First a little history about the Pony Express, taken from Wikipedia:“The Pony Express was a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, mail, even small packages from St. Joseph, Missouri across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento, California by horseback, using a series of relay stations. During its 18 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860, to October 1861, it became the West’s most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraph was established and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the country.”
Now on to the ride…Ray, Mike and I set out to ride the Pony Express Trail. The weather was supposed to be great, especially for the middle of November with the high reaching 60 degrees fahrenheit. However, we decided to get an early start. We met at a local gas station at 6:15 AM and headed out. This would get us to the dirt roads around 7:00 AM, right when it was getting light. It was a beautiful morning as we started the ride, although still VERY COLD that morning. As we rode along talking over our bluetooth headsets, we kept watching the temperature drop on our motorcycle computers. The lowest it reached was on Mike’s bike, which read 14 degrees fahrenheit! Yikes! Luckily we all had heated gear, which makes a world of difference in these conditions.
We stopped to check out Aunt Libby’s Pet Cemetery near the Lookout Pass Station. There were a heard of deer in the area and we saw two really nice 4 to 6 point bucks. As we continued along the trail, the temperature began to rise. Our next stop was at Simpson Springs where we got off the bikes for a quick pit stop and to look around. There is so much history along this trail and its fun to read about it along the way. We were literally riding the entire section from Salt Lake City, Utah to Wendover, Nevada, which would have taken a Pony Express rider a week to complete.
After Simpson Springs we continued along the dusty trail. Mike and I rode close together for a while to stay out of each others dust. Ray stayed back far enough to stay out of our dust. It was a very dusty ride! Our next stop was Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. It is strange to be blazing across the desert and come across a marshland. This is how the desert works, its all about water of course. Where there is a spring, you will see green lush areas in the desert and life. Otherwise it is very rugged and barren. We rode one of the loops at Fish Springs, ate some breakfast and continued on the trail.
The temperature continued to climb as we rode across the desert. It was now above 50 degrees fahrenheit and it felt great! We passed over a mountain pass and another Pony Express Station in route to the very remote town of Callao, Utah. The desert is a beautiful place, but very unforgiving, especially 150 years ago when they didn’t have cars or motorcycles. We passed the remnants of an old rusty bus out along the trail. You can imagine the stories connected to this old bus.
Callao is a small town with a few ranchers today. “The name Callao was chosen because of a resemblance to Callao, Peru, suggested by an old prospector in the region who was working out of Gold Hill to the north.” The mountains that can be seen from this town are beautiful as you can see in the pictures. Our next stop would be the town of Gold Hill.
We continued blazing across the desert in route to our next destination, which was the town of Gold Hill. This old mining town, named for obvious reasons has quite a bit of history behind it. There is still a few people living there today. “The town, located near the Deep Creek Mountains, was the center of a mining district that was active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, producing gold, copper, arsenic, and tungsten.” We noticed a good road going in another direction out of the town, we speculated that there might be an active mine again just outside town and we’ll have to some back and explore it.
After our short visit to Gold Hill, we headed for Ibapah for fuel and to look around. The town was only 14 miles from the junction where we exited from Gold Hill to the highway. What the heck right? Along the way we saw a few herds of sheep and some very protective sheep dogs. There were three of them at one point and they didn’t want me to pass on my motorcycle. Fearless protectors of the herd!
There wasn’t much going on in the Ibapah with it being the off-season and the only place that looked like it would have gas was a small RV park, which was closed. Ray and I had brought an extra gallon of gas each just in case and it looked like we would now need that fuel to get to Wendover. Mike has the BMW R1200GSA, which is the Adventure model with a super tanker! We rode until Ray ran out, we then stopped and both put in our extra gallon of gas.
We gassed up in Wendover, Nevada and hopped on I-80 in route to Salt Lake City. We stopped to eat our lunch at the rest stop that is near the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is right outside the city. After lunch we blitzed it home! Most of the freeway going back is 75-80 mph so you can really make some time as you fly across the desert. What a great ride!