The 2022 Great Desert Road Trip

Johnny O

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Next up: everything goes to hell in a hand basket because due to the geology, my compasses don’t work and there are zero modern coms signals for the next 200 miles.

Yep, me and Bert got lost and there was no way to turn around and back track…
 

Johnny O

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So still deep in the Jarbidge wilderness at this point. I decide to move my campsite closer to the fossil beds…and this is when I discovered my compasses are all pointing due west…I drive along various trails, all but the one I wanted. Gas is getting down to the danger zone of a third of a tank. The “roads” are taking their toll on my butt. I then realized I was a day ahead of schedule, so it’s either backtrack to Jarbidge for 7$ a gallon E85 or say F it and do the 150 miles to either Elko or Wells. This is also where I discovered I misplaced my wallet somewhere in the Jeep. I dumped in my spare fuel and unpacked the vehicle to find my wallet…which I was sitting on the whole time. Daylight is waning. Fuel is low. And there are no campsites or turn arounds. It’s all private land south of the canyon all the way to 80. Made the command decision to make a run to I80 and Elko. Fuel and perhaps a hotel room.

Maybe a hour of daylight left. Try to grab a hotel but now my cards aren’t working. I have cash, but that doesn’t cover a deposit.
I decide to make a run for state lands at LaMoille, NV.

Oh. It’s Friday. Everything is full and the only road to public land close by is blocked by a rockslide even the most outfitted rock crawler ain’t passing.

Maps. Internet. And Stressed out exhaustion.

F it. I got lights on the rig. I’m going to drive to Ely, Nevada and Garnet hill where I know there’s a place to sleep…except it’s about 4 hours away…and then night falls with a monsoon storm…

I don’t see well at night due to an astigmatism that makes every headlight a little sun and not a single vehicle out here has properly adjusted headlights…but now there’s no choice. I have to cross the Great Basin in the dark.
 

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klc

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So still deep in the Jarbidge wilderness at this point. I decide to move my campsite closer to the fossil beds…and this is when I discovered my compasses are all pointing due west…I drive along various trails, all but the one I wanted. Gas is getting down to the danger zone of a third of a tank. The “roads” are taking their toll on my butt. I then realized I was a day ahead of schedule, so it’s either backtrack to Jarbidge for 7$ a gallon E85 or say F it and do the 150 miles to either Elko or Wells. This is also where I discovered I misplaced my wallet somewhere in the Jeep. I dumped in my spare fuel and unpacked the vehicle to find my wallet…which I was sitting on the whole time. Daylight is waning. Fuel is low. And there are no campsites or turn arounds. It’s all private land south of the canyon all the way to 80. Made the command decision to make a run to I80 and Elko. Fuel and perhaps a hotel room.

Maybe a hour of daylight left. Try to grab a hotel but now my cards aren’t working. I have cash, but that doesn’t cover a deposit.
I decide to make a run for state lands at LaMoille, NV.

Oh. It’s Friday. Everything is full and the only road to public land close by is blocked by a rockslide even the most outfitted rock crawler ain’t passing.

Maps. Internet. And Stressed out exhaustion.

F it. I got lights on the rig. I’m going to drive to Ely, Nevada and Garnet hill where I know there’s a place to sleep…except it’s about 4 hours away…and then night falls with a monsoon storm…

I don’t see well at night due to an astigmatism that makes every headlight a little sun and not a single vehicle out here has properly adjusted headlights…but now there’s no choice. I have to cross the Great Basin in the dark.
Looks eerily familiar to the northwestern bit I visited earlier this year.
 

Johnny O

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So it’s well after dark and I’ve got the cruise set at 90…

Then I see the signs on the Great Basin highway: elk crossing.

F it. All the off road lights are now on. I’ve hit my second wind.

Who the F introduced elk to the flatlands?

I’m highballing. Bert’s purring like a cougar and many a bug dies a horrible death.

I make it to Ely.

I make it to garnet hill. I pull off and pitch a tent. I’ve been awake for 20 hours.

I wake up to this.
 

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Johnny O

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Ah, Garnet Hill. Not far out of town and really close to the largest copper mine in the US, but it’s got great off road trails, great free camping, and of course garnets.

Yet even at a tame place like this the adventure is about to step it up…
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Johnny O

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So, after a day relaxing by hiking and prospecting, I head back to camp. No MREs tonight! Steak and beans and baked potatoes and even a real salad! That mini fridge I got in the Jeep is earning its keep with cold drinks and real food.

Then, the monsoons hit. Thankfully not much with wind, but there’s lots of rain and even a little hail.

No worries- I have top notch gear and a feast. I have enough cell signal I sit around gorging on good food and watching Longmire with my feet propped up.

Rain means no scorpions or insects to collect; no stargazing either. So I get into bed early and drift off reading John Barleycorn.

About 0300, I’m suddenly wide awake. There’s an odor I can’t place, but it makes the hair on the back of my neck stains up. It gets stronger and stronger. Familiar, yet even my lab rat nose can’t place it. The rain has quit. Must be something drifting in from the copper mine at Ruth, NV.

Had the rare urge to assemble the AR-7 and slap in a magazine…something I rarely do…but my hands do as they have practiced and get it ready to rock and roll short of a live one in the chamber… int the complete darkness of the tent.

Say what you want, but the old Navy weapons dude can now get back to sleep. There’s somehow comfort in frangible copper-resin hollow points and Skeggox and SRK-5.

I wake at 0800 with the sun blazing the tent hard. Can’t find my shoes in the tent, but the snake boots are easy. Wrestle them and the kilt on. Time for coffee and planning of the next leg…except there’s big cat tracks all around my tent and through my campsite inside the Slumberjack “room”.

There’s muddy big kitty footprints on the hood of the Jeep…

Oh yeah, that smell was kitty liter box and predator musk…

F the coffee. Time to move on. There’s kitten tracks mixed in with the big ones…
 

Johnny O

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So the mad dash begins. Tear down camp, pack up, and get on the road. Need gas anyway- can plan the next leg over gas station coffee.

I make record time. I’m ready to get out of her territory in roughly 20 minutes. I open the driverside door to get in and WHACK. Something hits my left shin. Just as I look down, WHACK the rattler hits my boot again in almost the same spot and promptly gets tangled in the laces… yeah, was in a hurry, never laced them up tight.

My fault. In my hurry I never looked under Bert before I approached, something I always do in snake country.

In utter defeat, I hear myself say, “Welp. Gonna die here.” As of course I managed to find the one rattler with no rattle and she’s as tick as my wrist.

I light a smoke waiting for the damn thing to let loose. It just gets more tangled in the laces.

I reach down and carefully grab the POed critter behind the head and get her loose…and of course she promptly wraps up my arm to my arm pit. Big rattler. ( this is how I discovered all the tail segments were busted off)

Is he’s trying to flex her head and dang my hand, just wrapping tighter. I get a few meters from the Jeep and yell, “$&@^#}! Relax!!!”.

Instantly she relaxed, uncoiled, and I dropped her into the sagebrush. In shock I laughingly yell “I am the reptile GOD!”

This is when I noticed the young coupe and their kids standing open mouthed staring at me from the access road.

Must of been a helluva sight, me in nothing but a kilt and knee high boots yelling at a snake.

Next stop. Great Basin National Park and a solo hike to 11,300 ft above sea level… if the flash flooding doesn’t get me first.
 

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