2022 Trip Report - Bald Mountain Trip
Photos by Sue Jaussaud, Mignon Slentz Ron Lipari & Marian Johns
I had heard of the ghost town Pine Grove, Nevada from Steve and Debbie and thought it would make a great camping trip for a small group. So, a date was picked and a trip description was placed in the Desert Explorer Newsletter. We originally limited the trip to ﬁve and the trip ﬁlled quickly. Unfortunately Glenn was number six and Marian was number seven. Mignon pointed out that Glenn seldom reads or returns emails and I should have assumed he wanted to go with us. And Marian, the grand pooh-bah of the DE, certainly could not be denied, so we were seven. Then Vicki and Lindsay cancelled and their spots were quickly ﬁlled with the two Daves, Dr. Dave (David Hess) and Dave Burdick.
The trip started ominously when our Nissan Skamper Camper’s “service engine soon” warning light came on not twenty miles from home. This was disconcerting because the same thing happened on Jay’s trip and I thought the problem had been repaired. So, in Boulder City we stopped at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store and they plugged in their computer reader to determine what was going on. It seemed that the PCM (powertrain control module) was defunct and the whole truck might self-destruct. Not good! Then Mr. O’Reilly said “lets see what happens if I push the reset button.” It was like magic. The engine service light went off and everything seemed ﬁne. So, keeping an eye open for that nasty light to come back on, we continued into the wilds. We reached our favorite camp spot, Cottonwood Creek, just 2 margaritas behind Ron and Mignon. Shortly everyone else arrived and the festivities truly began.
The next day, somewhat bleary eyed, we followed a two-track into Marietta. From there we planned to 4-wheel past Summit Spring, Rattlesnake Well and Whiskey Spring. We tried two different routes to Summit Spring but the rains had washed out both roads. So we turned east from Marietta,intersected Highway 95, and headed north. About 20 miles south of Mina, Glenn commented that there was a huge mill up Telephone Canyon, which was just east of us and worth the detour. Off we went. The Telephone Canyon Road cuts across Gabs Valley and snakes up Pilot Peak. About half way across the valley Dave Burdick’s Jeep up and quit. It was evidently the same problem he had on Jay’s trip and he decided to try and make it back to pavement where we could meet him later. So the rest of us continued on. Our route had dwindled to a very steep narrow ledge road when Glenn realized we had passed the mill. The road was too narrow for us to turn around, so we pushed on to near the top of Pilot Peak before ﬁnding a wide spot. After ﬁnally turning around, we had to descend in low-gear, low-range until we found the turn-off to the Belleville Mill. Fortunately, it was deﬁnitely worth the effort.
When we got back to Dave Burdick, we discovered a blown fuse in his Jeep’s ignition circuit. Fortunately Marian had a supply of spare fuses and we got the Jeep sort-of running and decided to try for Hawthorne. What a journey! The skies opened up with a torrential downpour, but Dave’s Jeep kept running and we pressed on. By the time we reached Hawthorne the rain had thankfully diminished to a drizzle. Dave pulled into a Napa Auto Parts store and they diagnosed his problem with their computer thingy. It seemed that a spark plug igniter goody was the culprit. Unfortunately it was on the number 6 cylinder, which was under all the intake manifold paraphernalia. The job would require a knowledgeable mechanic with the proper tools.There seemed to be only one mechanic in town, so we headed to his shop. By now it was late afternoon and the mechanic said it was a big job, Dave would need to come back in the morning.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon at the Hawthorne Museum (a real bright spot!) and tried to ﬁgure out what to do. Dave said if we camped close-by so he could join us, he would ﬁx his “Burdick’s Beans” (really good). We consulted the maps and located Cory Canyon just outside of town. It was a pretty canyon and we found a nice camp area. The rain stopped and it was a ﬁne evening.
The next morning we put another fuse into Dave’s Jeep and headed back to Hawthorne. Shortly his Jeep was in the shop and the rest of us headed over Lucky Boy Pass to continue our trip. We visited Fletcher and Cambridge before coming to Pine Grove. There we found the old school house, the 10 stamp mill and, way up on a hill, the old Pine Grove Cemetery. Our next stop was supposed to be Rockland, but once again the road was washed out. So, we backtracked to Wellington, gassed up, and headed for our evening camp on Desert Creek. Then the skies opened up again, but we were cozy under Mignon’s and Glenn’s awnings and Marian served a wonderful spaghetti dinner for all.
Next morning we tried to access Rockland through Nye Canyon via Dead Ox Spring, but the road had too many whoopty-doos. The side-by-sides had beat us to this area, so we retreated to Bridgeport. Dr. Dave ﬁnally got reception and received a text from Dave Burdick. It seems that he had decided to forgo repairs and try to drive the Jeep home and... he had made it OK! Great news! The rest of us turned south to ﬁnd a nice camp spot for the last night. From Bishop we bounced up the Buttermilk Road to our favorite camping spot on McGee Creek, where we enjoyed lots of wine and Ron’s pasta with wonderful homemade sauce. It was a perfect ending for a great trip. Thanks to all who participated. Special shout out to Marian for being the trip sweep. Oh, and kudos to Dave Burdick for solving his problems with a new Jeep for the next trip. ~ Joeso