This last Saturday I had something I haven’t had in a while - time for myself. On a whim I checked in with VicariousILive to see if he wanted to do something with that and amazing he ALSO had time. We were thinking about skiing but that wasn’t going to work... “you wanna go into the West desert?”
So the west desert isn’t far, per-se, but its not close either and we had to be back home in something like 5 hours. Who cares, lets make it work. So off we went without so much as even consulting a map or checking the weather.
Foggy and cold if you’re wondering. Don’t even care.
So it turns out the west desert is pretty lonely; Even roads that are paved on my map are actually just graded dirt. Case in point the road in the top pic is listed as being paved and its the road Google wants me to take to get to the tiny “town” were meeting up at. In fact the map took me on to a two track I would BARELY call a trail at one point before I realized where the pin had been dropped and where I was supposed to be.
The ground is frozen and the road empty so we move fast. Protip for those that don’t know - go faster to make corrugated roads more tolerable...not slower (to a point, obviously). We both know there isn’t going to be some amazing trail waiting for us, or really that neat of a destination. We don’t care, its just nice to be out in the open again.
At least we assume its open. The fog and haze we’ve encountered so far really mess with perspective: It’s sort of like being in a video game where the terrain only starts resolving at the horizon and only as needed. I didn’t notice it so much on the way out as I did on the way back, especially when I stepped out of the truck and walked around. It was eire being outside in this and it presented something of a sensory deprivation experience - deadly quiet, very little visual reference. I kinda loved it.
This picture also represents my one and only attempt to photograph the wild horses that roam this area. There are as many as 3500 wild horses roaming this part of the great basin and I was really hoping this trip I would see them, but only a few and only briefly as soon as we pull over and take the camera out they’re gone. I’m very eager to see them now because of a controversy surrounding this heard and its future.
We cross over a “mountain pass” past lookout pass station and decent into the adjacent valley, which opens up with the fog a little.
Simpson springs and lookout peak or a few of 184 original stations along the old Pony Express route from Missouri to California. Riders would load their horse with about 40 lbs of mail and provisions (and their no more than 125 lb frames) and ride hard for about 10 miles, then switch to a fresh horse and set off for another 10 miles. It was sort of like a Formula E race only dustier. The service initially cost about $100 per half ounce in todays dollars (exactly 10x as costly as a Formula E car for a year pound for pound) but would get you letter to the coast in less than half the time, 10 days to be precise.
At the site is a few foundations of old building that would house staff of the corporation that would keep the horses for the riders as well as provisions and rest. One building had been restored, I would guess it to be no bigger inside than a standard wall tent, and probably less waterproof. Helluva life. Still it made good financial sense for the riders, netting them the equivalent of $3000 a month in todays dollars ($100/mo in 1860) which was several times the going rate for unskilled labor.
It was good money for a while, and when I say while I mean the 18 months they were in business before the telegram upended the whole business model. #disruption.
We toured around the site a little which was, oddly enough, kinda popular. There were 2 other vehicles there when we were there looking at the sites. I mean the history is super cool but this is far FAR from the Utah greatest hits out here. After that we realized that if we were going to get home for our dinner appointments we would actually have to turn tail and head for home.
Thankfully and mysteriously this side of the hills were way less foggy and we could actually see some of the amazing landscape. I realize its not amazing in the traditional sense but sometimes its just nice to see unoccupied space.
The rational person would consider this drive a huge waste of time and resources as it took nearly 2 hours to get here just to turn around and head back. Oh well.
Before we started back though we thought we’d try a few side trails for a little technical action.
The ground was starting to get a little doughy and the rocks were loose on this climb which was steep but doable. Low range and rear locked for good measure. Nothing up at the top but fun to go and look.
It was here I was finding out the difference between the Falken Wildpeak AT3W and the Wildpeak Rubitrek tires. The site makes no effort whatsoever to distinguish them but I’m here to tell you that you ever see mud, the Rubitreks are the ones to get. The look nearly identical but while my AT3w packed in with mud and were slippery on the hills, The Tacoma with the Rubitrek had zero issues with mud packing or traction. Odd.
It would be fun to come back here and explore a little more sometime, there are tracks EVERYWHERE and they go all over the hills. I think I will be taking a trip out there with the boy scouts this spring to do an overnighter, see the horses (hopefully) and do a little rockhounding at the geode bed a few miles down the road.
on the way out we were treated to the only blue skies we saw that entire day, which was a treat. You can imagine how this place might look in the spring and I can’t wait to find out.
Wade took his truck and went north through Tooele valley and up north and I went due east the way I came in, only this time I stopped and took some pictures and soaked in the landscape a little. It really is funny how a road like this can make you feel...vulnerable?
oh and did I mention it was cold?
check out that hoar frost!
Crazy. Anyway, fun little Saturday diversion, 10/10 would do again.