Prep

Black Rock Desert, Stuck in the Playa, Day 3 – June 3, 2016

The Fuso is still stuck.

The Fuso is still stuck.

Friday was a day for strategy. We needed a new approach and more equipment.

Morning came much too early. Breakfast was included in the price of our hotel. After almost two days of snacks, it was really appreciated.

Carman arrived to pick us up around 9:00. The plan was to drive up to the Fuso to evaluate the current condition in the daylight. Since there weren’t any plans to actually extract it this morning, I decided to catch up on my sleep.

The Fuso’s situation didn’t look any better this morning.

20160603 017 Jon

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Carman didn’t have the equipment needed to get it out. Jon and Carman stopped in at Bruno’s Shell and Towing in Gerlach to find the person with the major recovery equipment. They were told to come back around 5:00 to meet with Cecil at the garage.

Jon came back to the hotel around 2 and we had a little lunch. Jon and Carman left around 4:00 to return to Gerlach.  It turns out that the person they needed to talk to was Willie, Cecil’s son. After a lot of running around and talking with other people and knocking on random doors, they met Willie.  He is the owner of Courtney Rock and Transport and has the heavy equipment needed to get us out.

They drove out the the Fuso with Willie so that he could determine what he needed to bring tomorrow. Arrangements were made to meet Willie at Bruno’s Shell at 9:00 am on Saturday before returning to recover the Fuso.

Jon got back to the hotel around 10:30 pm. We had a little dinner and went to bed. It was going to be a big day tomorrow.

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Black Rock Desert, Stuck in the Playa, Day 2 afternoon – June 2, 2016

Smith N' Tobey Recovery Service arrives.

Around 3:30 pm, we woke up from our nap when we heard a car drive up. A couple of minutes later, there was a knock on our door. Smith N Tobey Recovery Services had arrived. Carman and Marge had brought their XTerra, sand ladders, boards and tools.

 

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The driver’s side rear wheel was now much deeper than it had been this morning.

Our plan was to dig out both rear wheels and put in the sand ladders. The other rear wheel had sunk a little more, so it also needed to be dug out again. We would use the MaxTraxs for the front wheels. Then, we would use the Xterra to to help get the Fuso out.

It was really hot (a little over 100 degrees F). Fortunately, Carman had a lot of experience in fighting wild fires. He really knows how to dig even in hot conditions.

Getting the driver’s side cleared was relatively straight forward.

Not as much digging required on the driver's side.

Not as much digging required on the driver’s side.

Getting the passenger’s side rear wheel dug out was a challenge. There was already a tremendous pile of dirt from our earlier recovery attempts. So not only did it require sliding under the vehicle, but just getting rid of the dirt required a lot of effort.

Carman sliding under the Fuso to do a little more digging.

Carman sliding under the Fuso to do a little more digging.

Due to the limited access, we were using a mattock and the back of the ax. Even the ice scraper came in handy. We’re packing a trowel next trip.

Rear tire with sand ladder in place. Ax used for digging.

Rear wheel with sand ladder in place. Yes, we used the ax for digging.

The sand ladders were put in front of the two rear wheels. The front passenger’s side was already on top of a MaxTrax.

MaxTrax is under the passenger side front tire.

If you look hard, you can see the pink of the MaxTrax under the wheel.

We put the other MaxTrax in front of the driver’s side front wheel.

MaxTrax in place.

We tried using the same set up that we used this morning except the XTerra would be attached to the Pull-Pal. We would use the winch attached to the Pull-Pal and the Fuso’s own power. While we were making final adjustments, we had a visitor on a dirt bike stop by to see what was happening.

We have a visitor. Jon and Carman deciding what to do next.

We have a visitor. Jon and Carman deciding what to do next.

Rusty had a friend that had gotten his pickup truck stuck in almost the same place last year. He and his friends were camping at the Black Rock Hot Springs. They found out the hard way that the water from the Black Rock Hot Springs drains this under this area.

We went ahead and gave our current arrangement a try.

Jon and Carman checking the equipment setup.

Jon and Carman checking the equipment setup.

The Fuso dragged the Pull-Pal and the XTerra towards us. Jon and Carman made a few adjustments and then tried again. We gave it one more try without any success.

Jon heads back to the Fuso for one more try.

Jon heads back to the Fuso for one more try.

Rusty offered to go back to his campsite to get his truck, a Ford F-250. It certainly has more pulling power than the XTerra. Since we weren’t having any success going forward, Rusty suggested that we try going backwards instead.

So Rusty left to get his vehicle while we did a lot more digging to get the Fuso set up to reverse. We packed up the Pull-Pal and much of the other recovery equipment. Rusty returned with his friend that had gotten stuck last year.

Jon continues to set up for the next recovery attempt. We have spectators.

Marge talking with Rusty’s friend.

We put down boards by the back wheels to give them more of a ramp to drive up.

Getting prepared for a recovery attempt going backwards.

Much more digging was required.

 

After a lot more work, we were finally ready to give it a try.

 

In less than a minute, we went from this:

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Everything is ready for the recovery attempt.

 

To this:

Assessing the situation.

Not an improvement.

 

We all walked around it to assess the change of situation. After some consideration, we decided to use the Hi-Lift jack to raise the rear of the vehicle enough to get under it. We put the Hi-Lift jack on top of a sand ladder and board to keep it from sinking into the ground.

Jon and Carman did some more digging to make it possible to put bottle jacks under the frame to make it more secure. It had been hoped that with jacking up the frame, we could put some support under the rear wheels. But we couldn’t jack the truck up high enough to get them off the ground.

Jon and Carman doing what is necessary for the next recovery attempt.

Jon and Carman doing what is necessary for the next recovery attempt.

The boards, the MaxTraxs and sand ladders were arranged to give both the Fuso and the Ford the best chance of getting traction. This required a lot more digging and removing the jacks.

 

Sunset and our good samaritans are still here.

Sunset and our good samaritans are still here.

Around 10:30, we gave it one more try to get the Fuso out or at least less stuck.

Almost ready to make one more recovery attempt in the dark.

Almost ready to make one more recovery attempt in the dark.

It didn’t help.

The last recovery attempt of the night.

The last recovery attempt of the night.

We decided to call it a day. We thanked Rusty and his friend for all their help. They had been planning a gourmet dinner at their campsite and stuck around anyway.

The Fuso was much too unstable for us to be in it. We put away all of our recovery gear, collected a few items from the camper, shut off those things that needed it and finally locked it up.

Sunset

We made arrangements with Carman and his wife to drop us off at the hotel in Gerlach, NV. We headed out on the playa in the dark. After driving around for a long time, it turns out were weren’t going in the right direction. We eventually stopped at a campsite. It turned out we had made our way to Rusty’s campsite at Black Rock Hot Springs which was in the opposite direction that we wanted to go. Amusing as it was, we were all tired. So we got directions and made it to Gerlach around 12:05. Everything was closed. Not even the bar was open.

Carman and his wife still had a 75 mile drive to return to Wadsworth,  NV.  They offered to drop us off at a hotel in the neighboring town, Fernley, NV. Fernley is a good sized town with a number of hotels and other services. So at 2:15 am, we were checked into a Comfort Suites.

We would get together in the morning to decide what to do next.

 

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Black Rock Desert, Stuck in the Playa, Day 2 morning – June 2, 2016

 

Looking out at the Black Rock early Thursday morning.

Looking out at the Black Rock early Thursday morning.

The story continues the next morning.

We are still stuck. We have been in contact with a recovery service indirectly. They will be coming out in the afternoon.

It was dark by the time we stopped last night, so here are a few photos of our current situation.

Passenger side front tire

Passenger side front tire

The front tire was well set up for us to get out.

Passenger side rear tire and box. There is still a lot of dirt in front of the back tire.

Passenger side rear tire and box.

The ground has been cleared out under the boxes, but there is still some dirt in front of the back tire. The back of the Fuso is much heavier than the front, Consequently, back is sunk much deeper into the ground.

 

View of the underside from the back.

View of the underside from the back.

Jon had cleared out the area under the center of the vehicle. The pneumatic bottle jack helped to even up the camper overnight so that we could sleep in it. The jack and the board it is sitting on have sunk into the ground. We removed both before trying to move the vehicle.

 

The driver side rear tire.

The driver side rear tire.

The driver’s side didn’t sink down in the ground nearly as much as the passenger side.

It seemed like the Fuso had a clear path to move forward, except for a little more dirt in front of the passenger side rear tire.

Not long after we got up, we heard a vehicle heading our way.

A visitor.

A visitor.

It was a guy named, Mike, who spotted us this morning. He drove out in his side by side to investigate.  We walked around the Fuso to evaluate our current condition and discuss recovery options.

Mike’s side by side

His vehicle wasn’t strong enough to pull us out, but he had a friend with another side by side that would probably be willing to help out. Mike recommended that we dig out the area in front of the rear passenger tire. We pulled out more recovery gear. Jon did a little more digging.

Jon digging out the rear tire in preparation for assistance.

Jon is about to crawl down under the box to reach the rear wheel.

In less than an hour, Mike returned with his friend, John. As it turned out, they had been camping at Double Hot Springs for the past week. It was just chance that they were away when we stopped at Double Hot Springs yesterday.

 

The plan was to bury the Pull-Pal in front of the Fuso.

The Pull-Pal is deeply buried. The yellow strap is attached to be able to pull the Pull-Pal out of the ground if needed.

The Pull-Pal is deeply buried. The yellow strap is attached to be able to pull the Pull-Pal out of the ground if needed.

We connected our winch line to it. John and Mike connected their vehicles to the front of the Fuso. So hopefully between the winch, the Fuso’s own power and the two side by sides, we would be able to get out.

 

All ready to go.

Initial attempt. Everyone is ready to go.

The Pull-Pal stayed buried, but was being dragged through the ground. The Fuso remained very stuck. Everyone gave it one more try, but Mike and John couldn’t pull any harder without damaging their vehicles.

So we dug out a little more. John suggested using a snatch block (pulley) to double the strength of the winch.

We attached a separate piece of winch line to the Pull-Pal. The line coming out of our winch was fed through a pulley and then reattached to the front of our vehicle. This increases the ability of the winch to pull.

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In the photo above, the blue line is the line coming out of the winch. The yellow line is a recovery strap connected to the winch line coming out of the pulley. We don’t have enough additional winch line to cover the whole distance.

Note: We are using winch line, not metal wire cable. In the case of the line breaking, it just drops. When metal wire cable breaks, it will fly through the air with the potential to hurt people and equipment. We placed a blanket over the line near the snatch block to keep it from flying around if something breaks.

It would not be safe for John and Mike to pull from the front of the Fuso, so they hooked their vehicles up to the Pull-Pal to make it a stronger winch point.

The side by sides are connected to the Pull-Pal.

In the photo above, the two side by sides are on the right side. The blanket is the blue blob in the middle.  The winch line is the pale blue line extending from the blanket to the left side of the photo. The Fuso is on the left side out of view of the camera (see above).

 

With all the additional effort, we were finally able to get the Fuso to move.

side by side text

The bad news is that the Fuso is now even more stuck.  The driver’s side of the vehicle is deeper in the ground.

The good news is that the cab and camper are more level.

 

John talking with Jon after the morning's final try.

Jon talking with John after the morning’s final try.

After evaluating our new situation, John and Mike couldn’t do anything else to help us get out. We really appreciated their help. They were driving home to Oregon today and needed to get back to their campers to get underway.

We are expecting the recovery service to come out this afternoon, so hopefully we will be able to get out then. It was beginning to get really hot. Now that the camper is more level, we took advantage of the cooler temperatures and shade inside the camper. We were both exhausted, so we took a nap.

More to come.

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Black Rock Desert, Getting Stuck in the Playa – June 1, 2016 (Day 1)

Jon digging. Note how deeply the boxes and back tire are embedded.

Jon digging. Note how deeply the boxes and back tire are embedded.

To understand how we got so very badly stuck, you need a little background information.

 

The Black Rock Desert Playa

The Black Rock Desert Playa is basically a dry lake bed formed by the evaporation of Lake Lahontan over a period of more than 100,000 years. The playa currently covers approximately 200 square miles. The lake sediments, primarily made up of fine silt and clay minerals, are as deep as 10,000 feet in places. The playa is typically wet in the winter and early spring which makes it completely impassible by vehicles. (Think very deep mud).
When the playa surface is dry, it may appear to be the same all the way across, but it actually varies significantly in durability and hardness.
A view of the Black Rock Desert Playa.

A view of the Black Rock Desert Playa.

In some parts, it forms the distinctive cracked mud flat pattern.

Dry, cracked mud flat texture

In other areas, it has transitory ripples and a more textured surface. The cracked mud flat areas tend to be firmer than the more textured surface. Because the playa was formed by evaporation, the soil is highly alkaline. In areas where there is occasional fresh water, the minerals and salts may form a crust on top of a more fluffy and moist surface.
Crust on top of fluffy clay.

You can tell we were breaking through the crust into the fluffy soil below.

Why we thought we were prepared.

We stopped at the Friends of the Black Rock office for general information and to find out about the current road conditions. We were told that the playa was mostly dry and roads conditions were good. We read over the Black Rock Desert – Know Before You Go Guide before going into the Desert.

Know Before You Go

On our drive to the Soldier Meadow Hot Creek, we saw the dust clouds formed by vehicles driving along the road along the playa.

We were well supplied. We had front and rear winches that were rated for the weight of the Fuso. We carry a Pull-Pal (a land anchor), Hi-Lift Jack, pink MaxTrax (traction device) and a lot of recovery gear. We thought we were very well prepared for spending time in the Black Rock Desert. We have spent quite a bit of time in the deserts around Death Valley/Saline Valley. We’ve been traveling in the Robinson Fuso vehicle off and on for the last four years. We’ve gotten it stuck several times and have been able to self rescue every time. Jon is an incredible driver with a lot of experience driving off road.

So back to the Story

When Jon and I left the Double Hot Spring, we planned to camp at Black Rock Hot Springs almost directly south of Double Hot Springs. We had the GPS coordinates for the springs, but none of our maps showed any roads going from Double Hot Springs to Black Rock Hot Springs. We had been told that we could reach the hot springs by going this way by two old timers. So we continued to following the road we had been taking.

Black Rock. Areas of gravel vs playa

The Black Rock. The grey areas are gravel. The tan areas are playa.

The road turned west, away from the Black Rock and headed onto the playa.

Our choices were to:

  1. Back track to try to find the correct, unmarked track that turned off from the road that we had been on
  2. Turn around and camp at Double Hot Springs
  3. Continue along this road and plan to pick up the southern road to the Black Rock Hot Springs where it crosses over the playa.  We had directions for reaching the Black Rock Hot Springs from the south in our Nevada hot springs guide.

We decided to take option three. The road we took across the playa was very obvious as we started out, but the tire tracks started peeling off and we eventually were following just one set of tire tracks. There were lots of intersecting tire tracks as we continued. Since there were no way to tell if this track would eventually reach the road to the hot springs, we started following well defined tracks that were headed in the right general direction. Distances are deceptive in the desert. There aren’t many things to provide scale.

It turns out that well defined tracks are not a good thing. It means that the playa surface is not very hard, so tires are cutting through the crust.

It was also very hot outside. Temperatures hovered around 100 degrees F.

The Fuso tends to run hot, especially over surfaces like this. When it would get too hot, we stopped to let it cool off before continuing on our way. At one of these time, we stopped and suddenly my side of the vehicle dropped by about 1 1/2 feet. It was very dramatic and unexpected.

By driving forward at a reasonable pace, Jon was able to use inertia to keep us moving. It was only once the vehicle stopped that we realized how soft the playa had become. Initially, Jon tried to get the Fuso to go forward or backward under its own power, but we were truly stuck.

After assessing the problem, Jon went to work pulling out recovery gear. I wasn’t nearly as productive. Out came the Pull-Pal, winch controller, shovels, MaxTraxs and other miscellaneous items.

Pull-Pal

We set up the Pull-Pal in front of the truck and attempted to winch the Fuso forward out of the hole. On the first try, we dug a trench and didn’t move the Fuso at all.

Another trench dug by the Pull-Pal. Notice that the playa is highly textured here.

The first trench dug by the Pull-Pal. Notice that the playa is highly textured here.

There was a shrub in front of us, but much further out. We hoped that the ground would be a little firmer and the shrub’s roots would provide a more substantial tow point.

The "Black Rock" that gave the desert its name.

The Black Rock looks pretty close in this photo

You can get a sense of how far away the shrub was in the photo above. The thin blue line starting at the bottom left corner is the winch line leading to the shrub.

Jon pulled out additional winch line. We dug in the Pull-Pal on the other side of it and gave it another try.

The Pull-Pal is buried deeply.

The Pull-Pal is buried deeply.

It dug a much more impressive trench. We tried it again without any success.

The Pull-Pal has dug an impressive trench.

The Pull-Pal has dug an impressive trench.

In the picture above, you can see the initial trench as a dark line in the background to the left of the Fuso. The first trench at the shrub is on the left edge of the photo and the Pull-Pal is still in the second trench.

Since the passenger side tires and storage boxes were deeply embedded, we dug around them to free them up.

Jon trying to dig out the boxes. Note the pink MaxTraxs and the red Hi-Lift Jack.

Jon trying to dig out the boxes.
You can’t tell how much the vehicle is leaning in this photo.
Note the pink MaxTrax and the red Hi-Lift Jack.

We attempted to lift the vehicle by putting the Hi-Lift Jack at a mounting point for the lower rub rails. It broke off. Jon continued to dig around and under the vehicle.

When it didn’t looked like we were going to get out tonight, Jon used our deLorme InReach to text a friend and contact rescue services. We didn’t have any kind of cell phone coverage, but the InReach is a satellite based, two way texting device that allows us to contact help no matter where we are.

It had already started to get dark.

The sun is setting. The vehicle left very deep tracks in the playa.

The sun is setting. The vehicle cut very deep tracks in the playa.

Jon attempted to lift up the passenger side of the Fuso by setting up bottle jacks underneath it, but they just sank into the mud (even when putting wood blocks under them to distribute the weight). Jon kept digging. I started to get really claustrophobic under the vehicle. We turned on our lights to make us more visible.

Getting darker and the Fuso is still very stuck.

A good example of how tilted the camper was.

Jon finally called it a night around 11:00. He used the Hi-lift jack on the rear bumper and a bottle jack under the vehicle to lift up the camper enough to allow us to sleep inside. After snacks and a shower, we finally went to bed.

 

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Black Rock Desert, Double Hot Springs – June 1, 2016

Soaking tub at Double Hot Springs.

Soaking tub at Double Hot Springs.

We continued driving south until we reached Double Hot Springs.

Double Hot Springs

Double Hot Springs

The geology of the Great Basin area in north central Nevada is a Basin and Range formation. There are a series of fault zone running north to south including the Black Rock Fault that runs along the eastern part of the Black Rock playa. Because the crust is so thin in this area, the ground water doesn’t have to go very far to become superheated which then rises back to the surface along fault lines.

Black Rock Desert Geology

There are a number of hot springs in the area. Double Hot Springs and Black Rock Hot Springs are so hot they are deadly. Double Hot Springs are about 180 degrees at the source.

Double hot springs goes pretty deep.

One of the Double Hot Springs source.

The source of the Double Hot Springs are from two large springs and a series of smaller springs.

Double Hot Springs consists of several pools.

Double Hot Springs consists of several pools.

One of the main springs making up Double Hot Springs.

One of the main springs making up Double Hot Springs.

Because of the dangerous temperatures, there is a fence around the area and several signs.

The Double Hot Springs is deadly hot at 180 degrees. Not a sign you see very often.

The Double Hot Springs is deadly hot at 180 degrees. Not a sign you see very often.

The water from the springs drain out into a small creek.

A view of the Double Hot Springs.

A view of the Double Hot Springs.

The soaking pool is next to the small creek.

Soaking tub at Double Hot Springs. The water next to it is still exceeding hot.

Soaking tub at Double Hot Springs. The water next to it is still exceeding hot.

We wanted to camp at the Black Rock Hot Springs, so we only stayed at the Double Hot Springs long enough take pictures.

Sign about the Applegate Pioneer Trail.

Sign about the Applegate Pioneer Trail.

There was a group camping in the area, but no one was home while we were there.

People camping at Double Hot Springs.

People camping at Double Hot Springs.

Across from the Double Hot Springs was another hot seep that is also very dangerous.

A marshy area near Double Hot Springs. A hot seep area to avoid. The sign is no longer posted.

A marshy area near Double Hot Springs. A hot seep area to avoid. The sign is no longer posted.

We left for the Black Rock Hot Springs.

 

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Black Rock Desert – Hardin City, An Abandoned Mining Town – June 1, 2016

Jon standing behind the remains of a mining mill at Hardin City

Jon standing behind the remains of a building at Hardin City

After leaving High Rock Canyon and the Soldier Meadows Campground, we drove south on the road along the eastern side of the Black Rock Playa. We planned to stop at Double Hot Springs and Hardin City, an abandoned mining town.

Going south on the road on the east side of the Black Rock Playa. The frequent dips are almost invisible until you are right on top of them.

Going south on the road on the east side of the Black Rock Playa.

The road is in ok condition, but I would only recommend it for high clearance vehicles. There are frequent dips and washes that you often don’t see until you are right on top of them.

The road along the east side of the Black Rock Playa. Near Hardin City.

Near Hardin City. The hill was the source of some of the building materials in the town.

We took a detour to Hardin City, an abandoned silver “boom” town located along the Applegate-Lassen Pioneer Trail.

Views around Hardin City

Views around Hardin City

Hardin City was built in 1859 to process silver ore thought to be located in the area. James Hardin collected a rock from the area while traveling along the trail which was claimed to contain silver.  An expedition went out in 1858 to find more silver ore. The rumor of silver created Hardin City as a “boom” town for the expected mines.

Views around Hardin City

Views around Hardin City

Unfortunately, no additional silver was ever located. The town abandoned by 1868.

Views around Hardin City

Views around Hardin City

Much of Hardin City was built from the red, orange and black stones in the area.

Remains of mining mill in Hardin City

Remains of mining mill in Hardin City

There isn’t much left of the town after 150 years.

The remains of Hardin City

Building remains at Hardin City

It was an interesting place to visit.

View of Fuso in the background at Hardin City

View of Fuso in the background at Hardin City

We had a snack before leaving. The entire Black Rock Desert has been really dusty. To limit the amount of dust tracked into our camper, we try to remove the dust on the back of the vehicle before entering. Thank goodness we have an air compressor to speed up the process.

Jon blowing dust off on the back of the Fuso.

Jon blowing dust off on the back of the Fuso.

 

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Black Rock Desert Area, High Rock Canyon – June 1, 2016

View along High Rock Canyon

We left on Wednesday morning to visit High Rock Canyon. We tried to go there two years ago, but it was closed at the time. The High Rock Canyon area is closed from February 1 until the second weekend in May to protect Big Horn Sheep lambing and raptor nesting.

The sign for High Rock Canyon at the South entrance.

The sign for High Rock Canyon at the South entrance.

This year the road is open.

High Rock Canyon

The road into High Rock Canyon is mostly loose soil with rocks and shrubs close to the side of the road. We keep our eyes out for anything too close to us. At one point, we thought we went over a rock.

Native Americans arrived here 10,000 BC. This emigrant wagon road is part of the Applegate Cutoff heading to Oregon. It was used in the mid-1800s. We stopped at a well used cave.

Jon checking out a cave.

Jon checking out a cave.

When we stopped, we noticed that whatever we hit did some significant damage to the two lower boxes on the passenger side.

A view of the Fuso along the High Rock Canyon. Two of the lower boxes are significantly damaged. No idea what caused it.

A view of the Fuso along the High Rock Canyon. Two of the lower boxes are significantly damaged. No idea what caused it.

Since there wasn’t anything we could do about the damage, we continued down the road. The brush became more significant.

A view of the surrounding area from the High Rock Canyon Road

A view of the surrounding area from the High Rock Canyon Road

We reached one point where we had to do a little rock crawling to get down a ledge. We passed by a guy camping. He came out here every year to spend some time in this area. He didn’t think that we would be able to make it through the Narrows. It is a tight spot between a large rock and the canyon wall. He did reassure us that there was a place to stop and turn around before we reached it.

High Rock Canyon - the Narrows. We have to back up to get out of the tight spot.

High Rock Canyon – the Narrows. We have to back up to get out of the tight spot.

We reached a point where we couldn’t go any further. There is really thick brush on both sides. The canyon wall on the right is really close and slopes into the road. On the left side, there is another big rock surrounded by small trees and brush. It is so tight that we can’t see behind us in any of the mirrors. We have to back up about 50 yards in all of this stuff before we reach a point where we can turn around.

The view of the area we need to back down to get turned around when we reached the Narrows. We have to get past the large shrubs before turning around.

The view of the area we need to back down to get turned around when we reached the Narrows. We have to get past the large shrubs before turning around.

After getting out of the vehicle and looking over the area. I stayed behind the vehicle. We have radios and the Fuso has a backup camera to help us back up. It took a while, but we finally got turned around.

On our way back, we stopped at a historic engraved rock.

Historic Rock Engraving from the Pioneer trail through the High Rock Canyon.

Historic Rock Engraving from the Pioneer trail through the High Rock Canyon.

We climbed up into the canyon next to it.

A view of the canyon that we climbed up.

A view of the canyon that we climbed up.

It is really difficult to climb up due to all of the loose rock. Jon kept climbing. I stopped at the top of the scree. It was a great view.

View from the highest point I climbed up in the canyon wall.

View from the highest point I climbed up in the canyon wall.

Jon climbed to the top of the canyon.

Jon is the little tiny dark dot to the right of the small pointy rock in the area between the two large prominences.

Jon is the little tiny dark dot to the right of the small pointy rock in the area between the two large prominences.

The geology is very interesting to see up close.

Looking up at the canyon wall.

Looking up at the canyon wall.

There were a lot of wildflowers, too.

Lots of wildflowers.

Lots of wildflowers.

We headed back to the southern entrance of the High Rock Canyon. We didn’t find what caused the damage to the lower boxes of the Fuso.

We made a detour back to our campsite before heading down the eastern side of the Black Rock Playa. We plan to stop at the Hardin City ruins and Double Hot Springs. We hope to camp at Black Rock Hot Springs tonight.

 

 

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Black Rock Desert, Soldier Meadows – May 30 & 31, 2016

Campsite #4

Hot Creek Campground – Campsite #4

We camped out at the BLM dispersed camping area by Mugwumps last night. We headed north on 447 and stopped at  Gerlach, NV to visit the Friends of the Black Rock office before heading into the Black Rock Desert.

Friends of the Black Rock Desert

It is a great place to visit before heading into the area. They have lots of brochures and books and information about the area. There had been a mini Burning Man gathering during the Memorial Day weekend. We waited until Monday to hopefully avoid any holiday crowds.

We drove up the Soldier Meadows Road. We were here two years ago and wanted to spend a little time at the Soldier Meadows Hot Springs.  The desert scenery is striking.

Soldier Meadows Road

Soldier Meadows Road

We had a good view of the Black Rock and the Black Rock Playa.

View of the Black Rock and Playa.

View of the Black Rock and Playa.

We were passed by several vehicles going the other direction. We could also see the dust clouds left by vehicles driving down the road along the Black Rock Playa.

View of vehicle dust trail traveling down the Black Rock Desert Playa road.

View of vehicle dust trail traveling down the Black Rock Desert Playa road.

We were traveling in a National Conservation Area and there were lots of signs of animal trails.

Animal trails

Animal trails

After about 20 miles, we came upon a stopped vehicle. A young woman’s Scion IQ had broken down. She had been stopped along the road for a couple of hours. Meghan was able to text, but not make phone calls. Her little two-seater car had cracked the transmission case and she had run the vehicle until it stopped. The vehicle had gone beyond the point where we could help it.

Meghan and her Scion IQ. Her dog is inside. She has a reflective screen in the front window. It is not broken.

Meghan and her Scion IQ. Her dog is inside. She has a reflective screen in the front window. It is not broken.

We had the Delorme inReach two-way satellite texting device, we contacted her mother and a tow truck. Since Meghan was alone, we thought it was only prudent to contact the local sheriff department to let them know she was there.

She and her dog had walked up the road in an attempt to make a phone call. Since it was going to be a while before help reached her, we gave her some more water and I wetted down one of her towels to create some evaporative cooling for her and her dog. We also made sure she had our texting info so that she could let us know when she was safe.

We continued on the road. We were really glad we stopped for Meghan. We didn’t see any other vehicles after we passed her.

We stopped at the information sign as we headed into the Soldier Meadows Area of Critical Environmental Concern Area.

Soldier Meadows Area of Critical Environmental Concern Map

Soldier Meadows Area of Critical Environmental Concern Map

We headed to the Hot Creek Campground. It has five campsites and a pit toilet.

There are also trails leading to several hot creek pools.

Soldier Meadow Hot Creek Campground

Soldier Meadow Hot Creek Campground

Campsite #2 was already occupied. We stayed at that spot last year. It is the one closest to the Hot Creek.

After making a lap of the campground, we decided that #4 was the best choice.

Our campsite (#4)

Our campsite (#4)

Even with one other campsite occupied, the campground is still very deserted.

Our campsite at a distance.

Our campsite at a distance.

We spent a little time getting set up. It was already very warm. We hung out in the shade provided by the awnings.

Campsite #4. It came with firewood.

Campsite #4. It came with firewood.

A little later, we took a walk around the campground. One interesting feature of the campground is that the pit toilet is open topped. No roof at all. It blends in really well with the surroundings, too.

Roof-free pit toilet facility

Roof-free pit toilet facility

I took photos of the wild flowers in bloom.

Sulphur buckwheat

Sulphur buckwheat

We talked with our neighbor. Gary and his dog had been camping there for the past week. He said that there had been crowds over the Memorial Day weekend, but they had all cleared out by this morning.

Once the heat of the day had passed on, we followed the trails out to the Hot Creek pools to soak for a bit. There are several pools that have been created along the Hot Creek.

The creek is home to the Elongated Mud Meadows Springsnails, an endangered species. They need fresh flowing water to be able to survive, so the only pools allowed are the ones already in existence.

Elongated Springsnail

We spend some time in the most developed pool.

Middle Hot Creek pool

Middle Hot Creek pool

After a short while, we headed upstream to the next pool. They are both really nice places to soak.

Upper Hot Creek Pool

Upper Hot Creek Pool

We hung out at our campsite for the rest of the night. There had been firewood left at our campsite, so made use of it and toasted some marshmallows. The skies were beautiful.

Sunset from the Hot Creek Campground.

Sunset from the Hot Creek Campground.

It was even hotter on Tuesday, so we mostly hung around our camper.  We went to the Hot Creek in the afternoon, but the water was really hot and the rocks around it were scorching hot. We didn’t stay for long.

Hanging out at the Middle Hot Creek pool. The air temperature was really, really hot.

Hanging out at the Middle Hot Creek pool. The air temperature was really, really hot.

We had an uneventful rest of the day. We planned to leaving the next day to go up to High Rock Canyon Area.

 

 

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Overland Expo West 2016 – Interesting Overlanding Vehicles

Here are a few interesting Overlanding vehicles not on display by vendors.

These are ones from the camping/parking area. We walked around it on Saturday afternoon.

Vintage travel trailer in the camping area.

Vintage travel trailer in the camping area.

Another one of a kind Fuso-based camper.

A one of a kind Fuso-based camper.

A Siberian Tiger Camper in the Camping area.

A Siberian Tiger Camper in the Camping area.

This one was at the back of a vendor area. Proof that you dont need to spend a lot of money to build an Overlanding vehicle.

One of a kind camper in the back of a Vendor site

One of a kind camper in the back of a Vendor site

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Overland Expo West 2016 – Vendors’ Overlanding Vehicles

Here are a few of the Overlanding vehicles that were brought by the vendors. Some of them are quite interesting. Some not so much. Mostly just photos.

Unimog-based vehicles:

XP Camper - XP Cube

XP Camper – XP Cube

Expedition Imports

Expedition Imports

Couch's giant Unimog-based vehicle with slide out.

Couch’s giant Unimog-based vehicle with slide out.

Others built on large vehicles

Two Earth Cruiser Vehicles. Always great vehicles.

Two Earth Cruiser Vehicles. Always great vehicles. Fuso based.

ATW - All Terrain Warriors

ATW – All Terrain Warriors

ETL Overland vehicle.

ETL Overland vehicle.

HaF Xpedition Camper

HaF Xpedition Camper

Much Smaller Vehicles

Sportsmobile Mercedes Sprinter model

Sportsmobile Mercedes Sprinter model

HumV4U vehicle

HumV4U vehicle

Overland Explorer Vehicle

Overland Explorer Vehicle

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