Day 9: Ely, NV to Eureka, NV

Saturday 9/17

I got up at 5:30 since my arm was killing me and there was no way I’d fall back asleep. Hand numbness is a daily morning gift courtesy of a bulging cervical disc, but this morning the numbness was accompanied by pain and no amount of PT exercises would get the pain to subside.

It had rained so much that the rain fly was saturated and heavy against the tent walls. This meant if something was touching the tent wall, the water transferred onto it, which included some of my riding gear. With nothing to do but fixate on the phantom python squeezing the hell out of my arm, I gathered up my gear and Simon’s damp backpack and headed over to the bathroom, which I turned into my personal office and laundromat.

I used the hair dryer on my clothes and the hand dryer on my boots and Simon’s backpack. By the time I was done, the bathroom was probably pushing 90 degrees.

After the sun came up, I strung paracord between several trees so we could sun dry some more of our wet items.

The gazebo was useful for drying out the rain fly and ground cover. I fully expected the control-freaks that ran the KOA to yell at us about doing this (Simon, after all, was not even allowed to walk on the grass), but either they didn’t see this or perhaps they took pity on us.

I also moved my office to the outside location. Professional!

In the mornings when we were packing up, Simon always seemed a little nervous, like we’d leave without him. He’d sit quietly and watch our every move, which is a complete 180 from his wander-away behavior in the evenings. This morning he climbed up onto his backpack to guarantee that we couldn’t ditch him. I took this as a positive sign that he did not yet despise his prison.

We finally got our junk dried and packed and hit the road at 11, which was the latest start yet on our trip. At least we didn’t have a timeline we needed to stick to.

We took Highway 6 down to Lund to get gas. The station had a public scale and for $8 each we could have our bikes weighed. The DRZs felt fairly heavy so we wanted to find out once and for all how much total poundage we were been wrestling.

Mine came out to 440 while Wayne’s was 460 (no human or dog weight included). At first it seemed ridiculously high, but when we considered the weight of the bike accessories (e.g., skid plate, steel front and rear racks) and all our gear (including 7 lbs of dog food), the weight didn’t seem so off. Our Clark tanks were full and we also had an extra gallon each in Rotopax cans. Being 115 lbs, the bike was almost four times my weight.

We grabbed a bite to eat at Whipple’s Country store. You know you’re in a small town when anyone who wants a running tab for groceries can have one.

We finally returned to the dirt portion of the TAT, making good time on nice roads cutting through a stretch of national forest. The roads were in surprisingly good condition considering the storm that had just passed through. We did come across water obstacles now and then, but they were all easy to get around.

As we got closer to Highway 50, we’d occasionally lose the route. I found this turnoff and was waiting for Wayne to return after he went off on a recon mission.

The Lincoln Highway was America’s first trans-continental highway (not all of it was paved). This section of the highway was reduced to a faint trail.

We came across our first wild horse. “Majestic” would certainly be the word for it, as it stood right in the middle of the trail staring us down. After a little bit of stomping, it eventually took off, stopping now and then to give us the stink eye.

Another lightly used road brought us closer to Highway 50.

When we crossed Highway 50, we found the trail fenced off. It was hard to tell how old the fence was, but the trail on the other side looked to be in decent shape. We could see tracks around us where other riders had turned around. We took the pavement until we could reconnect with the trail.

It was getting late so we started scoping out a place to set up camp. We found a turnout where others had obviously camped and decided to stop there for the night. I took a walk back into the trees and found an even better spot away from the road where no one could see us. The benefits of being a dualsporter are many, including access to camping spots away from prying eyes.

We were at about 6,500 ft and the location was blissfully light on bugs. I had been living on antihistamines and had only begun to stop chronically scratching the 50 or so no-see-um bites I got back in Camp Verde.

While looking around our camp site, Wayne found a warning for those who took the TAT too lightly. Always pack enough water or you’re the next skeletor!

————

Day 9 overview: 126 miles

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