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We set off from little McDermitt to ride the mountains over to Denio (Deny – o). Fast gravel roads led us into the Zimmerman Ranch and right into a creek crossing. It was a shock to see a healthy flowing stream after a week of desert. We passed the ranch house and climbed into meadows of sage. Then the sage disappeared into a fire ravaged landscape of charred stumps. The poor deer we saw had nothing to eat and nowhere to hide.

Despite the post apocalyptic setting the trail was excellent. The sandy hard pack and bermed turns was a blast to ride. I was having an “on” day exploding out of the stream crossings and around the sweet swooping double track. The trail had just enough slide to let the rear end loose but enough stick to keep control. If I did blow a turn there was nothing but sand covered in a dusting of soot.

It was a dead and sad land of destruction. We found out the fire had come through about a month ago and had burned all of the mountain areas form McDermitt clear to Denio. We passed a few areas where springs seeped through and fed bright green patches in the otherwise bleak landscape.

When we pulled into the junction in Denio we were a little early to quit for the day but a little late to push on to Virgin Valley campground. So we just hung out at the picnic tables at the Junction and met the travelers and locals passing through. There was a couple just back from an Oregon road trip, a Paradise Valley Harley rider meeting up with a buddy on a custom Goldwing. We met Jared a well digger and the owners friend who helped out around the place.

Suddenly a deafening noise as we all turned to watch an old pan head rumble up to the pumps. The rider was from Oregon headed to Battle Mountain to work in the mines. It was dark and cold and the old bike was leaking gas out of one of the two tanks. Like most folks he got gas, had a few beers and then headed off into the night. A minute later he was back with a broken clutch. I gave him some wire from our tool kit. After rigging the bike he kick started it back to life, worked the suicide shifter into gear and was off into the darkness. We could hear him far off into the desert as the clutch worked from gear to gear, still holding. We were glad we had taken a short day and checked in to our little room behind the bar.

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2 thoughts on “From the Burning Mountains Down to Denio Junction

  1. For those wondering about this picture, It needs to be rotated 30 degrees counter clockwise (ie rotate the picture until the trees are point straight up). This picture can be deceiving and discourage riders when the reality is it is not that steep of a slope.

    • Thanks that’s a good point. This was one of my favorite days of riding and truly not steep save the one rocky climb you can see Samantha battling that is a bit of a challenge. I was trying to get artsy with the picture but it could be deceiving!

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