Saturday, October 26, 2019

On the Outskirts of Nowhere

I've never attempted to keep a location secret, sometimes vague, but not hush hush - until now. I've got my reasons though, which should become fairly evident. A smart reader with a keen eye might be able to figure it out. Power to you!

Took this trip a bit farther afield than my previous bike tours. Loaded up and ready to roll!

There's something about these wide open spaces I truly love.

 The riding started off well enough.

But soon deteriorated to this. Deep sand with deep hoof prints. Barely rideable and hard on the shoulders.

Honestly, I was very close to turning around. In two hours I had traveled only eight miles. My spirits were low. Then three Air Force C-130s flew low overhead and somehow shook me out of my funk.

A bit further I was happy to trade the deep sand flats for a rocky little climb.

Thankfully, road conditions improved.

I then enjoyed fine riding in the high Pinyon Juniper woodland.

Water is always an issue bikepacking in the high desert. I started the day with seven liters (15 pounds) which is about enough for a day and a half, so I needed to find water somewhere.  The first spring on route was around twenty mile in, but I was not certain there would be open water. The next spring was at mile forty and while I could see open water on satellite imagery, there was a possibility it could be too alkaline to drink.

I arrived at the first spring anxious to see whether there was water or not. This golden Cottonwood was a fine sight and bode well for my prospects.

Sure enough, below the Cottonwood was a fine rivulet with sweet, cool water. Nice!

I relaxed for a bit, topped off my water bottles and rolled on.

The riding out here was nothing short of blissful.

No water here. Looked like it had been a while since anyone ran cattle out here.

Next was a gentle climb over a shallow pass. Good riding here too.

Descending into the next valley.

My first Burro sighting.

Satellite imagery revealed a faint two track along the edge of the playa, but the trick was finding the turnoff. Fortunately it wan't too obscure and soon I was rolling through beautiful alkaline scrub.

The "road"!

The late afternoon light, warm, calm weather, and easy riding were delightful.

I probably should have set camp somewhere in here, but decided to press on to the next spring. Unfortunately once the road left the edge of the playa I again found myself riding in deep sand with deep hoof prints.

As darkness fell my energy waned and my hunger started to gnaw, so I made camp in the road and fell asleep to the sound of coyotes howling and burrows braying.

The next morning dawned bright and beautiful. Chilly but not bitter.

After less than half an hour I arrived at the spring.

To find these two odd metal sheds.

Unlocked, I entered and found this.

A little sparse, but clean and tight. I could hardly believe my good fortune! The water from the spring proved to be good too, so I decided to call this home and headed off to explore the neighboring sites and springs.

A bit of good riding brought me to the remnants of an old rock house.

I slipped on my walking shoes and took a nice stroll around the seeps and springs above the house.

Meadows in the desert!

On to the next spring. Fine views along the way.

I found this cowboy cabin at the next spring. 

The door was unlocked, so I let myself in.

While I was happy to find the metal sheds, this discovery put me over the moon!


The outhouse was a bit exposed, but there was plenty of TP in the cabin- thankfully!

A prior visitor passed in their sleep. Hah!

One of the two springs here.

I settled in, poked around, and spent the afternoon strolling around in the serene surroundings.

Fall colors in the desert.

Burro tracks lace the countryside here. This one was particularly interesting.

It lead from the spring to this "Burro Bath"

The light softened and the last hour before dark was pure magic.

 After a good nights sleep at the cabin, I rolled out early on nice roads.

A long rough climb brought me to this fine high plateau.

But the road became quite faint, which was slightly worrisome.

A quick check of the map and the gps assured me I was still on track and soon I arrived at a nice spring.

Finally, a long descent through a pretty little valley

brought me to another fine spring

with meadows.

Another hour of riding and I arrived back at the truck. An incredible trip for sure!