05-Oct-2002 -- The Black Rock Desert has been one of my favorite places for a number of years, but I had never managed to get over to the west side by the Black Rock Range. The only time of the year that one can drive across the playa to access that area is from late spring/early summer when the playa has dried out until the rains/snow come in the fall. I wanted to visit this confluence while still possible this year, but was unable to find a time until the first weekend in October. The Thursday before that weekend a very unexpected rain visited northern Nevada. I was worried that we would not be able to get across the playa, but decided to give it a shot anyway. When we arrived in Gerlach on Friday, we learned that Gerlach and the southern end of the playa had received considerable rainfall on Thursday. The good news, however, was that the rain was localized to within about 10 miles of Gerlach. We should be able to get to the area of the confluence.
We spent Friday night at the hot springs in Soldier Meadow, about 50 miles north of Gerlach. On Saturday morning, we drove across the playa to a "road" leading from the playa west into the hills of the Black Rock Range just south of Casey Hot Springs and south of the confluence at 41N119W. Already in 4WD we left the "road" and drove cross-country until we were about .2 miles from the confluence. Photo #4 shows the scene as we approached the confluence. The confluence is on the foreground slope (going down from right to left) below the dark knob formation in the distance on the right. This is beautiful country. Photo #2 shows the scene to the east. The playa where world land speed records are set is in the distance across the desert area between the playa and the mountains of the Black Rock Range. Looking north in photo #1 you can see the north end of that Black Rock Range. And looking south in photo #3, the landmark Black Rock and namesake of the area can be seen. The previous visitor, Will Hirst, noted a number of white PVC pipe markers in his report. We saw them as well, and investigated further. Many of them had small vials attached to them with claim documents in them. Photo #6 shows one of those documents dated August 26, 1988. Having recorded our presence at the confluence (photo #5) we returned to our vehicle and continued our exploration of this area.
Black Rock Hot Springs is about 2 miles south of 41N119W at the base of the landmark Black Rock noted above. We had lunch beside an old covered wagon left there by emigrants passing through. We returned north to explore Casey Hot Springs, which is a number of springs of hot water emanating from the base of a long ridge. From there we continued north about 2 miles to Double Hot Springs, where we intended to camp. Here two 20-foot diameter side-by-side pools of near boiling water emerge from the depths of the desert. This seemed to be a popular place this weekend (first day of deer hunting in this area) as there were 5 or 6 groups of people already camping here. We chose to move on and ended up camping Saturday night in the middle of the playa, a most interesting experience.