I left Red Bluff about 8am and got back on Hwy. 36. This portion of 36 is much straighter than than the Hydesville to Red Bluff section, but it is still scenic and fun. Followed 36 all the way out until it turns into 395 and then took that into Reno. Reno was a bit of a shock as any city of size is to me these days. It took me awhile to get used to dealing with traffic and signals.
Stopping for gas, I noticed that I was missing one of the rear axle adjuster bolts, so I stopped at a Kragens to get a replacement. Then I took Pyramid Lane out to Pyramid Lake to meet up with Blake.
About 2pm I stopped at the general store/gas station on 445 to get the required camping permit. Pyramid Lake is an Indian reservation and you can pretty much camp where ever you want as long as you have the $9 permit. I rode to the ranger station to get a map of the lake, and then went north on 445 as far as Sutcliffe where I noticed that there wasn’t any cell phone reception. I took one dirt road exploring for campsites and it ended up not panning out, but it was my first fully loaded offroad excursion. Kind of wished the bike wasn’t so heavy.
I decided at that point the best way to meet up with Blake would be to go back to the store because it would be easy to spot him riding by that point. Back at the store I found that I had cell reception so I called Blake and left a voice mail. I waited outside the store on a bench that fortunately was in the shade as it was about 94 degrees and climbing. I made several trips back into the store for ice cream, drinks, etc. Finally about 4pm I received a call from Blake. He was still west of Reno, and had suffered a problem with his caliper bolt coming loose. He was going to attempt a roadside repair using JB Weld so he figured it would take time to set and then it would take him about an hour or so to get to Pyramid Lake. I told him I was waiting at the store and since they closed at 6pm I would go ahead and get his permit for him. What I didn’t realize is that I should have told Blake I was at the store on 445, which looking at the map seemed the obvious way to get Pyramid Lake. They don’t call it Pyramid Lane for nothing.
Well Blake outsmarted me and around 7pm I got a frantic call from him saying he’s all the way up in Sutcliffe and he hasn’t seen me yet. I’m wondering how he got up to Sutcliffe without riding past me and I find out he bypassed 445 and took 447 instead. We agree to meet at the junction of 445 and 446, and a few minutes later I pull into the rest stop there to find Blake videotaping my arrival. After a rough start, our joint adventure is about to begin.
Pyramid Lake is so named because there is a pyramid shaped island near the eastern shore. 445 runs along the western shore and that’s where most of the camping is done. But the map showed roads that went over to the area where the island was and I wanted to camp there to get sunset and sunrise photos.
By the time we started around the lake I could tell that it was going to be a real pretty sunset. We got to the southern shore and the view was spectacular. I should have just stopped then and picked a camping spot and taken pictures but I had my heart set on getting sunrise pictures of the pyramid. So we continued on around the lake. When we got to signs saying we were leaving the reservation, I knew we had gone too far. We turned around and went back but I never did see the turn off that we wanted.
By this time it was getting pretty dark and I knew that where ever we decided to camp we were going to have to travel down a dirt road and I wasn’t too excited about that. From the highway it was getting hard to even spot the dirt roads that lead off to camping areas because they were hidden in all the sage brush. By the time I spotted one it was too late to try to brake for it.
Finally out of desperation I slowed down and just took the first turn off I could find. We went down that road for a bit when it appeared to go down into a steep sandy area. Not something I wanted to try at night, so we turned left onto another dirt road. This didn’t seem to be taking us any closer to the lake, so I turned onto another road that branched off.
I was really getting nervous and frustrated at this point, mad that I hadn’t been able to get situated at a campsite during daylight hours. I began looking for any spot big enough to pull of the road and pitch the tent. I finally found a spot and while Blake pitched the tent, I heated up the pork and beans that I bought at the store. We each had a little bit of water left to go with the beans. Then we climbed into the tent and went to sleep.
My thoughts before going to sleep were that it was a rough start, but at least we were able to find each other, and for that the cell phone paid off. I made a promise to myself to end the day earlier so we weren’t scrambling to find a place to sleep when it was already dark. I optimistically thought it would get better from now on.
I woke up sometime in the middle of the night to hear a truck drive past us on the road. I was pretty surprised because we were way off any main route that someone would be driving at that time of night. I thought it must be a ranger checking up on us, or maybe we were camping somewhere we weren’t supposed to be. The truck stopped a ways off after passing by us and I could hear loud rap music playing on their stereo. Great! I’m way out in the boonies in the Nevada desert and I still can’t get a good night’s sleep. I look out the tent window to see if I can spot them and all I see is lights dancing around. I thought at first I was looking at headlights on the highway, but the lights are going back and forth, joining into one and then splitting apart again. If it weren’t for the rap music, I would have thought it was a UFO sighting. Finally after about 20 minutes the music stopped and the desert became still again.
Early in the morning I woke up to another sound. At first I thought it was a baby crying, but as I listened longer I realized it was several coyotes crying out to each other across the desert. Realizing that, I was able to enjoy the sound while it lasted, and then fell back asleep.