Rain! I attempted to head to ski at Squaw today but when I showed up it was raining sideways, 80+ mph winds at the top and only three lifts open. I figured my day could be spent better doing something else! I reorganized Milou. Put a lot of ice climbing gear away as spring seems to be here. It feels good to have her back in order and clean! Hopefully tomorrow will be a better ski day.
Sunshine! Yahoo! It snowed all last night and Squaw had got about 10″ on top. I pulled into the mountain, suited up and headed out. I had pretty good timing and caught the Granite Chief lift just at it opened and snuck two runs in before it was crowded. Then I headed over to KT-22 and got some great runs in and the trails kept on filling in with every lap!
Although the snow was quite dense it was a great day and the sunshine felt good on my face!
I headed over to Betsy’s for dinner tonight. A send off before she heads back to Florida. Chris, Holly and new friends to me Jeff and Joan all had a great time as the snow fell on the lake.
Leaving Truckee today. Thank you Dave and Julie for letting me stay at your house. A real treat to have a base camp for a couple of days! It was so good seeing you guys and I hope to see you in the warmer months!
I spent the AM cleaning up the house and packing up Milou. Then in the afternoon, I met up again with my friend Kacy for a walk along the Truckee river. It was nice to see how much they have extended the walk way! I relived many fond memories of walking Mr. Brodie down this trail, one of his favorites!
It was a typical beautiful Truckee day! We walked for almost three hours and caught up on everything. Then it was time to say farewell, until next time Truckee. I headed down the valley to Reno.
I spent last night at my good friend Matt and his Fiancé Laura’s house. Matt and I went to UVM together and interned at GMCR in Seattle. It was great to see him and meet Laura, we had a great time catching up and chatting about life.
We had a yummy breakfast that Laura made for us and I helped Matt change out the sacrificial rod in his water heater. Like all projects that should take 10 mins this took us around an hr and we had to drill a hole in the ceiling.. don’t ask.
Then I did some touch up work on Milou. I had noticed some water getting into the lower compartments and realized that there was a few small gaps around the pipes where the gas and water lines entered the inside of Milou from the wheel well. Although these gaps where small, around ½” the wheels in a rain storm were acting like pumps and pumping water into the holes getting everything wet! So I plugged up those holes and that should be that. I did a few other maintenance things on the rig and helped Matt get a new side mirror on his car. Another project that should have taken ten minutes but did not, due to a lazy pick and pull and stripped screws :/
That afternoon Matt and I rode bikes to down town Reno (about 10mins). Reno has changed a lot, they really have cleaned it up and have a beautiful space all around the Truckee river. Things are still changing but it really looked like Reno is on an uptick! Matt and I checked out a few places and had a few beers. Even stopped by the Patagonia outlet, of course nothing was our size. Then we headed back to his house and hung out and watched a movie with Laura.
Another beautiful day in Reno! Had a nice slow Sunday am. Hung out, chatted and I did some research. Then we headed out to lunch at a cool Market place spot down town.
After driving around in circles, we finally found a spot. It was well worth the search, the restaurant was a great spot, a few restaurants shared the space, so you had lots of delicious options. After lunch we headed back to the house. I packed up and headed out or so I thought! I was off to swing by my old friend Matt’s House. Matt and his wife Lily and their Son Cal had moved to Reno from Truckee, so I had yet to see their new place.
It was really cool! Right on the corner of the block. Great location and close to down town! We hung out, Matt showed me his metal shop and showed me some really cool knives he was working on, made out of Golden gate bridge cable! Check out his work at https://www.instagram.com/matthewsmashthew/?hl=en
We had a few beers and then I said fair well as I needed to get on the road and figure out where I was going! My other friend Matt that I stayed with fri & sat had informed me that I left something behind. I am always doing this, so I needed to stop by his place on my way out of town. Well after getting to his place and reassessing the time and with their encouragement I decided to stay another night. We had a low key night and just hung out.
I was woken up last night to an earth quake. Not a very big one, but large enough that the water glass that I had put up on the window sill over my bed fell off and hit me in the head. Despite a little bit of blood on my eyebrow and being covered in water I was a-ok! ha! April fools 🙂 I actually had a great night sleep and woke up to a sunny day!
Matt headed off to work and Laura was in her office. I did some research on my next destination. I had planned to see a friend in South Lake Tahoe and then head south but the weather was looking lousy so after some chatting with Laura and looking at a map. I decided to head west to southern Utah.
A good time to hit those parks while the weather is still cool and a bit less crowded (I hoped). I said farewell for the second time and headed out. I made it to Trader Joes, and stocked up. BTW the TJ’s in Reno is awesome, huge and tons of delicious options!
I started East. I got about two and half hours outside of Reno and came across Walker Lake. A beautiful desert lake, surrounded by BLM land and loads of great free camping spots! Also, home to Hawthorne Army Depot the “world’s largest ammunitions depot”! Home to 2,427 bunkers. Hope I don’t blow up!
I pulled in and found a great spot, however, when I got out, I realized the ground was quite sandy. Milou is pretty heavy and I started to wonder what would happen if I got stuck in this sand. Then it began to rain! So quickly I got in and started her up and backed up into a hole :/ OOPs! Well luckily she is amazing and didn’t even stutter, just plowed through it and we were soon up on firm pack again!
So I finally settled on a great spot, a bit higher up on a firmer piece of ground but still an awesome view! I climbed up on top of Milou and enjoy a cocktail and some crackers! Then I grilled up some chicken sausage, red peppers and cooked some rice for dinner. All while the sun was setting. Pretty happy with my find today.
Today I woke up to the sun coming in through the windows. This is rare in Milou, because it has been either freezing cold this trip or in public places. So the shades have been drawn!
Here I can’t see a soul and it’s like my own little portable apartment plopped down in the dessert. I made a delicious breakfast and caught up on my journal. Then I made a huge pile of rocks so that I could rig up my hammock. One end attached to Milou and the other end attached to a sling filled with rocks using my rock pile as a pivot point. After falling on my butt a few times, I finally got it right!
After this I pulled out my shade tarp and made some shade. This was also fraught with failure, over and over again the wind blew it down. Small adjustments and I finally got it set and enjoyed it for most of the day. But then it began to rain and blow hard. It was pretty wild. The wind and rain came out of no where.
My shelter held but I looked on the radar and realized more was to come. So I quickly dropped it and my hammock and headed inside for a nap. When I woke up the storm had cleared and I went out for a long walk on the beach. Not too far though because the south end of the lake is littered with unexploded munitions or so they say, my guess is there is just aliens sunbathing at the other end and they don’t want anyone to see.
I grilled up some more food for dinner and did some reading. Ended the night with some UFO spotting.
Pretty lazy day 🙂 Tomorrow I will leave.
Left walker lake today and headed East for Zion. The middle of Nevada is a whole lot of nothing. Beautiful but nothing… For hours nothing. No service, no houses, nothing. I hit the small town of Tonopah and filled up on fuel and water before getting back on the road. A modo for my trip “do it when you see it”. I found a cool pull off online that looked like a good place to camp. It was definitely some rough forest roads, but I was pretty confident in Milou’s ability, assuming it was not sand. I headed in and the road got rougher and rougher. It was washed out in sections; I drove through a creek bed and I dragged Milou’s bum on it. Luckily the ground was soft and it worked sort of like a grader… Not to convenient that my Propane tank is in the back tho 😉 After a lot of scouting and hemming and hawing, I made it the few miles down the road to an old abandon silver mine shaft. There was piles of tailings everywhere.
A really cool spot, felt like I was in the wild west and some outlaws might come riding over the hills. They say the mining started in 1900’s by Jim Butler
“The legendary tale of discovery says that he went looking for a burro that had wandered off during the night and sought shelter near a rock outcropping. When Butler discovered the animal the next morning, he picked up a rock to throw at it in frustration, noticing that the rock was unusually heavy. He had stumbled upon the second-richest silver strike in Nevada history.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonopah,_Nevada
Not a person in sight out here and no cell service. This can be somewhat eerie. Especially when camped next to a bottomless pit. Well on that note I am going to bed!
Woke up to a truck passing by… weird. I am in the middle of no where, wonder who that is at 7am.. Oh great it’s the Sheriff!
Well the “Sheriff” truck pulled to the top of a small hill about .25 miles away. Another unmarked truck was with him. No one was in uniform. I watch thru my porthole windows with my binoculars. They pulled many large red duffle bags out of the back of the truck and set up a rope rigging Tipi over what I guessed was a mining pit. For the next hour, they hauled the rope up and down. I could not make out whether or not any one was going in the shaft or not. But they were standing near a big pile of tailings, so I was confident there was a pit. At about 8:30am another vehicle showed up.. still no uniforms. The “Sheriff” truck had packed up the ropes by this point. They stood around chatting for a while and then all disbanded to their trucks and drove by me and left… Very weird……
What did I do, you may ask?? Well the curiosity had taken ahold of this cat, so up the hill I went! I was a bit nervous they would be coming back but my plan was to play dumb. Sure enough, when I got to the top of the hill there was a bottomless pit. I looked down and nothing but darkness.. Now either the “Sheriff” was looking for something or someone, or they were hiding something them selfs. Either way I thought it better to keep moving. So I made my way back to Milou and got ready to head out.
I was a bit nervous about going back through the river bed that I dragged her bum on as I was now on the much steeper side of the creek bed. All went well and I made it out! Back on the road to Zion!
I was not yet sure where I was going to Camp, as I had not had service since yesterday morning and I drove for a few hours today without service as well.
I did end up going across the Extraterrestrial Highway by accident. Previously known as Route 375 but after the movie Independence Day and the fact it boarders Area 51 the state of NV as a tourism move renamed the highway.
I saw lots of quirky alien attractions but no Aliens! Although I did have a weird experience.
I was driving along just looking for aliens and out of the corner of my eye I saw a streak of white. I looked again and I was wondering was that a sheep or a dog? I thought more about what I had just seen and realized it was indeed a dog. I felt bad for it. It was about 50 yards off the side of the road running towards me. I pulled into a pull off and looped around. Then as I am pulling over, a pickup truck pulled over across from me. The dog at this point had crossed the road and was about 50 yards off on the other side. One man stayed in the truck and the other man who looked a bit rough got out and was yelling to the dog. The dog ran to him and jumped in the truck. The man was very excited and I informed him I had just turned around to figure out what this dogs was doing. He then informed me that the dog had been missing for a day and half. He lost him at some town 1hr south of there… Now you tell me the odds of this dog being that close to the Extraterrestrial Highway, while I was driving by and then when I turned around the owner showed up??? Seems a bit strange. My theory is they are all aliens, running tests on humans to see if we still have compassion. I hope I passed! I was also glad not to pick up this giant furry friend as I did not get service for another few hours!
I made it to Zion about an hour before the sun was setting. I drove around for a bit and was feeling a bit anxious because there was a lot of people!! A lot of the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) spots where all filled up. But I persevered and drove up a rough road and found a nice spot on a canyon rim. A really cool spot but I was a bit worried Milou might fall off!
Across from me a man had set up camp around his Subaru. This turned out to be a great guy named Evan. Evan was from Montana and he was making his way back to Georgia. He had a really cute dog named Leroy who was a very happy camper! We hung out for a bit but I was tired and wanted to get up early to hike tomorrow, so time for bed.
Evan decided to join me on my hike today. He was not really planning on coming but when I told him about how cool Angels Landing is suppose to be! He was game. We cruised into the park before they opened so I guess the day was free. I tried hard to pay but no one would come to the window. Oh well, I am going to get an annual pass anyway soooo. I was amazed at how many people where there! It was 6:45am and half the parking lot was full! In Zion you need to take a shuttle to all the hikes unless you have a special pass. This made the park feel a bit like Disney world rather then a national park but it did seem to help with traffic.
Angel’s landing is one of the most famous hikes in the park. Known for very exposed ridge top hiking. It’s about 5 miles round trip with 1,500 feet of elevation gain. Supposedly it takes 4-5 hrs. Evan and I knowing Leroy was in the car did it in about 2.5. We cruised up to Shepards landings. This is where the hike tops out and is the last point to turn back before you get some air under your feet! As you walk along the ridge fallowing 100 people, you hold onto chains and try not to fall 1,500 feet to the valley floor. I was surprised to say the least that the National Park lets people go up here and even more surprised they let people go up there in these numbers. Seems like an accident waiting to happen. That all said, the hike was really amazing! Beautiful views and definitely put butterfly’s in my stomach.
Once back to the parking lot we sprung Leroy from the car and walked around the lot. It was so busy people where double parking and walking around asking if people were leaving… We toyed with the idea of selling our spots for some lunch but instead waited for some nice older folks and passed up our spots!
Next we were going to drive on route 9 through the park to head east to Kanab and eventually Page AZ. Well Milou was too big to fit in the tunnel.. Well I bet she would have fit but due to rock fall I think, the road was partially shut down. Some ranger on a power trip was arguing with me about how Milou was too wide. So I handed him a tape measure, he took it but was grumpy I had one handy… The limit was 7’ 9” Milou was 93” aka 7’9” but he was hung up on my mirrors sticking out and I told them I can fold them in. He wasn’t having it, so I asked him what he would do if an ambulance needed to get in. He told me in that case it would be fine. I could see I was getting no where, so I begrudging turned around and looped down south to meet up with my friend in Kanab. We had a yummy lunch and then headed down 89a (alternate 89 route) towards Marble Canyon.
This was a very cool road and crossed the Colorado river. The drive was very hilly and I even got my front brakes smoking a little bit as I dropped down into the valley floor. Luckily we found a good spot to stop with a view. We met some local Native Americans at the view point. They were selling jewelry but were also happy to just chat. I gave the kids a of a tour of Milou and they were very excited to sit in her 😉 With her brakes cooled down, we headed to Marble Canyon. There was both a walking bridge and one to drive on.
When you walk out on the walking bridge you can see the California Condors. The California Condors were almost extinct. In 1982 there was only 22 of them left in the world! However, through a great conservation effort they have been successful bringing them back! These are big birds! In fact they are the biggest land bird in North America. They can have wing spans of nine and half feet! I felt very lucky to be able to witness them in their natural habitat!
Evan and I continued on to Page, AZ. Page is located at the bottom of lake Powell and the mouth of the Grand Canyon. We found a nice spot to camp at Beehive campground.
Woke up pretty early to Evan banging on my door telling me he was getting ready to head out. We had made plans the night before to get up early and go see Horseshoe Bend in the Grand Canyon. He had to do a few things in town so I told him to meet me there. Well I think I was the last car in. The parking lot was under construction, so they had to bus people in starting at a certain time in the morning and he just missed it. He was pressed for time, so we said goodbye over the phone and I was back on my own. Evan and Leroy were both great and it felt so good to meet such honest souls on the road.
Horseshoe bend was crowded even at 7am! There was even a bus that showed up with a wedding party. I was trying to figure out what time they had to get up in order to get dressed and be there by 7am! Also, if you get married at 7:30 am are you in bed by 8 pm? I hiked off into the desert to get away from the crowds for a bit. Then I headed back into town to figure out my plan. I was debating whether or not I had time to swing up to Bryce, Escalante and then loop back down to ski at Taos before it closed for the season.
Well I headed to Walmart to get some supplies and I parked next to another van that had British Colombia plates. I thought of my good friend Marty that I met up in Alberta and stopped to take a picture of the plates.
Then I saw a young man walking over. I struck up a conversation with him. Julian turned out to not be from BC but instead Germany. We immediately hit it off and started chatting about our travels and we also both came to the conclusion that we needed a shower.
I had not showered in about a week and he had gone about 5 days. Sooo as strange as it is for two new friends to go find a public shower that’s what we did. Luckily a campground was up the road that offered unlimited showers for $4.05, not sure what the 5 cents was for but I did not ask. It felt good to shave and clean up! Julian then headed to Horseshoe bend and I caught up on my blog. He met me back at Starbucks and did some laundry and we explored the town a bit.
We grabbed some food for dinner and headed back to Beehive campground and relaxed and had a few beers as the sun set.
Then off to bed, I had made my decision after looking at the drive up north and realizing it would take three days of driving for one day in the parks. I will head south with Julian to the Grand Canyon South Rim.
It was only a 2 hr drive to the Grand Canyon South Rim, so we took our time in the AM. Made some avocado toast with eggs for breakfasts and soaked up some sun. Did some dishes. Then headed back to Walmart for a few more supplies before heading south. I would like to state that although I don’t agree with Walmart on a lot of things. They sure are convenient and probably the only place in this town that I could find what I needed. Anyway, I just needed to get that off my chest.
So all packed up we headed south. Julian had found a spot to camp that was in the Kaibab National forest, but you got to it via the National Park roads. It was pretty awesome to be camping in a Ponderosa pine forest for free and be just minutes from the park. The spot did not have much of a view but it was nice to have some trees. We met a few fellow campers but the area was really big so we were all pretty spread out.
I did my monthly check on my Solar batteries and we hung out and cooked up some food, with a New York cheese cake for dessert that Julian insisted on getting! It was getting pretty cold out 45F. As I type that, I can’t believe that I am saying that’s cold ha! The cheese cake was good but now I am tired. Good Night!
I woke up today and packed up. Milou was a mess, so I took some time to clean her up and made some delicious banana chocolate chip pancakes!
Then Julian and I headed back into the park. We visited lots of different parts of the Grand Canyon. Saw some cool ancient ruins, some spectacular views and rode the shuttle system everywhere. We did a short hike down into the Canyon. The Grand Canyon is spectacular, if you have never seen it, you must. I hope I can raft it one day!! It’s so vast and unlike anything else in North America. It is hard to wrap your head around how big and deep it is. I like to think about the life of the Native Americans and ancient civilizations in the area. It must have been like coming up on the edge of the earth!
Like Zion it was very busy, maybe still spring break? By the end of the day I was exhausted. Julian was headed north back to Page and eventually Vancouver to sell his van and fly back to Germany. It was great to meet you man! Best of luck on your travels.
I was headed south to Flagstaff. I was about 1.5hrs out and made my way down slowly. I am parked at a Cracker Barrel tonight. It’s a good spot! I have internet and TV reception, so despite not being in nature I have some extra creature comforts. I have been unable to find public wifi for the last week or so. So it is nice to have some access!