Google Maps location of the hot springs: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=36.81157,-117.76778&ll=36.81157,-117.76778&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
I reinstalled my African Outback roof rack and also attached the custom half rail to lash down four 5.5 gallon Scepter military issue fuel cans. In addition I had two 2.7 gallon fuel cans mounted on the trailer. While I was at it I mounted my Hi Lift jack up on the rack too. Who cares about aerodynamics anyhow!
I wanted a camping area that would be very open because I planned to bring out a number of 2-way radios including an HF radio that covered Amateur radio frequencies. I needed space to allow my 100 foot long high frequency transmitting antenna to work well. If the areas closer to the hot springs were crowded I could always pick something a little further away
As usual I was overly ambitious about cramming too many activities into the weekend. I brought along six or so radios but ended up using only two of them full time. I rushed to complete the addition of the Fiamma awning to the trailer as well as the telescoping mast for holding up some radio antennas. To operate the radios and solar panels I built a batch of fresh cables to connect everything I had a late start on Friday and my main concern was traversing South Pass late at night and any snow or ice that might coat the road.
When I exited off of the pavement onto Saline Valley Road I kept an eye on the outside temperature as I steadily gained elevation that night. I was encouraged that at the high point of over six thousand feet, the lowest temp was well above freezing at 38 degrees Fahrenheit. When I descended through the canyon and into Saline Valley I never saw ice or the few minuscule patches of unmelted snow. The washboard surface of the roads in the valley were jittering hells and I had no idea of the problems that would surface later once I arrived at the hot springs.
View of the evil washboards in front of me on Saline Valley Road that night .
I had only been to the hot springs once before, almost 4 years ago and now I was very tired and sleepy, I missed the last turnoff in the dark! I had the approximate mileage and GPS but when towing a trailer I am reluctant to embark on any wild detours so I was overly cautious about turning on unfamiliar roads. After I doubled back and located the turnoff I was reassured a ways down the road by the "Bat Signal" in my headlights. Here is a daytime photo of the marker.
I drove slowly through the pitch black area of the lower springs, only spotting one vehicle parked in an area just above. This beautiful Fuso off-road machine! I took this daytime shot on the way out and wondered how he got his kayaks up onto the roof? Wow. How does he do that?
I found the upper hot springs and doubled back a bit to pick a spot to deploy the tent on the trailer. It was then that I saw the tailgate of the trailer hanging open and I had this vision of a 30 mile long "yard sale" of all of my gear strewn the length of Saline Valley Road. With my exhausted brain I struggled to understand what I had lost and if I had to drive back to retrieve things. Most of the gear stored in the trailer was in Rubbermaid Action Packers, duffel bags or carry bags. As far as I could tell, the only thing that I had lost was a medium sized tool bag that had my wheel chocks, rubber mallet and some other trailer gear. I decided to pop open the tent and sleep without doing anything.
Early the next morning I woke up, re-took inventory and still felt that I was okay so I took a number of early morning pictures with the red rays of the sun on the snowy Inyos..
Camp Sweet Camp!
Da flipp side facing East...
Every morning the ravens were up in the sky, always on the lookout for mischief to engage in
Next it was time to wolf down some hot blueberry pancakes and then get to work setting up the huge pile of comms equipment I had brought out as well as the awning, table and solar panels. I had spent some time at home building up various cables for the panels and radios. This included a funky looking power distribution block using Anderson Power Poles and screw terminal strips. It was connected to the trailer's dual batteries through a 100 Amp thermal circuit breaker.
With this contraption I could power up six different bits of radio gear. In the next picture you can see the telescoping aluminum mast on the trailer with two broadband antennas: a discone on top and a log periodic Yagi just below. To the right is the telescoping fiberglass mast with and Inverted "V" high frequency antenna.
Trailer's telescoping mast with antennas:
Table full of radios and antenna tuners. The LDG Z-100 worked perfectly!
The towers of the 1920's Salt Tram are silhouetted here, locked in time as they seem to march downhill.
The remains of the Salt Tram loading terminal's harvesting ponds barely poke out of the water
Washboard road behind me.
And more washboard road ahead of me. Sigh.