22-Aug-2005 -- It was time for another confluence adventure, this time successfully visiting confluences in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, and Montana. This would be number nine out of thirteen visits on my trip.
I was on my way from 41N-113W when I got off of I-80 at the Pilot Peak Road Exit. I had planned to visit this confluence before a geodash point just to the east in the Silver Island Mountains but I saw that Pilot Peak was currently getting some local virga and rain and, since I was already on the road to the dashpoint, I decided to go there first.
My adventure picks up southbound from the dashpoint. I had been on Pilot Peak Road before I turned off on Silver Island Road to the dashpoint. I was now southbound just before Leppy Pass when I took a quarter-mile jog to the west and soon found myself northbound on Pilot Peak Road pointing directly at the confluence.
So far, so good.
NG TOPO! Utah depicts Pilot Peak Road (with TOPO! Streets & 3D views) as a fairly major road. Garmin Mapsource depicts this road the same as it does all the others in the local area and, has it on top of an aqueduct. That part is accurate: the road was dried mud with ruts from a previous vehicle and in many places, you could see the buried pipeline. As I got down to the area NG TOPO! labels as sand dunes, it was simply a mud flat. My real-time moving map (TOPO!) showed me to be on my planned track and I could see the road running all the way to my objective. What could go wrong?
Mud flat. Flat mud. Dry, flat, cracked mud. Like a dry lakebed: Easy right?
I felt my vehicle start to settle as I drove; there was no turning back or stopping now. The dry flat mud was dry on the top but not a half inch underneath! Following the tracks of the vehicle that had preceded me, I accelerated toward the rising terrain….
By alternately following his track or deviating slightly where it looked really deep, I was able to continue. Mud was flying everywhere and the nose of my vehicle and its velocity vector were not always aligned. If I got stuck now, my winch line would have to be about a mile long to be of any use. Windshield wipers on high, they soon ran out of (over 1 gallon capacity) wiper fluid. Down came my window. Steering inputs to the right were self-critiquing. Finally, after what seemed like several minutes, I was back on firm ground. (Post trip analysis of my track log reveals that it took me 30 minutes from just north of Leppy Pass until Halls Meadow and a good road.)
My Tahoe was dripping mud with the consistency of wet viscous plaster. It would later prove to dry almost as hard when I tried to wash it off.
I continued north and then turned west up a dirt track until I was due north abeam and then hiked along a contour line to the confluence. I found the confluence and also a very popular geocache co-located under a rock cairn next to a bush (looks like it had been moved since Terje Mathisen’s visit – wish I had reviewed his narrative before I started for this confluence!). I didn’t have anything to leave so I left my thoughts in the logbook. Apparently many geocachers are not aware of the DCP since there were far more entries in the log book than visits posted here. It was quite windy and I could see water on the mud flat to the north.
I walked back to the Tahoe and was amazed at the amount of mud underneath my vehicle! I also found a horned toad that was very agreeable to having his picture taken – maybe because he was so cold!
Picture #1 shows the general area with the cairn in the foreground by the bush and Pilot Peak in the distance. Just to the right of the bush you can see the ammo can where there is a geocache. Picture #2 looks north. Picture #3 looks northeast across the alkali flat. Picture #4 looks east towards the Silver Island Mountains. Picture #5 looks south with Leppy Pass visible in the center. Picture #6 looks west towards Pilot Peak. Picture #7 shows my GPS position. Picture #8 shows a horned lizard I saw by my vehicle. Picture #9 shows my vehicle after the adventure along Pilot Peak Road.
For future visitors, at the Leppy Pass intersection (beyond the concrete building with a fence around it and beyond the sand and gravel pit owned by the BLM), you need to go west towards the T L Bar Beefmaster Ranch (20 miles). This will take you safely around the mud flat and into Nevada for awhile before passing on the east side of Pilot Peak. This will also save you about $60 in quarters and the multiple car washes required to remove all the mud from underneath your vehicle. You really don’t want to go north or get stuck out there – if you did, it would probably be cheaper to buy a new vehicle than what it would cost for recovery!
It took me 1:09 to return (hike/drive) the 23.3 miles from the confluence back to Interstate 80.
The adventure continues at: 41N-115W.