Relaxing at the Springs and Back to Civilization (Nov 1 & 2)

The Mainiacs had mentioned that I should drop by their camp in the morning, as most of them were leaving. After waking up, I did just that. I enjoyed a nice breakfast of leftover potluck food and some orange juice. They were already getting into the alcohol – champagne and tequila shots. A bit too early for me…

We bid farewell. Definitely glad I bumped into them, they were a fun crowd!

I decided to spend this day simply relaxing. One of my first priorities was a shower, which was super awkward, as there was zero privacy whatsoever. The shower was located next to to the main gathering area, and people were constantly walking by. It was nice that there was a hot shower available though, and I tried to brush off the self-conscious feeling that everybody was staring at me as I bathed.

Next to the shower was a cute little tub, good for a soak if the other pools get too busy! I’m not quite so sure about people using soap to wash though, I think these drain out to the fire break with the rest of the water. Not really so great for the environment.

I walked around a bit and noticed that there were koi living in the stream created by the pool runoff. There was also a kiddie pool and some benches to enjoy the surroundings.

I filtered water from the sink, which probably wasn’t necessary as people drink it unfiltered all the time, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I charged my electronics with the solar panel and read part of a book. I spent a long time soaking in the Crystal pool. Paradise.

This is the source, where all this magnificent hot water comes from. No swimming is allowed.

After dark, I was soaking with a few guys and mentioned that it was amazing that a place like this exists at all, in the middle of nowhere, especially for free. One of the guys agreed “Yeah, I think this is what that those expensive resorts try to be, but they just can’t quite capture it.” Somebody mentioned that one of the reasons the hot springs were so relaxing is that the water contains lithium. Hmmm…

One of the guys (who I have unfortunately forgotten the name of) was running around with a small UV light looking for scorpions, which apparently fluoresce bright yellow. There were dozens of tiny scorpions around the camp, though they mostly kept to themselves, in the wood pile and brush. We decided to go on a night hike to the Wizard pool, where the extra-hot water was a nice contrast to the breeze and cold beer. Much entertainment was had trying to identify some of the thousands of stars visible in the night sky – without light pollution, the air was so clear you could see the Milky Way. Our return to camp was illuminated by the full moon.

The next day, I managed to find a tiny patch of cell signal and got a belated text from my friend. Apparently, one of the people we were going to go hiking up Mount Whitney with had contracted pneumonia, so the trip was postponed for another week or so. I wasn’t sure about this plan, the mountains had already gotten a dusting of snow, and the later it got in the season, the more we were pushing our luck. Either way, I had more time to stay at the springs if I wanted to. I was very indecisive, I had only planned to be out here for a few days and was out of food. Damn!

In the end, I decided that I didn’t want to be one of the infamous “moochers”, asking people for food handouts, and that I could always come back some other time when I am better prepared. I didn’t feel like waiting around a week for my friends either, it seemed time to move on. After I spent a few hours saying goodbye to various people I’d befriended, I packed up my camp. My neighbor gave me this piece of art he’d done as a going away present. Awww, thanks!

Due to my indecisiveness, my departure was quite late. It was slow going down the springs road due to sand. For whatever reason, it seemed a lot worse than it did on the way in, though I’m not sure how that could have happened. Maybe I was just too tired to care as much then!

I stopped to take a break before tackling Saline Valley Road. I think this is a primitive grader? It looked pretty heavy.

Back on the main road, I was greeted with my good friend sand again. Lovely. Some day I will be able to go faster than 10mph through sand, but today was not that day.

This dip was exciting! It was pretty steep. Just hold on and don’t stop.

I was chasing the setting sun. It was already late when I left, but now, the sun was fading behind the mountains.

Some parts which were an effortless downhill on the way in became a bit more stressful on the way out, such as this steep hill. Lots of loose rocks, but I found myself not even paying them much mind. Just gas it. I really didn’t want to be facing this road after dark.

Bye Saline Valley! I’m sure I’ll be back someday!

I was on a mission. I managed to get through the canyon before darkness fell, but not quite to the abandoned buildings. In fact, in the dark, that same sandy corner I had trouble with on the way in snuck up on me and I had a “hey, wasn’t there some sand around her-SHIT!” moment, and almost lost it. I managed to kick the bike back upright though, and no harm was done.

Thoroughly chilled, I was happy to find pavement again. Back in town, a sign informed me that it was almost 10 PM. I considered my options, and rather than crash in on Nip unannounced, I decided to find a place to camp along the way. I took a side road advertising a campground, and then a sandy dirt trail, ending up making camp in a wide clearing underneath some high-voltage power lines.

I made camp, a bit paranoid that somebody would harass me for camping for free so close to a “real” campground, but my worries were unfounded. I fell asleep to the electric crackle and hum of the lines above me.

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