Ok...i was on my own temporarily, but i had a plan.
It was 6 pm and 19 miles to Alkali Hot Springs, and with a name like that... i was not going to drink the water. Therefore it was 41 miles to my next water source in the resupply town of Tonopah. My water carrying capacity was five liters. Yes.. i am a camel in many people's eyes. It was still 105 degrees out in the shade, and surprisingly, clouds suddenly began to form over the Silver Peak Mountain Range. Out the library's door I went.
One woman thought she met me the day before in the bar... I didn't know I looked like Zoner. :) Must be the backpack, or the smell, or the hiker trash vibe. Anyway, thin clouds covered the sun for the rest of the evening. About 20 cars went by me on what seemed to be the local dirt highway. Someone in town said that people steer by gps so often that they have started coming into the valley by the droves, not knowing what they are getting themselves and their cars into. Wow.
Three cars actually stopped to ask if I needed a ride. One of those cars had two guys heading to their gold claim. They insisted on giving me more cold water and a couple of cold ice teas. Even the local sheriff stopped to wish me luck. Again, now under a full moon, I made it to Alkali Hot Springs by 11:45 pm. I found the soaking pools in the dark and could hear wild burros and horses calling out from the water collection pond below me. It was super peaceful listening to the toads croak. Zoner said that he spent the previous night here and had flagged down road workers to give him extra water. But at 12:30 am i was out of there and was walking the dirt roads towards Tonopah. It was fun seeing the lights throughout the valley from cars driving on distant roads. I only walked till 2 am... but got up at 5 am to continue my journey.
That morning i passed a few burros curious as to why they saw a two legged walking by them. I also found a dead fox on the dirt road near its home in a mound. I could see why it got run over. In the morning there were several cars speeding by at what seemed to be about a hundred miles an hour. One car stopped to actually see if I needed a ride. I then got to a point where i diverted from the guidebook and just cross country-ed it to the western part of town. I arrived in Tonopah at 10:30 am and met up with Stacey who was staying graciously with Theresa and John. Theresa was a nurse at the mine and John was her husband who drove Stacey into town. We spent the night and left the next afternoon with, yes.... Aria Zoner... the creator of the Hot Springs Trail.
The next reliable water was 44 miles away, but there happened to be available water at Fraziers Well. Pronghorn Antelope with their young sped away from us as if their lives were at stake. Then we crossed paths with our third rattlesnake of the trip, but only our first in Nevada.
Again, we hiked into the dark until there were no more primitive roads to follow. We were now entering the San Antonio Range where we would walk cross country to the Historic San Antonio Mine before dropping down into the much hotter Big Smoky Valley.
It was definitely cooler to hike up at 7000 to 8000 feet in elevation.
Zoner even marked some of his route with lava cairns the last time he was here.
We finally came to the edge of the San Antonio Range where we could see our crossing of the Big Smoky Valley. We could even see snow in the Toiyabe Mountain Range up ahead.
The old mining buildings still had some shape to them.
Zoner even found a stash of water nearby that he buried a few years ago.
But then it got hot again.
There were even some sand dunes that we hiked through.
By the time Stacey and I got to Peavine Canyon where there was ample water to be had... we were definitely a bit heat exhausted, tired, and cranky. Zoner, however, appeared to be doing just fine.
Once again, we hiked well into the dark into the Peavine Canyon Campground. One of the local residents considerately stopped to see if we needed anything. We had just gotten water.. so all was perfect for the time being.