Road to campsites behind Sunrise Rock on Cima Dome

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

I reflect on the fact that only a couple of cars passed while I was climbing Cima Road, and none at all on the powerline road a while back.

Chosen campsite on Cima Dome

On the east side of Cima Road at the summit are a lot of boulders scattered around. I see the campsite close to the road that I know I don't want, so I ride down a two-tire-track road to explore further.

I find a few more campsites, each one empty. I choose the one that is furthest back and invisible from the road due to the big rocks, about a quarter-mile back.

Just as I'm about to dismantle my cycling set-up and put up my tent, a car slowly drives by on the two-tire-track road next to me. I wave to the driver and he waves back. I hope that this back road is as lonely as it looks and that it won't get any unexpected traffic during the evening!

The sun starts to set, creating beautiful joshua-tree silhouettes while it does so. In response to a sudden chill in the air, so I put on my sweater. It feels odd to reach for warm clothing after being so hot all day.

Sunset on Cima Dome near campsite

I'm hungry! I boil water and prepare one of my usual add-water-to-pouch rice meals—chicken teriyaki tonight. It's supposed to serve two, but of course it only serves one if the person has been burning lots of calories all day.

After eating all that, I follow up with some beef jerky, some made by Snack Masters, some made by from Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker. The Alien Fresh Jerky is tasty, but unpredictable again; some of it is extremely tough.

The wind has picked up and occasionally blows strong, causing the tent to suck in and out, then it stops completely, and all is still. It's another of those dark no-moon nights where the black sky glitters with stars bright and dim.

Cooking supper means boiling water on my one-burner "stove" and adding the water to a pouch

When the wind stops and I can hear the outdoors again, I keep hearing small noises just outside the tent. After several attempts at keeping my lantern turned off in the tent, then shining a flashlight outside when I hear the noise, I finally catch the culprit and identify it.

A tiny field mouse is playing with the straps of my Camelbak, which I left outside my tent because its drinking hose drips a wee bit of water. I presume that it's the water that is attracting the mouse. It looks like s/he is really having fun playing with the straps, and it reminds me of the way that cats play with loose objects.

Not wanting any part of the brand-new-to-me Camelbak to get chewed or mutilated, I bring it inside the tent. I put it inside a clean garbage bag to keep its drip from seeping out and wetting the tent.

I write in my journal, hoping that I might catch up—I'm still a day behind. I take a couple of breaks to go outside and sit on a rock and stare at the starry skies in the darkness, contemplating the day's events.

I have to agree with the pipe-smoker's friend that this is one of the more beautiful areas of Mojave National Preserve, perhaps moreso at sunset than at any other time. I feel comfortable here and fall asleep easily when I'm ready, serenaded by a few coyotes howling in unison off in the distance.

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