I made up some coffee to help me feel more civilized and headed to the west. My GPS was suggesting a route that took me to the south cutting across a corner of the Wendover bombing range. The route looked like it would shave off ten or so miles and would be all dirt instead of pavement. Unsure if the route was legitimate I hopped in the Jeep and drove on. The road did cut through the bombing range however it was fenced on both sides and marked with these signs every few hundred feet:
After driving for awhile I made it to the bustling metropolis of Gold Hill.
In some places you really need to watch your step. Some of the old pits are very unstable and unmarked. Some of mine sites I wandered had literally hundreds of small exploratory pits. It was interesting to see the rocks, they vary from a dark rust color, white and even a bright green.
After exploring the area for awhile I made my way across the original Pony Express route towards Callao. Callao was originally named Willow Springs, but the residences decided that it was too common of a name. A miner from Gold Hill said the area had a striking resemblance to Callao, Peru so that's the name that stuck. The town has a long history of being small and isolated from the world around it. Most of the homes in the area are the original log cabins that the settlers built. If you replaced the pickup truck in the driveway with a horse and buggy you would think you were transported back 100 years. The town was at one time a stop along the old Lincoln highway but it has long since been bypassed by the interstate system.
I then started to navigate my way towards the Oro Del Ray mine in the Deep Creek mountains to the east. I once saw pictures of this mine on Expedition Utah and decided that it looked like a really interesting place to check out. I found the coordinates via Google and was unable to find much about the condition of trail to get there. Looking on Google Earth I determined that there were 14 switch backs that went about strait up a hill. I did find a short blip online saying that it was either a long strenuous hike or a long bumpy ATV ride to get there. The trail is the boundary of a wilderness study area and it is signed with a BLM map stating that the route is indeed legal to travel for the time being.
The trail to the mouth of the canyon is littered with rocks and is bumpy and slow. I spent the better part of an hour creeping along in low range with the speedometer rarely raising off of zero.
After a brief break exploring this camp I decided to press on up the switchbacks. I knew that the hike ahead was a long steep one and that I would be gaining over 1200 feet in elevation from the point I was currently at....three long hours later I found myself at 9000 feet and at the mine!
The hike offered vistas of the valley floor almost 5000 feet below and of the surrounding snow capped mountains.
Tired from the hike, exploring and with the sun getting low in the sky I reluctantly decided that it was time to head back to the Jeep. After 1.5 hours of hiking I was back, exhausted and not looking forward to the bumpy ride out of the canyon. I pressed onward as the light slowly faded, slipping off the rutted trail in the process. I was totally high centered on my axles with two wheels aimlessly spinning in the air. Tired, wet, cold and hungry I was not too happy about my current predicament but I broke out the highlift jack and shovel and went to work anyway. 45 minutes later I was rolling again and glad to be heading towards a graded county road. I was grumpy enough that I decided to hell with taking a picture of the Jeep stuck..........
Ecstatic to be on a decent gravel road again I decided against making camp nearby and made my way up the Overland Canyon road towards Gold Hill then on to Ibapah Road towards my next adventure: a desert race!