Sunday, June 3, 2018

Black Rock Rendezvous 2018

Black Rock Rendezvous 2018

As I do most every year, I attended the Black Rock Rendezvous in the Black Rock Desert.  Some years it's sweltering hot and some years it rainy and cool.  This year we were lucky in that the temperature was just about as perfect as you can get.

We had planned to drive up on Friday before Memorial Day weekend, but northern Nevada had a lot of rain in the previous couple of weeks and on the day we had planned to go, State Route 447 (the main route in from Reno) was closed and flooded in a few areas.  Reluctantly, we postponed our departure until Saturday morning.

As my friends and I met at our Reno rally point, the skies were filled with dark, ominous clouds that promised more rain.  Thanks to the Internet, however, we were able to determine that this was the final storm pushing through and after that, it was supposed to be clear all weekend long.

The rain started hitting our windshields as soon as we were east of Reno and it came down all the way to Gerlach, NV.  As we left Gerlach for the short 20 mile jaunt north to the campsite, the rain gradually began to taper off and by the time we arrived in camp it had stopped.  The desert smells so good after a spring rain and everything was so green (for Nevada that is).

 My buddy's daughter Skylar, got right to work leveling their trailer.
Dad's teaching her right.

I found a nice little spot near the main camp and popped up the Bobcat.

 We weren't there 10 minutes before my friend Craig heard a hissing sound
coming from one of his trailer tires.  The road into the Cassidy Mine campsite
was good, but it was full of the Black Rock's notorious sharp rocks.

Craig didn't know it yet, but this would be the first of two flats he got on this trip.

After we got camp set up, Craig and I took a walk down to the playa.  We couldn't tell if this
was an old mine or an old  miners cabin.  Whatever ever it was, it had seen better days. 

Craig through a shot up plate of metal. 

 The playa was too wet in spots to risk camping on it, so we wanted to walk down and check it out.
The playa can be very deceiving in that it will almost always look dry, but if it's wet
and you try to drive across it, you'll sink down to your axles and you'll have to wait
for it to dry out before a tow truck will come and pull you out.

Razorback mountain through a playa entry designator. 

As I mentioned earlier, this area is full of super sharp rocks and Dexter and I learned the hard
way a few years back when he cut up his paws and could hardly walk.  Now, we never
leave home without his boots.  After having them on for five minutes, he gets used to them and
then he's off and running in style.

It was Saturday evening and as they always do, they had a bit pot luck dinner. 

 A Dutch oven masterpiece in progress...

Due to our late start, I didn't enter the Dutch oven cook-off this time, but
there were plenty of them despite the weather.  Everything looked and
smelled so good. 

The ashy remnants of some of the cooks. 

As usual, there was a long line for dinner. 

Slylar enjoying a slice of Dutch oven pineapple upside down cake.

Here's a couple of happy campers.

That night, we settled into camp, cooked our own dinners and hung out under a still mostly overcast sky.  Did I mention how good the desert smells after a rain???

Skylar brought out her guitar and serenaded everyone who was
around the main evening campfire.  She really can sing and what guts 
to sit down in front of so many strangers and sing. 

The main camp's evening fire. 

Even Dexter liked the music and festivities. 

A guy brought out a big propane-fired contraption that blew fire through what looked like old
brass instruments.  The gizmo could use a little (or a lot) of tuning, but the fiery show
was very entertaining. 

Basking in the glow of the fire show...

The next day, a bunch of us caravanned over to Trego Hot Springs.  We had to go the long way around and through Gerlach because we didn't want to risk getting mired in the playa's mud. 

Trego was pretty hot this time around, but after five minutes or so of being 
in it, it seemed to tame down and was very relaxing.  Beware, however, as Trego
has hot "vents" under the water and if you accidentally step on one,
Mother Nature will let you know about it, as she did with my friend Pete above.

Pete and the girls exploring Trego. 

Dexter even jumped in a few times and right afterwards, he rolled in
a big puddle of that ashy mud that is so often near a hot spring.  
Anything to cool off I guess.

My buddy Craig got his second flat of the trip while we were returning to camp from the hot springs.  To make matters worse, his new BF Goodrich All Terrains were only a couple of weeks old, but they were no match for the Black Rock.  If you head out to this area, always have good tires, a good spare and a good tire repair kit.  Numerous other people in camp got flats over the weekend and the hum of those little 12v air compressors became as common as crickets.

Razorback Mtn. is stunning in the late afternoon. 

Now that's minimalism... 

My humble abode.

My buddy Joe, getting ready to sear some salmon. 

A couple of future desert rats.

And one last parting shot.

The Rendezvous is always a fun time and it's been a traditional way for me to start the summer camp season.  This year, we were blessed with near perfect weather, good company and good food.  If you ever find yourself in northern Nevada during the Memorial day weekend and have nothing else going on, come on out to the Black Rock.

And a final thank you goes out to all of those brave Americans who served this country and sacrificed so much so that we can enjoy the freedom to come to magical places like will NEVER be forgotten.


  1. Yes, the desert smells wonderful after the rain! Looks like you had a great time this year! Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Shane,

    Great report. I don't think there is any smell in nature that is better than the desert after a rain. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Great TR. Dutch Oven cooking is something that I hope to learn more about in the future.