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Black Rock Desert June 2009


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#1 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:30 AM

I've been wanting to check out the Black Rock Desert for some time. It's about 6.5 hours from Bend to Gerlach so it's not that far - it's just so far off the beaten path it's really not on the way to anywhere - so until now I just haven't made it happen. Well enough of that, its time to see what the Black Rock is all about. To start I want to highlight 4 important issues I discovered that will help those thinking about taking a trip to this area:

1. Yes this is a desert, but its best to visit during the Summer and Fall. I always look for desert areas to visit during the Winter and Spring - this is not one of them. When the Black Rock Desert is wet - its one giant mud pit. Go during dry season.

2. I stopped in Gerlach at the Friends of Black Rock office and picked up a copy of Chuck Dodd's Guide to Getting Around in the Black Rock Desert and High Rock Canyon - this is an invaluable book. Get it! It would be better to order it in advance to help in trip planning and can be ordered online here:

http://www.19thcentu...hRockGuide.html

3. The Black Rock Desert is an immense area that is very far from civilization, and very primitive. There are not a lot of signs, points of interest can be difficult to find, and navigation can be difficult. Do your research, bring a GPS, be prepared. Don't pull a Ted!

4. Don't drive on the Playa when its wet at all! Don't be tempted!

So to get this started on my way from Bend to Gerlach I decided to take a shortcut from New Pine Creek on Highway 395, on Forest Service road 2, through the Warner Mountains to Fort Bidwell. This road was a lot steeper and gained a lot more elevation than I anticipated. I was driving through a lot of snow and mud until I got to the summit. The next leg of the journey looked like maybe it wasn't a good idea to proceed. Plow through the snow and mud, or visit Dismal Swamp? Choices.......

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#2 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:31 AM

There were old mines along the road, so of course the drive was completely awesome:

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#3 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:32 AM

Emerging on the desert side of the mountains was a dramatic change of scenery:
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Closed? Now you tell me.......
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Edited by DirtyDog, 11 June 2009 - 04:39 AM.

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#4 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:38 AM

Got to Gerlach and headed out Soldier Meadows Road. Ted had said he would be in the area and would have beer for me so I was determined to find him. Neither of us knew much about the area so we couldn't set a meeting spot so it was on a "see you if I see you" basis. But Ted had beer so I wasn't going to give up. Soldier Meadows Road was often a mudpit and it took a very long time to get to the Soldier Meadows Hotsprings - where I though Ted would likely be. Here's a shot of a better part of the road:

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Finding the campgrounds at Soldier Meadows proved difficult as the map showed a complex network of roads in the area and what signs there were were pretty ambiguous. At one point I ended up at some springs that I at first thought were the campgrounds I was looking for, but then figured out I was in a private part of the meadows so I moved on. Couple shots from a Private Part of the Hot Springs area (which is too bad cuz it's sure a nice spring):

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#5 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:40 AM

I think I ultimately drove all over Soldier Meadow for almost an hour before I found the campground Ted was at. At one point, I could see what looked like a FWC way out there, but the place was a labyrinth and I just couldn't get from A to B. But at long last, I am reunited with the Tedster and the beer he promised me:

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What goes good with some good brew after a long day of driving? How about some duck confit:
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#6 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:42 AM

Weather was improving drastically the next day which was good news. The campground at Soldier Meadows is pretty nice but its very limited at less than 10 sites total. Couple shots of the springs at our campground:

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#7 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:44 AM

Lots of leeezards in the area (not just lounge lizards either):
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#8 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:48 AM

So Ted and Donna have to go home on Sunday and Ted is feeling daring so he plots a route on the map that will be a "shortcut" of sorts out of the Soldier Meadows area. Now this is the route that the camp host said "yeah.... uhm don't think so" - but this is the famous Tedster and he knows he can do it.

I have to admit I was a little worried about his plan when he had trouble finding his way out of the outhouse:
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Ted was determined though so off he went (cue the Gilligans Island song):
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#9 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:51 AM

Now myself, being captain leisure, just chillaxed for about 2 hours then leisurely broke camp and headed over to the cabin at soldier meadows to check that out. This is a user built and maintained cabin with quite a history it seems:

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#10 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:51 AM

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