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After months of planning, we finally completed “Overnight Mission #1”!
The weekend-long trip was intended to get the crew together for the first time and ensure that we could get along in the motor home, do 20 to 30 miles of test walking/scouting, and discover any issues that might arise. I’m happy to say it went about 90% perfect!
We got off to a bit of a rocky start when a huge dust storm, followed by a downpour moved through the south-western areas of Salton Sea Friday afternoon. It never reached Basecamp, but as we were checking our drop-off points we drove right into it. It also made Saturday’s 20 mile test walk difficult as it left behind about 6 miles of mud to walk through.
After getting the motor home setup, we joined our friends of Ecomedia Compass / Save our Sea for a great dinner and live entertainment.
Saturday was the big day of the weekend and it got off to a great start with a beautiful sunrise.
The plan for the day was to walk 20 miles from the Navy Base area north to Basecamp West. We got off to a great start and only a few minutes behind schedule but after less than 2 miles we ran into our first obstacle: The Border Patrol
Technically, the abandoned naval station is off-limits and several people have warned me that Border Patrol actively patrols the base and will arrest any trespassers. But it turns out most of those stories are rumors.
The agent did stop us and ask why we were on the property, what we were doing and where we were going, but he quickly became more interested in my planned walk around Salton Sea in June that any laws we may be breaking. After talking to the agent for 15 or 20 minutes, he wished us luck and we were on our way.
The next few miles were uneventful, even pleasant. The temperature never rose above 95°F which is far cooler than the 105°F – 116°F temps I am used to walking in. Things were going great until…
The rainstorm the day before left a stretch of beach approximately 6 miles long covered in thick, slippery mud. The mud stretched as far as we could see, all the way up into the desert (at least a mile) and all the way to the shore, where the mud got much deeper and more dangerous. There was no way around it – we had to go straight through it.
The mud was not the dangerous kind of “quicksand” mud that we find in some places of the shoreline (although it did get bad close to the water). This was what I would call ‘good’ mud, almost like clay. It was very slippery and slowed down the pace from 3 miles per hour down to about 1MPH or less.
After almost 22 miles and about 11 hours (just under 9 hours of actual walk time, plus two hours total rest time) Blake and I finally arrived at Basecamp West. The sun had already set behind the mountains and it was starting to get dark – right on schedule!
We both felt fairly good after having just walked almost 22 miles of rough shoreline, but my mood changed when I pulled my shoes and socks off.
My feet and toes felt pretty good during the whole walk, so I was a bit shocked to find several blisters on both feet. The worst, on my small toe, was ripped open when I removed the anti-blister tape. The blister and much of the tip of my toe came off with it.
I’ve been dealing with blisters for the last several months, but these are the worst I have ever had, and quite surprising. I’ve done several walks just as long, in much hotter temperatures and never had blisters this bad. The difference is that this time I was wearing new shoes. I’ve had these shoes for several weeks, and put a few hundred miles on them, but this was the first time I’d ever gone any further than 10 or 12 miles at a time while wearing them. Looks like it’s time for another trip to the shoe store!
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!!
Sunday we had originally planned to do a short 8 mile scouting walk from Poe Road north to the Navy Base (where we started on Saturday). But because of my blisters, we decided to cancel the walking and have some fun. I could have walked another 8 miles but it did not seem worth it to risk damaging my toes more for a simple 8 mile scouting trip that we can do virtually any time. So we decided to take a vacation day!
The Abandoned Navy Base
This marks our third trip to the base (see this post for more photos and video). On this trip we were determined to find “the bunkers” on the base. I’ve found only a few pictures these bunkers online, probably because they are so difficult to find. Unlike the buildings on the shoreline and the pier, these bunkers are a mile or so inland and buried in the sand dunes. But, just as we were about to give up the search and turn around, we saw them in the distance!
There are actually two bunkers that we found. The large one in the picture above, and a much smaller looking one, virtually buried in the sand a few hundred yards east.
The inside of the bunker was surprisingly clean with virtually no litter and only one marking of graffiti. The large pile of sand on the right side of the picture above is an actual sand dune that has grown inside the bunker. Watch the video below for more footage inside the bunker.
Even though the weekend did not go completely as planned we learned a lot about staying overnight in the motor home, we successfully scouted over 20 miles of shoreline, we made some new friends, and best of all, we had a great time doing it!