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Buck30 - Desert Trail Journal - 2019

Entry 132 of 135
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Brian (Buck-30)
Begins: Apr 3, 2019
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Thu, Nov 21st, 2019
Start: San Diego
End: San Diego
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 2,038.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 501
Journal Visits: 40,190
Guestbook Views: 664
Guestbook Entrys: 25

Resupply Summary For Future Hikers

Resupply Summary For Future Hikers

[Mile marker note: Keep in mind these distances are understated by around 10% or more at times as discussed in the GPS track Read Me. Also, your distances between towns will vary depending on if/how you walked in/out so use these as a guide but do your own math on trail!!!]

One thing to keep in mind is that we did 6 food caches with our water caches between Mexico and Lovelock. I talk about this in the water cache summary page as well as below. You don't need to do food caches and could instead carry food for more like 5-7 days rather than 3-4. Given how much water we were carrying, having less food was a huge help.

Jacumba (Old Highway 80) - CA Mile 1

This is the start of the Desert Trail. The border is just a half mile away. There are a couple places to eat and a gas station with a decent resupply and a surprisingly good deli. AT&T and Verizon worked.

Desert Ironwoods (Highway 78) - CA Mile 56

This is a motel and RV park for OHV people. The motel has a pool and looked decent from the outside. Around $ 100 or a bit more. There is a small store with lots of frozen things to microwave. We bought 3 days of food here and it was tough and very, very expensive. They people are nice though and we lingered for a while outside in the shade. AT&T and Verizon worked.

Borrego Springs (Highway S-22) - CA Mile 73

We didn't go here but you could hitch in. Not a busy road but a decent amount of tourist traffic. I don't know the exact layout but I've been through and there is at least a small grocery, a few places to eat and some motels and higher end lodging.

Mecca (Highway 86 / 111) - CA Mile 106

Small town with a heavy agricultural worker population. Family Dollar and several Mexican groceries. Good AM/PM gas station. Del Taco and several restaurants. No motels. We took the local $ 1 bus to Indio which is large and has everything including cheap motels. The bus runs hourly and was convenient. AT&T and Verizon worked.

Chiriaco Summit (Interstate 10) - CA Mile 146

There is a large gas station at this I-10 exit with a Frostee Freeze burger place inside with small seating area. You can easily resupply here but it's very high priced gas station prices. There's also a cafe/coffee shop across the street and a post office, I'd suggest calling if you send a package as Colter had an issue with his general delivery package. AT&T and Verizon worked.

Twentynine Palms (Highway 62) - CA Mile 205

(Also, we did a food cache between here and Kelso Depot, see end of entry for summary)

This is a 35 mile hitch with low traffic, might take a while. Biggest town in a long ways. Everything including cheap motels and a local bus to get around if needed. We took an Uber out as the hitch was going to be even harder than getting in we expected. AT&T and Verizon worked.

Kelso Depot / Baker (Mojave National Preserve) - CA Mile 289

(Also, we did a food cache between here and Tecopa, see end of entry for summary)

Kelso Depot is a visitor center in the Mojave Preserve. I emailed to ask if we could drop a box off there and basically got a no after the guy tried checking with his bosses. Maybe if you just showed up it would be different. We buried a cache near Kelso Dunes instead also because the visitor center is closed Tuesday and Wednesday and only open 10-5 other days. There is water outside of the bathrooms accessible 24/7 and a power outlet in the bathroom which should also always be accessible. They no longer have a snack bar and only had bottled water, prepackaged tuna/egg salad sandwiches and black licorice. Weird. AT&T did not work, Verizon did a bit.

We instead hitched the 35 miles to Baker. It's a straight shot but traffic is very light. We actually had to camp an extra night after not getting a ride for 4.5 hours! Technically hitching isn't legal in the Preserve and the park ranger station is right there. They ended up giving us a ride and mostly said if we were hitching it would probably be fine. Baker is a small interstate town with tons of fast food and not much else. You could easily resupply out of the various gas stations. Weirdly there is no motel, we walked a half mile across the interstate back into the northern boundary of the Preserve and camped.

Tecopa / Shoshone (Highway 127) - CA Mile 412

(Also, we did a food cache between here and Stovepipe, see end of entry for summary)

Tecopa is on trail and is pretty rough for a hiker. It's a confusing hot springs town where you aren't really even sure what is there. There is an $ 85 or so motel and not much else. There is a little place that only serves BBQ which isn't super cheap and 2 miles on the way out of town is a PO and brewery that is only open a few days a weeks and apparently does steak and potatoes only. There is also a upscale bistro in town that is only open a few days a week. Also there is no drinking water in town, apparently the mineral content is so high it will give you the runs big time.

We had dropped off a package at one of the random hot springs places in Tecopa but also could have sent a package to the PO.

We ended up hitching the 5 miles to Shoshone. The motel is pricey at like $ 135 but the RV park is very nice and only $ 25 for tents and also has a 89 degree mineral pool. There is a reasonably priced diner and also a gas station with expensive resupply. Way better than Tecopa.

Stovepipe / Beatty (Death Valley National Park) - CA Mile 507

(Also, we did a food cache between here and Dyer, see end of entry for summary)

Stovepipe Wells is run by a national park concessionaire. It's a very expensive lodge (like $ 140-$ 240) and a pricey tavern and restaurant. The breakfast buffet is a good deal though. For $ 4 they will let you shower and use the pool which is pretty great. There is a also a small store that has minimal and expensive resupply. Across the street is a NPS campground that is more like a RV parking lot which some campsites around the edges. Not very enticing. It was also delayed opening by a couple months when we were there in October. AT&T worked a little, Verizon did not. There is free wifi. We dropped off a package at the lodge, the manager was nice.

A decent hitch away is Beatty. Low traffic and possibly in 2 parts, once you get the 10 or so miles to the 2nd part every single car will be going to Beatty, although there aren't a ton. Beatty has a few motels that are reasonable, Family Dollar, Subway, Denny's and other restaurants and was worth hitching to. Stovepipe wasn't a lot of fun to take a day off.

[California ends Mile 614]

Dyer (Trail crosses at Highway 266) - NV Mile 12

(Also, we did a food cache between here and Luning, see end of entry for summary)

This is another remote hitch with low traffic, we had about 20 cars in an hour. About 25 miles and there is a turnoff to the eastern Sierra so it might be a 2 part hitch depending on where your ride is going. Dyer is basically a PO, market with deli/frozen pizza oven and cooks burgers and other foods and attached RV park with showers and laundry. You can tent for $ 20, it's pretty nice and quiet for an RV park. They also have a few nice cabins ($ 85-115) that do fill up. There are 2 bars. Boonie's across the street serves frozen pizzas, nachos and hot dogs and usually has a much better nightly special. The other bar we didn't check out but we heard has frozen pizza. Dyer isn't much but if you want something then well, it's something. We had a fine stay. AT&T worked, Verizon did not. There is also free wifi. We dropped off a package at the gas station and also could have sent a package to the PO.

Tonopah (Highway 6) - NV Mile 73

45 mile hitch on Highway 6 which is lightly travelled. Tonopah was a great stop though, it's a real town. The National 9 on the west side of town (way in) was cheap and pretty nice ($ 60) and 0.4 from a Burger King, Subway and gas station. There's a cheap and good pizza buffet 0.8 the other way in town. The grocery though is far away on the east side (like 2 miles across town). The PO is in town near the pizza buffet. AT&T and Verizon worked.

Luning (Highway 95) - NV Mile 142

Nothing here but a PO (only open 10-12), a rest stop with picnic tables, water and bathroom and a rock shop open 9-5 (Mon-Sat) that sells cold sodas, chips and candy bars. They were nice and let us charge our things and sit out front, we drank many sodas. You could also hitch about 25 miles to the larger town of Hawthorne that has everything including cheap motels. Verizon worked and I think AT&T did too. The rock shop woman were super nice and you could probably drop off a package at the store but I'd be worried that they aren't open consistently. We mailed a package to the PO.

Middlegate (Highway 50) - NV Mile 208

We made our own route to walk in and out which was nice. Added abbot 2-3 miles overall. Otherwise it's around 6 mile hitch on Route 50. Moderate cars. Great restaurant/bar with awesome burgers. Cheap motel ($ 35-$ 45) that is run down but not too bad. Kinda falling apart but they make the inside nicer than you'd imagine. Tiny store in the restaurant with very little. Sodas, tiny bags of chips, canned goods, etc. Nothing else here. We dropped off a package. AT&T and Verizon worked. Free wifi too.

Lovelock (Interstate 80) - NV Mile 303 plus about 12 on alternate walk in

There is a road alternate where you bypass parts of Section R and S and walk in and out of Lovelock on foot. Lovelock is an interstate town with a number of cheap/moderate motels, a smaller than usual Safeway, Family Dollar, McDonald's, etc. It's one of the bigger towns on the DT. It feels like a niceish town for some reason. Cell phones work here.

Gerlach (Highway 447) - - NV Mile 404 plus about 11 on alternate walk in (don't forget to add the mileage walking out of Lovelock if you resupplied there)

This town is generally needed as otherwise you would be doing like a 250+ carry (possibly almost 300 miles) carry from Lovelock to Denio. It's a pain to walk through though. You are in the Selinite Range which is really nice but around 11 miles into the Range you need to go west down the jeep road through Empire canyon which is about 5 miles and takes you to the mining "town" of Empire which consists of a very lightly stocked general store that also has a deli and looks like it makes pizzas. I wouldn't want to do a big resupply here, it would be very tough. The shelves were half bare. Store is open daily.

Then you walk 6 miles on the very lightly travelled paved road to Gerlach which has a PO, restaurant (Bruno's, famous for ravioli) and motel. The restaurant was good and also owns the motel. The motel was simple but nice and only $ 55 ($ 35 for a smoking room!). WiFi worked well. TV but only a few channels.

I would recommend sending a package to the PO with 160+ miles of food to get to Denio. We tried to mail our package to the restaurant (they said OK) but it ended up at the PO anyway. I think all their mail goes to a PO box maybe. We were lucky the PO was open on Saturday and we happened to find out our package was there 10 minutes before it closed.

The only issue with going to Gerlach is you miss the rest of the Selenite range which has some great horse trail ridge walking apparently. But there's really no good way to resupply other than to cache your food. From Gerlach you walk a dirt road about 15 miles back to the DT around Trego hot springs. You could do the Selenite's and hitch this road but it could take a long time. It's a decent dirt road that sees hotspring tourist traffic but still, it could be a long hitch. We didn't see many cars while walking it for 5+ hours.

ATT works well. Verizon had 1 bar and didn't work at all.

Nevada section ends Mile 493, Cumulative Mile 1107

Denio (Highway 140 / 292) NV North Mile 88 plus about 12 on alternate walk in (don't forget to add the mileage walking out of Gerlach if you resupplied there)

This is made up of Denio and Denio Junction which are about 3 miles apart. To get here from the DT you want to divert down dirt roads/mining areas around Alberson Basin upon climbing into the Pueblo's or before that when you cross Highway 140 you could just walk that 17 miles to Denio Junction.

Denio Junction has a restaurant and motel, same owners. Good food at restaurant and the motel at $ 70 was surprisingly nice. Nice rooms with fridge and microwave. WiFi but no TV. There are a few groceries in the restaurant. Very minimal. No dinners. Chips, cookies, candy bars, etc.

Denio has a bar also with minimal groceries. About the same as Denio Junction. The food here is more limited. More like frozen pizzas, chicken strips and fries. Also a library only open a few days a week and a PO. We just bought groceries from the 2 restaurants for the 35 miles to Fields although I can't exactly recommend this as awesome. WiFi at bar.

ATT does not work. Verizon works well.

Fields (Highway 205) NV North Mile 116 (don't forget to add the mileage walking out of Denio if you resupplied there)

This is just a cafe/store/2 room motel. The cafe severs huge portions (also pricey). Giant famous milkshakes. The store is tiny but has a decent selection for hikers. If heading south to Denio you could resupply here (probably pricey). They don't seem to accept packages (they seem busy) but a local (Nancy) will and then usually brings your box to the store when you are coming. Her contact info is in the ODT town guide. The store owners are very hiker friendly. They also had HEET.

Verizon worked well. ATT did not although I later had reception out on the Alvord Desert. No WiFi at store.

Frenchglen (Highway 205) NV North Mile 177 plus about 3 on alternate walk in

Steens Mountain wilderness resort is about on the DT near Page Springs. We did not go due an alternate we took. See ODT town guide for info.

Frenchglen is 3 miles off the DT. The hotel is run by a State Park. Small. Good food, not terribly pricey. WiFi. Accepts hiker packages.The nearby Mercantile is tiny but had enough food for a couple days resupply if needed or to top off. See ODT town guide for more info.

ATT and Verizon worked well.

Burns (Highway 78 or later on Highway 20) NV North Mile 234 or Oregon Mile 63

This is the first real town since Lovelock. It's a long hitch (60 miles) on a quiet road (Highway 78). Expect it to take a while.

Alternatively you could hitch 27 miles to Princeton which has a PO or 36 miles to Crane which has a PO and maybe a small cafe/store but at that point I'd just go all the way to Burns.

You can also hitch into Burns about 65 miles further up the trail at Highway 20. This road had a lot more cars than Highway 78. Don't think busy but definitely more. I'd probably send a box to Frenchglen and hitch from Hwy 20 if I did it again. Also from Hwy 20 is Juntura about 15 miles the other way with a PO and cafe/motel.

Burns has everything including a Safeway. Downtown has that, PO and motels. We stayed about 1.5 miles further on which is Hines and has the fast food, a PO and Grocery Outlet. I wanted the fast food after so many 1 cafe towns. The Sundowner motel was $ 48 and good enough for that price. I believe the City motel in Burns is also cheap. We never did find convenient laundry. We think there was laundry at the truck stop well past the PO.

Nevada North section ends Mile 234, cumulative Mile 1,341

Drewsey (Drewsey Road) Oregon Mile 63 plus about 7 on alternate walk in

We walked into and out of Drewsey. This added about 2-3 miles in total. Drewsey is only a PO. Nothing else! Outlets out front. I got water from the school outside faucet (back right corner). We sent a box here with snack food for while we were there.

ATT and Verizon both work.

Austin House Cafe (Highway 26) Oregon Mile 141 (don't forget to add the mileage walking out of Drewsey if you resupplied there)

This is a nice stop. There is nothing here but a good cafe with a very nice owner. We called and got permission to send a resupply box. If they don't answer try Facebook messenger. They are usually closed Tues/Wed but that varies so call in advance. They have showers for $ 7. They are on the Trans America bicycle route and get a lot of cyclists so a couple hikers wasn't too big a shock. They have a tiny selection of groceries to top off but you couldn't resupply.

ATT and Verizon do not work but there is good free WiFi.

You could also hitch a short ways west to the small town of Prairie city which appears to have a pricey motel, RV park and small grocery (among other things I'm sure). We almost went but ended up being able to send a package to Austin cafe which worked great.

Meacham/La Grande (Old Highway 30 / Interstate 84) Oregon Mile 242

On the way from Austin you could hitch into Ukiah. Mile 198 at Hwy NF 52 or Mile 216 at Hwy 244. Both roads are paved and have very light traffic. We didn't go but Ukiah is a small town with a cafe/bar, RV park/motel and PO.

Also from Highway 244 you could hitch to La Grande, however 244 goes into I-84 to La Grande which means you would need to hitch the interstate back.

La Grande is a great hiker town with many cheap motels, Safeway, Walmart and fast food. It's just on the interstate so a pain to get to, however the local Native American tribe runs a large network of buses open to the public. A bus runs several times a day (M-F) from Meacham to La Grande. Meacham is 6 miles off trail at Mile 250 in Old Highway 30. This road has almost no traffic. We sat for an hour and walked the 6 miles and a car never passed going to Meacham. Crazy. Meacham has a good cafe with a tiny resupply (chips, candy bars) and also runs the post office. We sent a box here and then luckily a nice local took us to Le Grande as the bus wasn't running during the 4th of July holiday.

You could also try hitching into La Grande 2 miles later when you cross under I-84 except this ramp also sees very little traffic.

Tollgate / Elgin (Highway 204) Oregon Mile 296

Tollgate is on trail and a restaurant/baked goods/tiny selection of groceries/B&B at the pass. It was early when we passed through so we didn't go in but there are new owners and the articles/reviews we read seemed good. It is probably pricey as the area is home to the rich 2nd and 3rd homes. We saw some dinner prices which seemed high for a hiker but breakfast and lunch we think more reasonable. We called and spoke with the owner who said we could send a package but then we ended up not sending one.

We hitched the 25 miles to Elgin. It's the only place the road goes so a fairly easy hitch even with low traffic. Elgin has a few places to eat, PO, motel, library, RV Park and a couple B&Bs and a medium size good grocery.

Phones did not work at Tollgate but did in Elgin.

Oregon section ends Mile 326, cumulative Mile 1,667

Dayton (Highwy 12) Washington Mile 49

Dayton is a good small town you walk through. There are 2 cheap motels on the west side of the main highway. Bunch of restaurants/gas stations although food is a bit pricey even at the cheaper places. Medium size grocery near the cheap motels.

Phones worked good in town.

Cheney (Highway 904) Washington Mile 155

Along the rail trail is Hooper, Benge and Lamont. There are no services other than a PO in Hooper. Water and shade in all though.

You can walk in and out of Cheney adding minimal distance. The Willow Spring motel is cheap at $ 50. Not amazing but fine for that price. Nothing is too nearby the motel although Zip's drive in is next door which was good and fairly cheap. There's also a good loop bus around town that runs every half hour. Safeway and fast food about a mile north. The AAA Inn is a better location but $ 80.

Phones work good.

Spokane (Interstate 90) Washington Mile 172

Big town with everything and some good areas and some sketchy areas. Motels were mostly expensive downtown (and the couple cheaper one's had very little else nearby) and a few cheap one's on the way in on the west side were cheaper but not a great area and not much else was around. We took a quick local bus up to the Country Homes area which had a cheap motel (Appletree Inn) which was pretty decent and literally every shop you could imagine within walking distance. Was worth the $ 2, 20 minute bus ride.

Blanchard (Highway 41 - Idaho) Washington Mile 218

Small town with a gas station with small resupply, good cafe and maybe some lodging (not sure on that). The trail walks through the gas station and the cafe is about a 1/2 mile to the east.

ATT didn't work, Verizon did.

Newport (Highway 20 / 2) Washington Mile 230

Bigger town with everything including Safeway. Few motels, not sure on price and it can be touristy. Trail walks right through town. Cell phones work.

Last town till Canada!

Washington ends Mile 320, cumulative mile 1,987

Food Cache Summary:

#1: Between Twentynine Palms and Kelso Depot visitor center / Mojave: Food cache at Route 66 water cache.

#2: Mojave: We cached food near the Kelso Depot visitor center so we didn't have to drop off a package and then retrieve it during the limited days/hours they are open.

#3: Between Mojave and Tecopa: Food cache at the I-15 water cache.

#4: Between Tecopa and Stovepipe: Food cache at the Badwater road water cache.

#5: Between Stovepipe and Dyer: Food cache at the Ubehebe water cache.

#6: Between Dyer and Luning: Food cache at Highway 6 water cache. We ended up hitching into Tonopah and didn't need this.

Entry 132 of 135
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The Desert Trail

The Desert Trail is a 2,000+ mile route from Mexico to Canada through the deserts of eastern California, western Nevada and eastern Oregon and Washington. Originally conceptualized in the 1960s this rugged, beautiful and almost forgotten route visits Americas greatest desert landscapes and wilderness areas.


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