Saturday, March 28, 2015

Diary Day 8: 10 Hot Springs in 7 Days

Well, today we hit hots springs 9 and 10. It's a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand I'm excited that we actually got all 10 hot springs. On the other hand I'm sad that it's over.

We met so many interesting and nice people along the way. People who invited us into their camp, shared their fire and great stories. People who fed us and surprised us with ice cream. Waitresses who pointed us toward hot springs. Even a Highway Patrol officer who saw our bikes and showed us a great, winding route that would be fun on our motos. 

We also discovered hidden canyons and camped under the stars just below the snow line. We found out just how much cold we could endure without freezing to death. We shared hot chocolate every night and a hot cup of coffee every morning. 

In the end we accomplished our goal: 10 hot springs in a week. We didn't take the easy way either. We rode our motorcycles over 1,500 miles and hunted hot springs as far away as the Ruby Mountains. Sometimes it was painful, like the day I crashed twice in the sandy canyons between Duckwater and Hot Creek. Sometimes it was surreal, like the moment we saw the Ruby Mountain Hot Spring for the first time. Overall, it was an adventure full of stories... And people... And perseverance... And fun. 

So, tonight we are camping one last night then tomorrow I ride home. I can't wait to see my family. 

In the next couple days I'll put all the GPS locations on this blog along with a list of the hot springs. And I'll challenge anyone to hit "10 the hard way" and join the club. 

Diary Day 7: Hunting Hot Springs

By now John and I are on a rabid chase to track down 10 hot springs before our trip is over. So far we've soaked in:

1. Benton Hot Springs
2. Potts Hot Spring
3. Spencer Hot Springs
4. Ruby Lake Hot Spring
5. Duckwater Hot Spring
6. Hot Creek Hot Spring

This morning we woke up with the goal of hitting two more: Chimney and Fish Lake.

Our first target was a dud. Chimney Springs was covered over and fenced off. I was pretty bummed. We had been riding for hours, it was hot and I was getting tired of riding my big moto through the sandy gravel. 

But we didn't waste any time. We hit the highway for Tonopah to gas up. Then, just by chance, I stopped on the side of the road by an abandoned saloon and we stumbled on Warm Springs Hot Spring!

This pool is fed by a hot spring that runs down the hill. It was a nice warm soak and it made my day. We got number 7 and we're heading for number 8, Fish Lake. 

I almost passed up this spring because it was a little out of the way, but I'm glad I didn't... It was another amazing pool. 

The spring bubbles up and feeds the hot tub. Then it over flows to the first pond which is a nice warm soak and then on to the second pond. 

Again, we met some great campers who told stories and shared laughs. Eight hot springs down, two more to go!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Diary Day 6: Duckwater to Hot Creek

We left the Ruby Mountains and rode our motorcycles over the old Pony Express trail back down to Eureka where we fueled up. Our plan was to try to hit two more hot springs today... Oh, I should talk about our new obsession: Hot Spring Hunting. 

John read about a few hot springs before our trip and he said if we soak in 10 hot springs we can send in for a patch. Well, after sitting in the middle of Ruby valley we decided to give it a try. 10 tubs in 7 days. 

Today our goal was to hit Duckwater and then take a shortcut over the mountains to Hot Creek. 

Duckwater was amazing. It's crystal clear and big enough to swim around in. After riding all morning I couldn't get in fast enough. 

Then it was on to Hot Creek... And this short cut I planned. 

Turns out the dirt road went down through a sandy wash for 20 miles. And the Triumph Tiger 1200 doesn't like sand much. I crashed my bike for the first time and twisted my ankle and knee. Luckily that's all the damage. John snapped some photos so I'll add them later. 

But we finally made it down to the Hot Creek spring and it was worth it. 

I was tired, sore and hot. But the pool was just right. We jumped in and floated around for a while. 

Then we setup camp and made some dinner. As we were pitching camp we met three guys who had been hunting and camping this area for 35 years. They invited us over to their fire for some fun stories. I got to play mandolin for a while and we all laughed and had a great time. 

I'm happy and tired. Tomorrow we head for Warm Springs and then on back toward Bishop. The trip is coming to an end but we have 6 hot springs under our belt. Only 4 more and we can get our patch!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Diary Day 5: Elko and the Ruby Mountains

Last night we stayed in a hotel in Eureka. It was getting late and I didn't want to sleep in the freezing cold again. This was a great choice!

It's amazing what a good sleep and full stomach will do for your attitude. Not to mention that the hotel had a hot tub! So we haven't missed a soak day yet. 

We packed up and left the hotel with one thing on our mind, Elko and the Ruby Mountains. We read about two hot springs up there and a great motorcycle ride around the mountains. 

We raced up 278 out of Eureka and got to our first hot springs around 11:00am. Unfortunately the road was washed out and we couldn't get there. 

So we left Elko a little bummed but determined to find the second hot spring on the other side of the Ruby Mountains. As we rode out of town the mountains came into view, I started getting excited for the adventure. 

We took an old dirt road around the mountains and up over Harrison Pass. This alone was worth the trip. But what we found on the other side was breathtaking. A hot spring in the middle of a wide meadow under the watch of these amazing mountains.

I just don't have words to describe how amazing it was. So here are the photos.

We decided to camp in the Ruby Mountains and soak it all in. Let's hope I can handle the cold tonight. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Diary Day 4: Frozen to Death in Toiyabe Mountains

Ok, I didn't die, but I came pretty close.

Last night we wandered up an old fire road called Stoneberger Canyon at about 7,400 ft altitude. It was a great campsite when we pulled in, around 6:00pm. We pitched camp and ate some food. It seemed like a perfect night was in store. 

Now, I'm no dummy. I packed a 15 degree rated sleeping bag. I even packed a fleece liner in case it got really cold. But nothing could prepare me for this...

By midnight the water in my water bottle had frozen. I was so cold I started hyperventilating... I actually thought this might be it. There was nothing I could do to get warm. On top of that I had to pee but I was afraid that if I got up I would get hypothermia for real. So, I grabbed my heavy duty motorcycle riding jacket and put that over my sleeping bag. It was the only thing that saved me. I had thermals on, a beanie, fleece liner and sleeping bag, covered by my riding jacket. I endured for another 3 hours until I could get up the nerve to pee. Then I finally fell asleep. Here's the ice in my water bottle to prove it:

While we were packing up, an old guy named Greg wandered up the road with his dog. He said he saw us riding up last night and thought we were crazy. Said it's usually snowing up here. He pointed us in the right direction for Petes Peak and we were off to find more hot springs. 

We rode our motorcycles up over the pass, through snow and beautiful trees. And finally came out at Spencer Hot Springs. This was a treat for my cold limbs. I quickly stripped and jumped in!

After our soak we headed into Austin, Nevada, for some gas and grub. We decided tonight we would find a hotel on our way to Elko... A hotel with a nice warm bed, a hot tub, and a shower... Nice. 

Human Interactions

The hunt for hot water has been super fun but even better has been the chance meetings we've had with folks on the road.

Observation #1: Being on a motorcycle makes it easier to meet people. It just seems like folks are more likely to walk up and ask you what you're up to- that or they were just digging my leather pants.

Observation #2: There are lots of nice people in Nevada. We've just seemed to have meet really friendly, down to earth people out here in open country Nevada. 

Here's a short sample:

1. We had a run in with the cops. Specifically the California Highway Patrol- the guy was totally cool. All he wanted to do was get back onto a bike but he had been promoted so he was stuck in an SUV- he even tried to trade keys with me. He ended up giving us a route tip that put us on a fun road.

2. Mountain man Greg - he walked up the canyon to see what we were doing up there. He ended up hanging out for an hour telling us all kinds of cool stuff including the fact that mountain lion tastes good but only if its stomach is empty when you kill it. Good to know.

3. Benton crossing store clerk. I bought a six pack and she gave me free ice to cover the beer, "I ride too, honey, you gotta keep that beer cold".

4. Jessica the Inn Keeper who grew up in a town called Railroad Valley where there are no stores and it was an hour and a half bus ride- each way- to school. Her tip? "It's been so dry we've had a horrible tick problem- check yourself for them." Which gave us the instant eeby jeebies.

Tomorrow the search continues and I'm looking forward to the characters well meet along the way.

Diary Day 3: Benton to Belmont

Our primary goal of this motorcycle trip was to find hot springs and ghost towns in Nevada. So, we cheated a little and booked our first hot springs campground in California... But it was worth it.

The little town of Benton was pretty much a ghost town but the hot springs campground did not disappoint. We pulled in and signed all the forms, paperwork and legal documents. Then we rode past the broken down wagon into a grove of trees and right up to campsite number 6.

Fresh hot spring water was flowing into our private concrete tub and there was plenty of space in the clean campsite to pitch our tents. So we went through our ritual of setting up camp and getting some food going. Then into the tub... Perfect temperature, and the water must have some minerals in it because my skin was silky smooth. Needless to say, we spent more time in the tub than out, and I slept like a baby.

In the morning we packed up early and hit the road toward Tonopah, NV. This stretch is pretty barren but necessary. It's our gateway to the Toiyabe mountains.

We stopped for a quick lunch and filled our tanks. The route we were taking is dirt with no gas for 150 miles. But we were on a mission.

First we rode up to Belmont to see the old ghost town and take some photos. Then we hit the gravel road.

There's not much to say about this except that we found ourselves racing a pack of antelope. I stopped and John stopped next to me and about 6-8 antelope were running full sprint down the road. We watched them as they crossed in front of us and headed up the mountain. 

Finally, we came to Diana's Punch Bowl. This is a beautiful hot spring that you can't swim in, you'll die. Legend has it a woman's dog jumped in and she jumped in to save it... They both died.

Then we headed down the road to Potts Ranch where we found one we could soak in safely. Potts hot spring is a beautifully kept tub that's filled from the spring nearby. We were so stoked to find it empty and desolate, we stripped to our birthday suits and jumped in. 

This was the highlight of our day for sure...

After Potts it was time to start thinking about camping. I heard about a campground just up fire road 001. So John trusted me to lead us there. Well, a half hour later we were out in the Toiyabe national forest on some other fire trail... The wrong one. 


Luckily for us, we love getting lost in the mountains. So, we found a nice spot, started a fire and pitched our camp. A little Mountain House dinner and some hot chocolate. A little mandolin and a hot fire. Now it's time to hit the sack and think about what tomorrow may bring... More hot springs I think.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Diary Day 2: Benton Hot Springs

All set up and ready to soak! We pulled into Benton Hot Springs at about 2:30... But I'm getting way ahead of myself. Let's start back at Fossil Falls, about 5:00 am, when I was being held hostage by a giant spider...

Fossil Falls is a beautiful campground with an amazing little hike to the old falls. I posted some photos yesterday. But all that beauty has some hidden adversity. Let's start with the wind. At about 6:00 pm I was tucked into my tent, completely exhausted from the first day of marathon riding. And it started blowing. Hard. I thought my tent was going to get ripped out from under me. I barely managed to sleep about an hour at a time. Then at about 5 amI needed to get up and pee. I unzipped my tent an there I was face to face with a giant black spider!!

Ok, this photo he's gone into hiding, but last night he was staring right at me!! I finally overcame my fear before my bladder burst. 

We rolled out of there on our way up 395 to see some sights and end our day in Benton. Along the way we met some great people who turned us on to the best breakfast in Lone Pine, Alabama! 

Then we headed up toward Mammoth to catch 120 and hopefully some winding roads. 

While we were stopped at a viewpoint, just past Bishop, a California Highway Patrol pulled up by us and stopped. We walked over and it turns out he used to be a motorcycle cop for 15 years and was nearing retirement. So we talked about motos and going on trips. He pointed us toward this little side route we could take to get to 120... Something only a Moto guy would know. He said, "Go past Crowley lake and look for the green church. If you get to the airport you went too far. But the old green church is on the right side and you can't miss it. Turn at the church and that road will take you over to the 120 and right into Benton. It's a great motorcycle ride." Well, we did as we were told and he was right, perfect way to end the ride. 

The night of terrible wind.

Wind turned on at about 5pm and blew crazy hard all night long- tons of dust all over everything- strong enough to snap my tent stake line! A tough night but as they say it ain't an adventure unless you suffer a little! Coffee, pack it up and then off to ride some good roads.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Diary Day 1 update: Fossil Falls Campground

We met up in Jawbone and I grabbed a quick bite to eat at the Jawbone Canyon Store. Perfect timing because I was starving!! As I was sitting there eating my chili cheese dog, about 30 kids on dirt bikes rode up. Following close behind were a flock of adults in quad-razor-things. Now, I like to ride dirt bikes so I'm not dogging on them having fun.... I just realized as I was sitting there, that I don't like to camp around them. Enough on that. 

So we decided to keep riding up 395 to Fossil Falls campground, and I'm so glad we did. This place is awesome! $6 per night and we have our own little piece of volcano. We set up camp, ate some tangerines and took a little hike. Now it's time to wind down and get some rest. 

Diary Day 1: freaking cold

Diary day 1
Left the house at 6:30
It was cold, around 40 degrees
Glad I had all my gear on, but still felt the chill pretty good. I have to remember to put on my fleece under jacket next time. 

Stopped in Soledad for some coffee and to give the sun a chance to warm things up a bit. It's really thick fog right now. Should be in jawbone around noon. 

11:30, just stopped in tehachapi to fuel up and take a little break. It's 150 miles from gas in Paso Robles to my favorite Loves station in Tehachapi. Just about the right distance for my Triumph. With all the camping gear and extra weight I'm only getting about 38 MPG. So my max distance is about 180 miles. I'll leave from here and meet up with John at Jawbone.