Nevada Toiyabe Ranges in five days. Mountains, Valleys and Atomic Bomb sites

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by KarmaSect, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

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    Day 3 started on a down note. Even with most of our gear removed from the bikes and in the hotel rooms, the fucking Tonopah crackheads took what they could. A couple of the guys parked there bikes on the alley end of the motel, and in the morning discovered that several fender bags and a tank bag had been stolen. And…any laundry strung out over the bikes to dry was gone. Too bad camping didn’t work out.

    Staring at the bikes in disbelief

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    Our route for the day headed southwest for a loop through the General Thomas mountains, then north to Gabs for gas, then east over to Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park to camp for the night.

    Two themes for the day — 1) NO COWS — ALL DAY. and 2) SAND!

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    Heading out of Tonopah, you pass through a couple of miles of wasteland — literally. It appears to be a 100 year old trash dump, with a rototilled landscape of rusted metal.

    The route crosses Montezuma Valley and then heads into the General Thomas hills on a graded road.

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    After a bit, we encountered an old mining operation with an abandoned cement mixer up on a hill.

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    Right after the cement mixer, the route takes a surprising turn off the graded road and down a deep and narrow sand canyon. Pretty cool, expect when you have tons of gas and camping gear! Tough!

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    After a very brief reprieve, the route heads up another sand wash. At this point, Greg decided to route the 690 around and meet us a few miles ahead where the route cross paved Highway 6 (McCleans). Probably for the best again.

    Coming around a corner in the wash was a rock wall. I decided to wait for the others to show up before an attempt. Bill motored right up:

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    I completely chickened out and walked my bike up. In my defense, on last year’s ride in Utah, I looped going up a similar step (actually, the Utah one was much harder). Flipping over backwards in rocks on a loaded bike was not fun, almost breaking my wrist. It still hurts a year later. So…discretion…

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    Along comes Scott on the DR. What a dick. Made it look so easy.

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    Kip and his self-ejecting skid plate

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    Scott liked it so much he wanted to do it again. Not really. One rider didn’t make it up the wash and had to be retrieved.

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    Doug had lost a front caliper bolt and needed some quick maintenance. Eventually he came up the wash and up and over the wall.

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    A map showing the wall:

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    After the wall, there was a lot more sand wash and then a gradual drop down into the Great Smokey Valley and the Highway 6 pavement crossing where Greg was patiently waiting for us.

    A picture of me showing off at speed:

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    The rest of the crew rolls in.

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    [​IMG]From here we would cross the road and head north through Devils Gate and into the Monte Cristo range. More of day three tomorrow.
    #41
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  2. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

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    I can add to some of Mark's pics.
    Leaving Tonapah we had some cloud cover.
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    Kip pic
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    Doug wearing one of Scott's jerseys. Doug was riding faster after the crackheads reduced his gear weight.
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    Mark pic
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    Greg (left) is still with us at this point.
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    Scott on the DR with Bill as safety. This is Paymaster Canyon and yes it looks easy.
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    He cleaned it
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    I think Doug put the caliper bolt in, and took a run at it. He cleaned it. The sand is soft enough to kill approach speed.
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    Couple pics of mineral colors in the hills
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    Fall riding gives you a chance to duck NV direct sunlight. No mercy in May-June when we ride
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    On the way to Ione & Berlin for camping............
    #42
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  3. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    Looks like you are using my Free Tracks from GpsXchange

    That "old mining operation" is actually a high end Turquoise mine "Lone MT" owned by a friend in Scottsdale. I prefer Turquoise from Royston which is just across Hwy 95 towards the solar tower.
    #43
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  4. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    If you are ever coming the other way, I built a Single Track from the end of the road past "Camp Harding" that comes out on your route just above the Wall. It can be done both ways but easier down.
    #44
  5. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

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    I now recall that there were two mining operations right there. The cement mixer on the hill was part of what looked to be abandoned. But around the next corner was a new operations with fairly new fencing. I remember now being surprised by the fencing and initially thought we had run into a blockage. As it turns out, the road makes an abrupt jog to the left around the fenced off area. The sand canyon then takes off several hundred feet further (best I can recall).

    Sound cool. This is the furthest south I've even been in Nevada (outside of the DV area). I had a general concept of what I wanted to ride and how many days we had to do it . It was then the task of either weaving together routes or plotting my own in order to tie the whole thing together. I really loved the long valley (Cirac Valley) heading up towards Gabbs. More on that soon.
    #45
  6. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    Yes, we use it every year on M2C. Took me a while to find the little canyon, it was a dashed line on an old Topo.

    If you are talking about long sand wash out to pole line road just south of Gabbs, I fell in it two years ago, crushed 8 Ribs, Punctured Lung. Had to ride bike 8 Mi to Gabbs, then truck back to Carson. then ambulance to trauma center in Reno. Not a good idea for a 70 year old.
    #46
  7. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

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    Great report thus far guys, thoroughly enjoying the pics and story! Sucks that scumbag thieves took stuff in Tonopah, stayed there on the way to DV a year ago and didn't know something like that was an issue - they should be given concrete shoes and dumped in a deep lake.

    Looking forward to the next installment :thumb
    #47
  8. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

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    Yikes. Cirac valley is here (below). The sand wash you fell in is closer to Gabbs (I think). I remember it well. Long down hill run. Not very tight, but with a number of surprising turns. I seriously blew a corner coming down that trying to chase Scott on is (lowly) DR. No injuries on this trip, but my last trip into this area several years ago resulted in a similar extraction story. Glad you recovered. My buddy (seriously broken wrist) has since "retired" from riding.

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    The "Text" note is screwed up in the above. It is the location of the Solar Energy Farm I posted a picture of above. Pretty dramatic.
    #48
  9. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

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    Day 3 continued. After synching back up with Greg, we headed north. The road through Devil’s gate is bladed sand, with an occasional large rock sticking up just for fun. It kept you on your toes.

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    One up into the hills, we stopped for a break. I almost crashed slowing down — sand is best at speed! Scott at our rest spot

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    The crew coming up the canyon:

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    Some wacky colors in them hills. Green sand and red cliffs.

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    Dropping out of the hills, we briefly connected with a main gravel road heading north. At the intersection, we were looking straight across the Big Smokey Valley at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project.

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    We quickly connected with a old two track heading up the west side of Cirac Valley. This road was really fun (at least for me). An road would frequently cross small sand washes, but allowed for pretty rapid clip. The guys behind me were not as thrilled. While the dust was mild, every new bike was breaking the crust of what was really sand — so guy number seven (usually Greg on the 690) was treated to a freshly churned sand fest.

    I was looking for a rock outcropping or a tree to provide shade for a break, but nothing available. I finally just setting for a big cloud that looked like it would stay around a while. This is the middle of the Cirac Valley two track.

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    This is a shot at the north end of the valley as we start to head through some low hills. We are now in lots of sand. Work!

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    After the hills in the above picture, we hit another main gravel road. Rather than slog through more sand on the 690, Greg peeled off again and headed to Gabbs. Some of his pics while waiting for us to drop out of the hills:

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    The hills south of Gabbs turnout to not be as sandy as feared. In fact, as the elevation increased, the route wove through a maze of roads through the junipers. Apparently, one of the thunderstorms we have been dodging (only got hit once — on day two briefly) hit this area a day or two before. There were a number of freshly cut washouts that we had to watch out for, though none were more than about a foot deep. (no pics )

    And Gabbs. I’d been there once on my GS, and knew they had gas (we also called ahead to confirm), but I didn’t recall just how run down and deserted it really was. Perhaps it got worse since I came through in 2009. As of right now, most of the town is abandoned. The store is very bare, with only half of the overhead lights even operational. The woman running the store also runs the gas pump, so she locks up the store and walks across the parking lot when someone coming in looking for fuel.

    There is a cafe/bar there, but no cook until after 6pm. So…this day we would not get our normal hot meal. Only dehydrated stuff in camp.

    Some pictures of Gabbs.

    The bar:
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    The store:
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    Gas. The “motel units” on the left are abandoned I think:

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    Maybe Gabbs is so sad because there are people like this loitering around. Left to right Doug, me (Mark), Scott, Bill, Don and Kip. Greg behind the camera:

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    Next up, the conclusion of Day 3 — One more section of high elevation hills, then visits to Ione and Berlin on our way to camp.
    #49
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  10. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    I first found Devil's Gate 17 years ago. You could not see anything from Hwy 95 where you crossed. I just kept following a dashed line on my paper topo map (before GPS) and finally came to sand wash that went thru the Gate. We used it every year, then about 10 years ago the Vegas to Reno race found it and trashed it. Not sure who makes them blade it, probably county. We used the big valley west of Cirac valley and they used it also. The county bladed wide county road so it was a foot of silt covering boulders, a death trap for motorcycles. I then moved our route to the east to Cirac valley. So did Vegas to Reno. I went up there every year for 5 years moving our route because they kept using what we were using. Finally found the one you used which was very obscure and yes I loved the little 2-track at the north end before the sand wash. As you can tell, I am not a fan of Trophy Trucks trashing every road in our state.

    Almost tragic story finding it. I parked my motorhome on Pole Line Rd and started scouting on my crf 230. At about 70 mi it went on reserve, no problem another 50 mi left. I kept checking "just 1 more road". Finally came out on Pole Line and started back to motorhome. It started running out of gas, sloshed gas to drain side a couple times. Finally it quit, I stopped laid it over to get all gas on drain side. Finally used the last drop and it quit just as I crested a little hill. Coasted about 200 feet down to the motorhome.

    Yes Gabbs is really going down hill. When we first started using it, the restaurant across the street was a jumping place, the gas station had a full time attendant. Don't know if it is because we are there on Friday or Dave calls ahead but we get hamburgers in the bar after 11:00.
    #50
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  11. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

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    Trophy trucks. The last 1/2 mile before hitting pavement at Gabbs is a crazy torn up road with two deep trenches -- it was our conclusion that only those trucks could have caused that kind of damage. I'm glad that was all we experienced. It was really a bitch to ride.

    Gabbs. We overheard the women in the store (who was also the gas attendant) that the next weekend was to be her last. Dont know if she just worked there or was the owner. It is hard to see how they could possibly survive much longer. Regarding gas, though, I did see a card-lock set of pumps on the Yomba reservation the next day (Reese valley on the way to Ophir pass). Not sure if it is available to the public or not.
    #51
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  12. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    I have seen them, I think they are Indian use only.
    #52
  13. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

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    One last segment for Day 3 — Gabbs to Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park.
    Leaving Gabbs, we routed through a brief, rough and rather little loop up Craig Canyon just north of highway 884.

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    After a small connector of pavement, we then did a graded dirt road loop up into the Sherman Peak range of Toiyabe NF. We did this loop in 2013 going the other direction. Only one pic near an old minor cabin.

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    We then crossed the Smith Creek Valley and took a brief detour into the Ione Ghost Town.

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    And finally, onto Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. I’ve been here three times over the past ten years, and this trip it was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it — there was ONE other site being used other than our rider group. Its nice to have tables, shade, toilets and running water while still feeling you are in remote part of Nevada.

    Pictures of camp, the Berlin Ghost town and the Ichthyosaur excavation site (a couple of these pics are from my previous trips):

    Camp
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    Moon yoga
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    (from my 2009 trip)
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    Berlin
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    Ichthyosaur site

    (from our 2014 trip)
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    End of Day 3

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    #53
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  14. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

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    Da Man
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    Tourist reader board
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    Scott left boots out overnight, squirrels used it to hoard pine nuts for winter
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    Quiet at night, we might have been the only campers.
    #54
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  15. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

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    Day 4 — 165 miles, 6 passes, and only 1 broken digit. A spectacular day (unless you like fingers, but that was towards the end of the day anyway). Oh, and we almost got trampled by a huge herd of wild horses. Anything can happen out here.

    Here is a map of our route and an elevation graph:

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    The first canyon and pass of the day starts immediately out of the back of the state park — Union Canyon. Not real hard or high, its pretty and great little warm up. No real pictures.

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    You see a lot of old trucks up the canyons, but rarely a car. 70 years ago, someone made a really big mistake.

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    Coming down the east side of Union pass:

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    East Union Canyon dumps out into Reese River Valley.
    Here we picked up a short section of paved road heading north into the small Yomba Indian Reservation, where we turn east up Ophir Pass road. Lots of pictures of the gradual assent up the west side of the Toiyabe range. The road is maintained all the way up to the 10k’ summit. Then…you are on your own.

    About a third of the way up the west side of Ophir is a gate…and a sign:

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    Time to put on jackets. 10k’ passes mean wind and cooler temps.

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    The view back west. The barely visible road is where the Ione road comes out into the Reese Valley.
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    Close to the top!
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    A rider climbing up the west side:
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    The top. This sign is no joke.
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    Over the years, I’ve become quite cautious of 4x4 roads. While bikes can often go places Jeeps can’t, the same is also true. Some of the toughest climbs I’ve ever experience have been on 4x4 roads…and this one says that they AREN'T RECOMMENDED.

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    I’ve been to the top of Ophir three times. The first was east to west in 2013. More on that in a second. The second time was in 2014 going west to east. Here is a picture of that attempt (in late June):

    A monster drift right past the summit…impassable. It required a 60 mile reroute to the south. Arg.
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    I routed us west to east for a very good reason. While the pass road is maintained on the west side, the east side is a 4500’ unmaintained drop to the valley below. We successfully climbed it with full gas tanks and camping gear in 2013, but it was a ball buster. Steep, loose rock, high altitude (no air for us folks who live at sea level) and virtually no spot to stop and regroup. Here is a picture of us in 2013. Mike (Mastermarine) lost momentum and couldn’t get going again. I found a place to stop and climbed down to help. You get a sense of the terrain. Its this bad or worse for long sections.

    Ophir looking down (2013):
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    Ok. Before heading down, a couple more pictures of the top:

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    This is the Pacific Crest trail
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    And we started down. Going slow is really not much of an option, as your rear brake locks and you skid out of control. Better to stand up and gain a little speed, clamping hard on the front brake. Even so, by the time you get your first rest 3000’ feet below your rear brake is ready to boil and your arms are throbbing. I stopped to rest at the site of the Ophir ghost town.

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    Then it was more dropping until punching out into the Big Smoky Valley. We stopped at a old grave yard at the mount of the canyon:

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    Serious rider, goofy hat:

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    A few signs at the base of the east side road.

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    From there, we headed south on Highway 376 for about 10 miles to the town of Carvers for gas, food and water.

    Carvers. An interesting place for sure. We stayed over night here a few years ago in a motel that is basically subdivided mobile home units. Home sweet home. Its really just an outpost on the edge of the Round Mountain Gold mine, which employed about 750 people.

    Round Mountain Mine is HUGE:

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    Shoshone Market in Carvers. Awesome. The only gas for miles and home of some really huge Deli sandwiches (not my pics because I forgot again):

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    Yelp review: https://www.yelp.com/biz/shoshone-market-shoshone-estates-round-mountain

    Only one pass down. Five more to go for this day.
    #55
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  16. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

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    Bill at the top of the pass. The Canyon & Pass roads were top covered with rock this heavy for a good workout.
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    Mark
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    I'm sure his mother loved him
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    Looking toward Carvers 12 miles away
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    We rested at the cemetary before going into Carvers.
    #56
  17. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

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    Loving this report
    #57
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  18. Mojave Mutt

    Mojave Mutt Long timer

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    Fun to ride along. Haven't been to those places for a few years.
    #58
  19. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

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    Only one pass down. Five more to go for this day. This post will tackle Jefferson Pass.

    After stocking up on water, snacks and Deli sandwiches at Shone market, it was on east to Jefferson Pass. Getting to the pass road ended up being a bit of a problem, as since my last time through the mine had constructed a fenced off roadway for their huge trucks with only one crossing protected by railroad crossing arms. This mean riding several miles to only to find a fence, the following the fence several more miles until we found a way to get onto the one that crossed. Arg.

    The new fencing and gate:

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    Its so you don’t get used for traction by one of these:

    Mining truck
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    Our circuitous reroute along the new fence line until we found a way onto the main mine road:

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    Google earth shows the mining road crossing

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    Here is our route (blue) in the context of the actual Round Mountain strip mine. The thing is huge:

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    And finally on to Jefferson Pass. I’ve ridden this route three times now. East to West in 2013, West to East in 2014, and again West to East this year (2017). The first time, I barely noticed how rough it was — we were coming down the western (hard) side and we were pretty low on gas. Didn’t seem that hard.

    Going up the west side is a different story, and the route is getting worse every year. In 2014, everyone made it up except for the one rider on a KLR, who stalled and fell in the last steep section. This year we all made it up even though the route is noticeably worse. Clearly this is NOT a route for big bikes or those inexperienced at technical climbs.

    West to East from the mine, the route degrades from bladed road to a two track following — and often in — a stream bed. You are running an overgrown shoot with running water in the spring/early summer, though it was now dry in September.

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    As it climbs, the two track gets rougher and interspersed with deep V washouts. This year, one of these was too large to ride around (I tried and slipped in). Fortunately some quads had been through and had beat a path around the washout.

    No pics but here are some maps and google earth shots of this. Its almost at the summit.

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    After navigating around the washout, there is a tight left hand turn and a short, steep, technical ass-beater of a climb. It was somewhat terrifying to come around the corner and look up at it! But as it turns out, we all got up clean — including the 690. Two years ago the KLR got up — with some brief assistance — but I wouldn’t really recommend it!

    Again, no pics, but another GE shot.

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    Some shots of us climbing the last bit before the summit several years ago (this is several hundred feet about the aforementioned technical area):

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    The Jefferson Pass summit and the east side route are much easier, dropping into a small green valley before weaving through the hills to the ghost town of Belmont.

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    And…our arrival in Belmont:

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    Ok. Two passes down, four more to go. Day 4 was a very long and adventurous day. Oh yeah, and the broken finder and volcano-like caldron are still in our future.

    More later.
    #59
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  20. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

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    No pics until we get to Cottonwood Canyon for me.
    All the pics I took are gps based for riders wanting to put them in basecamp. If they land in the ocean, the camera didn't get a satellite lock.
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    #60