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Old 05-22-2011, 08:47 PM   #1
Hobbes950 OP
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Lessons learned in the Nevada desert

4 days
762 miles
Northwest Nevada in search of flowers, hot springs and, of course, adventure!

Wildlife seen-
1 bear
1 bull
1 coyote
1 tick
2 snakes (one hit one pre-smashed)
3 jackrabbits
3 burros
4 horses
10 or so pronghorn
assorted birds
an army of frogs (mostly heard)
several Lovelock bar patrons in varying degrees of drunk

The itinerary-
Leave Thursday, come home when done. Ok there are bills to pay so Monday at the latest. We have tracks and coordinates in the GPS and some intel from a co-worker, but nothing is set in stone. All we really want is this-


More to come...
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:05 PM   #2
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I was diggin' the itinerary (just about the right number of details) but after I scrolled past the first picture...
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:34 PM   #3
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Just keeping you in suspense SierraJeep!

Loaded up Thursday morning and headed out. First dirt of the trip was going to be Harmony Ridge Rd. 100 yards or so of rutted uphill dirt that is a nice shortcut to Highway 20. We were thwarted by a man on a tractor digging a trench across the road. He hadn't dug into the road yet, but the tractor was taking up the whole road with nowhere to get by. He just looked at us and went back to work. On any trip flexibility is key to having a good time, so we opted for the four miles of gravel on Cooper Rd instead.

80 miles of slab later we rolled into Reno, NV. The trip was not uneventful. Going through Truckee, in a construction area there was a large median between the eastbound and westbound lanes. It was about 50 yards across, and about 10 yards from the opposite lanes was the biggest black bear I have ever seen. He was headed away from us, but saw the traffic lanes in front of him and spun around and headed back our way. There was one car ahead of us and he slowed down as did we. The bear was running right for the freeway in front of us. The freeway was higher than the median and he dropped out of sight at the bottom of the hill about 30 yards in front of us. I waited in anticipation to see him pop up on the freeway, we were all but stopped at this point. He never showed. There must have been a culvert underneath that we couldn't see. Whew! That was fun! Middle of the day, middle if the freeway and a great big bear on a collision course. Man, he was a big boy too!

In Reno we needed to pick up a few things. Of course, those few things took a couple hours. Now we are ready to go, where are we going? We decided to head up to Gerlach and camp at the Trego Hot Springs. It was mid-afternoon so a straight shot was the best bet. We plugged Gerlach into the GPS and hit the road once more. About a mile from our turnoff we came to a dead stop.

This is the truck next to us.


Fitting sticker on my hubbys tank. We just hoped that they didn't decide to (ahem) evacuate out the side as they sometimes choose to do as evidenced by the brown stain near the front.

We sat there for maybe 5 minutes, then started to slowly move. We made it to our exit and were once again on the open road, except of course for the speed traps. We knew to watch the speed limits carefully. When it cut you down from 55 to 45 to 35 then 25, you had better be doing that speed.

Here come lesson number one.
WATCH YOUR GPS

Yes, we missed our turn. We were paying attention to the speed limits and not where we needed to go. We ended up looped back to the freeway. Ok, simple right? Hop back on the freeway, go back and try again. Cruising along we saw what the trouble was with the traffic from the other direction. Double accident on a bridge in a construction zone. There was a semi truck in front of us and as it got to the bridge there was screeching and brake lights and blue smoke from the front of the truck.
Great.
Stopped again.
The semi had slammed into a mini van and they were wedged in between the rail of the bridge and the construction barriers. Gear off, gonna be here a while.
Remember lesson number one? It's a good one.

We were there about 20 minutes and decided to take the chance that the cops were too busy to pay attention to two motorcycles driving the wrong way on the freeway in stopped traffic to get to a spot where they could cross the median and go back the way they came.
Success!

On to Gerlach...
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Old 05-23-2011, 01:13 AM   #4
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Old 05-23-2011, 01:21 AM   #5
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Evaded the rain on the road to Gerlach. Just got a few drops, just enough to make it smell nice. Pulled into Gerlach at about 6:30, ready for a couple of gut bombs to settle us for the night.



Gotta check the 'Droid and text the boys at home.

Of course, we were at Brunos! Obligatory Brunos shot-


Where else can you lose a twenty three foot rocket?


Now off to Trego Hot Springs to camp for the night. The clouds reveal a rainbow to mark our destination. We pull in and park right next to the spring. As I shut off my engine, I can't figure out what the noise I am hearing is. There is a VW bus camping there, do they have some sort of strange music playing? Wait, those are frogs! Deep toad harumphs and all sorts of little froggy peeps, chirps and whistles fill the air. What a nice end to the day.



There is a rainbow to the side of the tree, but it didn't show in the picture. Oh well.

Kitty look nice with a pastel backdrop.

We set up camp and had a nice soak. What a nice start to our adventure. If we put the rain fly on, it won't rain, right?



Next up, 12 miles in a bit under 5 hours- High Rock Canyon...
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Old 05-23-2011, 02:38 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by hobbes95821 View Post
Next up, 12 miles in a bit under 5 hours- High Rock Canyon...
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:05 AM   #7
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Friday.
Woke up to a beautiful crisp, clear dry day. The weather report was holding true. The next two days should be iffy, but today is gorgeous. Time for a morning soak to start the day.

I want one of these in my yard.


Wasn't ready for another gut bomb breakfast, so oatmeal and tea it is. Pack up, and head back to Gerlach to gas up and figure out where we are going today.

This trip was a testing ground not only for our riding skills, but of several pieces of gear.

First up- Kolpin gas pack.
What can I say? It holds a gallon and a half of gas. Fits inside a gobi. Doesn't leak. Cheaper than a Rotopax. Used the extra gas once and added a good 40+ miles to my range. (Following the 1200GS, I needed it) I think I am going to set up a loop for a strap system to hold it to the front of my top box. It will sit on the passenger seat, but If I am on a trip where I need it, I won't have a passenger.

Ok, back to the fun and lesson number two.

DOUBLE CHECK YOUR ROUTE

A co-worker of my husbands told him of the road that goes up to High Rock Canyon. He had been on it last week. Totally passable. Two easy water crossings. Flowers blooming. Interesting points to explore. Even gave us a map. We put High Rock Canyon into the GPS. It gave us a road. Looked like the one on the map. Lets go!

Those of you that have been there are probably saying "Uh Oh"

Yeah, I'll get to that point later. Right now we have beautiful blacktop and views of the playa.


We cruised up HWY 34. It turned to gravel, but it was wide and well used Nevada-style highway. We spun along in no hurry at a relaxing 45mph. We dubbed it hypno-road. Nice scenery, easy speed and terrain, if I was a pillion I would have had a nap.

Review number two.

Scala Q2. Ours were a little glitchy. They would kick on when not wanted from wind noise. I got my microphone tucked into a spot that worked, but my hubby had a Shoei hornet dual sport helmet and the high wind would click on the VOX. Annoying.
Tried to turn off the VOX and it worked, sometimes. Sometimes we would push the button to talk and one would work, but the other would not.
Despite these issues. Being able to talk was AMAZING. So so so much better than the solitude of our previous trips. It was very nice to have my sweetie in my helmet with me.
We will have to fine tune the use of them, but once I got mine set up good, it worked pretty well. Didn't test the range, but any hill or canyon wall blocked transmission.

Back to the road, and the lesson. Our intended route would take us to High Rock Lake. We passed a road that had a sign. "High Rock Lake" "Should we check our map?" I thought to myself. That would have been a good idea but I said nothing and we made it to our chosen turnoff.


When you smile in your helmet it looks funny.

Our next destination was going to be Denio Junction. We put it into the GPS and it told us to go the way we wanted to go so we followed it. It got a little confused at first, as GPS' tend to do, but we persevered and it decided we were right. Technically, we were, we just didn't know where we were going.
It was beautiful country, and the road drew our attention a little more. That was better after hypno-road. We had several small water crossings and one cattle trough, wet mud/dung crossing (boots are dirty now!) After we got here, the trail petered out into a marsh.


Lunchtime!
We dug out the map to re-evaluate our route. We figured out our mistake. We were on High Rock Canyon Rd, we wanted High Rock Lake Rd.
Canyon.
Lake.
Big difference as we would find out. We re-directed. Our new route would take us through High Rock Canyon. Our co-worker friend hadn't been there last week, but he had been there before. We didn't know anything about it except that it was open for travel and it was beautiful. So off we went.
We got to a little downhill rocky section, but it was pretty easy and fun. (I like that kind of stuff on my mountain bike) I clocked my foot on a rock at the side of the trail, but I had chosen to wear the big boots this trip so it wasn't a problem.

Sidi Crossfire review- Big, clunky, not comfy to walk in. Protects your feet. I thought they might be too much for what I need, but I like the extra protection. I learned to shift with them pretty quick. Just a lift of the foot. I missed a few shifts, but those usually happened when I was thinking about it too much. Still getting used to the rear brake, feel separated from it. All in all I really like them for what they are supposed to be used for. I think my foot would have been unhappy if I was wearing my street boots and hit that rock.

My hubby has the Forma Adventure boots and loves them to death. Not as hard core as the Sidis, but more comfy and very protective. They look sweet too.

Now we entered the canyon. The road deteriorated, but was still easy. As the canyon closed in, we started to cross the creek in several spots. The were small crossings, but they were getting progressively bigger, and the loose rock canyon walls were getting closer.

Side note- did I say that neither of us have dirtbike experience? The big GS and the beast KTM are our first dirtbikes. We have not done water crossings before. Most of our previous rides have been gravel/dirt roads at the worst. We both ride mountainbikes and that helps. No, really, it does help. Look where you want to go, don't focus on the guy ahead, pick your own line, basic balancing and bike skills- it is all essential stuff.

We were getting some good practice in. And here is lesson number three.

IT IS EASIER THAN IT LOOKS



See? I made it!



Next up- Be prepared, know your bike, lesson number four...
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:38 AM   #8
Spartandude
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbes95821 View Post
There is a rainbow to the side of the tree, but it didn't show in the picture. Oh well.
Naw, I can see it. The light looks awesome. Thanks for taking us with.
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:39 AM   #9
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Nice pics.
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Old 05-23-2011, 02:44 PM   #10
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Thumb More please....

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Old 05-23-2011, 02:52 PM   #11
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That crossing was pretty nice. Not too deep, clear water, smooth slopes, predictable bottom. Back in the canyon it hadn't been so nice. We had come upon this.


Now to those who know, and to me now, it doesn't look so bad. At the time though, we had lesson number four.

KNOW YOUR BIKE

We had no idea what to do in case of a dunking. The creek became the road. It pored in at one end and out the other. The water was murky and deep and there was 40 feet of it. If we dropped it in there, what do we do?
Now I know the answer- don't drop it. At our location, dropping it in the drink was just not an option. Had I known about my bike a little better though, I would have waded the water to test depth and obstructions, then slowly ridden through with my feet at the ready and Hans (my sweetie) as a spotter. I just didn't know how deep it could safely go at a slow speed or stopped. Stupid, I know, but there it is. At that point we could see that the canyon opened and we thought this may be our last big obstruction, so with caution to the wind, we decided on a portage.

Here is our route.
Up this


You can see the creek to the left. This is about a 8 foot rise from the road.


And down this


This shot is taken from the road on the other side. We would be coming down from the left side of the shot through where the rocks are and straight for the camera.

Gear off and we went for it. Portaging two 600+ pound bikes over this stuff was crazy. Hans controlled the power and did most of the work, I steadied the bikes from the rear and pushed. Probably took a half hour, but we made it. In our position at the time it was the smart thing to do. Looking back now I just have to shake my head.

The canyon is open and we are a bit more relaxed. The creek has its own established route and the road is our own. The country we are riding through is spectacular and we now can appreciate it.







Now the canyon starts getting tighter, and the GPS is showing a squiggly line. Normally I like the squiggly lines, but here, not so much.
Hans is leading. He rounds a corner ahead of me and drops down a steep hill that curves right. I can't see ahead of him, but he stops and I hear "Oh, shit" over the Scala. He has used that term many times today and right now it is getting old. The creek has come again. 50 feet, murky and deep, with a steep bank on the other side. No way around at all. We have to go.
I wade in and it is above my knees with gooshy mud on one side and a couple rocks on the other. I am quite worried at this point but there is no choice. We unload the Beemer; two side bags, small top box, big duffel, tank bag. I stand in the creek to spot and here we go. Hans motored right through and up the other side like cake. "How was it?" I ask. "Easy!" He says with enthusiasm. What a relief. My turn now. I leave everything on the bike and get ready to go. He pulls out his brand new Lumix GF2 camera that he just bought in Reno and stands halfway across at the side. The plan was to throw the camera to the bank if he had to help me. $600 thrown in the mud? The pressure was on.

Here I go.


Nice pic huh? I think I am going a bit fast there.

Now it is time for lesson number five.

FOR ACTION SHOTS USE VIDEO

Because what you don't see is that just after this point things got pretty squirrelly. Rear end kicked left, I went right. Wrong Way! Foot down, throttle up, bike leaned and came around straight for the camera, slow a bit, oh crap!, other foot down, throttle again, whipped around, headed for the road now, out and clear, gun it up the bank- WHEW!

It all happened fast. My reactions were natural and without thought. Little adrenaline kick was nice and it felt great to be sitting at the top of that hill.

Dumped the water out of the boots, loaded up and got back on our way.

Coming next, lesson six- backcountry attire can be important...
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:42 PM   #12
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The road stayed to the left of the creek, climbed a rise, and entered another more open valley. By now we have been in the canyon for two hours or so and are longing for hypno-road. We can see the rock walls closing in again. We have a bit more confidence in our abilities now, and we enter the canyon with a lighter state of mind.

Looks hot out doesn't it?


Actually the temperature was quite nice if you weren't pushing one of these up a hill.



What a wonderful day!



Around the next bend was what would be the last water crossing to be troublesome. It wasn't too deep, but murky and fairly long. There was a strip of dry land between the water-filled road and the actual creek. Another portage in store for us. It was fairly simple except that if we went down we would fall off a six inch ledge into maybe a foot of water with a full loaded bike on top of us. Walking space was minimal, but a little sweat and effort and we were again on our way.
We came to a nice little hill climb that was a bit of a challenge, but enjoyable. It was followed by a rocky, rutted downhill that ended in a meadow. In the meadow we could see a couple 4x4s, motorcycles and a tent with people standing around. Civilization! I was so happy to see them. It was a sign that we were near the end. I started off down the hill and forgot about brakes for a moment. I love technical downhills on my mountain bike and the feeling is no different on the KTM. I got to the bottom and stopped to wait for Hans.
Now, the cool thing about the Scalas is that you can hear every grunt, groan and heavy breath. Just listening to each other mounting and dismounting can be quite amusing. I could hear Hans coming down the hill. Then there seemed to be a groan with a little more exertion to it. I turned in time to see it happen.
Most of us have seen it happen and done it ourselves. You know, that slow suspenseful tip. The bike, so tired, just wants to lay down and nap. We always fight it, and mostly lose. The machine angles over, and we jump clear with the grace of a cat falling off a TV.
Damn! Now I gotta walk back up the hill.

Here is a post-nap photo. You can see the two big evil rocks. Tried to go between them. Front wheel bounced through, rear wheel didn't want to go.



The bike was on its right side with the rear wheel on top of that rock. Boy that was fun to pick up!

We went down and talked to the guys in the meadow.
How much farther? About four miles.
Hows the road? A few squirrelly mud puddles.
Any water crossings? No.
How about rocks? One part.

Sounds good. Yay!
About a half mile away still in sight of the meadow we came to the rocks.

Lesson seven-

TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE PRICE OF FAILURE

I didn't think it looked too bad. Hans was dubious. It was a steep little up hill with a step-up. The optional routes up the thing had varying degrees of loose rocks, steps and angles. I suggested a route and in retrospect I chose poorly. On the right side of the road there was a drop off of about ten feet into the creekbed. Big price for failure. We gave it a go, me pushing, Hans working the throttle and clutch. Didn't make it and got into a bad spot. The BMW in the creekbed would not be a good ending. Hans jumped on the KTM and went back for help.

Lesson eight-

CLOTHING OPTIONS: CHOOSE WELL

Wearing this, even in jest, may not be a good idea.


Hans' brother lives in Chile and this was a gift. It's a great shirt, some just may not see the humor. He turned it inside out.

The calvary arrived. It is amazing how much easier it is to move these things with two more guys helping. We got the bikes up and asked, "Anything more like this?"
"Oh no. That's it"
Good.

Had there not been help nearby we may have chosen a better (or at least safer route) Now, next time, we will for sure.

The rest of the road was nice and easy. We camped at Soldier Meadow Hot Springs that night. Another beautiful Nevada desert evening.



The hot springs here were better than the last. A bit hotter, the water was nicer, and the setting was amazing.
In the end the effort was well worth the spoils.

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Old 05-23-2011, 10:09 PM   #13
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Taking notes now. Cool trip so far, good job!
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:07 PM   #14
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And now for the flower montage!















Lesson number nine-

WHEN PHOTOGRAPHING FLOWERS- ATGATT!!

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Old 05-24-2011, 10:48 AM   #15
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Great report and great area to ride.
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