore that corner of the planet.

I decided to leave St. Louis on Labor Day to avoid the competition for camping spots that the holiday weekend would have created. The 1st day's ride was all interstate (I-80) and very boring, just putting in the miles. Just before sunset I arrived at the Gallagher Canyon Recreation area by Cozad, Nebraska. I set up camp, got something to eat and hit the sack. It started to rain and thunder shortly after dark but lucky for me it was a gentle steady rain, no hail or tornados like they were getting back home at that time. I did however discover that my tent has developed a leak right on the very top “I will have to hit that with some seam sealer when I get back home”. The rolling thunder and rain quickly lulled me to sleep.
The next morning I made my way back to the paved road and to the interstate.



I pointed the bike west, spooled it up to speed and got comfy for another all day interstate slog. The last hundred miles or so in Nebraska are all one lane construction zones, one after another. I had been on a car road trip to California in July and knew to expect them but they still suck. I made good time across Wyoming, of course the 80 mph speed limits help but also make the gas stops more frequent.

I built an auxiliary fuel tank for the bike after a 2012 trip to Big Bend National and State parks proved I needed more range to get where I wanted to go. That makes gas stops about 350 – 400 miles apart at the speeds I was traveling. Usually my bladder runs out of capacity before the fuel system does.

I finally got to Evanston, Wyoming with about an hour left before sunset. I stocked up on needed supplies and headed south on WY 150 up into the Uinta Mountains. I turned into the first National Forest camp I came to, I think it was Bear River. It was empty except for one other camper at the other end “perfect”.







I set up camp, ate and spent some time exploring around the river bank. The camp is at around 8400ft so I knew it was going to get chilly. It did. Actually it got down to 33 degrees which was a little bit of a shock but manageable.
In the morning I broke camp and continued up into the Uintas towards Mirror Lake and Bald Mountain pass. Somehow this mountain chain has eluded me on multiple cross country trips but not anymore, I will add it to the list of great areas to camp. It is beautiful.

Mirror Lake



Bald Mountain Pass





I continued down from the pass and into the hustle and bustle of the Salt Lake area where the temperature quickly rose to the 90 degree mark. I began peeling off layers to compensate.
I headed north on I-84 and the temperature dropped over ten degrees. I then exited on Utah 30 and headed towards Nevada where 30 turns into Nevada 233. I have seen the salt flats and Bonneville multiple times and wanted to see what was on the other side of the mountains.
The answer.......nothing.



It is a very lonely desolate stretch of asphalt but there is something intriguing about that to me.

Soon I was back on I-80 continuing west to the town of Wells, Nevada. I pulled off in Wells and found the National Forest office there and inquired about camping in the Ruby Mountains south of town.

This handsome fellow at the headquarters was begging for a little attention in spite of the sign saying not to give him any.
I couldn't help but give him a little scratch on the nose.



The road up to Angle Lake Camp is quite spectacular, it rises almost 4000 feet in 12 miles 75% of that in the last three miles.

The lake is beautiful, reminds me of Convict Lake along US 395 in the Sierra’s



I set up camp and got things squared away. I decided I would stay here 2 nights and spend tomorrow on a day trip trying to locate Midas Hot Springs.
The moon was very bright up here and made for some interesting photographic opportunities.





I spent some time talking with the camp host whom I quickly grew to admire. He was as genuine and down to earth as they come. Great stories! I would later at a different camp cross paths with the devil himself but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The next morning I took everything off the bike I didn't need for the days exploring and started to head to Elko for the backcountry.

I started the bike and it cranked slowly before firing. Huh! I backed out and put it in gear but killed it because I didn't have the stand up yet. Went to restart and it cranked slowly but there was nothing left to fire the ignition. I rolled down the hill and bump started it and made a bee-line to 5th Gear Power Sports in Elko. They hooked me up with the correct battery and I installed it in the parking lot.

I was really thankful it happened like it did cause if it had happened a couple hours later I would probably still be walking out of the backcountry.
I headed north on NV 225 then NV 226 then turned onto Midas-Tuskorora county road, a 100 mile stretch of dirt road that ends back on I-80 in Golconda, NV.

The road was good till I passed the last ranch then it was more of a two track for the next 40 miles. The ride was still good, I passed the Willow Creek Reservoir which despite the wet summer was really low but there were still several water birds along its banks. I think some may have been swans they were a long ways off but they were damn big birds.

I took the gps suggested turns and arrived at the Midas hot springs. The springs were a little disappointing they are located in the middle of nowhere and were warm but not hot. However the bottom was mucky and the water not very deep so I passed on a solitary back country soak.






At this point I was a good 50 miles in any direction from anything resembling civilization. I took in the extreme solitude of the area and watched faraway dust devils turning their silent seductive dance in the distance.
I mounted up and started back to the main dirt road.
I stopped to take a pic of this sign so I could research some of the names when I got back home.



I then slipped my footing and gently laid the big girl down for a short dirt nap. SHIT! I mustered my strength (she’s a heavy girl) and got her back up on her shoes and tried to restart. Just cranking, WTF. Oh yeah tip-over sensor. Cycled the ignition key and she roared back to life. Thank god for the new battery cause that little episode would have surely left me stranded with the old cell and a really long walk out.

I got back to the main dirt road which improved greatly once I passed a mine entrance.



The scenery was very beautiful along the road.







I finally got to I-80 and returned to Wells for a 350 mile day.

The next morning I packed up and headed for the Steens Mountains in south east Oregon.



Mornin girls



It’s a long way to anything in this part of the country so you better have your math right.



Along the highway to Frenchglen



On the map it looked to me like there were places to camp on a loop road in the Steen’s so I started up the south entrance first but only got about 4 miles in. The wash board was the worst I’d ever seen and was going to destroy my bike and my kidneys so I turned around and headed for Frenchglen.
I stopped in the local store to inquire about camping and that’s where I met these two deviants.



Don’t worry they’re really great guys, Neil and Gary aka Squishy and Rockyroad on ADVrider. We ended up camping in the Page Spring campground 3 miles up the loop road from town.

The campground is truly an oasis in a rather hostile landscape with the Blitzen River running down one side of it and the spring flowing down the other, I will be adding it to the “great camp” list.









The next morning I stopped by Gary and Neil’s camp to see what their plans were for the day and then I headed south in search of hot springs.
I rode south back into Nevada to one known as the “Bog Hot Spring” which is actually a ditch with clear HOT water flowing in it.



The bottom was nice clean sand and the water clear although a little too warm for my taste. I had it all to myself and this would be my very first natural hot spring that I ever got into, so that made it pretty cool to me.
I didn't go above the thighs or stay in too long but it was a great experience.



I rode back into Oregon and turned east on White Horse Ranch Road and rode 23 dusty miles to the turn for Willow Creek Hot Springs (thanks Gary for the landmarks to look for).



I made the turn and followed the two track the 1.5 miles to the spring. This one was occupied by campers that were enjoying a soak. I refrained from taking pictures but did spend some time soaking and chatting with a family that was spending the weekend out there. This spring has a choice of pools at two different temps. I will be back to this one to camp in the future.

With pruned fingers I rode back into Fields for a snack and some fuel. By chance I met up with Neil and Gary at Fields station and decided to follow them out to the playa then I would go on to check out a place called Mickey Hot Springs.



Neil and Gary discussed their plan of attack then dropped down onto the lake for some playtime.




I continued on another 12 miles to find the Mickey Hot Springs. I located the turnoff then rode 7 miles into the open desert until I came to the hot springs.



Now the Mickey hot springs are not really soaking springs most of them are hot enough to poach your eggs if you got in them. There are boiling pools, hissing steam vents and bubbling mud pots. It’s like a miniature Yellowstone. It was really cool.









The shadows were getting long and I still had about 2 hrs of riding to get back to camp so after getting back to the Steen’s road I continued north to Oregon 78 and turned towards Burns. When I got to the turn-off at Princeton I caught back up with Gary and Neil, their gps was running out of juice and they were about to break out the paper maps. Instead they just followed me back to camp. It was nice to have someone to roll with for a while.
I hung out with them at their camp that night for some good beverages and campfire conversation.

On a not so good note a camper down the way suffered and died from a heart attack. CPR was administered for over an hour before an ambulance finally got there but it was too late. Sad but at least the person was doing something they enjoyed and was among friends when they passed, beats being at work.

The next morning the guys were packing up and heading back home so I went down to thank them for their hospitality and to give them a hand, oh and scavenge their left over firewood.





I got some last minute details about the loop up to the top of the mountains and said my good byes’. Thanks again guys you were great company.

I was planning on doing a time lapse sequence from the overlook at the top of the mountain but it was too early in the day so I took the long way up to burns to get some food, some 91 octane fuel, and some “dead guy ale” for later. I returned to camp unloaded the groceries, pitched the beer in the spring and headed up the mountain. It is 5000 feet to the top and 21 miles of gravel to get there. I set up my stuff at the overlook and took a few pics of the area.



I then sat back in the 55 degree winds and waited 4 hours while my camera clicked away.
Here are the results of my efforts. I’m still learning.



The beer back at camp was good and the fire warm but it was a little lonely with the guys gone.

I checked the weather forecast in the morning and to my shock a large powerful cold front was diving in from Canada and was going to make a real mess of things in the Rockies and the Plains. I decided then to scratch plans of heading over to the Three Forks area and instead head back to Wells, NV for a night.
My plan was to then go to a camp that I have used several times over the years in the Flaming Gorge area south of Rock Springs, WY and to hold up there to let the front get ahead of me. Then I would follow it home staying between the thunder storms in front and the snow behind.
As an added bonus I thought I could try another time lapse of the “super moon” rising over the water in the gorge, so I had a plan.

I rode back to Angle Lake





where once again met my new friend Garry Rose (Rosie) and we talked about how he and his brother used to land planes on the playa of the Alvord and used to fuel up their planes in Fields. He’s led quite a life I hope to see him again one day.

I got up to a cold gray morning and said goodbye to Rosie and rode east to Wyoming. There had been torrential rains over Salt Lake all night but they had shifted south just enough in time to let me pass unscathed. I got to Rock Springs in the late afternoon with a wall cloud forming and moving in from the north. I quickly took care of business in town then rode the 13 miles south on US 191 to the road to the camp and turned down the 12 mile dead end road that leads into the campground all the while the storm was getting closer.

"warning offensive language ahead"
I arrived at the camp and saw the host’s camper was still there and thought “good they are still open for the season”. I followed the road down into the campground and came to a swing gate that had one side out over the road but swinging in the breeze. It had a paper sign on it that read “closed for the season” but the other side was open. I thought “well I’ll just circle through and verify that they are indeed closed since its 25 miles back to town” and started into the camp. I had just been here in July and recognized the camp host’s truck that was making a fast approach directly towards me stopping right in front of me. He jumped out of the passenger side, with no shirt on waving his arms all over the place and screaming at the top of his lungs “what the fuck are you doing you stupid mother fucker” “are you fucking retarded” “get the fuck out of here” I said “the gate was not closed all the way I just wanted to check-” he continued to call me a stupid MF’r and screaming for me to get the f--k out of there. At that point I just looked at him and said “nice behavior”. He continued to scream asking again if I was a fu-king retard. I could not believe the things this man, a contractor to the federal government was saying to me and the way he was saying them while we were on public land. His wife just stood there as if she said anything she would get beat. I mean this man was completely out of control.
I just rode away and waved good bye, not using any fingers or anything, a legitimate wave. Figured I’d write a letter to a few government agencies and see if this is “accepted practice” from their property management contractors.
So with no other options I rode back into town and grabbed a hotel room right as the storm rolled in. As it turned out it was not much of a storm.
I didn't sleep very well at all, still really pissed off about this idiot. What a contrast to Rosie just 8 hours before. Wow.
I got up and punched (home) on the gps and looked over the mileage and time- 1135 miles and 16 hrs 20 minutes travel time.
I said “screw it” and hit the road. I had 3 gas stops 20 minutes each and rolled in the driveway 17 1/2 hours later at 1am.
The good people I met on this trip far outweighed the one douche bag but that man has no business representing the US Forest service and working unsupervised with the general public.
The irony was my girlfriend after hearing the story said when she met him when we stayed there in July that “he made the hair on the back of her neck stand up”. A mother’s intuition!
So home now, I realized both fork seals are shot so I've got that to deal with along with the normal maintenance.



I have to say that all in all the Tenere makes a good all around cross country platform. It allowed me to take way too much shit out into some pretty remote places and burn up a lot of miles doing so.
Until the next ride.
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“It should not be denied... that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.” ― Wallace Stegner

canyonman screwed with this post 09-14-2014 at 08:55 AM
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:58 PM   #2
Squishy
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Nice write up Matt. Great photos. Good to make your acquaintance. Keep in touch.
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:46 PM   #3
rockyroad
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Cool ride report Matt. Loved the time laps of the sun set from the top of the Steen's. There are more hot springs in that part of Oregon and also in northern Nevada. Come back next year and I'll join you in locating some new one's.
Nice meeting you---enjoy the ride
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Old 09-16-2014, 03:26 PM   #4
Scubalong
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Great RR and cool pictures
Thaks for sharing.
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