roadhound Posted August 22, 2007 Report Share Posted August 22, 2007 Part 3: Running with the Ponies In July of this year my father, son, and I took a journey across the deserts of Nevada and Utah following old trails, railroads, and highways. This is the second part of day 3 of that journey and takes place approximately between 10:00 am and 4:30 pm. We continued south past the entrance to the Dugway Proving Grounds leaving the comfort of paved asphalt for the adventure of gravel roads. Proving the theory that faster is better on washboard roads we cruised at a smooth 45mph south on Ericson Pass Rd. for 9 miles until we met up with the Pony Express Trail and then turned west. As we drove over the low rolling hills we encountered small groups of antelope grazing along the roadside. Further along as we neared Simpson Springs we came upon a sizeable herd of horses blocking our path. My son said that he saw brands on them but I can find no evidence of brands on any of the pictures that I shot. In any event, once we got them to move aside for us to pass we continued on and stopped briefly at Simpson Springs. An antelope eyes us carefully as we pass by. A pair of the many horses grazing along the Pony Express Trail Simpson Springs was once a Pony Express Station and later a stop as part of the Overland Stage. In recent years (1930's) it was home to a CCC camp. Simpson Springs also hosts a campground that was originally going to be one of our overnight stops but since it was only 11:00 a.m. we all felt that it was to early in the day to start pitching the tent and so we continued westward toward Dugway Pass. The Pony Express stations were spaced out at a distance of approximately 14 miles, depending upon availability of water. During the 30's stone obelisks were built by the CCC as part of the WPA. The stone monuments still stand although not all of them still have the bronze plaques that were originally placed to identify the stations. There is currently an effort underway to replace the plaques that are missing. Monument for the Riverbed Pony Express Station It is difficult to describe the feeling of driving across the Great Salt Lake Desert. If I had to come up with 1 or 2 words it would be "vast isolation." In the distance that we traveled between Timpie Point and Schellbourne, Nevada, we would see only a handful of vehicles. The air in the Salt Lake Basin became noticeably clearer with infinite visibilities. For all we knew we could have been the last three people on earth. As we headed across the Dugway Valley I came up with the idea of giving my 14 year old son a turn at the wheel. He had never driven my truck before and was somewhat shocked when I offered him the opportunity. As he put it in gear he immediately stepped on the gas pedal, spinning the tires in the gravel. The acceleration on second attempt was much smoother as I coached him along making sure that steering and speed were kept within acceptable limits. As we began the ascent up Dugway Pass we once again switched seats and passing each other in front of the vehicle I could tell by the look on his face that he had a story to tell his friends when we got back home. Dugway Pass looking east On the west side of Dugway Pass we stopped at the Dugway Geode Beds for lunch and a bit of mineral hunting. We had thought ahead and brought a pick and shovel with us and after a quick lunch we found an open bit of dirt and started digging away expecting to find geodes to take back home. After 45 minutes of sweating in the 95 degree sun we gave up and decided to look for some that might be lying on the surface. For some reason I was expecting that the geodes would be plentiful and easy to find. Another 30 minutes passed before we decided that we needed to continue on westward without our prizes. Now I would have to find a gift shop to bring a present back for my wife and daughter and there were no gift shops in sight. View from the Black Rock Pony Express Station looking toward Granite Peak. Just west of the Dugway Geode Beds the original Lincoln Highway rejoins the Pony Express Trail. We continued on across a short section of dried lakebed and around the southern end of the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. We rounded the north end of the Fish Springs Range, past the ruins of Boyd's Station and then across a larger section of dried lakebed towards the town of Callao. Roadway near Fish Springs with Granite Peak in the distance. Fish Springs Pony Express marker When we reached Callao it was 4:30 in the afternoon and although we still had a few hours of daylight left there were a couple of things that concerned me. First was the remaining miles we had to cover. Since my goal was to "see" the Lincoln I did not want to be driving any part of it after dark. Second concern was navigation, I didn't want to be navigating my way after dark. Fuel situation was still good and no reason for concern. The third item of concern was the weather. Looking westward we could see the thunderheads building. I did have some concern about being caught in a thunderstorm from the aspect of road conditions. Although most of what we had traveled during the day was a hard packed, graded, gravel I had no way of knowing what the rest of the road was like. I would have preferred to stop and camp near Callao for the night but not finding a campground, or anybody we could ask about pitching a tent for the night, we pushed on... Up Next: Part 4; Does Your GPS really know the right way to go? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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