The Devil’s Express covered roughly 600 miles over 2 days. When the route was originally pieced together the plan was to do the trip over 3 days. However, in todays busy world time constraints get in the way and we decided to shorten it to 2 days. A bit ambitious for this type of mileage but our trucks were well prepared and built for this type of use.
Everyone gathered in the Del Taco parking lot in Carson City @ 7am Saturday. There were a lot of familiar faces and some first timers as well. After saying our hello’s and airing down we all gathered for a quick meeting to discuss the days plan. The days mileage would cover 350 miles of varying terrain.
After our meeting we jumped in our trucks and headed to the trailhead.
And we were off!
Less than 5 minutes into the run Jason called over the radio that he had gotten a flat. A new record by the way. He quickly swapped it out and was on his way. A great example of why we ask everyone to carry 2 spares for our adventures.
After we made it over the Pine Nut Mountains, the pace picked up.
We quickly reached Yerrington where we’d top off our tanks for the next section of trail .
After a few minutes of chatting it up we jumped back into our trucks and moved out. The next section would be a lot of fun as it took it into a river wash where it was silty, fast, with lots of twists and turns. A lot of fun to power the trucks through with the rear end sliding around.
Cool clip of Donnie making his way through the wash.
We were making great time and all was going well. The trail began to parallel Walker Lake.
I had shot out in front of the group to get pictures as the trucks past so I was the first come across a huge drainage wash. Not a problem as long as you’re taking it easy. I guess Jarrett didn’t get the info relayed to him. He ended up hitting it at a very high rate of speed. Luckily no real damage was caused as the Smurfrunner was built to take a beating. Oddly enough his day would be ended because of a bad main seal in his Currie rear end. They attempted to head back to Yerington to locate one that would work but no such luck. Bummer!
From there we made great time into Tonopah. The varying terrain was awesome. I did notice some of the route seemed to be much rougher than last time I’d been down it. My guess is that it had been included in this years Vegas to Reno race. Either way it actually made it a lot more fun in some sections.
After reaching Tonopah, Donnie noticed he was missing a nut on his lower control arm. Kind of scary as the last section of trail was very fast. Gordon grabbed the spare nut out of EXO1 and Donnie got to work.
It was around 4:30 and we still had another 130 miles to go so we got moving. We were hoping to make quick work of the next section of trail in order to reach the Devils Cauldron before it got dark. Well, we would not be so lucky. The trail opened up fast
but quickly deteriorated into once of the roughest sections I can remember. It was like it was toying with us at times. It would open up but just as you were picking up the pace a washout would appear.
Eventually the trail opened up. The sun was beginning to set which lit up the desert shrubs. Made for some beautiful views as we tore across the desert.
Finally, we reached the Devils Cauldron just as the sun sat below the mountains. The Devils Cauldron was really neat to checkout. Definitely one of the coolest things we’ve seen.
We hung out for a while checking out the site. After it got dark we decided we should head for our camping spot which was near a natural hot spring. Fortunately, it was only 10 minutes away.
Once reaching camp we quickly setup and began cooking dinner. Carne asada always tastes so good after a long day on the trail!
Nikos (the professional overlander) enjoying a filet mignon with wine haha.
After dinner some of the group gathered around the fire. I had other ideas, I went down to the hot spring and jumped in. Wow, it was amazing. The water was the perfect temperature. Nikos, Tommy, Darren, and Joe quickly joined me. It was pretty amazing sitting there in the tub watching the all the stars in the sky in the middle of nowhere with good friends. Definitely something I’ll never forget.
Most of the group woke up at 6am the next morning thanks to a coyote getting within 20 or so yards of camp. Man his howls were loud!
We were on the trail by 8am and headed towards Austin. The trail was smooth and fast which was welcomed since many of us had not fully recovered the previous night.
On the way into Austin Blake noticed a noise coming from his front end. Upon inspection he noticed 2 lugs had sheared off the drivers side. Thank god it was only 2 and it didn’t happen on the trail at speed. Unfortunately, Blake would have to head home after checking the torque on the remaining lugs. Just to much of a risk to continue.
After gassing up we said our goodbyes to Blake, Nikos, and Donnie. Nikos and Donnie both had long drives ahead of them. Donnie to Washington and Nikos to SoCal.
The next section of trail would take us over the original section of the Pony Express.
After 15 minutes or so, John stopped to checkout a noise in his front end. Turned out the nut on 2 had backed out of the shock tower. This allowed play in the secondary bypass shock.
We decided to pull the secondary shock since the lower mount had sheared due to the movement. The plan was to tighten up everything once the shock was removed and proceed with the single coilover. However, due to the position of the shock it was impossible to tighten. Truck was still safe to drive on the highway but drooping out the suspension was not a good idea.
Doug and Taylor of Rogue would accompany John back to the highway as they had to head home as well.
So we were down to 6 now. We made good time and reached an old mining camp around 3pm. Was a very cool site to check out. It was also crazy as the trail leading to the camp had been washed out completely. We’d been there about a year ago and the trail was smooth. Now it was like driving in a dry river bed.
Once we reached the camp we were happy to see it was still in good shape. The local boy scout troop does a great job maintaining it.
We spent around 30 minutes wandering around the place. We would have stayed longer but we had a lot miles left.
We got moving and were making good time. That was until Jason somehow launched himself off trail. His tie rod snapped bolt snapped and sent him flying off the trail. Luckily Jon brought a spare and we were able to swap it out and get moving again under an hour. Would have been faster but we lost the new tie rod nut in the silt...doh!
We began booking it again and were making great time. The trail was really whooped out which was a change since last time we past through. Pretty sure the trophy trucks chewed it up as this section was part of the BITD Vegas to Reno race.
Well as luck would have it, our bad luck would continue. Joe was lucky enough to kick up a small rock and severed most of his engine harness which runs down the frame. Pretty poor location for Ford to put it. Gordon pulled out his electrical repair kit. Joe and Andrew went to work connecting 20+ wires with butt connectors...tedious to say the least!
While they worked on the truck the rest of the group hung out. Eventually we got bored so Gordon took a few people for a ride in the prerunner.
We waited and waited
After 3 hours we were on our way...in the dark.
It was about 15 minutes to the highway. We sped into town, gassed up, grabbed a bite to eat, and said our goodbyes.
All in all it was an amazing trip. So many great sites. Every kind of trail possible. And I’ll never forget sitting in a natural hot spring fed jacuzzi in the middle of the desert with good friends while enjoying a beautiful sky filled with millions of bright stars.