It was always a challenge
In Sunday’s Nevada Appeal, we will begin a series of articles to chronicle our 10 adventures around the state in 10 days: The Nevada 10-in-10 challenge.
Some will ask, how hard can that be? Traveling around the state, hiking and biking and boarding and all he had to do was shoot a few photos.
I wish it were that easy. The truth is, the 10 physical challenges were grueling but only a fraction of the challenges we faced along the way.
Here are a few:
First there were the bureaucratic challenges.
I remember walking into the U.S. Forest Service office during the planning stages of the event, hoping to get information on ways to fish our bicycles out of the woods before we entered a wilderness area where bikes are not allowed. An official came out of the back office, found out what I was doing, and suddenly became visibly disturbed.
“You’re going to put this in the paper?” he asked. I said yes. He shook his head. “When Sunset magazine published a piece on the Carson Pass wildflowers, thousands of people came by the bus load!”
I was dumfounded. Was I suppose to keep this secret? Somehow I couldn’t picture hoards of blue-haired tourists stepping out of a tour-line bus, strapping on their helmets, and pounding out the Tahoe Rim Trail. Perhaps I was wrong.
As I high-tailed it out of there, he told me he was concerned I would get the right information out the general public. He was there to help. So I again asked him if he knew a point on the Rim Trail accessible by car where we could take the bikes out before the wilderness area.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You’ll have to call the Truckee office. The ranger in charge is out in the woods right now.”
Then there were the photographic challenges. How hard can it be to shoot a few photos?
Imagine slogging through 150-plus miles of Tahoe Rim Trail on mountain bike and foot, traveling as many as 57 miles in an 18-hour day.
By mile 42, the camera becomes a demon, a lead weight slung around your neck while you fight to stay upright in an ocean of rock and dust.
You complete the task only to find the film, handed off to a rookie behind the counter at a supermarket photo center, has been destroyed — a day’s work down the drain. Ahhrrgh!
Then there were the vehicular challenges.
Picture yourself in a broken-down motor home in 116-degree heat somewhere in the Amargosa Valley, cussing at your cell phone as it cuts out. Just then, the air conditioner goes out. Or watching as our borrowed truck becomes stuck like a pig in the Ruby Mountains at 4 a.m. , 2 miles from the trailhead, 37 miles from the closest town of Jiggs. Everybody walks.
I could go on and on.
But we did it. Something that has never been done before: 10 Nevada challenges in 10 days. And not without lots of help.
So, I’d like to end this by thanking all those who helped along the way.
First, I’d like to thank then Nevada Appeal and especially Barry Smith and Peter Starren for sponsoring the trip.
I’d also like to thank:
The Tahoe Rim Trail Association for creating an amazing trail. Geoff Dornan for the sandwiches and oxygen; Sam “Where am I” Bauman for an honest try; Rob Smith of The Bike Smith for emergency repair; Chuck Austin of Bikes N’ More as our Bloody Shins Trail guide; Nevada State Archivist Guy Rocha for taking time to brief us on Nevada’s historical background; Jeff “I think I just broke my axle” Munson for use of his vehicle in the Black Rock Desert; and last but not least I’d like to thank Don and Elaine Quilici who jumped through endless hoops of burning fire to get us to the middle of nowhere on schedule, always waiting with a smile and glass of cold juice. Thank you. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Rick Gunn is a Nevada Appeal photographer. The series will run each Sunday for the next 10 weeks with a break Sept. 8 as we take time to remember the tragedies of Sept. 11.