Reports on trips taken in 2013.
“Seeing Red in Ludlow”
By: Debbie Miller Marschke
We all have had experiences that become a measuring bar for all other experiences: the hottest trip, the coldest trip, etc. This story is about one of the most frightening experiences we have had in our travels. It scared both of us. Friday October 16, 2009 Steve and I had traveled to Ludlow, CA and intended to spend the night near Ludlow because we needed to meet up with leader Joe DeKehoe for his DE trip at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. It was dark around 9 p.m. As we were nearing Ludlow, we realized that we had forgotten our Thermarest air mattresses – this promised to be a miserable evening. We thought that maybe we could luck out and find an inflatable floatation mattress to improvise with at the Ludlow gas stations, after all we are on the route leading to The River. Neither gas station had any inflatables, but we did score some cheap Mexican blankets we could roll our clothes up in “burrito-style” and create some sort of crude buffer for the hard ground. We unintentionally had lingered on both sides of the highway in this tiny town. As we were set to leave the 76 gas station we spotted a suspicious looking older pickup truck. The side panels were not painted the same colors, and it had a broken tail light. It was driving slowly behind the gas station and the driver had some kind of spotlight which he was beaming around. Something seemed odd. We pulled outta there quickly and were commenting to each other about what we thought we had seen. At that point the pickup truck pulled onto the road behind us and appeared to be following us.
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SCBS President receives honor from CA WSF
By: Debbie Miller Marschke
DE member Steve Marschke, President of the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep since 2005, was surprised with the honor of receiving the “Above and Beyond” award on April 27, 2013, was bestowed upon him by the California Wild Sheep Foundation at their annual banquet in Rancho Cordova, California.
Also known as the “ A & B Award “, the plaque is inscribed: “ A & B Award, Above & Beyond, Presented to Steve Marschke, For your dedication, leadership of SCBS, and many contributions to bighorn sheep in CA including: working with everyone to get the job done – Volunteers, Private Industries, Public Agencies…Building 14 wildlife water systems AND plans for MANY more…Working with CDFW to monitor sheep activity with an extensive camera program … Annually leading a group of volunteers in the San Gabriel Sheep Survey … Always leaving a site or the trail better and cleaner … Being a great example, which always brings out the best in others.”
“The award we are giving tonight should have been given a long time ago, but the person we are honoring tonight is the one that everyone turns to get the job done and forgets about it because they know he will get it done. He does it without help or complaint. He is the go-to guy that never gets recognized but SCBS would need at least 3 people to do what he does if he wasn’t there….If Steve sees a need for something, he just does it, usually with his money and time and never asks for reimbursement from the Board. He is the first one there with his time and money, and the last to leave. His love of the wild places is shown by trash he picks up every trip and work project he’s on. But the thing he does the best is his skill to keep his interest hidden and work with everyone to get the job done. His integrity brings the best out of everyone and is shown by his election year after year as President.” – Gary Thomas, SCBS.
Steve is a native of North Dakota. A scholarship to the prestigious science college California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) brought him to California, and after graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he was recruited directly by Hughes Corporation (now Raytheon) where he has worked for 19 years in the field of Metrology (aka the science of measurement). It did not take long for Steve to discover California’s vast open public lands, which drew him out to the deserts. Volunteering with SCBS was a great marriage between enjoyment of the desert and making a meaningful impact on the land at the same time.
Steve believes in volunteerism, and virtually every organization that he benefits from receives a dividend of his service, with sincerity and conviction. With SCBS, he began by accepting the responsibility as an area Captain, then as Area Captain Coordinator, and currently is serving as President & Website Administrator. He has continued as the Area Captain for the two big game guzzlers located on the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Base (Cleghorn and Bullion guzzlers) . Steve is on the Board of Directors for the Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club, for which he contributes more time volunteering his labor than he does actually shooting at the range. Along with his membership in the Desert Explorers (DE) and the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association (MDHCA), he contributes his labor, and volunteers his expertise as a trail leader for these organizations as well. He is generous to contribute to many other organizations as well.
Being the wife of Steve Marschke, I am continually impressed with the level of integrity this Eagle Scout continues to serve. He treats everyone with respect, and is reciprocally respected by his peers. He possesses the skill to keep emotions separate in times of controversy, and the courage to make the tough decisions between what’s fair and what’s right. Steve is self-compelled to do the right thing, even when no one is watching. He’s the guy who will stop and pull a stranger’s car out of a ditch or fix their flat tire. He’s the guy who takes the time to make repairs on a historic cabin when he’s camping or four wheeling. He’s the one who will drag a junk car closer to the road so it can be hauled away easier, and makes it a point to stop and pickup roadside trash. He repaints signs in the backcountry when the existing paint has faded or peeled. He truly gives generously of his personal time, and he will always say that he has not done enough. Congratulations, Steve, on receiving this much deserved honor.
Originally printed in the “Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep
Sheep Sheet-- Volume 2 – July 2013.”
By: Homer Meek
Andrea had a horse show to work in Palmer, AK, so I went along for a great trip. We flew into Anchorage, a boat run out of Whittier to glaciers, a train ride to Denali, and a flight out of Talkeetna in a de Havilland Beaver, that took us through canyons at the base of Mt. Denali, and landed on a glacier.
Beef Basin, Utah
October 7 - 9, 2013
By Mal Roode
Ellen Miller, Nelson Miller, Mignon Slentz, Glenn Shaw, myself and our trip leader, Christian Duelk met at Monticello at 9:00 a.m. Monday. We headed into Beef Basin and found a nice base camp. After everyone set up their camps we headed into Middle Park and found about 5 anasazi granaries up in the walls of the canyon. One was so high up the canyon wall that only Glenn and Ellen made the climb. I explored the edge of a dry waterfall and found the last granary. It was in such good shape that the door to cover the opening was laying right in front!
On Tuesday we made the whole loop of the area. We saw Tower Ruin, Farmhouse Ruin and Village Ruin. The Village Ruin and the Tower Ruin required a few hours of hiking as they have closed all the two tracks leading to these. The wind was blowing pretty good and it made it cold at times, especially without a jacket. We continued on and went into Ruin Canyon. Here the brush was taller than our trucks and was not wide enough. We found two ruins in here. One was so high we could not possibly get to it, the other was up a steep hill that would have been possible earlier in the day, but at 4:00 p.m. it was a no-go.
Wednesday we broke camp and headed out the way we came in. BUT Chris took a left turn on a trail that had lots of overlooks to Wedding Ring Arch and Big Pocket, Utah down below. We stopped at about 10 or so beautiful overlooks, many of them very different, as we crawled out over ledges and boulders in first gear low, and then back on the narrow finger that juts out about 2 miles into Canyonlands NP (but not actually in the NP).
There was a storm coming and as the day came to an end we stopped at Looking Glass Rock. We climbed almost all the way to the top of it. Glenn and I hiked to the backside where we found a Mojave Green Rattlesnake on the slickrock. He was cold and could hardly rattle his tail. It got dark, windy and cold and with the storm coming all we could find as a camping spot was the staging area for Gemini Bridges trail. It was noisy and right next to the main highway and the railroad tracks. The rain and gusty winds started at 1:30 a.m., and it was raining hard again at 7:00 a.m. when we headed for Denny’s to get out of the weather and parted ways after breakfast. It was a dark, rainy day in Moab with muddy trails. Despite the bad weather at the end, everyone had a great time.
By Neal Johns
All alone we were, starting in the Northwest part of Nevada and drifting toward the Southeast. We stopped to see Marian’s son and daughter-in-law (who just became parents of a baby boy, May 7) in the Bay area and then crossed the Nevada border and headed for Whoop-Whoop (Strine for Boonies). We found a nice grove of trees near Sparks and soon discovered why we were alone when the nearby trains started whistling. Occasionally, it’s nice to be deaf.
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Spur of the Moment Utah Trip
By Sunny & Jean Hansen
Sunny and I decided to take off to Utah to do some sightseeing and catch up on a few rock art sites. We started out by spending the night outside of Mesquite, Nevada in BLM territory. During happy hour, we happened to notice movement in the creosote bushes about 200 feet away. We got out our binoculars and saw a family of foxes! Mother and father fox were sitting there watching us, while at least 3 babies were frolicking around the creosote bush where we assumed they had a den. Pretty soon, mother and father fox trotted off, leaving the babies alone. We spent the next hour watching these cute little guys play with each other. We were surprised to see that they were much lighter in color than their parents.
The next morning we proceeded to Torrey, Utah area, where we spent the next 2 days, hiking and looking at rock art. From there, we went to Hanksville for some more catch-up hiking and looking for sites we had skipped on previous trips. We finally ended up near Halls Crossing in Utah and took a dilly of a hike to see some more rock art. The hike in consisted of going down switchbacks on a huge pink sand dune, then a few miles down the canyon. That was all good, until we retraced our steps and had to hike back UP the sand dune. Of course, the temperature was in the 90’s that day. Let’s just say that we were both glad to get to happy hour that evening.
We spent a couple more days in Utah, just being tourists and finally returned home tired, but happy.
9 Day Trip to Baja
By: Neal Johns
Well it was supposed to be Memorial Day, but was delayed a few days. No worries, we were on Baja Time. There were supposed to be six or eight vehicles but somehow all but three dropped out or never signed up. Weaklings! Chris (with friend Luis) and I had real pickups with pop-top campers while Art had Frankenstein’s Monster (FM from now on). Art is handicapped by having an Electronics Engineer degree but really writes software. (Software Puke from now on). SP is not a derogatory term, just a Naval descriptor used to separate these inferior types from Hardware Pukes, a much higher organism on the evolutionary scale. Ask any HP, me for example.
To balance out his life a bit and emulate certain higher organisms, Art took a perfectly good full sized motorhome, ripped out the axles and gasoline engine and put large Dana 80’s with ARB lockers underneath and a Cummings diesel in front. Eureka! A Frankenstein Monster! An amazing job, especially for an SP. He is also quite a likeable fellow so grudgingly I treated him as an equal. Chris, I treated like a God because he came back to rescue me with replacement parts on the Mision Santa Maria trail a couple of years ago after Art stopped towing me and left me to die. Oh, the shame, the shame, We camped halfway down Baja in Erendira the first night, all the way past town with a view of breaking waves on a large guano covered rock just offshore. Quite a nice campsite, kudos to Art for this. The next morning, onward to Bahia de Los Angeles; we paused on the top of the mesa just before dropping down into BOLA to take pictures of the amazing bay with its many islands and then proceeded to Daggett’s Campground. It was quiet with a nice palapa on the beachfront. If you need a sand beach near the water rather than rocks, you can go to La Gringa, but it is about seven miles north of town. We checked it out the next day; there was only one isolated camper on a long sandy beach.
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Three amazing African countries, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe
by Anne Stoll
How to begin – this was such a special trip. Been up before sunrise every day since returning, processing images and memories in hopes of reporting something to you. Now, nearly a week later, ignoring an irritating sense of inadequacy and the great pile that still need attention, I can at least begin to send a few images. George and I visited three amazing African countries, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe (with brief interludes in Johannesburg, South Africa while in transit). Happily, there were no misadventures and we were on our own this time, no tour or fellow tourists, with arrangements made ahead by the Africa Adventure Co. in Florida. Everything went very smoothly and painlessly. Our only briefly stressful episode was driving a rental car (VW Polo) in Windhoek, Namibia but George did very well on the wrong side with the manual transmission and thankfully Windhoek is not a very big city.
Outside of town, driving in Namibia is a breeze – good roads, no traffic. We drove northwest of Windhoek to the Erongo Mountains (below), for a return visit to the Ai Aiba Lodge and our friend Martin Steppe. Note the “lawn mowers” (wart hogs, above) in action at the lodge.
This trip was all about rock art – you know, those mostly painted images made by prehistoric people that have so fascinated George and me for years. But one can’t go to Africa without complete immersion in the natural world – life is open and outdoors there. Landscape, animals, people, odd vegetation – it’s all in your face in Africa, to be marveled at and absorbed, if possible. Namibia is terribly dry right now, in the second year of drought. The people in the foothills of the Erongos have been drilling new bore holes as the water from their usual wells becomes too mineralized to drink. The kudu can become sick and will even die if the tannin in their forage becomes too concentrated by drought (this doesn’t bother the grazers like the springbok or the oryx, though). The “farmers” (we’d call them ranchers) in the Erongos had already sold their cattle at a reduced price through lack of grass and have stepped up culling the wild herds. We watched an oryx being skinned and butchered at our second stop, Farm Omandumba. Hard though it was for me, we came to understand that controlled hunting of wild game is vital to these people. Poaching is on the rise in the area – the recent death of two of the Conservancy’s 16 precious black rhinos at the hands of poachers with dogs brought the government guys out for a visit while we were there. Can you imagine – a single rhino horn can be worth $65,000 USD now – not, by the way, primarily for sexual enhancement but because in Asia it is thought to cure cancer. Landowners in the Erongo Conservancy shoot poachers on sight (usually in the leg), yet the poachers claim they are only night-hunting for bushbuck in order to feed their families – nothing in Africa is simple.
Still plenty of water for birds and elephants in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, though less rain than normal at the source in Angola. Elephants (like the teenage male on the right) are such fascinating creatures but they do have some rather destructive habits. Because of poor digestion, they must eat constantly – at least 18 hours a day – and a herd will tear up many trees in the process. This is hard on young baobob trees and the rest of the forest of course, but browsing elephants also open up land for grasses -- which helps the impala and other grazing antelope – which means dinner for the leopards and the lions. And around and around it goes.
We stayed in two wonderful places in Botswana with raised wooden walkways and amazing views. We silently toured the waters in a mokoro, a canoe-like boat propelled by a man with a long, forked pole.
Our final week was in Zimbabwe, primarily in Matopos National Park. I will share some photos of this place in my next installment, to come shortly.
San Bernardino Mountains
August 23 - 25, 2013
By Ted Kalil
It started on Friday, August 23rd. The meeting spot was Yellow Post 4 on 1N02 where I was joined by Neal and Marian Johns, Mignon Slentz, and Mal Roode. All had difficulty finding the spot and I was accused (by Neal, of course) of providing the worst instructions ever. My response was that they hadn’t read them completely. Oh, well, they all got there.
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Desert Foo Dogs
By Sue Jaussaud
"Wow, what's that? Let's stop and take a look." Bob and I were headed toward home on National Trails Highway (Route 66), less than 4 miles east of Amboy. We had arrived back in California the day before, after 15 days of travel in Iceland with friends Allan and Ding Wicker, so we were a bit jet-lagged, but not THAT jet-lagged. A large "For Sale" sign sat close to the road, and behind it was a tall white statue of a....lion? Closer examination showed that it was indeed a stately marble lion, balanced on concrete blocks, his paw atop a ball of some sort. Cool!!!
A bit further east, we spotted another white lion statue. This one, also placed on concrete blocks, had its paw on top of a miniature version of itself. Both statues had red paint on the base, and there was red paint splashed on large rocks nearby. After sending her a photo of the beasts, D.E.er Anne Stoll said that she suspected that they were guarding something, and later she followed up with a lot of great information from Wikipedia, which explained that they are indeed Chinese guardian lions, traditionally called "Shi" and also referred to as "Foo Dogs" in the West.
So now we know what they are, but I'm not quite sure WHY they are. Do they mark the boundaries of the property that is for sale? Are they guarding the entrance to the property? And why isn't there a phone number to call if this is the property I've been looking for all my life? We may never know the answers. And that's just one more reason to love this vast, mysterious place called the Mojave Desert.
Rock Art Plus Longstreet’s Mine and Cabin
By Marian & Neal Johns
Earlier this year, Sunny and Jean Hansen gave us the GPS coordinates for a remote petroglyph site In Nevada, so a few weeks ago we decided to combine finding this rock art with revisiting Jack Longstreet's ranch & mine.
After finding the petro site (see photos), we headed for Longstreet's places in a couple of canyons west of Stone Cabin Valley - on the east side of the Monitor Range. His mine is in one canyon and the ranch is in the adjacent one to the north. The mine isn't too impressive as the spoils piles are rather small. There probably wasn't much ore (gold?) taken out of these shafts. We also found an old soddy with a rock front dug into the hillside that furnished shelter and the long-abandoned remains of a nice old flivver. About two miles north is his ranch. We had to spend a lot of time sawing back the encroaching trees and bushes alongside the road to get the camper by. Finally we gave up, parked and walked the last quarter of a mile up the canyon.
It was worth the walk; the old log cabin is ready to move into. Sure, the roof needs a little work, but nothing Marian couldn't fix in a year or two. The garage is a little short of sidewalls, but heck, I bet the price is right. The first time we visited several years ago, we found an old apple tree loaded with fruit and helped ourselves. This year, however, there was nary an apple in sight - not even dried up, shriveled ones on the ground.
Jack had another ranch in Nevada farther south, not too far from the boundary of Area 51. We visited that place too several years ago. It's a beautiful spot with a lovely lush meadow, but this year, we didn't have time to revisit it.
On our way home, we spent an hour or so digging in the old Tonopah dump. What fun! Found a couple of old bottles and lots of broken pottery and other stuff for Mignon.
From the Desert to the Sierra Nevada in a day Plus Giant Sequoias
October 26 - 27, 2013
Written By Norma & Danny Siler, photos by Mal Roode
Our meet-up was Saturday morning, October 26, 2013 at the BLM Jawbone Canyon Station on Highway 14. We were 6 vehicles with Danny and Norma Siler; Craig Baker; Leonard, Rebecca, and Hannah Friedman; Bob Jacoby and Richard Brazier; Nelson Miller; and the infamous Malcolm Roode. Some of the folks left home early in the morning while others stayed Friday night in motels in the town of Mojave.
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