Explore Nevada 2011

spressomon

glutton
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With the postponement of Rubithon 2011 due to snow still covering all things Rubicon the NorCal group asked about crossing Nevada instead. With 3 Frenchies and a German flying half way around the world to join in the fun how could I say no?!

The likes of Andy Pollock aka Cruiserdrew and his son Jeff in their 60-Series, Gary Kardum aka Mudrak in his 80-Series, Onur (aka beno from ABQ) in his 80-Series, Tom Ferrin aka TrickyT in his 80-Series, Duncane (President of the TLC Series 4 chapter in France), Peter Sadtler, a LC enthusiast from Germany, Andre and Jean Philippe both from France driving Andy's 40-Series and James Langan aka Redline in his 4R met up on Monday June 13th around noon at the intersection of Hwy 89 and 395. Ideally I wanted to route us over the top of the Sweetwater range but Mother Nature still had Mt. Patterson and all her flanks covered in deep snow. Instead we rolled up Risue Canyon trail and over to Hwy 338.

From there we headed down to Bridgeport for an expensive fuel-up before heading up Aurora Canyon to Bodie. Somehow the trail leader missed the "Road Closed" sign that was laying in the ditch at the beginning of Aurora Canyon. Like it mattered. :lol:

Having been denied getting up this route 2-weeks earlier with the Peeler's, due to still deep snow and mud, we plowed on. We ran into our first real snow field laid out across the trail just north of Bodie Mountain and Potato Peak up around 9,100 feet. With a bypass around the snow field we continued on only to see a couple miles ahead more snow fields crossing the trail...on off-camber sections to boot.

Eventually the group made it around the snow fields and dropped down into Bodie. Unfortunately, especially for our European contingency, we arrived too late in the day to take time out to explore Bodie State Park. Next time I guess.

Pressing on to find a good camp spot for the night for our group of 7 led us to the not-so-ghost town of Aurora. Gary spotted the perfect place perched high overlooking the mine and under a canopy of Pinyon Pines. The old but very large Aurora Cemetery in our 'back-yard' only meant possible ghosts from the past joining us around the campfire! For those that have not seen this cemetery its worth a day trip alone!

The town of Aurora represented a large mining presence back in the mid to late 1800's. With nearly 10,000 residents, huge at that time given the locale, the mines pulled out $27 million in gold by 1869! The cemetery and headstones paint quite the picture of what life might have been like back then. A cholera outbreak claimed many lives of young and old with tombstone dates back to the early 1800's.

Here are a few photos from day 1; first 3 were taken in Risue Canyon. For all the photos I took go here: MobileMe Gallery

The remaining 5-days will be forthcoming installments ;)
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spressomon

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A few more selected Day 1 photos...for you birding types this is a Northern Pygmy Owl. He was quite tame and allowed all of us to pass by...definitely not camera shy.

The 2nd photo is Gary with the Sweetwater range in the background: You can see why we weren't going to get up and over that range on this week!
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spressomon

glutton
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And the last selected photos from Day 1.

First photo of Bodie Mountain on the left and Potato Peak on the right.
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alvarorb

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Quite a number of flat tires on this trip...
Maybe tire pressure had something to do with it. Or maybe weak side walls.

Anyway, tons of fun

Alvaro
 

Onur

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Epic adventure indeed. Always worth the trip out west to see my buds.

Keep the story flowing Dan....it's not as if you have anything else to do....

:lol:

:hillbilly:
 

spressomon

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We split dinner duties up so one guy fixes dinner for all on a night; works real well.

Monday night was one of my nights to cook so we had international fare: We started with smoky margaritas with the oh so have to have floater of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal and freshly squeezed lime juice...oh yeah and a smoked salt rimmed glass :cool:; Prosciutto wrapped grissini bread sticks for whoredorves; then French Lardon Salad with poached eggs and pork belly confit (oh yeah baby!). Then pounded chicken breasts dipped in an egg wash then dipped in a 50/50 mix of grated parmesan cheese & panko bread crumbs flash fried in olive oil. Dang German thought is was wienerschnitzel :D. And then we had homemade panna cotta with fresh mixed berries for dessert. All in all it was just another evening of food and drink we've become so accustomed to on our adventures together!

Day 2: Tuesday June 14th

Ok...after the obligatory and promised round of freshly prepped cappuccinos complete with freshly ground beans (the inaugural trip for the new Capresso bean grinder) we were off to another day of adventure on Tuesday morning June 14th. Our destination was Bass Camp...since I got cheated out of the BBCNN trip to same a couple weeks earlier by an exploding CV...and a ripped up dog :rolleyes:...and from all the photos you guys posted here I just had to see this place!

The mine at Aurora is active and rumbling 24/7! The gravel road in to the mine, below where we camped, from the north is like I-80 wide and well graded for hauling out all that $$$ ore or so it appears.

We rolled north around Aurora Crater and across Aurora Valley to Lucky Boy Pass road the main road and pass connecting Bodie with Hawthorne. Atop Lucky Boy Pass I routed us up a neat trail Darcie found for us to try a couple weeks earlier where we were stopped by deep snow on the north facing portion of the same trail.

The trail takes off towards Corey Peak climbing through Pinyon Pines along with spectacular views all the way west to the Sierra Crest and all lands in between. Mental note: This would be a most excellent weekend run for further explore!



First pic below: Tom climbing up the lower portion of the Corey Peak trail.

Second and third pics below: About 1/2 way up Corey Peak trail looking back to the southwest.
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spressomon

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Amazingly the same trail that forced Jack, Darcie and I to back down the snow just 2-weeks prior was 100% dry and absolutely showed no evidence of snow ever being on that trail! Of course at 10,000' the snow melts fast this time of year too!

We rolled up to the microwave tower peak directly east of Corey Peak and had lunch before rolling down to Hawthorne via Lucky Pass road.

And yes we were hoping to get Tom a spare tire to replace his spare...one of three, as Alvaro mentioned above, flat tires on this trip. But we were denied. But Tom was able to line up a tire to be at another tire shop in Tonopah the next day. So all was not lost.

But excitement wasn't to deny us much longer! Our caravan finally set out for Bass Camp. But in a deja vu move I hear, over the 2m, the 40 is struggling to make the slight grade to the Rattlesnake Ranch turn-off. We circled the wagons onto the very same Mineral County gravel flat at the crest of Hwy 359 that served as a deconstruction place for me to pull my front drive shaft and swap drive plates just 2-weeks prior after one of my CVs grenaded parts all over the highway.

It was clear the 40 was not going to be able to go any further along on this trip. Now the question was just how far could it be driven and who was going to follow it and its crew back somewhere closer to Andy's home in Sacramento.

Andy and Jeff in his 60, Onur and Peter in his 80 and the French dudes in Andy's 40 decided to head to Minden where a truck and trailer awaited to get the chugging rig back home. Once at Minden, or possibly sooner, Onur was going to reverse path and join up with us somewhere near Bass Camp where we were to camp for the night. Without GPS though and a bunch of loose directions that might be yet another story to tell!

Well the rest of us headed out over Rattlesnake Flats, over to Cow Camp with Bass Camp as our destination. We took a little gunnery time at Cow Camp to relax, eat and ponder about the rest of the trip and who would/would not be with us. And of course a little session of brass scattering of various calibers and gauges ;). Out of nowhere we heard Onur's voice crackle over the 2m! Once he and Peter knew Andy, his crew and the ailing 40 were safely on their way to Minden they cut them loose to catch up with us. And that they did!

The plan was for Andy, Jeff and the euro dudes to rocket back to Sacramento and then 180 back to us the next day or two...more on that strategy later.

We were able to find the Bass Camp trail; complete with lots of "oohs" and "ahhs" from everyone in the group...including me! And for those of you that made the trip 2-weeks prior you certainly need no reminder how awesome the trail and end destination are: INCREDIBLE!!!


Pic one and two below: Yellow bloom going on...looking east towards Rattlesnake Ranch.
Pic three below: Cow Camp gunnery.
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Cruiserdrew

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Subscribing. I want to see what happened!


And I heard James showed up with crappy tires. Whats up with that? Didn't he used to have like 10 sets?
 

spressomon

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We spent a fair amount of time exploring the area around Bass Camp proper. Having said that I don't think you could ever spend too much time combing around there! Although we new a little about the Bass couple that first built and occupied this spot from approximately 1903 to 1934 when we read in the near by geocache we learned Andrew Bass was also a moonshiner that supplied bootleg booze to all the miners and folks that lived in Marietta back in the day! Its really quite difficult to imagine just how arduous life must have been at this remote place back at the turn of the 20th century! Hell...I can't imagine, even with the creature comforts we have today, holing up there for a year let alone 31-years back in the days of hauling whatever you needed more than likely by horse or mule back/team. Those were just plain old tough folks back then...no other way to have survived!

Just 2 weeks prior we were all glued to the daily forecast...because as most of you now wintery conditions lasted into June this year especially in the high country. But we were not to be denied warm, dry and sunny weather for this trip! And our 2nd day was warm indeed. Ideally we all preferred to camp a little higher in elevation...you know: For better sleeping!

We opted to set up camp on top of the Defender Mine location. With a high perch above Marietta, a nice breeze and warm temps we were set for another fine culinary experience complete with a full moon on the rise!

With Andy out of his dinner duty night Tom moved one of his nights up and fixed us a great pork tenderloin meal! And we're never without great wine when Tom's along!

Even the loud chirpy Night Hawks were out, over us and helping us imbibe! And of all things and all places we even had our very own custom laser light show! Its crazy how a few old men, a bunch of booze (ok...almost all were boozed ;)) and a laser capable of reaching to infinity could have sooo much damn fun after it got dark! Just what I needed: Another item added to my list of "to haves" :rolleyes:

What a great night's sleep we all had perched there atop the Defender Mine...


First pic: Group photo at Bass Camp

Second and third pics: Bass Camp trail.
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rusty_tlc

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I think I gained a couple of pounds just reading post #8.

I agree 100% about Bass Camp we have been poking around that general area for the past couple of springs.
 

spressomon

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Another great night's sleep on Tuesday. Funny how that goes: Less mattress and I sleep better in the LC out in the middle of nowhere than I do on the plush one at home. Love that fresh Nevada air!

Wednesday June 15th:

Alvaro in La Cabra and Steve, in J&D's prior white 80-Series he bought from them last winter along with Sean Pritchard in his cherry (oh yeah baby there's more to this story of fresh shiny paint and wax down stream a few threads :D) from Mill Valley could not start the trip with us but were going to meet up with us sometime later on this day. So I had to figure out just where we'd end up so the trio could slide into camp later that day.

We had to explore mines around Marietta; I wanted to take the trail up through Moho; we had to get to Tonopah to fuel up, food up (never have too much food :lol:), hopefully get Tom's new tire and mounted and down the road and up the trail...to Belmont. We should be able to do that barring any hiccups.

Loping down the trail from the Defender Mine camp after another breakfast and round of cappuccinos and espressos I saw a loop trail that took us north before dropping down into a canyon/wash and then eventually to Marietta. Pretty cool little trail too! We dropped down into Marietta and explored some of the structures before driving up above Marietta Mines to the Endowment Mine.

Not knowing what to expect in this canyon (J&D, my nephew Mike and I explored another canyon with a really neat intact mine a couple years ago apart of Explore Nevada 2009) we were pretty darn excited to find a horizontal mine shaft open for explore. I knew it had to be deep as the air pumping out of the shaft felt like it was 45 degrees and enough volume to cool a big building!

Being a little claustrophobic and generally shy of dying in a mine shaft James and I elected to hang outside of the mine shaft to be the rescue crew just in case...right(!)...as the rest of our group disappeared into the mine for a good 30-minutes or more.

They all came back out oooing and ahhing about what they got to see. Several vertical, up and down, shafts with ladders hundreds of feet in height and depth feeding off the main horizontal shaft. It was like Hanukkah for these guys :D. Tom said it was flat out the coolest mine experience only eclipsed by the much larger Defense Mine just outside of Death Valley!

Once we had everyone together we drove down and out to Hwy 380, on to Tonopah Junction, Hwy 95 to Tonopah. In regard to a little time management I had to forgo taking them up to Moho...because I knew Gary just couldn't pass up more great opportunities to do some mine explorations up there. Next time Gary!


Pic 1: Boundary Peak on the horizon from the Endowment Mine trail
Pics 2 & 3: On the way up to the Endowment Mine
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spressomon

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Another photo of the Endowment Mine trail. I think this was the Birdsong Mine. I did see and hear Western Bluebirds on the way up and down the middle section of this trail...so maybe they were the nemesis for this mine!
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spressomon

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So there we were trying to find the tire shop, hiding supposedly as a towing shop, via our GPSes in Tonopah. After turning off the GPS we found the tire/towing shop shortly thereafter :rolleyes:.

Interestingly Tom asked for "Bill", the guy he spoke to the previous day that promised to have the tire for us today. "Bill" couldn't remember having any conversation about a special tire order let alone a 285/75 16" AT tire. Fawk! "Bill" was also a little harried as they had a flurry of activity...all of about 4 tire customers I imagined for such a small town.

Anyway we pressed "Bill" to let us wonder around the shop area...at least we knew what we were looking for even if "Bill" didn't.

Sure enough we found the Dunlop 285/75 16 solo tire sitting right there. But now Bill was him'n and haw'n about not being able to get the tire mounted to the wheel much before the end of the day if not the next day.

I think "WTF" was on Tom and my lips about the time the guy kinda gave in and said "gimme a couple hours". You see we weren't the first customers that came in that day and we had to take our turn no matter the circumstances. Or so "Bill" told us. Great customer retention plan there "Bill"! :flipoff2:

Oh yeah...one more detail "Bill" erred to mention until it really didn't matter anymore: There were 3...yes THREE..."Bills" that worked there. And "we" must have talked to "Bill the Tire Guy Bill" the day before. And Bill the Tire Guy, that supposedly knew all about this dealio, was out to lunch or some such story. Gotta love it. The really bad thing: We didn't get any of this on video much less photographed! "Bill" was just down right a curmudgeon! But I guess every town needs at least one!

So there we were trying to figure out how to kill two friggin hours in Tonopah. So what else to do when nothing else seems plausible? Yep...eat! So off to the little yellow building with the green roof burger and everything grill we all convened for a late lunch. And it was pretty decent too...given of course where we were ;).

Everybody gassed up, got groceries, more ice for end of day cocktails and back to the tire shop. And yep you guessed it they still didn't have it ready. So another 30-minutes had to be killed...and then back to get the tire. This time it was ready...but just barely. But they didn't have time to balance the tire and wheel. But "Bill" told us it didn't matter since it was going to serve as our spare anyway :rolleyes:. We need to send "Bill" a little smelly care package from an anonymous sender...maybe a little Sieg or Raj excrement in a plain brown box addressed to "Bill" would suffice :lol:.

So "Bill" only had to collect Tom's money and we were gone. Amazing how friendly and nice a curmudgeon can be when he's asking for money! Fawker.

So there we were: Finally heading east on Hwy 6 out of Tonopah for Belmont Campground.

But on the way to the campground I put the vote to the group about another cool trail I'd done last fall on an elk hunting trip that promised to make up for the Tonopah debacle. And since after speaking to Sean around noon or so and realizing he hadn't even left the Bay Area yet and Alvaro and Steve probably wouldn't roll in until 8:00PM or later everyone acquiesced and off we went up Silver Creek trail.

I had noticed an interesting looking (read: Overgrown :D) spur trail leading up to the Van Ness Mine. Boy am I glad we did that little side trip. What a neat trail. And another very interesting mine site: Van Ness Mine. Sits right under Spanish Peak with incredible views towards the east and south.

We continued up and over Barcelona Summit and down Meadow Canyon road...back through Belmont and to our day's final destination: Belmont Campground.


This photo was looking back at the guys coming out of the Van Ness mine area.
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spressomon

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I have a disdain for anything with the word "campground" in it. Normally campground means tight small spaces with too many people, too much noise and nothing remotely well, remote, about a good camping experience. And it was no different last fall when my hunting buddy Bob asked me to join him on his elk hunt. Actually it was his 91 year old father Vern that drew the tag. We'd be camping somewhere in the Monitor range is about all I knew when I agreed to join them. As the date got closer Bob informed me we'd be setting up camp at the Belmont Campground. The very thought of staying in a campground for a week even out in the middle of Nevada conjured up images of too many people, too much noise, yadee yadee yadee.

But there I was leading this bunch of Land Cruiser friends back to the same spot. The kind folks who live in Belmont, some of which we got to know back in November, decided a couple years ago to clear out an area just west of town about a mile or so. They trimmed the lower branches on the pinyon pines, dropped in a few rock fire pits and a pit type toilet and nothing more. Not even a fee station! Its free! And its a great place to camp for a night or seven!

If you ever happen to be in Belmont on a Saturday when Terry, one of the local historians that seems to know everything there is to know about the history of Belmont and the surrounding area, is giving his history tour of the courthouse be sure to take the time to see it! You will have no regrets. Unfortunately we were there on a Wednesday/Thursday...

We finally made camp around 8:00PM and started cooking. Alvaro must have used his nose to find us as IIRC he and Steve came rolling in around food time! It was after dark and Alvaro had never been to Belmont before and the little dirt trail leading to the campground is an easy miss in the dark. However with an intense blue beacon of light from Gary's laser piercing the night sky along with our 2m radios they found us easily.

But Sean was a different story. We actually had a few bars of cell reception at camp. Sean doesn't have a 2m...yet ;). So we had to rely on cell phones for updates where he was. He didn't have paper maps either. But Sean persevered...unfortunately he didn't quite make it to camp that night instead camping over near Round Mountain on the other side of the Toquima range.
 
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