Niland Marina to Bombay Beach Practice Walk

Wednesday’s practice walk was from Niland Marina a few miles north, to Bombay Beach, and back. Forecast temperature was 112°F and the total distance was just over 9 miles.

Walk objectives

We had only one real objective for this mission, and that was to test the “walk, eat, rest, walk” method that I will be using during The Big Event.  Up until now, all of my test walks included only small snacks or marathon-gels and sit-down rests on the beach or in the water.  During the big event, in addition to the snacks and rest-breaks/swims on the beach, I will also have cool-down breaks of at least one hour in the motor home.  During these breaks I will eat a full (light) meal, tend to any issues, and rest and cool down in the air-conditioning.

This all sounds great in theory, but I have no idea how my body will react after walking 10 miles (4-6 hours) in the high temperatures, then filling my belly with food and cooling down and walking for another 3-5 hours into the worst heat of the day. I had concerns of muscle cramps, bloating, nausea or worse, so I had to test how my body would react.

We started at Niland Marina at 10AM and headed north to the tall antenna tower in the distance.  It was a very clear day.  We were able to see all the way south to Red Hill Marina, could see Salton City and Desert Shores crystal clear, and Bombay looked deceivingly close.

The first mile or so north from the marina was an easy walk.  The temperate had not yet hit 100°F and the beach was solid with little mud and shallow barnacle fields.  Blake made several comments about what a cake-walk it would be.  That would change.

In the second mile we hit deeper barnacles and mud, but nothing too bad – we’ve seen much worse. Not long after that we came across our first water-crossing.

Picture of a creek flowing into Salton Sea

Small river flowing from the desert into Salton Sea

Picture of Les Stroud, NOT at Salton Sea

Even Les has not attempted to walk Salton Sea!



Crossing these creeks was not difficult once we found the most narrow point.  It was then just a matter of jumping across and trying not to sink in the black, thick, smelly mud.  The mud was so black and thick we thought that it was tar.  We marked each crossing with sticks so we could easily locate them on the way back. It felt very “Les Stroud’ish”.


We continued onward until the increase in garbage and footprints cemented into the dry mud made it obvious that we were nearing the city limits of Bombay Beach.  We walked through the remains of the Bombay Beach marina, snapping pictures and videos for the Instagram Page and made our way up to the burm that protects the community from once rising waters, then down Avenue A to our favorite new eatery, The Ski Inn.

Picture of a business card for The Ski Inn in Bombay Beach

Lunch Time

We reached Ski Inn 30 minutes ahead of schedule which was a good sign and hurried into it’s air-conditioned, dollar-bill-covered glory.  This time instead of being greeted by the elderly owner and his wife, we were surprised to see two much younger employees.  We grabbed our favorite spot in the empty restaurant near the air conditioning vent and started some small talk with the food-server.

After ordering our light meal talking more with the helpful man serving us, it became apparent that he was a literal gold-mine of knowledge (and opinions) about Salton Sea and the social and political issues relating to it.  Steve was our new best friend!

Picture of Steve at Ski Inn

Steve surrounded by $1 bills on the walls

We ended up having quite a conversation with Steve. We told him about my plan to walk around the entire shoreline of Salton Sea and the movie and he answered many of our questions about specific locations, what’s going on with the water companies, geothermal companies and even the lithium mining potential of the area.  Steve seemed to know so much, and was so articulate and well-spoken I asked if he would like to be a writer for us here in the Salton Sea Walk blog/website.  Steve told us that he loved to write and would be happy to contribute, but there was only one problem: Steve does not have a computer.  We worked out the details of getting paper copies of his writings, got his business card, thanked him, and started the 4.5 mile walk back to Niland Marina.

The walk south from Bombay Beach went well. We could feel the heat of the day coming on, and had to stop for several cool downs.  The concern of cramping or feeling sick after eating in the air-conditioning evaporated quickly as we both felt fine, and even full of energy.  After only an hour or so we were closing in on Niland Marina, and stopped in one of the crumbling structures to cool down before heading to the car.

Photo of an abandoned building at Niland Marina

Our view from the cool-down spot

Mission Success

After a few minutes in the shade and a bit more water, we were ready to continue on to the car parked about 100 yards away.

We completed the day by driving down a few duck hunting roads at Wister Unit and scouting emergency shore access-points before heading back north toward home.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.