July 12 - Black Rock Desert

Thursday morning, I dealt with the flat tire at the local Les Schwab, and then made my way to the Nevada state line (where the pavement changes in the photo below), and took Nevada 447 southeast to the little town of Gerlach. After a gas fill-up, I went northeast, up onto the flat 25+ mile-long mile playa of the Black Rock Desert. Since the vastness of the playa is almost completely flat, it's tempting to set the cruise control for some high speed, and take your hands off the steering wheel (would I ever do such a thing?!?), and then just "pilot" your car like a boat, making occasional course changes as you watch your progress on the GPS computer. See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 40.78, -119.20 

California/Nevada state line, looking east (7/12 11:49 AM)Jeep on the playa (7/12 2:52 PM)Tire tracks on the playa (7/12 3:07 PM)

Trego Hot Springs - Warning Sign: "DANGER HOT WATER - Water from natural hot springs may be scalding. WARNING!" Nothing grows on the playa itself, but there are many hot springs along the hills that line the edges of this former lakebed. These hot springs can be identified at a distance as oases of green on this otherwise beige desert. The first hot spring I came across was the Trego hot spring, See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 40.7706, -119.1178  where there was a BLM logbook, and warning signs about the high water temperature. Despite their tempting deep blue color, most of the springs are too hot to touch. The next hot springs I investigated were the Black Rock Springs, See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 40.97, -119.01  which are just west of Black Rock Point — the southernmost hill in the range that divides the two "Y" branches at the northern end of the playa. Black Rock Springs were apparently once used as a farm. An amazingly well preserved wagon is at this site.

Logbook at Trego Hot Springs with Tread Lightly pamphlets (7/12 4:07 PM)Warning sign at Trego Hot Springs source (7/12 4:19 PM)Computer & GPS show me exactly where I am (Trego Hot Springs) (7/12 4:33 PM)Old wagon at Black Rock Springs (7/12 6:05 PM)Dock at Black Rock Springs (7/12 6:06 PM)

That night, I camped out on the playa, about a mile west of Black Rock Springs. When the wind is not blowing, the playa is surprisingly quiet — no leaves rustling or animals stirring. At these times, the only sound was my own breathing. Shunning my tent, I slept with my sleeping bag right on the playa, watching the myriad of stars you don't get to see in the city.

Camping on the playa.  Black Rock Point is in the background. (7/12 7:50 PM)Sunset, away from camp (7/12 8:28 PM)