Shall I begin with "we wake up late and mull around forever?"
We do wake up late and mull around forever.
The place is just too awesome to leave in a hurry. However, Chris has grand plans for the day, so we eventually sail downhill from Hicks Mountain.
We hit paved Nevada 225 again, pass through Mountain City with the best plea for slowing down we've ever seen, I admire an old Studebaker stake-bed, and keep on pavement until we hit a gas station in the town of Owyhee. Very conveniently, there is an Ace Hardware store nearby - where we buy more trash bags, brushes for at least surface dust removal, and some other useful - scratch that, useless - stuff that we simply can't stand sitting on the shelves.
About three miles towards the Idaho border, we turn left on the fast graded road called Boney Lane, changing to Pleasant Valley Road. The state of Idaho doesn't let us know that we are arrived - the road continues all the same. Another left turn to Rd. 904 (Google Earth also calls it Stateline Rd.), and we're on a high desert plain at about 5200 ft, give or take a couple of hundred. Cattle abound; all of a sudden I get my first glimpse of something I thought was fiction long time ago: a small group of wild horses!
The animals are beautiful. Of all colors, slender, attentive to each other, especially the little ones, making decisions to stay and watch - or to flee all at once - on the spot. One large group crosses the road, and we just stay still and observe.
The road continues; Chris is visibly annoyed by having a relatively smooth road surface, so he splits off to faint double-tracks every now and then. We spend a few minutes exploring each of them, to come to a sea of dry grass without any traces of the road, and return to the main road.
We drive by a large and very shallow lake, filled by the latest thunderstorms - Juniper Basin Reservoir. The scene can only be described as The Cattle Riviera - cattle of all genders and ages lying in the mud, cris-crossing it, drinking from it, taking a dump in it, you name it. Soon after, we arrive to the first sign showing directions to two of numerous forks of Owyhee River: East and South. We go left, soon arrive to a narrow canyon with steep walls, and descend into it.
The valley opens up below with a very green grassy field, and a few buildings on it - 45 Ranch. Apparently, some rich philantropist bought up an alfalfa farm, and decided to make it his very personal retreat; I guess for tax purposes it is convenient to call it a "Nature Conservancy," and bar access to the general public. What a clever boy...
It is mid-afternoon, and seeing a few tents on the property, we ask the groundskeeper if we could camp on the grass - permission denied. So off we go to the South Fork Crossing, ford the shallow river, and Chris announces a swim call.
Then, we're back across the river, up the slope, and out of the canyon. At the same sign, we turn to the East Fork - towards Crutcher Crossing.
Another, now almost routine, canyon crossing - rough and steep switchbacks down one side, ford the river, and rough and steep switchbacks up the other.
By now, we can't ignore the weather. A leaden-gray thundercloud gradually fills up half the sky - the half in the direction of which we are going. Wind picks up considerably.
Just as it starts to get dark - not because the time of the day, but because of the thunderclouds, - we arrive to a little mud bog without any visible bypasses. The bog is about two feet deep; I stay back, in case Chris gets mired in it and I have to winch him back.
The winch remote stays under the seat - after a couple of attempts, Chris is safely on the other side. I follow; just as we pass by a ranch house with a corral full of cattle, rain begins.
Chris pulls over to a flat spot not far from the ranch, and declares it a campsite. I pull next to him, and we spend some time stringing a tarp between our trucks to make ourselves shelter for the dinner; another tarp goes over his windshield and to the bottoms of the doors (since the tops are inexistent).
The rain intensifies; we cook New York steak and fry a large onion - that is our dinner tonight. By the time we're done, the wind drives rain under our tarp, so eating the dinner outside is out of question. We pile up in Chris' 110, and consume the steak and onion in silence, sitting on the rear wheelwells. There isn't really anything to do, so we decide to call it a day around 8 in the evening or so, and go to sleep.
That didn't last, however. Neither of us had any desire for sleep yet, so not even a quarter-hour later we both get out of our trucks; wind died down somewhat, so we regain the use of our shelter - and proceed straight to Macallan, in the dark and accompanied by rain peltering the tarp.
The photos above are taken by Chris Shell
My sleep is interrupted by an earthquake around three in the morning. I check the landscape for tectonic shifts with a flashlight, only to see a bull scratching his side against my ... bull bar. Isn't what they are for, anyway?
Back to Owyhee, day one On to Owyhee, day three