Dawn comes early in the desert. Below is a photo of the Sierra taken the morning after, shortly after sunrise.
Below is a photo of our pathetic, minimalist camp. Note the truck without tires and the cots. Also note the coats; it was cold even after sunrise.
The morning after.
Chips and salsa make a lousy breakfast, but at least there was some kind of food to eat. Soon after sunrise, there was a noise from the south. Eventually, a couple of dirt bikers came into view and stopped to check on us to see if we were ok. As you can see from the photo above, we were camped in the middle of the trail, so there was no way to miss us. There were 2 fellows in the group with small 2 stroke bikes. There were no chase trucks of any kind. During the conversation, one of the guys mentioned that he had fallen repeatedly in the soft sand and the impact had hurt his ribs. "I can't fall anymore!" he stated. That is when I realized how easily a simple trip can turn into a disaster. If he had fallen and hurt his wrist, he would have been unable to steer the bike, rendering him unmobile. And, with no chase truck to carry him or the bike, it would be a long, long, dry walk out. Note to self: "travel in groups with sufficient self extraction capability".
The trucks of the group returned from Mike's mid morning; the bikers stayed behind in the bar at Mike's since the majority of the round trip miles would be on the highway. They were unable to repair my rims at Mike's, but they did bring something more useful. 2 fully mounted, aired up tires on rims. Since my truck used standard truck rims, in a standard bolt pattern, Mike had some in his shed that he sold us for a small price. Yes!! We were mobile. But, I had no spare and there were plenty of ways to get flats in the hundreds of miles between where were were and where we needed to be. The tires he sold us were just barely serviceable, I swear that they were so bald you could see through the tred. But they held air and that was all that was required.
After we got the rims on the trucks, it was time to swap stories. We told them about the unexplained lights, the guys just rolled their eyes. They told us about their night at Mike's, we had to laugh. They hurried back to the ranch to get the dinner of roast pork. Upon arriving, they discovered that there was a very large group of LA firefighters who had arrived and taken over the place. In backcountry Mexico,a bird in the hand is the rule. Despite the fact that Rod's group had reservations, the firefighters were there (unannounced and without reservations, but there). So, they got the rooms. Since the firefighters had not contacted Mike, he did not have sufficient food for the large groups. Nor sufficient rooms. The guys got leftovers, slept in the bar on the floor and on the pool tables. Now I did not feel so bad.
After we completed story hours, we headed north to the head of San Matias wash and the highway portion of the trip. Below, we are at the head of San Matias wash, preparing to load the 3 wheelers for the highway portion of the trip. Note the wheel on the back rear is one of Mike's.
Getting back on the highway at San Matias wash.
We got back to Mike's easily. Once there, we assembled the group to leave. In the photo below, Louie was kind enough to carry one of my 3 wheelers in the back of his truck. Here Louie and John shoot the shit before leaving.
Below, Bruce Johnson helps get the cargo adjusted. Note the beer and bottle of vodka on the bumper and tool box.
Loading for the trip home.
I was quite paranoid about the lack of a spare. Despite the fact that there were multiple pickups on the trip, none of us shared a common bolt pattern rim. So, Louie's spare would not fit me and vice versa. The tires that we purchased at Mike's were way, way bald, so I was hyper attentive during the drive home. The attention served me well as there were no events and no flats. Below, the group discusses the choice of paths. Note the red sign behind by truck. This was left over from the last Baja 500 race.
A rest stop on the way home.
The balance of the trip went off without a hitch. All the way home, I was concerned about the lack of a spare, but the need never arose. So, at the end of the day, we rolled into my driveway with see-through tread and dirty faces but no further stories to tell. All in all, it was a good trip. Unlike the Scout trip, there was no real lasting damage. The dented rims were easily replaced and the tires were not damaged anyway so they were remounted on new rims. I kept the tires and rim's that I bought from Mike for many years just in case I needed them. Each time I saw them, I swore to myself that I would return them to Mike just in case I needed them again when I was in the area. That never happened, of course. I finally gave the tires and rims away when I sold one of my trucks.