Wildflowers (desert marigold?) along Morning Star Mine Road's very slow uphill

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

He's curious about what someone might be doing out here all alone on a bicycle and he invites me over to his trailer for a break and water fill-ups in case I don't have enough.

Looking back behind me down Morning Star Mine Road; Nipton is still visible on the other side of the valley in the distance

Water is an offer that I can't refuse, since I've already consumed some of mine, even though I should have enough to get me through today and tomorrow morning.

I ride over to his site with him, and by his camper, we chat. He's smoking a pipe, filled with a vanilla blend along the lines of Captain Black. I tell him that I smoke a pipe also and I'm very much tempted to dig one of the pipes in my saddlebags.

But it's way too early in my ride to do something relaxing like pipe-smoking. I still have a lot of uphill ahead of me and will need all the energy that I can muster.

A friend of his who works for San Bernardino County just dropped by a few minutes ago, and is still sitting in his pickup truck. He passed me on the way up the hill a few minutes ago.

The pipe smoker who gave me a Camelbak is camped out here by an old corral just off Morning Star Mine Road this week

We all talk about routes, water, and campsites in the area. My host explains how he retired several years ago, sold everything and now lives out of his camper trailer in desert areas.

He and his wife joke about being "lost," trying to figure out which day of the week it is. As my trip moves onward, I'm starting to find myself with the same "problem," and am jealous that this problem is permanent for them.

His friend suggests that I try camping around the summit of Cima Road near Teutonia Peak, one of his favourite desert areas. I'll be passing by there on my way to Clark Mountain, so I don't have to decide right now.

From my previous reading, I thought there was just one site up there, too close to the main road to be of interest. But he assures me that there are other more isolated campsites nearby if I go down the back road.

Climbing up Morning Star Mine Road

I get excited by this news, and think that perhaps I won't go as far as Clark Mountain after all. I'll wait and see what I discover once I reach the Cima Dome area.

After chatting for a good 20-30 minutes, my pipe-smoking host offers me his old Camelbak that he rarely uses anymore. He asks his wife to fill it with cold water and to add ice to my water bottles as well.

Oddly enough for someone like me who often rides longish distances, I have never used a Camelbak before, and had to learn how. What an excellent and obvious idea for increasing my water-carrying capacity.

I'm surprised, elated and a bit awestruck, not sure how to express my thanks for this wonderful gift from a total stranger. He just laughs it off and tells me to pass on the good cheers to the next person.

I've often heard pipe smokers comment that they've found other pipe smokers to be kinder than the average person. I'm enjoying that stereotype right now.

We would all chat longer, but after 20-30 minutes, it's time for me to continue with today's ride.

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