Kelso Dunes Road ends near the dunes; since I can't go any further, I need to choose a campsite right here somewhere (the hills in the background aren't hills; they are huge mounds of sand)

Bicycle camping in and around Mojave National Preserve 2006

Day 1: Baker to Kelso Dunes

48.5 miles, 5:06 hrs, 25.6 mph max, 9.4 mph avg

Elevation: 923 to 3800 to 2123 to 2800 to 2500 feet

I reach the pull-out for the official trail to the dunes. The outhouse is here, but I'm confused because I thought that the "campsite with the trees" would be here too, but it isn't. I don't see any trees anywhere, but the road keeps going, so I do too.

I spot two creosote bushes and decide to set up the tent next to them; Bristol Mountains in the background

A short distance further, I see a campsite off to my left, so I stop there. Looks like a nice spot to camp, but here are no trees here either. I figure that I haven't seen all that there is to see, and I return to the road.

After another mile or so, there they are, the trees! Unfortunately, a couple is already camping under the trees, so I go on a bit further. I don't want to invade their space, nor do I want their presence to invade mine.

I reach the very end of Kelso Dunes Road, where it turns around in a sort of cul-de-sac. I set up camp there between two creosote bushes in the hope that they might provide a tiny bit of shade and allow me to sleep in 15 minutes or so later than if I were camping out in the open. That's the most shade that one can hope for around here!

It's nice to sit down and enjoy some lukewarm much-needed water, unrefreshing as it is

Once I get the tent set up, I try calling my friend Trennel in the Los Angeles area. My "analog roaming" signal is really weak and disconnects our conversation when I walk too many feet away from my campsite while speaking. At least I am able to return to my original position and call him back!

It was quite windy when I got here an hour ago, but it seems to have subsided. I'm really starving now and am anxious to prepare the first add-boiling-water-to-bag backpacking meal of my trip.

The sun is setting. I put some water on to boil and I retreat to my tent and start writing a few notes in my journal. Many moths and bugs are attracted to the light from my flashlight-lantern and make flitting sounds as they land on my tent, wishing that they could get inside through the screen.

As I hear my water coming to a boil outside, I hear another noise. I look out, and it's a tiny mouse. I step out of the tent to check on my boiling water and he runs away. My water isn't boiling yet, but it's close, so I stay outside and sit in the sand waiting for it to be ready.

Looking out my tent at the "cul-de-sac," the sunset beyond the dunes is quite pleasing

The little mouse (or maybe it's a different one this time) runs up to me while I sit there silently. As soon as I make a movement, he runs away again. What an interesting game this is!

The mouse comes back yet again, but then takes off when I move to turn off the heat under my water, which is finally boiling. I add the boiling water to my meal-in-a-bag and bring the bag inside the tent to steep for 10 minutes, not wanting mice outside to decide that it's maybe worth tearing apart.

I wait patiently, and my meal-in-a-bag turns out to be absolutely delicious under these circumstances. More please. It's supposedly "mesquite chicken and rice," mostly rice.

For "dessert," I open one of the pouches of jerky that I bought at Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker yesterday. It's incredibly tasty at first, almost like beef tenderloin melting in my mouth, but then I get a piece that's so tough that I have a hard time chewing it.

My little one-burner "stove" boils water while I wait for the next little mouse to run up to the tent to check me out

I'm too tired to eat more. I write in my journal, but I don't manage to finish my notes for the day. I decide that this doesn't matter. I rode almost 50 miles today, which is more than I've ridden in ages, so I'm a bit achy too. I'll deal with that tomorrow when I wake up, I'm sure!

I sense some lights in the distance. I open the tent and stick my head outside, and I see the distant lights up in the sky. I'm not sure what the source is; I hope it's not a UFO. I keep thinking that it's a late car camper arriving down the road, but I don't see a car, nor do I hear one.

For now it's time to get some sleep. It should be easy here in the quiet.

Next ->

Contact mojave2006 ... at ...