The next leg was perhaps our most surreal. As we discovered, the Black Rock Desert swallows you in its immensity and its hidden charms. From glittering and hidden hot springs to the unbroken expanse of The Playa, its pull on the soul can be felt even now.
This shot has us deep in high sage desert, down a narrow, rocky trail, and with failing light. We were both looking forward to getting to the destination! Our spot was Soldier Meadows, a little known map dot that had rumored (and revered) hot springs.
It was an hour after this shot (and under a blanket of night as dark as a velvet cloak) that we finally made the camp. It was so dark I tore off plumbing on a rock, just backing into the site. We’d just have to worry that one through when the sun came up.
The cresting sunrise called us to action. We followed simple paths from our campsite to this jewel of a find. Thigh deep water at a therapeutic 103 degrees sluiced into a soak hole whose bottom glimmered with pyrites of gold, green and blue. There was even a coathook on which to hang our bathing suits!
An hour or so crawling southward led us to the northernmost entrance to The Playa. A few clouds billowing on the horizon told of fellow desertgoers making their way across the featureless floor.
We dialed it up to a breakneck 35mph and made our way directly southeast, aiming at nothing more than a mountaintop. It was some of the most incredible driving I’ve ever done.
At trail’s end was Trego Hot Springs, a hot ditch that hugged the rail tracks on the desert’s eastern edge. A bit muddy but still relaxing, it was full of some nice folks out of Reno that joined us for a silty soak.
We watched from the pool as the sun tilted west. Before too long, we were bound out, destined to find a place that was no place to spend the night on The Playa.
This was our forty mile view out the front door, facing north. 1/4 mile from us was Black Rock City, the site of Burning Man. It was amazing to think that only a couple months prior was born a city of 70,000, and I couldn’t find one man-made artifact to show that it was ever there. The temp dropped quickly as we broke out the gennie to stave off the cold, and hunkered down under a purple sky.
Shortly after breakfast, a few overhand casts of the ball to Denver meant he’d be socked in the backseat for our drive along the massive flats and into the town of Gerlach. We both agreed we’d never seen a more sublime and haunting landscape. A pledge was made, then and there, to make it back to BRC for The Burning Man someday!