Camping at the Edge of Black Rock Desert

Desert SunsetOn our recent trip to the Nevada desert we had enough time for only one night of camping and chose as our destination a canyon on the edge of Black Rock Desert.   We departed for our camping trip from Imlay and followed the Old Emigrant Road which in part overlaps the official east access road to the Black Rock Desert.

By the time we reached the canyon it was late afternoon and a battering wall of wind had invaded the canyon void.  I had difficulty imagining myself enjoying an overnight in those conditions so we experimented with several locations on the south side of the canyon and at the end near Rabbit Hole Spring.  Beyond Rabbit Hole Spring is the Black Rock Desert playa, an area of no shelter whatsoever, so we turned back into the canyon and explored a bit more before finding an improved spot tucked between two slopes on the north side.  It was still windy but tolerably so.  We set up camp, then loped over hillsides slippery with volcanic shards, inspecting the views.  At sundown we returned to camp and began the process of donning layers of clothing in preparation for an imminent temperature plunge.

It was dark when we completed our evening meal warmed on a single burner.  If there is a down side to desert camping, it is that we are unable to have a fire due to the risk of wildfire.  We roasted marshmallows on the burner then extinguished the flame and studied the sky.  A few stars appeared, then more emerged from behind clouds.  Eventually the wind died and we were confronted by a silence so profound it was almost disorienting.

Around midnight we began preparing for bed.  The conversation centered on whether to retire wearing the dense wool Swedish army pants we had put on at sundown.  I opted to keep mine on and never once awoke because I was cold, which is a victory in my camping experience.

We awoke at 7:30 to clear skies which were already too bright for photos.  After coffee we packed up camp and drove back to Imlay, then to our home in northern California.  It was a short but perfect camping trip.

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