March 20, 2009

West Desert - Newfoundland Mountains

Trevor and I left everyone else behind and headed for the Newfoundlands where we figured a couple days would do. We headed out that night to spend the spring solstice in the desert. Drove until 10pm or so and biviouaced on a knoll at the north boundary of the Air Force Range. Trips like this are why I need a set of offroad lights so I don't have to freak out quite so bad when the antelope jump out of nowhere. We woke on the first day of spring to a real nice day. Cooked eggs in the dutch oven on the stove top, and drank generous portions of coffee. Me trying to get a head start on a trip by leaving the night before just doesn't work out. By the time I drink coffee, cook breakfast, lounge around and get things packed up it's nearly noon, especially if it's cold in the morning. I guess it's not really a newsflash that winters are known for being cold in the morning. Truth be known, I like to sleep outside and wake up in a big open piece of desert, cold or not. Anyway we finally got loaded up and headed for the railroad causeway where we promptly got our doors blown off by a west bound Union Pacific freight train.


We decided to go to the west side of the Newfys first. The road almost immediately turns in to a track through the Greasewood brush where I wouldn't want to be when it's muddy. It'd be miles of terribly slow gumbo mud. We got down to Miners Basin and explored a couple of the trails going up into the foothills to abandon mine sites.


I liked the view to the west; across the Newfoundland Evaporation Basin towards Nevada and Pilot Peak.

Miners Basin Pass would be the ideal place to start a hike to Desert Peak, the highest in the Newfoundlands. We went back to the valley floor and continued south. After driving the road south for a while I noticed there were no other tracks. It'd been weeks since anyone passed this way which added to the already remote feeling. Coming across the signs of somebodys bad luck from days gone by also ominously reminds a backcountry traveler of the remote nature of the country through which they pass.


parking brake set...


we decided to take two vehicles...just incase


outta gas, somewhere on the west slope of the Newfoundland Mountains.


The end of the road. Air Force landia beyond the sign. BS! It's probably the real Area 51.


Sign says to call some number for passage. Actually Trevor is calling his brother to cuss him out. His Verizon really did work!

Old Dodge pickup tailgate the airforce didn't want anymore carefully placed in the desert.


We turned around and headed back north instead of going a couple hundred yards east and driving around the fence. I figure the govt. could make us go away and wouldn't want to press my luck. We found a spot on the north end of the range, with a view of the causeway in the valley below, to set up the springbar so we could get out of the wind storm that'd blown in during the day. The air was full of dust and we were glad to have the tent. Set up the table and chairs and stove inside and lounged with Miso soup.


It rained most of the night and cleared the air nicely. We wanted to go on south down the east side of the range but neither of us had the fuel capacity so we had to surrender to civilization and hydrocarbons. I need a jerry can! Too lazy to drive the few miles back around to the crossing so we just crossed! Until next time...


March 2, 2009

taking the long way to Death Valley

It was again time to scram on a road trip. On the multiple trips, my friends and I did to the West Desert this winter, we talked often of extending the trip to Death Valley because the gas prices were lower than they'd been in years, and the season was right.