10 Hot Springs in 7 Days: Dodging Naked Hippies in Central Nevada

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by CONKSO, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. CONKSO

    CONKSO Been here awhile

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    My brother and I like to meet up once a year and get out and ride. He lives in Northern California, I live in San Diego so we usually pick somewhere in between to meet up and then figure it out from there.

    This year, he decided he wanted to see what central Nevada was all about- I wanted to see if hot springs really existed (I'm native southern Californian, we don't believe that "free" water really just bubbles up out of the ground). So we hatched a plan to visit 10 hot springs in 7 days- not the easy ones that are all close together up in Bridgeport but the ones way far apart in big, empty Nevada. We ended up having a GREAT trip. Nevada is an awesome place to poke around- we met all kinds of nice folks, saw some beautiful country and accomplished our 10 hot spring goal. Best of all, I didn't have to sit next to a naked hippy in any of the hot springs. Here's our rough route:

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    Want some background info about me? Ok. I'm a chem teacher, even better, my whole life I've been a surfer. So vacations for me were always somewhere with an ocean border. Then I started riding- now I've got six bikes in the garage competing for rack space with my boards. First world problems I guess.

    Here's me and the bike I took on this trip, DL650. I've also got a Moto Guzzi Griso (my asshole bike- because when I'm on it I do asshole things like fake rev-match with every down shift just to hear the thing) and a DRZ400, the three other bikes belong to my chick (that's how we say it down here):

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    I really like the Vstrom. It's just a mule. I loaded it up with all kinds of camping crap: Go-Kot, Kermit Chair, collapsible cooler, ice, beer. You know- things that aren't really necessary but that make a camping experience so much more fun. I had the pre-load cranked up like a tweeker on payday and in my humble opinion, the bike felt great. It didn't bottom out even though my fat ass weighs about 230lbs and the gear I was wearing (full leathers) were pretty damn heavy.

    The thing is also pretty versatile. I rode it on flinty dirt and gravel roads and then cranked along at 80 mph on those open, straight-as-a-ruler, Nevada highways. The thing had a 250 mile range on that big 5+ gallon tank and it was a comfortable ride. I could hide behind a big adjustable screen, grip heaters and heated clothing all cranked up and cozy. It's not a bike that will get you laid, it ain't cool. But cool doesn't matter when you're a couple hundred miles from the nearest shop. When your out there the only thing you care is that it starts every time you push the button.

    And here's my little brother, his mandolin (always travels with it) and his bike, a 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer. Now that's a fun bike. It's big and bloated like a pregnant blue whale but, man, that engine is fun to flog the shit out of, I had to get off it because it made me feel a little bit inadequate on the 650. Anyways, here it is, and BTW little brother can rip on that mandolin which would come in handy if we had to duel it out Deliverance style with some squinty-eyed local boy- fortunately there were no duels and no squealing. Here's the bike and bro:

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    We started the trip by camping out at Fossil Falls Scenic area on the 395 near the beautiful hamlet of Olancha (beautiful is a stretch but if you do camp at Fossil Falls- just up 395 near Olancha there's a gas station that has cold beer- close enough for you to set up camp and make a beer run up to it). We were both beat from riding through shitty cities on big freeways to get to our meetup spot, so we decided not to push it anymore that day. Our campsite for the night:

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    The place was cool. There's a strange, volcanic canyon that kind of just opens up at your feet- it's much larger and deeper then expected and as you walk along, it's just suddenly there:

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    We were having a great time, until the wind started. First, I have to give credit to our REI tents (ours are the half dome, or something like that, model) I thought for sure that they'd collapse in that wind, they wiggled and flapped but thankfully they didn't fall apart.

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    Check out the dust cloud in the background. That was fine volcanic dust and it go into our tents and over just about everything. I spoke to a girl who came in later that night and camped near us, she said she had to get off of 395 because the wind was blowing her car all over the highway.

    We jammed out of there in the morning, had a great breakfast at the Alabama Hills Cafe in Lone Pine (definitely check it out) and then ran up past Bishop before we took a break at a rest area up near Mammoth Lakes turnoff. Since my bike looks like a cop bike we attracted the attention of a CHP officer driving an SUV. He backed up the highway and into the rest stop thinking I was one of his CHP friends.

    The guy turned out to be really cool- he was a moto officer for 15 years and said he had to get back on the bikes. It was killing him to drive the SUV so I offered to let him ride my bike if I could drive the cop car. He stuck the keys out of the window immediately- cool guy just joking around with his fellow riders. He ended up giving us a tip on a better road to our first hot spring destination- one of the three "easy" pools we'd hit in California, Benton Hot Springs.

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    Benton is a great place to hang out for a night. Be sure to plan well ahead to get a spot because there are only nine camp spots. Mike and I were stoked, we ate chicken fried steaks, wasted some good dinosaur juice, had a laugh with a cop and then got to chill out in our first hot spring. I also snagged some free ice from the lady in the Benton Cafe store who said, "You need ice all over that beer, I ride too honey, you gotta keep that beer cold". Great advice. Here's our Benton set up:

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    1 of 10, done. It was a little too easy. As we sat in the tub we started talking about what we were really looking for- we weren't after some, let's sip a chardonnay, farm raised hot spring. We wanted the lean and mean, open-range, native Nevada hot spring. The kind that fight until their hearts explode- or something like that. Little did we know what we were in for.

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    And...yes, it was all totally worth it.

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    #1
  2. Makalu

    Makalu Long timer

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    #2
  3. v4play

    v4play Throttlephile

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    :1drinkNice writing style and a great subject!
    #3
  4. Liza

    Liza Dirty Girl Supporter

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    In for the ride! :freaky
    #4
  5. mkitchen

    mkitchen Been here awhile

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    I'm just going to have to follow this one. Seldom do you find two brothers that can get along well enough to spend that much time together. Lets hear some more.
    Mikey
    #5
  6. Nanuq

    Nanuq Aventurer by Trade

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    Awesome!!! if you guys are up to a little detour home: head through the South East part of Oregon. The Alvord Desert has a wicked sweet soak-right on the edge of a dried up lake. It's near the border of North Eastern California and North West corner of Nevada.

    I'm just saying....:clap:evil
    #6
  7. hwunger

    hwunger Been here awhile

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    "I really like the Vstrom. It's just a mule. "

    yes it is and one heckuva comfy mule, compared to those 650 thumpers :rofl

    "The thing is also pretty versatile."

    that's what I'm finding also .... not bad for an evening romp through the twisties, good on the highway, and also very capable on dirt/gravel eh ?
    #7
  8. rev_mook

    rev_mook Adventurer

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    I made a trip very much like this in November. I love riding the open roads in Nevada!
    #8
  9. muskeg

    muskeg Been here awhile

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    I'm down. Looks like a fun ride!
    #9
  10. CONKSO

    CONKSO Been here awhile

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    Thanks everybody for tuning in on our little adventure. And thanks for the tip on the hots spring out in the North East- I'm back at home but I'm already thinking about where I'm going to go in June.
    #10
  11. CONKSO

    CONKSO Been here awhile

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    The next morning- we packed up our camp and made a plan to find a hot spring out near the town of Belmont. We fired up the bikes, cruised through the town of Tonapah and hit the dirt for Belmont. One thing we learned about Nevada is that the roads are often long and straight:

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    And when someone from Nevada says, "Yeah, that spot is just off the road." They mean it can be anywhere from 5 - 10 miles off the road, there's a lot of empty space out there so I guess distances are gauged relative to that large amount of empty.

    We rode dirt and gravel through a giant valley, spotted some chubby antelope cruising the desert right next to us and then came up on this:

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    It's called Diane's Punchbowl- it's no big secret, I've seen it here on ADVRider a couple of times and so I figured it would be no big deal. I have to say, it's worth the little side trip out to check this thing out. The crystal clear water down inside of it looks inviting but my hot springs book says it's definitely hot enough to poach you instantly. Here's another shot of it (do see the little ADV sticker on my cheapass Bestem topbox?):

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    Near the punchbowl we found the second hot spring of the ten we were shooting for. This was our first "native" spring and we were really excited to see that they do, indeed, really exist:

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    This one is on the Pott's Ranch. The hot spring is up a ways from the blue plastic pool, all you need to do is lift up the piping from the small dam in the creek and divert the water into the pool. After a morning of dirty, dusty riding, that water felt really, really good! The view wasn't so bad either, and I even cracked one of the ice cold beers I was packing on the mule.

    We soaked there and hung out for about an hour all by ourselves laughing about what we were actually doing, how could this be possible? We came to the conclusion that we need to get out more often- we were too California-suburbia programmed- there's a whole wild world out there and it's only a 6 hour ride from my doorstep. When I think back to all of the springs we found, I think this one, our first, was my favorite. Here's another shot of it:

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    My brother, being the techy that he is told me that his GPS knows a campground nearby. So we put our riding gear back on and took off for the turnoff to Pete's Pass that was supposed to take us to a campground with caves.

    Who would guess that a GPS could be wrong? We ended up at a fork in the road, the magic box said go left and then take a quick right but that just put us onto the front porch of a ranch. It was getting late and getting cold too so we found a road leading up into the mountains and made camp in a canyon called Stoneberger Canyon at a pullout in the road that had an old fire ring. Home for the night:

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    The night was damn cold. The water in our Nalgene bottles froze into a slush. My brother, who cheaped out on his sleeping bag, actually thought he was going to die, his Coleman was rated for zero degrees but that's like saying a vstrom is a good dirtbike. All he had was that shitty bag, a fleece bag liner, thermarest pad and his long wool underwear. He ended up covering himself with all of his riding gear and despite some 2am whining and moaning (to which I replied, "shut up and take it") he made it to the morning. Pussy.

    The next morning a guy who lives by himself in a stone house made in the 1800s with no electricity or running water came by to see if we were alive. His name was Greg and he was totally cool. He hung out and chatted with us for about an hour. The best piece of information that he left us with was that you could eat mountain lion- just make sure there's nothing decaying in the stomach first. If the stomach's empty, go for it. He got us on the right path to Pete's Pass and I promised him I'll bring him some Jim Beam next time I'm out that way. And I will.

    Trip Report Alert: When I got back from my trip last Sunday, my girlfriend got all jealous about the riding and hot springs so I told her I'd take her on a four day trip starting tonight at 2am. So, I'm in the process of packing up my truck (don't worry we're bringing dirt bikes on the trailer) for another trip up Benton Hot springs and a nearby hot spring that has good riding nearby. Unfortunately that leaves you, dear readers, assed out (unless you get fired up to ride, then meet me at Fish Lake outside of Dyer Thursday afternoon and I'll fill you in on the story- look for my truck with license plates CONKSO and two dirt bikes on a trailer behind it) on getting another update.

    Since I care about you I'll leave you with a couple teaser pics of springs we found later in the trip.

    This one is on Shoshone Land:

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    And then this one:

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    Where we met Dick, Vic and Michael who gave us a seat at their bonfire and breakfast in the morning- oh and they also told us that the Hmong "massage therapists" at the "spa" in Ely were the best because their feet are better for walking on your back and they have the strongest grip- which doesn't quite make sense to me if they're massaging with their feet- but who am I to question local knowledge.

    More when I get back on Sunday.
    #11
  12. Baja Ho

    Baja Ho Momentum is your friend

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    Nevada Hot Springs :clap
    #12
  13. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    Awesome!

    I love hot springs. I think I found most of them when I lived in Idaho.
    Keep it coming.

    Q~
    #13
  14. ryder1

    ryder1 Long timer

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    I hope that cop you had some laughs with wasn't this guy.:evil

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    #14
  15. Mtnjohn

    Mtnjohn Been here awhile

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    Uh, Mountain Lion always has something rotten in the gut, just drain all the blood out.
    #15
  16. bluestar

    bluestar sheep shagger

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  17. greyrider2

    greyrider2 Adventurer

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    Love the ride. Subscribed. Close enough to home to get out to some of those spots. Just need to get the right bike to do it. Chores can wait. :D
    #17
  18. CONKSO

    CONKSO Been here awhile

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    After hanging out with the mountain man of Stoneberger canyon, who also gave us the correct route to the pass we were looking for, we broke camp and hit the road. Here's the mountain man's house- if you go by bring him a bottle of Jim Beam, he's a Vietnam vet and nice guy:

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    Hey does anybody else do this when motocamping?

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    My packing motto for clothing on a moto trip is, "one to wash and one to wear". So no matter where I am I dowse my clothes in water and rub 'em around a bit. Here they are hung up to dry. Too bad it was so cold it froze my fresh change into cardboard. I once heard that Jim Morrison pretty much wore the same leather pants at every show, for the length of his career- imagine all the sweat, mung and weirdness in those trousers. Luckily my stuff dried out just fine- no weirdness here.

    Pete's Pass was a beautiful dirt road that maxed out at about 8000' feet- that's when this white stuff started coming out of the sky. Unbelievable for this So. Cal boy... actual snow and they were giving it away for free. Here I am trying to make a snowball:

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    All along Pete's Pass I noticed cool little pull outs where people had camped. In California, you'd have to book a year ahead of time or enter a lottery to try to win some of the spots that I saw just off that road. It made me happy to know that the super impacted, overly regulated state that I live in is just one state and that are still some wild open places.

    The pass slowly brought us down into a big open valley.

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    And on the edge of that valley we found spring number 3:

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    This one is pretty well known. It's called Spencer and I'm sure there's an easier and faster way to get to it than the route we took through Pete's Pass but that wouldn't have been any fun. Besides, like I told Mike, it's not an adventure until someone starts suffering. I think Mike may have still been a little chilled because he was out of his gear and into that pool pretty quick.

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    Yep, you're right that's half of a man-loin right there. I'm glad my little bro's not on this forum because I'm sure he's got some payback shots of me that would definitely ruin my future hopes for a presidential run.

    Spencer's actually got three or four other tubs spread over the mountain side. There's also a lot of dogshit spread over the mountainside as well. I love dogs, when you don't have kids, you become the weird dog person- that's me. I just don't get people who don't pick up after their little buddies. Especially at a hot spring where there's lots of naked folks getting in touch with mother earth- I'm sure they also go in touch with dog shit oozing through their toes.

    Anyways- back to the story. We cruised the bikes around the mountain but there were other groups of folks stewing in the cattle tanks that volunteers, that's hot spring parlance for cool people who create soakable spots for us to enjoy, had placed there. I saw one with three things that looked like really tan, human sized, dried apricots stewing in it- I got a weird feeling and decided to just look straight ahead and motor on down the road. Spencer was cool but it wasn't in my top five list.

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    That's Spencer way, way back there on the hill. It's the light spot. At this point, Mike and I realized we were getting hungry so we bolted over the next pass into Austin. The best part of Austin was the giant sign someone had painted on a discarded car hood that said, "Speed Trap Ahead" right at the entrance of the town. It turns out there's a new sheriff in town and homeboy likes to write tickets (although local gossip is that he stopped his wife's friend speeding outside of town and she didn't get a ticket... just sayin'). Mike said the town creeped him out so we decided to make a break for Elko.

    Halfway there my brother started losing it. It was getting dark and cold and he pulled over babbling something about, "I'm not gonna make it another night in that type of cold... blah, blah, blah" so instead of having him rat me out to mom, I agreed to let him buy us a hotel room in Eureka.

    Yep, we were getting soft- blame it on my brother.
    #18
  19. advrockrider

    advrockrider Long timer

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    So in for this one. I've been wanting to do that same hot springs tour, when it warms up a little. We need lots of detail, about the hot springs, not the guys in them. Just wanted to clarify.
    #19
  20. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf High functioning sociopath

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    Well, detail if you find womens in them is acceptable if not encouraged.
    #20