Bob has great stories of the Jeep he had many years ago (including the time his buddy Jimmy hooked each end of the Jeep to heavy farm equipment, hit the gas, and just like that straightened out what had been a bent frame) but I’d never had the thrill of off-roading in America’s favorite off-road vehicle… until Pahrump.
Pahrump, Nevada, has more opportunities to venture off the pavement than any one vehicle can cover in a year. It was early September 2013, so weather was perfect for tooling around the desert. First stop? Big Dune!
Big Dune is visible from miles away for those traveling south of Beatty along US 95.
No photo captures the size of Big Dune…
…but it loomed over us, and we decided without the proper equipment to deflate and re-inflate the tires that venturing into the loose sand would not be wise.
Instead we headed to the hills. The Spring Mountains taunted and tempted us every day, and it was time to see what was behind a few of those curves and over a few of those ridges.
As always, the scale is vast. In the photo below, what look like water gulleys in the lower part of the photo are actually two-track, off-road trails, which stretched along this narrow canyon…
…and here behind my head you can see in the distance the larger gravel road we’d traveled to get to the spot we were standing on:
But this was just an exploratory trip. Over the next month or so, we’d travel several times into the backcountry around Pahrump, sometimes driving until even the dirt roads quit:
And what do you do when the road ends? You get out and hike!
And when you hike, what do you see? All kinds of things! Like this fabulous tarantula, which we’d later learned was probably a male on his annual migration. Where do they migrate? To female burrows 😉
Snow from the night before dusted the mountains, but we were comfortable in shirt sleeves down in the desert among the Joshua trees:
Those Joshua trees surrounded us around the base of the Spring Mountain range…
…but as we climbed to higher elevations, they petered out, replaced by other foliage:
This is what we’re talking about! Driving a trail, passing no other vehicles, parking, and hiking up the hills, picking our own way through the brush and rocks. I’m tiny on this hill, with the higher, farther ridge behind me:
And here Bob scouts our best way back down a hillside, with Pahrump in the background.
Every day a different hill to climb, a different road to explore!