The Silver State Adventure is now in the books. Twenty-two trucks covered 560 miles from Reno to Las Vegas, 524.2 miles of which was on the dirt. We had hoped to only drive 21 miles of pavement, but we ran out of time day two. Unlike some of our other runs/trips, we had to push the group to keep moving at times because we had to cover a lot of ground before we lost daylight (not everyone had aux lights because they were not a requirement for this trip).
Chapter 1 – Heading South
We all met up at 7:15 am to pass out lunches and go over the plans for the day. The morning of day one was planned to be the slowest section for the entire trip. Despite being slow, everyone had fun climbing up and down the mountains and dealing with a few trail challenges. There were three areas of this slow section worth noting, a steep down grade, a steep hill climb and a mud bog. The first challenge we faced was a steep down grade with a 90 degree turn mid-grade. This downgrade turn or, “challenge section,” came only 15 miles into the day, and you could hear the radio chatter of members saying, “WTF.” Everyone made it down safely, but with a little adrenaline pumping.
We then had to complete a steep hill climb. The climb was not only steep, but it was also a bit rocky, adding to the difficulty. The 2WD trucks had the greatest challenge in this section, as they had to keep their feet to the floor in order make it up the grade. At the top of the hill, we could see the promise land of flat desert trails ahead, however before we could get there, we had to get through the third challenge section, a mud bog. There was no way to get around it, so we all had to go through it, leaving us all incredibly muddy. We then had a short pavement section to get through before we were finally on the first fun trail to our lunch stop at Churchill Ghost Fort.
After lunch, we made the run to the only fuel stop of the day, as well as the only civilized restroom. By this point, some of us were limping into the gas station as our trucks were on fumes. From the gas station, it would be a straight, fast shot to Tonopah where food and hotel rooms awaited.
The trails after lunch started with an open, smooth section. After crossing the freeway, we hit a fun canyon section. This section twisted and turned its way along a riverbed and ended at a dry lake, which turned out to be not so dry this time. Making our way out of the canyon, we had a short hill climb followed by a descent onto a large playa. The playa was made up of a lot of fine dust, so we had to spread out a little more than usual in order to be able to see the trail through the dust. By the time we reached the last regroup point of the day, a few trucks were low on fuel and others were just plain tired. For this reason, about a 1/4 of us took the freeway and fast tracked it to town, 20 miles away. The rest of us decided to go ahead and finish the day’s planned trails. First, we drove down a river bed and then completed a fun hill section, and finally we blasted into Tonopah. We arrived into Tonopah just in time to see a beautiful sunset over the hills and an apocalyptic view as the light reflected off our dust trails.
Chapter 2 – The long ride to Vegas
The final day of the trail run would be the longest trail day. Unfortunately, we started the day a little behind schedule, as some of us had a little too much fun at the brewery the night before and were therefore moving a bit slower than usual this morning. While it’s good they had fun, the late start combined with the number of miles we needed to cover required that we push the group a along the trails a little more than we usually like. Everyone knew we had a long way to go and a short time to get there, so we all SADDLED UP.
Before hitting the trails, we had a quick drivers meeting, as we wanted to go over the day’s itinerary before we headed out. The trail for day two started in town, so the drive there was quick. While we staged up, the camera team and another lead truck got a head start in order to setup to film us as we passed down the “rally canyon.” After the canyon section, we hit the “beach.” This section of trail was along the edge of a large lake, which was super sandy and therefore made for some great drift shots.
The first regroup point for the day was near Gold Point. Once we had everyone back together, we enjoyed a quick refreshment. Departing for the next section, we hit a rocky patch before entering into the forest section. This section of trail weaved in and around a forest of Joshua Trees with the amazing back drop of the Sierras. After completing what was probably the most scenic trail of the day, we climbed over another pass to descend down into the valley for our lunch stop at Bonnie Clare.
The Bonnie Clare lunch stop offered a much needed break for us. We had been doing great pushing through all the miles of trail we had to cover. After an hour break, we headed to Beatty to make a much needed fuel and restroom stop.
On the way to Beatty, there happened to be a set of jumps perfect for having some fun. So, we took turns and had a little fun seeing if we could get our wheels in the air. After the jumps, we took a fun smooth trail that led into a small section of Death Valley. As we were in Death Valley, we had to make a stop in Rhyolite for photos. Once pictures had been taken, we continued to make our way to Beatty for fuel.
With the group fueled up and ready to roll, we headed out for the last of the trail sections to Las Vegas. Leaving Beatty, we took a short canyon trail which led down to the trails on the valley floor. This section was hell to drive. It was 7 miles of non-stop whoops which tested everyone’s suspension and gave a few people whiplash. We named this section of trail, “Whoop-Ville II.” (Whoop-Ville I was discovered during our pre-run, and it consisted of 11 miles of whoops. There was a reason we opted out of this trail for the actual run.) The group slogged through Whoop-Ville II, followed by a short rock trail section, in order to finally get to smoother ground.
As we continued on, we drove through a small town which only had dirt roads. We then made our way towards Devils Hole, which is at the northern most part of Death Valley. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop, as it was getting late in the day and we still had a lot of miles to cover. Therefore, we continued on. As we reached the freeway crossing, which led to the power line section, we were stopped unexpectedly by marathon runners. Apparently, there was a race underway so the freeway was shut down for the runners. This made for some colorful radio chatter, as we were all wondering what on earth would make someone want to run a marathon in the middle of a desert. With caution, we all made our way across the freeway and on to the power line section and the dry lake bed.
The power line trails were a bit rough, as there were a number of washouts that were hidden in the shadows of the trees. We finally made to the turn for the lake bed, where we were greeted by 7 miles of flat, smooth trail. Once again, we did not have a lot of time to spend on the lake bed as we still had more trail to complete and had to push on.
The trail leaving the lake bed had clearly not been used in some time, causing us to feel as though we were creating about 2 miles of our own trail. There was a lot of overgrown bush, making visibility very difficult. After making our way through, we reached the final regroup point. Here, we took a moment to take pictures of the “unknown church,” which was carved into a canyon. The place was kind of eerie, as there were damaged statuses of the Virgin Mary, shrines and other religious items. The church was fascinating to see, but at the same time it was very odd to find it out in the middle of nowhere.
Getting the group back together, we hit the last section of trail known as the “Baja Track”. This section of trail was the, “cherry on top of the cake,” and left all of us buzzing about how much fun it was. After a long day on the trail and with the sun setting behind us, we finally reached the end of the planned dirt section. All that was left was a 20 mile freeway sprint to Las Vegas. By this point, we were all tired and ready to call it a day. After quickly airing up, we hit the freeway to the hotel and the end of one amazing adventure.