The first long day in Nevada began in Oregon.
We have a great breakfast between our trucks at a tiny campground by U.S.395 in Valley Falls, and head out to a gas station and other conveniences in Lakeview, Oregon.
The five parking spots in front of the supermarket are taken by three jeeps - one Wrangler and two XJ Cherokees (one - adorned with Rubicon eXtreme sticker on the hood).
The jeeps seem outright Malthusian compared to two Land Rovers (judging by the ratio of number of inhabitants to that of the seats).
We duck into the store, followed by the chuckles and comments from the burly jeepers; buy some useful and useless junk, and use the restroom (the camground didn't have one, being devoted to RVs that have them and horses who don't care).
Jeeps are gone by the time we hit the road.
The law in Golden State frowns upon entertainment involving liberal use of 7.62-39 ammunition; with that in mind, Chris charts our way for the day through the states better attuned to the spirit of the Second Amendment. We go back a bit, and split East to Highway 140. I get my first whiffs of the 300 TDI's diesel fumes, and the feeling of dolce far niente behind the wheel begins to settle in.
The road winds along the narrow canyon; whatever traffic we saw close to 395 is gradually disappearing into the neighboring roads. Down by the hamlet of Adel, the traffic is all but gone.
The radio squawks something unintelligible; from now to almost the end of the trip, we play the "Do you read me?" game. We're on 146.52, so Chris goes official and reads out his call sign, along with the rest of ham protocol. I am happy to oblige with "November Whiskey Five Whiskey, this is Alpha Kilo Six Papa Mike, I copy," then proceed in plain accented English with a request to repeat the garbled transmission. Looking into the future - it will take us days to trim our transmit power to the right level. After a few "can you hear me nows," I learn from Chris that we just entered Sheldon National Antelope Refuge And Range. As soon as he clicks off, I see three pronghorns off to our right, and scramble to take a picture.
Soon we cross into Nevada (how can two neighboring states agree on the same state highway number designation?); after a while, Chris leaves pavement on [what I later learn to be] Alder Creek Ranch Road.
To a right-click "What's here?" query in this area, Google Maps vaguely responds with a "Humboldt County" non-answer.
The road is a proper washboard, moderately dusty. Driven by the sense of direction rather than GPS, Chris leaves this road as well for a very ancient two-track.
Our first wildlife encounter is that with a very dead cow and very dead crow by a very dry watering trough; we take our first "in-situ" photos and depart towards the mountains.
It doesn't take us long to arrive to a "no trespassing" poster, bearing signs of multiple attempts to remove it and valiant efforts of the owner to preserve it.
We mull our options, and decide that we should be able to talk our way out of the wrong end of a shotgun barrel.
Fast forward, we do exactly that. The owner does not reprimand us for trespassing, but does not permits us to proceed, either.
We backtrack to the "main" washboard, and plow on to the next landmark - a lonely pit toilet on the hilltop.
From there, our reading of landscape reconciles with GPS, and we begin a climb up a mountainside, followed by a steep descent to Onion Valley Reservoir.
In process, we find that we have a company ahead of us - no other than our jeep buddies from Lakeview supermarket.
Small world... Where else would they go in the 96.2-mile-radius circle from Lakeview but here?
We stop by [what I thought was] a great campsite near the lake, but Chris dismisses it and we head up towards Blue Lake.
Earlier, I used low range for descent to Onion Valley Reservoir just to avoid riding the brakes; now it becomes necessary to climb uphill.
Open differentials in Chris' truck force him to reconsider his ascent lines a few times; closer to 7500 ft level, the trail becomes narrow and overgrown, so our body parts must remain inside.
Soon, we find ourselves at something that could be loosely defined as a group campsite. Our jeep buddies were encumbered by friends, significant others, offspring, and pets - so they elected to camp ten feet away from the pit toilet, placing their vehicles to block every intruder's attempt to capture the shitter. We skip the party and camp 383 feet North-West of the citadel (what a marvelous tool Google Earth is!).
It takes a while to even up the trucks (where we sleep); the day is still young, so we are off to Blue Lake - about half a mile away, and about 300 feet up from our campsite. The trail winds between the aspen trees and ends up at a rocky shore of the lake. Chris goes for his first swim call, I stay behind taking photos of towering peaks around the lake and whatnot. It leaves Chris refreshed and with a cut on his foot, me dusty and sweaty but otherwise whole. Always the choices...
Once we return, the Colemans are extracted from their stowage, and resume the "Kitchen Nightmare" battle for supremacy.
We are then rewarded with an outstanding sunset (bordering on psychodelic, according to my camera), with unobscured view nearly hundred of miles away to the West, peeking into both Oregon and California. Beers are consumed and bourbon is inching a little lower; then we're off to our sleeping quarters.