I’ve been exploring the Imperial Dam area a bit on the bike. A couple of days ago, I came across an extremely weathered sign pointing the way to Ferguson Lake, down a long dirt road trailing off into the desert. I wasn’t prepared for such a ride at the time, but I was curious to check it out. So, in full armor, motocross boots, and cooler temperatures so that my engine wouldn’t struggle as much, I set out to see where this road went.
Before long, the camping areas were out of sight, and I was well and truly alone out in the desert. (For anyone concerned about my safety, I had water, cell reception, a ham radio, and an APRS beacon going, KJ1H-8.) That road you see in the distance behind me is where I went, winding up, down, and around the hills.
The road was mostly easy, with occasional rough sections that I had little trouble navigating through. It looked as though I was riding across the surface of Mars, with the vast desert all around me. The road was easy to follow, though. It was even marked on my Garmin, so in order to get back, all I had to do was set a course for “Home,” which I always update to my current campsite. I pressed on.
The pictures do not do these views justice. The colors were intense. So was the sun, but as we’ve gone into another cool snap it wasn’t actually hot. A constant strong wind saved both the bike and me from any chance of overheating. I still watched the temperature gauge and flipped the radiator fan on manually from time to time when the needle rose up, but it wasn’t really a concern.
The one thing I couldn’t get over was the feeling of being truly alone out here, probably more alone than I’ve ever been in my life. While I managed to feel lonely in Los Angeles, a city of 4 million people, out here I was very much alone, with a population of 1 for as far as I could see — which was itself a significant distance. “Miles and miles,” as The Who would say.
Then, as I crested a hill, it came into sight. Instead of the brown desert, there was a blue lake surrounded by green vegetation, a literal oasis in the middle of all this desolation. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I stopped to gaze at it for a while. I watched a boat speed between two peninsulas, then turn north toward the main part of the lake. On the other side were the Colorado River and Arizona.
I descended down the hill and began riding along the side of the lake. Then the road took a long, steep, bumpy downhill. As much as I wanted to reach the end of the road, I was concerned about my ability to ride back up this hill, so I turned around there. I’d try this descent with other people there, but I didn’t want to get myself into trouble so far away from help.
The actual ride was only about 8 miles, but what an 8-mile ride that was. It’s one of the most amazing rides I’ve ever taken. Best of all, it’s not far from here, and I can take it again anytime I want while I’m here. I definitely plan to do it again at some point before moving on.
I didn’t just go to Ferguson Lake, although that was definitely the best part of the ride. I came back, explored the LTVA a bit, and investigated the shower situation at Squaw Lake. That’s a nearby campground with coin-operated showers, which I’ll be taking advantage of in the very near future.
I also stopped at the boat ramp that I can see across the lake from where we’re camped and snapped a picture looking back toward home. Birgit and Tom are in the van on the left, which is the spot I took the last time I was here. My van is to the right under the trees. We also had a downstairs neighbor for the day, who kept to himself and used his campsite as his own personal boat ramp. Whatever works.
When I got back to camp, Lister went outside and promptly created some rather impressive rope art with his tether. I don’t know how he does it so well.