Monday, 14 May 2012

USA Day 11 - Revisited (11/05/2011)

We had taken the decision to stay overnight at the side of the road in the Mojave National Preserve. Confidence about personal safety had grown well over the first 10 days. It was a option that wouldn't have been taken earlier on in the run, that's for sure.

Day 11 got underway at the very early time of 0630. It was the earliest start to date on the run. 

It wasn't as cold as previous mornings and I set off on a nice little downhill stretch in good spirits. Contributing to my good mood was the fact that some nasty blisters had responded to Richard's treatment. 

After a few miles, I reached the end of the Mojave National Preserve. I was very sad to leave it behind after 2 days of running through the very picturesque setting that it provided.

I reached the 7 mile point where a lot of workers were digging up the road and surrounding area. The works were blocking my progress. The first worker I spoke to said that I'd have to find an alternative route. There was a risk of snakes and I seem to remember some "risk of explosion" type signs. I asked to speak to the worker's boss. The boss was very helpful and I was escorted to the other side of the works.

I noticed that the workers were all wearing some kind of hard wearing armour around their ankles to protect themselves from snakes. I was on my guard! 

Concentrating much harder than usual where I was stepping meant that I saw a lot of wildlife. There were lots of lizards, a few tortoises and a couple of snakes.

I could make out Wild Bills Resort and Casino in the far distance. I knew that it was in Nevada and that I must have been close to leaving California.

In the image below, Wild Bills is some 11 miles away in the far distance.

I took my first break at the 12 mile point. The stretch after that was across Ivanpah dry lake measuring 13 square miles. My route across it was only 6.5 miles. The heat bounced up off the lake and it was tough going. 

I had a bit of a "toilet issue" on that lake. It was a very unpleasant episode. I'll not go into too much detail. Needless to say, that those white shorts were never quite the same after that! I felt a lot better when I recently read the following about the Ivanpah Dry Lake.

"Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water carrying radioactive waste spilled into and around Ivanpah Dry Lake. In the 1980s, the Mountain Pass rare earth mine began piping wastewater as far as 14 miles to evaporation ponds on or near Ivanpah Dry Lake, east of Interstate 15 near Nevada. This pipeline repeatedly ruptured during cleaning operations to remove mineral deposits called scale. The scale is radioactive because of the presence of thorium and radium, which occur naturally in the rare earth ore. A federal investigation later found that some 60 spills—some unreported—occurred between 1984 and 1998, when the pipeline was shut down. In all, about 600,000 US gallons (2,300,000 l; 500,000 imp gal) of radiological and other hazardous waste flowed onto the desert floor, according to federal authorities. By the end of the 1990s, Unocal had been hit with a cleanup order and a San Bernardino County district attorney's lawsuit. The company paid more than $1.4 million in fines and settlements."

I suppose a little bit of extra "pollution" from me wouldn't have made too much of a difference! On the plus side, I'd made it into Nevada after 11.25 days of running.

The surface of the dry lake was like nothing I'd ever ran on before and I was relieved to make it to Wild Bills having ran a total of 18.5 miles.

I met Richard and Stu who had been doing some shopping. I had a quick clean up and change of shorts and was soon on my way out of Wild Bills.

The final 13 miles were mentally tough. For the second time on day 11, I could see the final destination, a town called Jean, way off in the distance. So near, yet so far!

The final section of the day was through a restricted area. It was for that reason that I ran with my hydration pack full of water and agreed to meet the support team at the end at a casino/hotel in Jean. It was always in view! What was also in view were the many "keep out", "do not enter" and "turn back" signs. It was a very nervy time. I shouldn't have been running there. It would have been a setback had I been asked to return to Wild Bills.

I reached the RV meeting point after 31.4 miles of running. It was a quick finish and I was really looking forward to some decent food in the casino. Unfortunately, the buffet food on offer was pretty bad. I wrote the following on Twitter which summed it up very well. 

"I'm not saying tonight's restaurant is bad, but the fake plants are dead!"

All in all, it had been a good day. 1 state completed, over 300 miles run and Las Vegas only a day away.