Sunday, August 24, 2008

(Day 20) Karma bites…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Day 20
Battle Mountain, NV to McDermitt, NV

Up at 5:20am, I take my time getting all my stuff packed properly and getting all of my gear on since the continental breakfast starts at 6am. At 6am on the dot, I try to get into the lobby… door is locked. Great, so I go back to the room and get my key.

I come back about 10 minutes later to turn my key in and to get my “free” breakfast on. I see a lady try to open the lobby door while I was making my way in the same direction. Still locked. I decided to keep walking towards the door and slip the key in. About 10 feet from the door (dressed in full gear, helmet, boots, armor, gloves, helmet cam) she says in quick succession to me and before I even make 2 more steps:
“There’s no one in there..Unless you’re the front desk person..Are you the front desk person?”
And then my assholery comes out, “…do I look like the front desk person?”

Immediately, I felt the karma go into motion… and I was almost 100% sure it would come back to bite me later in the day…

So, I slip the key under the door and run off to get gas, water and granola. I made sure I got every last drop of fuel that I could since the next stop would be 180 miles down the trail.

Then back to motel one last time to see if the sleepy headed manager has opened the door yet. Finally, the guy wakes up and opens the door. Cereal, apple, cinnamon bun, OJ and a couple pecan swirls. As I was eating the lady I acted like an asshole to comes back for coffee refill…sigh. Her husband says “Quite an adventure you have there on that little bike”… “Yup”.

So anyway, I’m back on the trail, ready to see what karma had in store for me. The first thing she had for me was the slowly disappearing roads again. Once I lost track of the road, I could see the I-80 tunnel about 2-3 miles into the distance. There was just that bloody sagebrush between. No problem, I’ve done this before. So, I just ride straight to it, over all the sagebrush, blazing my own trail directly to the I-80 tunnel:

After passing through the tunnel, I would ride gravel roads for most of the way and would have to open a lot of gates:

I passed a small community not too far out of Battle Mountain and was following the GPS marked road just fine until it would lead right thru a barbed wire fence…no gate (and, yes, there is a “road” in this picture):

I follow the fence northward because that’s eventually the direction that’d I’d be going. That turned out to be the right choice. I found a gate to get me on the other side and then followed the fence back down to where I was initially blocked. There was a deep little dry creek bed that I crossed on the way up the fence, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Of course, I had to cross this same creek bed on the way back down the fence to reach the “road” again. Only this time, the creek bed was full of tumble weed. No sweat, I thought. So, I take it slow in first gear and feel the front wheel drop about 2 to 3 feet into the tumbleweed. I feel the back end come up and the front wheel going nowhere. The result was a very, very slow endo. Luckily the bike falls beside me and not on me.

The creek bed was very deep right here and getting out was not going to be easy. I had to use my Tuggers to get the bike lined up for an exit route. The first attempt fails, but after a little more gas and a little less regard for not tearing up the creek bed, the second attempt is successful. Out of a cloud of dust, I’m moving again, and eventually find some two-track after running thru more sagebrush:

I saw a few of these signs in the area:

And get tired of opening fences:

Then, I notice what a perfect Nevada day it was; a nearly full moon to the west, the sun to the east, and mountain ranges are in view for 360 degrees as I was in a valley. There was not a single solitary cloud in the sky. The colors were amazing, but still very simple:

Soon afterwards, there was a fairly deep creek crossing as you approach this abandoned(?) house:

Here is what’s between Battle Mountain and McDermitt:

NOTHING! Well, there is Coyote Mountain. This isn’t really part of the trail, but is a recommended side trip according to the roll charts. If you’re low on gas though, better skip it. But if you do have gas, go all the way to the top and tell me what you think is under this 4’ x 6’ pile of rocks:

I have my suspicions, but for now, I’ll just use it to set my camera on so I can snap a picture of He-Man!

The view on top of Coyote Mountain was great and I truly felt like I was in total control of all the land below me while I was up there (by the power of Gray Skull).

Anyway, karma has more in store for me…

The gates are becoming a hassle and the roads start to deteriorate. I come across a truck with horse/cattle wagon parked along side the road where I need to open another gate. This gate (N41 46.260 W117 26.682) doesn’t look like any of the previous gate because it doesn’t have the sticks of wood attached vertically down the length of it and it looked fairly new. Just past the gate in the barely visible trail, there was a big pile of dirt, strategically placed in the middle of the trail. It would be easy to ride over, but the rancher is just over the hill. Not wanting to press my luck, I check Garmin and find a reroute that takes me to the next via point but on a different road that wasn’t too far out of the way.

The detour of mine is marked on the GPS, but, in reality, it slowly deteriorates from nice gravel two-track to rocky two-track to cow trail in the span of about 3 miles. Elevation changes were a factor here but nothing too bad. Eventually the cow track leads me to a rocky ravine that leads uphill. The cow trail is narrow and full of big rocks. I wreck. And, then I wreck again and, fall hard on my back. The bike is upside down and losing fuel so I immediately jump up and get the bike upright. Marching onward I wreck again, same story. At this point, I’m off the Garmin “road”, totally exhausted from picking the bike up, and the future of this cow trail is not looking good.

Then I think about something I should have thought about during the planning phase. What if I knock myself out? It would have taken a K-9 unit to find me since I was off the trail and not even on a marked road, or even a cow trail for that matter. And I’d most likely be dead by the time the dogs or vultures found me. So, the moral of this story is to turn on the tracking feature on your Satellite Beacon if you’re going alone. I sent an OK message at this point, just in case the worst does happen and I’m not able to send out a help message.

Worn out from picking the bike up and losing faith in the TAT maps AND the GPS “roads”, I bail out. Now, my best guides were my eyes and I planned to take the path of least resistance from here on out…I just hope I had enough fuel to get me to where I was going.

On the way back out, there is a tree that I had to go back under (approx. N41 47.979 W117 28.500). To the left and right were too steep. The only option is to run under this tree as I did originally. The lower limbs of the tree were about 4 feet high, dead and dry. In a little rush to get out, I feel one of those limbs poke my neck pretty hard. A little more speed or a sharper limb, and this could have been the end of my journey (picture taken after the fact):

Luckily it just scratched me up pretty good and I made it thru otherwise unscathed. Coming back out of my detour wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Once I returned to a decent road, it led me to an awesome mountain pass that I would have never seen had I been on the TAT. The coolest thing about this pass was the wind nailing me once I reached the crest, right as the view opened up:

After soaking in this scene for a bit, I was able to coast down the switchbacks for nearly 3 miles before I had to start the engine. Eventually, I get onto 95 North and head into McDermitt. I had already lowered my expectations for McDermitt, but ended being disappointed once again. I randomly pick 1 of the 2 “motels” in town and start to do my end of the day routine.

While I’m downloading my GPS data and stuff, I see the town cop (emphasis on “the”) pull up to my door. He sticks around for a bit, so I figure he wanted to tell me to dry my clothes somewhere else besides the makeshift clothesline that I had made. But no, he just wants to talk about my trip…for 2 hours. He was a very cool guy and had some great stories to share. Eventually, I get back to the room where I’d finish up my computer business, prep for the next day and hit the sack. Stats:

Tomorrow’s goal is Lakeview, OR… but that’s still a long, long ways away…

Total mileage: 4070
Daily mileage: 174
Wildlife observed: Chipmunks, birds, antelope
Favorite Sight: Coming off some mountain pass south of McDermitt
Favorite Scent: Nothing
Favorite Sound: Nothing
Favorite Taste: Vanilla ice cream cone
Favorite Feel: Getting traction out of the ravine
Ailments: Monkey butt, I think it’s b/c I wore 48 hour old cotton underwear

1 comment:

Richard Jellicoe said...

I would guess as you likely have that the 4’ x 6’ pile of rocks is a grave. New or old who knows, maybe you found the missing pilot Steve Fosset. Do you have the GPS on the grave?