10-Oct-2004 -- For about six years, I was able to fly low and fast over the Black Rock Desert about twice each week. I’ve also driven on the Black Rock Desert twice before. Once was to help launch a large rocket and the other time, I spent the night before hiking to the top of Division Peak to photograph some co-workers as they flew past. It's been 10 years since my last visit. This trip would definitely bring back some memories.
I turned northeast on SSR-34 at Gerlach and I entered the playa at N40 46.569 W119 15.818 and followed the well-traveled route to the northeast. Eventually, I had to proceed direct across the lakebed where the lakebed was not quite so hard packed.
Any vehicle driving on the lakebed is easily identified by a cloud of dust behind it. I was kicking up a considerable rooster tail of dust as I proceeded along a direct GPS GOTO at about 60mph. There was also dust rising from several other vehicles driving all over the lakebed.
The CP is located just off to the northeast side of the playa. On my moving map I saw the remnants of an old 4wd jeep trail and followed it east until the 119w meridian. It is right against a hill and you could almost drive to the point if you could only find a way through the scrub at the outer edges of the lake. There were lots of flat sharp rocks at base of the hill.
Picture #1 looks back southwest at the Black Rock Desert. Dust trails are visible from all of the vehicles driving on the playa. Picture #2 looks north. Picture #3 looks east. Picture #4 looks south. Picture #5 looks west. Picture #6 shows my GPS position. Picture #7 looks northeast. Picture #8 shows the view while at speed on the dry lakebed. In this shot, I was following my tracks back the way I came. Other vehicles can be identified by their dust trails.
If there are any entrepreneurs out there reading this, there is probably a pretty good business case for a coin-operated car wash in Gerlach to get the dust off of your vehicle when you come off the lakebed. If there is already one there, they need to advertise a little more. I spent over $15.00 in Fernley at a high pressure coin-wash and found out later that I did not come close to getting rid of all of the fine dust and alkaline grit from underneath my vehicle or even out of the door and window seals.
It was 44 miles and 1:24 roundtrip from the time I left SSR-34 at Gerlach until I was back on my way and south towards 40°N 119°W