We’d expected Paul May from Equipt Expedition Outfitters to make an appearance Thursday night but he was a no show. Turns out he took a short cut at 1:30am and got bogged down in soft sand a few hundred feet from camp. Being the veteran explorer that he is, he opted to switch his vehicle off, open his roof top tent, and go to sleep! Things always look better in the morning.
Most people were sleeping in roof top tents so that might explain why no one moved around camp until about 8:00am Friday morning. The material on those tents is so opaque that I think you could sleep until noon! By 10:00am, people were ready to head out on trail, enjoy an SUV run through the Smoke Creek and Black Rock Deserts, and a technical run through Steven’s Loop.
Chuck Fulkerson was the trail leader for the Black Rock trail. Chuck is a long time resident of Northern Nevada and a retired officer with the Army Rangers. He’s the type of guy who scoffs at the thought of using a GPS, and he knows the backcountry like the back of his hand. In a pinch he could dust off an old compass from his glove compartment and navigate the desert in a blinding sand storm. He was just our sort of guide.
Brian from Totally Off Road, a 4X4 shop located in Sparks, Nevada, is a local expert on Steven’s Loop and was our other trail leader. Nth Degree (prior to their “merger” with American Expedition Vehicles) provided the trail expertise with spotters and fully-equipped vehicles for recovery. Brian is also our sort of guide though he uses a GPS.
Those left in camp looked forward to a day of relaxation, reading, sleeping, fishing, kayaking, or just sitting around talking to old friends. Rich M. summed up the experience: “Events that I have participated in the past were very driven. There was a clear objective to accomplish something; a trail, a crossing, a destination. AT’s event was the first that I have participated in that the camp out was the destination and the side trips (Stevens Loop, Black Rock) were extras. I liked the calmer atmosphere where on any particular day I could just hang back, talk with folks, and not feel any pressure to perform”.