Camping alongside the train tracks at Nipton

Bicycle camping in and around Mojave National Preserve 2006

Day 6: Nipton to Teutonia Peak area

30.87 miles, 3:27 hrs, 25.0 mph max, 9.0 mph avg

Elevation: 3000 feet to 2700 to 5000

I wake up early to the train blasting by, then shortly again afterwards to the dumb campers with the dogs not on leash. Man is yelling for his dog Zola to come back over and over and over. Zola won't come back. Stupid Zola.

I stop at the campground sink before leaving Nipton to fill my bottles with water

Hey, keep your dogs on a leash as per the campground rules and let other people sleep in a little. I know, I know... we all know that pets are so special.

The vague shade of the creosote bush next to me isn't helping much. As soon as the sun hits the tent, it becomes an oven, baking me inside. Tasty!

This is the opposite of the last few mornings up at higher elevations where I found myself wishing that the sun would hurry up and heat up my cold tent. Us humans are so picky about what we want and when we want it!

I'm expecting a bit of a headache from last night's beer, figuring that I was probably a tad dehydrated to begin with from all the riding in the heat. But luck is on my side, and I feel great.

Semi-outdoor shower stall with dirt floor in the Nipton quonset hut

In no time at all, I'm so hot in the tent that I start sweating and have to get out immediately. I go and take a nice long shower in Nipton's semi-outdoor showers. The showers are inside a quonset hut with fiberglass panels on the outside, and the floor is just dirt, except in the areas in front of the showers, where a wood frame resting on the ground provides a buffer zone from the sandy soil.

I stop in at the general store at the front of the complex for some supplies and I guzzle two eight-ounce bottles of juice, one 12-ounce Arizona iced tea, and I eat a frozen fruit-juice bar. It's simply too hot this morning to be bothered making a bowl of miso soup like I've been doing most mornings so far.

The usually quiet store is suddenly busy as a tour bus of French tourists empties its full load of passengers into the store to buy souvenirs and experience the feeling of an isolated desert general store. I get in the long line and wait my turn.

French tourists who just arrived on a tour bus stop to watch a passing train in front of the Nipton General Store

I go back to my tent and pack up in the hot sun. I'm already sweating off the sunscreen on my face that I applied a few minutes ago!

I walk over to the outdoor sink and fill up all my water bottles. The drain is clogged with stinky rotting leaves. I ride away from the campground and over to the store to buy yet another bottle of cold juice on my way out.

The French tourists have departed and I wonder what they think of a desolate place like this! The store is quiet now, so I get to chat a bit with the woman working there. She has lived in various parts of the desert here for 40 years and is a great source of information.

So many residents out here have intricate knowledge of the area which they usually enjoy sharing once they realize that you aren't just someone stopping for two minutes on the way to Los Angeles or Las Vegas, thinking that they are weird to be living out here.

Pavement repairs on Nipton Road over the years create an interesting texture

I mention that I'm considering riding up to Tecopa Hot Springs tomorrow, but am not sure about road conditions. She highly recommends the scenic back-road route via Excelsior Mine Road over Tecopa Pass at Horse Thief Springs, which stays green longer than many areas out here due to the presence of water. She tells me that it wouldn't be a good route in a car due to the very rough roads up there, but she thinks it would be beautiful on a bicycle for someone in good-enough shape to ride it. Now I'm excited!

She also suggests that I try riding the one-mile-long, semi-paved segment of the powerline road at the top of Morning Star Mine Road over to Cima Road, which would shave a mile or two off my trip toward the Cima Road summit today.

I thank her for the excellent tips. I get on Nipton Road and pedal mechanically in the heat across the the creosote-bush scrub of Ivanpah Valley. I'm backtracking yesterday's route for the first 10 miles until I reach Morning Star Mine Road—the turn-off that the three motorcyclists missed yesterday. Today, that road will be my turn off.

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