Reports on trips taken in 2016.
Coyotes by Jerry Dupree
Coyotes are a very interesting animal and they inhabit 49 states. Their Latin name is Canis Latrans, which means singing dog. Their yips and howls can be heard at any time and is probably how they locate each other. They were only living west of the Mississippi River until bridges were built. They are even found in New York City. They are very adaptable and can live in the driest and hottest desert, and now are living in Alaska as well. The average coyote weighs about 28 pounds, although large males in southern California can weigh as much as 40 pounds. The world record coyote was taken in Caddo County, Oklahoma, and weighed 74 pounds.
Coyotes will eat about anything a dog will eat, which is just about everything. They are opportunists and will often specialize with a preference for fruits, avocados, cantaloups, rodents, birds, carrion, eggs, or insects. They are not territorial and have been captured and tagged, and found as far as a hundred miles away. Each year they begin to pair up in January and hunt together and build a den. They mate in March and have a gestation period about 63 days, which is similar to a dog. Their litter size is dependent on food supply. In lean years they have fewer pups. Litter sizes usually vary from three to as many as 13 pups. The pups are born in May and the male will stay and hunt for the family but does not enter the den. He leaves food outside. Soon after the pups are weaned the male will leave and find another mate for the next season. My wife and I were out in the desert and followed a trail with tiny footprints. It ended at a den with baby coyotes in it. They looked about four to five weeks old.
Coyotes feet are small compared to a dog of the same size. They will hunt using all of their senses: they listen, smell, or see their prey and will circle for a higher or better look or for favorable wind conditions. They are not exclusively nocturnal and can be seen any time of day or night, however most frequently at dusk or sunrise. Coyotes can be solitary or live and hunt as a pack. I have followed their tracks in a straight line on dirt roads. They are looking down the road to see what might cross it and then intercept what may be a juicy jack rabbit dinner.
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The Blythe Intaglios or Blythe Geoglyphs are a group of gigantic figures found on the ground near Blythe, California in the Colorado Desert. The intaglios are found east of the Big Maria Mountains, about 15 miles (24 km) north of downtown Blythe, just west of U.S. Highway 95 near the Colorado River. The largest human figure is 171 feet (52 m) long. The intaglios are best viewed from the air.
The geoglyphs or intaglios (anthropomorphic geoglyphs) were created by scraping away layers of darker rocks or pebbles to reveal a stratum of lighter-valued soil. While these “gravel pictographs” are found through the deserts of southeastern California, human figures are found only near the Colorado River. The figures are so immense that many of them were not observed by non-Indians until the 1930s. The set of geoglyphs includes several dozen figures, thought to be ceremonial in nature. Many of them are believed to date from the prehistoric period, but their age and the identity of their creators are still uncertain. Jay von Werlhof and his collaborators obtained 13 AMS radiocarbon dates for the figures, ranging from 900 BCE to 1200 CE. Source: Wikipedia
By Nelson Miller
Jay Lawrence did a very nice write-up on the Blythe Intaglios in the February Newsletter (actually I liberated it from Wikipedia - Jay). Nelson Miller will be leading a trip to the Blythe Intaglios on Sunday, March 12 at the Rendezvous. Also to be included in Nelson’s trip will be two other Intaglios, or geoglyphs, on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, the fisherman and snake intaglios. The Arizona intaglios are thought to probably date from the same period as the Blythe Intaglios, ranging from 900 BCE to 1200 CE. These are thought to perhaps be attributed to Yuman, or Quechan Native American tribes, which may also be known as the Mojave, which operate the Avi Casino, north of Needles. There are reputedly as many as 60 of the geoglyphs along the lower Colorado River. The Mohavi, or Mojave, Twins are another example of these geoglyphs. The Twins are located just south of Fort Mojave, and east of the Avi Casino, overlooking the Colorado River.
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East Ord and Fry Mountains
by Nelson Miller
We had twelve vehicles and over twenty people for our visit to Fry Mountain Gold Mine with its unique wooden arrastra. Fellow explorers included: Bill and Julie Smith, Dave Burdick, Peter Browne, Therese Holm, Alan and Ding Wicker, Bob Peltzman, Michael J. Sugaiz, Bob Jacoby, Nan Savage Healy, Mal Roode, Pete and Janet Austin, Rod MacDonald, Tracy Wood, Lindsay Wood, BJ Keeling, and several other family members and passengers.
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Prospector Alan Heller at Pala
Desert Explorer Alan Heller tried his hand at one of the Pala gem sites where on a good day you can find tourmalines, kunzites, morganites and according to their website at www.digforgems.com. “Screen the dump piles of material we take out of our mine and find the gems we’ve missed—and we miss a lot! You get to keep everything you find at no extra charge; the standard dig fee allows you to keep all you find and you can take home one 5-gallon bucket of rocks that you have screened and washed.”
Looks like Alan had some big fun!
The Annual Desert Explorers Christmas party occured on December 17, 2016 at the home of Allan and Ding Wicker. Please click "Read More" to see all the photos that were taken by Allan Wicker and Jerry Dupree.
North New York Peak via Keystone Canyon
12-10-16 • Ken Eltrich
I have wanted to attempt this hike for some time but it never seemed to work out until now. With the weather cooling down I decided I would give it a go. I couldn’t get anyone else to make the trip with me so I figured I would see how far I could make it. I was pretty sure I could make the saddle above the mine then decide if I wanted to go on. I spent the night with family in Boulder City and got an early start to the trail head. I drove up past the group camping area to where the road pretty much stops at the wash then it continues up to the left. The wilderness boundary is in the area but I never spotted any signs indicating where it starts. There is a nice camp spot there for one or two vehicles and I had the option of staying the night if I needed to. Starting up the trail/wash the road comes and goes, it’s washed out in some areas then ok in others. As I started walking I’m thinking this is great not too hard. We’ll all that changed once I got to the end of the road at the mine! Small patches of snow in the shady areas the rest of the way up. It was pretty steep as I worked my way to the saddle. I just took my time and enjoyed the cool morning. I rested at the saddle and enjoyed the great views from there. If I remember correctly my GPSR showed .45 to the peak from the saddle. I thought that’s not bad I can do it. The problem was that was a straight line as the crow flies. It would take me another two hours to reach the summit from the saddle. Cold and windy at the top I took some pics and found some shelter from the wind behind a rock outcropping. The views are amazing from there. The South peak looked like a class 3 or better and there was no way I could get to the top of it so I took some pictures and enjoyed the views from the top. Pictures do not do this peak justice you just have to go there and experience them first hand. Keystone Canyon is worth several trips to explore and I will be back there are a lot more interesting sites to see. ~ Ken
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West Ord Mountains
November 5, 2016 • By Nelson Miller
We had just three vehicles and five people for this trip: Nelson Miller, Dave Mott, Janet and Peter Austin, and a new member, Steve Richards. Thanks to Janet Austin for being our trip photographer! First stop was the remains of a miner’s cabin. Janet Austin observed what appeared to be a hand-dug well next to the cabin. Once again, I wish people would put dates whenever they pour concrete. LOL! Several hundred feet up the hill was the mine, which appeared that it might go all the way through the
top of the hill, about 250 feet in length. However, we were only able to go in about sixty feet before we came to a cross tunnel that had a drop-off of six feet or so, therefore we turned back to the entrance.
We continued on to Quill Springs, where we found a large cottonwood, but no visible water. There was various evidence of occupation, here, including petroglyphs, hunting blinds, remains of a stone miner’s cabin, and some kind of concrete basin. We enjoyed lunch in the shade of the cottonwood.
Next stop was Indian circles and an Indian trail above Tyler Dry Lake. These circles are a bit unusual since they sit in a small depression along the ridge, rather than sitting on a fan having a broad view, as is more typical. Along the way, we picked up a guy who was exploring by foot after deciding his Subaru might not make it.
On the way to our next destination, we explored a small hidden valley and dry lake. Passing on we arrived at tanks and a corral that apparently had been constructed by Shield Ranch, since their name was welded into one of the tanks. They called it Saddle Spring. This seems an appropriate name since this sits in a small saddle in the hills, however the topo map shows Joker Spring about 400 feet up the hill. There was running water at these tanks.
We checked a small mine, named Anita Mine, see below, which had some pretty colored rocks, but not a lot else to see there. Final stop was Granite Well, a series of several hand dug wells, not too far east of Highway 247. We attempted to explore Goat Spring and another cabin and tank, but were blocked by a locked gate and lengthy fence line. So, we ended the day and headed for home.
~ Nelson Miller
Photos by Janet Austin & Christopher Cook (Click Read more to see them)
Desert Explorers in the Gobi Desert
by Nancy Maclean
This year, Desert Explorers returned to the Gobi Desert, as Ron Ross and I travelled there with Overseas Adventure Travel to add one more Desert visit to our “bucket list.”
As we flew from Mongolia’s capital, Ulaan Baataar to Dalanzadgad (DZ) in the Gobi Desert in our little Hunnu Air propjet, the landscape looked like we were flying over the Arizona or Nevada desert. It is a desolate area with no roads and no signs of civilized life for a long time; it gives you a feeling of just how big this desert area is. As we got closer to our destination, I began to see pockets of water…what looks like muddy lakes. And as we start the descent, we see some greenery in the valleys, potentially some creeks or ground water for plants to survive on.
We collect our luggage and exit the tiny airport where our nice four-wheel-drive vans are waiting for our group. We are all excited to see what kind of adventure awaits us here. Down on the ground, the place looks like the foothills of Wheeler peak in Nevada: fairly high mountains with broad flat valleys. DZ is a town of 15,000 inhabitants with traditional ger tent districts. Many families have a small brick home and a traditional ger tent right next to it.
Shortly, we are out of town and turn off on a bouncy two-track dirt road. In our thoughts are 40 miles of this to our camp!!! Soon we stop at a guest ger camp for lunch. It is a nice lodge with beautifully carved bar and crystal chandelier and sconces on the walls.
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Thanksgiving on the Desert
by Bob Jaussaud
Sure hope that you all had as wonder.ful a 2016 Thanksgiving as we did.
Following kind of a tradition, a small group of Desert Explorers gathered again on the East Mojave for Thanksgiving. Our hosts were Leslie and Chris Ervin and Leslie’s folks, Shirley and Kib Roby. They filled us with turkey, ham and everything else one could expect. How did we get so lucky?
There were 15 of us around the festive table including Neal and Marian Johns, Mignon Slentz with her son, Joaquin, Debbie and Steve Marschke, Glenn Shaw, Cheryl and Rich Dodsen, plus Bob and Sue Jaussaud. As usual, we ate too much turkey and too many pies. Everything was wonderful.
Two days of ﬁeld trips and left overs followed. Friday, we worked our way over a rough road to the Keystone Mine. Believe it or not, Neal and Marian Johns had never been there before. They almost didn’t make it. Part way there, Sue saw smoke coming out of their camper! Steve’s quick action is the only thing that saved their rig. Too bad, Neal. The new camper will have to wait.
Saturday was our day to explore the Hackberry area and we hiked into a little known spring and old mining area. Then we headed to some abandoned claims. Steve showed us an old drilling rig he and Deb had discovered. We continued exploring until the sun went down and we, sadly, had to call it quits. ~ Joso
– Fire! – Fire! – Fire! –
This past Thanksgiving, we and several other Desert Explorers joined Chris & Leslie Ervin (Archivist of the Library at Goffs) for a turkey feast at Goffs. Then Friday, Steve and Debbie led us on a trip to the Keystone Mine in the New York Mountains. About a half hour after we left Goffs, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, who were the sweep right behind us, noticed smoke coming out of the camper and via the CB said we were on fire. We immediately stopped and sure enough - smoke was pouring out of the back of the camper. It could have been so much worse if we, rather than Bob and Sue, had been tail end; we wouldn’t have discovered the problem until it was too late.
While I fumbled around, quick-thinking Steve got his fire extinguisher and put out the fire inside the camper. Thank you, Steve! Damage was a hole in the canvas over the stove burner (some idiot left it on when he put the top down). All four of our blankets that were stashed under the table were burned and the table itself was scorched. Two of our four cushions were partially melted and the big catch-all box on the floor and part of its contents were ruined.
After all of the excitement we gathered our senses and decided we might as well continue on. Back on the road again, we drove over a “good” (DE term) road to the mine and found lots of new lumber that Dave Nichols, the Mojave Preserve’s Archaeologist, has hauled in for further rehab of the cabin and loading dock.
After returning to Goffs that evening, we all pigged out on left-overs and then, since we no longer had a usable camper that we could sleep in, we drove on home that night.
Thanks again, Steve. ~ Neal
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Pinkham Canyon Trip Report
November 11-12 • By Jerry Dupree
We had a great trip beginning with meeting at “The Rock Camp” about three miles from the Hayfield off ramp of I-10, east of Chiriaco Summit. The trip was led by Jerry and Dolly Dupree and attended by Mignon Slentz, her son Joaquin, and Greg, a high school classmate of hers. Greg camped out but did not accompany us on the trip. Mal Roode was with us, and we were met at the Cottonwood entrance road to Joshua Tree National Park by Pete and Janet Austin, who “camped” in a hotel in Indio. Sadly, Lindsey had to change her plans because of a family emergency
and was not able to be with us. We had good cell phone reception, which allowed us to make connections at the right time without being rushed and no one was late.
Due to the three day weekend we established and occupied the campsite early Thursday. We had some rude neighbors near us who were speeding around our camp with ATVs and dirt bikes, as well as firing guns at night.
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A Good Day on the Desert
by Bob Jaussaud
There are many ways to explore the desert and one way that can be very rewarding is exploring on Google Earth. When we ﬁnd something of interest, we ﬁgure out how to get there and ﬁgure out a time to go. Such was the case last weekend when Ron Lipari, Vicki Hill, Mignon Slentz, Cindy Lane and Mike Vollmert came to visit. I had spotted a hidden dry lake bed on the side of Flat Top Mountain that needed to be checked out. So we headed out for an adventure. Our ﬁrst ﬁnd was a habitation cave with two old bed frames in it, probably from the 1930’s. Further along, we crossed an old road and decided to hike it a ways. To our happy surprise, we found several old cars. Speculating why they were there, we discovered they were on an old road to the Ibex Mine.
So, the next thing to do after returning home is to see if we can ﬁnd anything out about our ﬁnds. It turns out the Ibex Mine was a rich gold deposit that was purchased by P. K. Klinefelter in 1892. In a Los Angeles Herald Newspaper from 1892, it is described as a “veritable bonanza” only eleven miles from Needles. The ore that was being removed was described in the article as causing “the eye to twinkle, the breath to come faster and the hand to tremble.” The article closed by saying, “talk about your lost Pegleg, your Breyfogle or your Comstock, what are they to the Ibex? The outlook for Needles is truly delightful.”
By the way, the dry lake bed on the side of Flat Top turned out to be a good hike too. We were not the ﬁrst ones there, though. Someone had aligned some of the rocks on the lake bed to read “JN. 3:16”. It was sobering to hear Ron Lipari recite the bible verse. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Back in the cars, we discovered an old road that led all the way around Flat Top Mountain. We came to familiar territory when we bounced into the Flat Top Spring area. It was a good day on the desert. ~ Joso
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Grand Canyon Overlook, Version 2.0
by Debbie Miller-Marschke
Steve and I decided to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary by giving ourselves an adventure. We decided to venture into the Northern Arizona backcountry.
First on the list- the north rim of the Grand Canyon overook “Tuweep” aka Toroweep. I had been there more than 20 years ago and Steve needed to see it. One of the things I discovered while planning the trip is that you now are required to obtain a backcountry permit to be in this area. This was done easily on line, which was also an opportunity to reserve one of the 10 campsites at Tuweep. We scoffed at the printed materials distributed to us by the National Park warning that the 70 mile dirt road was a tire muncher. It indicated that 25% of the vehicles that visited experienced a flat tire. It read, “Bring tire plugs and a portable air compressor to repair flat tires. Ensure you have enough fuel, full size spare tire, jack/lift, and owner’s manual. Tow service costs $1,000–2,000 and assistance is not guaranteed. “ We ended up patching one of our Jeep CJ rear tire once on this road (by the third time patching the same tire a few days later, we just put on the spare). Ok, ok, the warning was pretty accurate! We reached the amazing overview of the Grand Canyon at dusk.
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Mohave Road Trip
October 21-23, 2016 • By Neal Johns
We started out OK until we heard a voice over the cell phone that sounded just like Jerry. It could not be him, I camped with him last night. We told him to wait at Mohave Road Mile 3+ and we would pick him up (and we did). Stopping at Granite Spring, we turned the animals loose and they saw a few petroglyphs and a trickle of water before cries of “Onward, Onward” got them moving again.
Then it was onward to Fort Rock. Most of us made it all the way to the Fort, and then the same idiot started screaming again – “Onward, Onward.”
Since I had not heard that the way over the Piute Range had been fixed, I took the motley crew over the “Official
Bypass” route a few miles south.
Amazingly, we made it OK. The turns came up so fast, I had no chance to look at my GPS (I had stopped at the Museum and got their last copy of the Mojave Road Guide with GPS in it). I hope the Bypass had GPS in it too. Good job, Chris!
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