...the basin and range.
I woke up in Nevada, not having spent time here (Vegas doesn't count!) in over 15 years.
Little had changed.
Wending my way along a sinuous and undulating piece of tarmac was somewhat soothing on this day. Scant traffic, no wind, just a good rhythm of unimpeded motion.
'Round about Austin I had a flashback to my last trip through. I was SoCal-bound and on my way outta town Willits suggested I stop at this off-the-beaten-track hot spring to camp for the night. I did then, and as I approached the unmarked turnoff this time I had no choice but to do it again.
10 minutes of rolling down a gravel road (guessing at the turns--there are no signs) found me sternum deep in 105* water with this view.
Well golll-lee. A guy could get used to this.
After 15 minutes with only my nostrils exposed to the world I came up for a good gulp of O2, and a new view.
Then back under.
After an hour in the water I felt as relaxed as a human can be and still call themselves conscious. Back into the E, pointed east toward Ely.
Arriving there I found a smiling KRob cleaning chains and kicking tires. Brief discussion hatched a plan, then we suited up and rolled out into a hot (for Ely, in Sept) afternoon.
We climbed generally WSW into the Egan range, ascending steadily through dormant grasses and pungent sage. Sinuous singletrack pulled us ever upward, helped along by KRob's descriptions of what was to come.
A brief break from climbing ensued when we arrived at a few alternate trailside lines. Gotta give 'em a whirl.
Resuming the climb, the grade increased dramatically and KRob simply floated off above. Fascinating to note that neither of us shifted, cadences stayed the same, yet he rode away like I was tethered to a juniper. Fortunately he's a patient guide so whenever this happened (often!) he'd be fiddling with his seatpost or cleaning his glasses and just generally acting like he hadn't been there long when I arrived.
The cliched high lonesome desert still exists in the Egan's. Skinny singletrack devoid of people is a rare treat these days: We rode for 3+ hours and saw no one. I asked K if he feared overcrowding of his trails at some point (for it truly seemed like his own private trail system) and he looked at me askew. "We're so remote I tell everyone I can about 'em, and maybe once or twice a year do people actually come".
I took that as an emphatic 'no'. And one that was hard to argue with.
Afternoon faded to evening as we unraveled more lithe, serpentine skinny. The glaring orb in the sky relented and caressed the landscape with that unmistakeable slanted light that grabs you by the neck and says "Fall is right now upon you".
The only trail name I can remember from the evening came on our last descent. Hard to forget a trail called 'slalom', especially the way that it did.
Still more to come.