Reports on trips taken in 2017.
The Quest for White Pocket
Story and photos by Deb Miller Marschke
Last fall in September of 2016, Steve and I decided to go on a noodle in Northern Arizona. It was kind of a last minute, seat-of-our-pants adventure. Ideally, we were interested in an area southeast of Kanab, Utah that is known as Coyote Buttes. This geographic area contains the famous feature “The Wave” which now adorns calendars and art galleries nationwide. We were fortunate enough to get the required permit to hike to the Wave some years ago, but these permits are tricky to acquire and take some orchestration. The Wave steals all the thunder from the Coyote Buttes area as a whole; this geographic zone is a wonderland of sculpted colorful sandstone. We considered the possibility of targeting Coyote Buttes South, but it was still too hot, and we didn’t have the necessary permit. It was too late to get one as they were all booked up.
I scoured my maps for more possibilities. During my investigation, I found promising leads to an area called “White Pocket” so we decided to shoot for that. I cobbled together enough information to get us there, but there was not much on the internet that answered all of my questions. So by design, there was going to be an element of surprise or spontaneity in our endeavor. This geologic area actually overlays the Utah/Arizona border so it’s in two states. We accessed the area by driving south from UT High.way 89, east of Kanab, and left the pavement on The Honeymoon Trail (this is a historic 1870’s Mormon route). You can also select the Great Western Trail as these two trails converge and cross. We hopped onto route 1065 and looked for our access trail. We needed to get into an area called Poverty Flat. We choose the route that began at Lone Tree Reservoir 1079 and cuts in to Paw Hole trailhead.
There is a long way in, and a short way in. The short way was touted as being one of loose sand, and challenging. And it was !!! We drive a custom modified 1978 Jeep CJ, there are not many places we can’t go. The trail degraded into the worst sand we have ever driven in. Not only do you have to negotiate sand, there are sandy hills to climb. We had to have our “A” game going to get through this stretch, but we conquered it without drama. It is a beautiful drive nonetheless. We arrived at Poverty Flat Ranch and decided to set up a primitive dry camp in the abandoned ranch site. Aptly named, it’s remote & arid, and just the right price (free!) in Vermillion Cliffs BLM.
In the morning we set out to find White Pocket. We found that this surrounding area was littered with Moqui Marbles (hard little sandstone balls covered with iron oxide). They are fascinating and fun to find. Some lay along the route and appeared to mimic the stone patterns found in the famous Death Valley Racetrack, leaving little paths in the sand as the weather moves them about. It was hard to resist harvesting them like Easter Eggs. The White Pocket area was only about 3 miles from our campsite, but there are no signs to guide you. We could see the buttes of White Pocket from the road, so we just headed in that general direction on the existing dirt roads until we found ourselves at the parking area. We were immediately distracted by all kinds of geologic features, so after scrambling around we had to govern ourselves to walk the short distance to White Pocket. No trail guide is necessary, you can see it from the parking area about a thousand feet distant.
All I can say is – WOW! Once we were in the feature, we were in com.plete awe. Some of the sandstone is whitish, but mixed in are reds, oranges, and yellows in all configurations of crazy designs. Mother Nature was at her artistic best on the day she created White Pocket. We climbed on and around this spectacular display for hours. Every direction and angle was different, which sucked us in and kept us hiking. It’s not an expansive area, but there are lots of little nooks and crannies that will keep you busy for as long as you’d like to ex.plore. You won’t get lost per se, but you will be lost in the beauty and majesty. Our eyes were filled with “Awesome.”
There is an interpretive sign on lo.cation which explains “ Approximately 190 million years ago, this area was part of a region covered with deep, shifting sand and complex dunes comparable to the modern day Sahara Desert. The dune field encom.passed parts of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming. The large-scale, high angle, crossbeds which can be 25 feet wide are characteristic of windblown deposits and are examples of what was once a large dune field. At that time, periods of monsoonal moisture supported plant and animal life. Organisms left evidence of their exis.tence in this area in bio-turbated beds. BioTurbation in this area is caused by the mixing of sediments by ancient, bur.rowing insects and spiders. The various shades of pink, red, yellow, and brown rocks are due to the oxidation of iron bearing minerals within the sandstone. The red and pink colors are attributed to the presence of the mineral hematite, while the yellow and brown colors are produced by the minerals limonite or goethite .The beautifully swirled ap.pearance of the rocks at White Pocket are due to an exceptional exposure of unusually soft sediment deformation and slump sediments. Soft sediment defor.mation occurs when separated layers of sediment are folded and or sheared due to gravitational forces, changes in ground water, or earthquakes. Thick massive beds at White Pocket have char.acteristic polygonal cracks produced by tensile stress and exposed by weath.ering processes. Many theories exist regarding the origin of polygonal cracks, including thermal contrac.tion, moisture cy.cles, and the drying process of these sediments.”
I have included some of my favorite photos, but White Pocket is a place that needs to be fully enjoyed in person. The alternative route in can be accessed via AZ Highway 89A east of Jacob Lake near House Rock Valley Road, east on road 1017. I know this because we encountered a commercial tour van from Kanab before we left, and that’s how they made it in without getting stuck. That is a considerably longer trek. The area can also be reached by parking near Paw Hole and day hiking – my sources said 4 miles roundtrip in the full sun and some sand. We actually had to depart from White Pocket that day because the September afternoon had grown hot, so ideally I would recommend visiting when the temperatures are in the 60’s – low 70’s so you don’t get seared in the “sandstone frying pan.” Budget an entire day for this because there are tons of features to distract and keep you busy, we had to skip some things and leave them waiting for our return next time.
A tip I can give you is to get the maps produced by Trails Illustrated. You can get them easily on Amazon. These maps were the best resource for navigating in this area and finding an effective route. The Trails Illustrated map to use is "Grand Canyon East", but I also had Grand Canyon West and other areas, which was really helpful while exploring. The atlas maps by DeLorme and Benchmark did not have enough details for the types of trips we DE'ers do. ~ Deb
Click Read More to see more awesome photos!
Desert Cowboy Man
The story below appears in our book Curiosities of the California Desert. However, we drove by the cowboy man site a few weeks ago and the Cowboy man had disappeared. No one around to ask what happened. If anyone knows, we’d love an update
The Cowboy Man of Mecca near the Salton Sea must be lonely, having been placed far from most of his family. As he stands in a small strip mall parking lot, his fate is unknown, as is the case with everything near the Salton Sea which ebbs and flows in the natural and political winds.
During the heyday of Route 66, a series of these fiberglass figures sprang up as roadside attractions. With growing traffic along the Mother Road from Santa Monica to Chicago, businesses were creative in luring travelers to their stores or restaurants or gas stations. The statues were there to lure business and they were changed to meet the local theme. There is the muffler man, the hot dog man and even the green astronaut man in Wilmington, Illinois which is also known as the Gemini Giant. The first of these oddities to appear was dubbed “Tall Paul” who popped up in 1940s in the suburbs of Chicago.
Another favorite is arguably a younger version called the Chicken Boy. Standing proudly in Highland Park, California, the 22 foot statue first appeared in Los Angeles atop a fried chicken restaurant between 4th and 5th Streets. When the restaurant owner died in 1984, the Chicken Boy was put into storage. At last in about 2007 the fiberglass boy found a new home at 5558 Figueroa Avenue in Highland Park. Today he towers above the buildings to the joy of passersby.
These iconic statues were born at the International Fiberglass Company in Venice, California for use in outdoor advertising. Chicken Boy was altered from a Chicken Man that was originally created to be a Muffler Man or Paul Bunyan Man. His head was altered to resemble a chicken and a bucket was fashioned to replace the hot dog or muffler.
These statues are familiar sights especially along Route 66, but the bearded Cowboy Man near Mecca seems lost and he has suffered much abuse. He was reportedly decapitated around 2001 and then went missing altogether. But he now stands proudly in front of the El Tompa Mini Mart, enjoying visitors who come to take his photo. His address is 93243 California 111, Mecca. ~ Alan & Claudia Heller
Ballarat by Night
by Jay Lawrence
So, what do you do when you have a special piece of photographic gear on loan, you need a really dark sky, some interesting foreground possibilities and the only new moon is right around the corner? Obviously, if you are Stan Sholik, longtime Desert Explorer, photographer and author, you head for Ballarat. Never mind that temps in the area are projected to be 120°+ for the next week. Prep the truck and try not to do anything too stupid. A breakdown could be ugly. No questionable rock crawling, no weird trails, just get the shots and stay hydrated.
Crest Of The Inyo’s and Saline Valley Salt Tram
Trip report and photos by Ken Eltrich
First weekend of June our small group met up in Olancha to explore the crest of the Inyo’s and the salt tram that brought salt from Saline valley to Owens valley from 1913 to 1930. After topping off our tanks we made our way to the other side of Owens lake bed to the trail head at Swansea. The road up was not too bad only a couple spots were rocky and loose. The views kept getting better the higher we climbed. The first view of a tram tower was pretty amazing. Once we arrived at the top of the Inyo’s we went left to the Burgess Mine shack for a quick look. The views from there were unbelievable. On one side of the ridge you had the snowcapped Sierra’s and on the other side the mighty Saline Valley and beyond.
No one in our group had been on this trip before so we decided to camp at the Tram Station. In hind sight that was not the best idea as it’s right on the ridge and was windy all night. I opted to sleep on the porch of the cabin so I was protected from the wind but there are several camp sites just before topping out on the ridge that offer good protection and plenty of tree cover. The next day we made our way across the ridge and down into Cerro Gordo mine. We had hoped for a tour but we missed the only one that was given Saturday. We checked out a couple buildings then headed east towards Lee Flat. We spent the second night at the Holiday mine about half way down the mountain from Cerro Gordo. Good place with plenty of Flat area and still in the trees with great views into Saline Valley. Sunday morning we took our time breaking camp and headed towards Highway 190 and home. ~ Ken
Touring the Santa Ana Mountains
By Bob Jacoby
Photos by Norma and Danny Siler
Our DE tour of the Santa Ana Mountains finally took place on Saturday, June 10th 2017. This interesting adventure was originally scheduled in January, rescheduled for April, and we finally were able to do it in June. The problem, as we are all aware of, was a very rainy winter which prompted Cleveland National Forest to close most of the roads in the area until they perceived all were passable.
Fortunately, June 10th turned out to be a bright, sunny and clear day as the following DE adventurers gathered for this scenic trip: Terry Ogden, Danny and Norma Siler, Jim Watson and Linda Stevens, Matt Jones, Dave McFarland, Neal and Marion Johns, Leonard and Rebecca Friedman, Jay Lawrence and yours truly (if I forgot someone, my sincere apologies). Our meeting place was right off the Ortega Highway near a Cleveland National Forest fire station. Because of a warning from the Forest Service ‘to not have a large caravan” some of us doubled up. The Freidman’s and myself had the opportunity to ride with Jay and his big time truck.
For most of the morning our route followed the Main Divide Trail along the ridge tops of the mountains. From the time shortly after we left the Ortega Highway until we made it all the way up the Santiago Peak we were essentially climbing on a moderately rugged shelf road. Some of the climbing was just a little bit challenging but the erosion was not severe and no one had any problems. The scenery was beautiful as we traversed through low shrub vegetation all the way to our initial landmark, Trabuco Peak.
While we were climbing we encountered panoramic views of Lake Elsinore to the east and south in the Temescal Valley. Farther along, the trail offered great views of Orange County, including Mission Viejo. Also the trail scenery included plentiful wild flowers.
Before we knew it, it was time for lunch and we enjoyed ourselves eating just below the top of Santiago Peak. Santiago Peak is the highest point in Orange County at 5,687 feet. After lunch we made the final climb to radio towers at the top of the peak. This spot offered considerably more scenic views.
After lunch it was time to head downhill from Santiago Peak on the very steep Maple Springs Road. This road, as it descends, goes basically west and northwest toward Silverado Canyon. The trail becomes even steeper when it enters Silverado Canyon and become Silverado Canyon Rd. It proved to be a real challenge when we met vehicles coming in the other direction.
Silverado Canyon is a deep gorge in the Santa Ana Mountains and has a creek flowing all the way down. It was so named because of silver mining in this area many years ago. This year there was water in the creek and it added to the beauty of this incredible environment.
As we descended Silverado Canyon we finally hit pavement at the canyon bottom. However, that was OK because this was a one lane paved road that was absolutely beautiful. We soon came upon some homes deep in the canyon bottom. This area was a former hippie hangout in the 60’s and although it has gone upscale, it is still quite bucolic.
When we finally hit civilization in eastern Orange County everyone headed for home after an interesting and enjoy.able day. We need to do this trip again in the next few years. ~ Bob
Dale Mining District
Friday-Sunday, June 2-4
Leader: Nelson Miller
Photos: Bill & Julie Smith
We explored the Dale Mining District, east of 29 Palms and visited the Old Dale and New Dale townsites, a couple of mill sites, and a bunch different mines and mill sites. There were large structures still standing at several of these sites. Most of the mining in the Dale District occurred from 1883 into the 1920’s. Mines of the High Desert, by Ronald Dean Miller, describes the mines, people and history of this mining district. ~ Nelson
Click Read More below, there are a lot of photos taken by Bill & Julie!
Saturday, March 25
By Mignon Slentz
On March 25, a group of 16 DE members, friends and neighbors got a private tour of the latest mine acquired by the Werly family at Nelson in El Dorado Canyon, Nevada.
We arrived at the complex at 9 a.m. and were each outfitted with a hard hat and flashlight. Documents had to be
filled out and we literally had to sign our lives away - no kidding!
After listening to an interesting history of the mine and the area, we boarded a bus that looked right out of a Mad Max movie. The drive to the mine site was about 2 miles away .
When the mine shut down years ago the entrance was dynamited shut. The entrance and exit are now accessed through two air shafts.
I won’t ruin it for those of you who might want to take the tour- but there is water, boats, bats and lots of artifacts. Requirements are a minimum of 16 people, no children and a cost of $25
If you haven’t been to Nelson
lately there are lots of new additions - old vehicles, mines, buildings and artifacts. ~ Mignon
Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes February 11, 2017
Attending: Dave Burdick, Daniel Dick & Bobbie Sanchez, Barbara Midlikoski, Mal Roode, Bill & Julie Smith, Jerry & Dolly Dupree, Bob Jacoby, Steve Jarvis & Kate Fosselman, Neal & Marian Johns, Nelson Miller, Sunny & Jean Hansen, Terry Ogden, Allan & Ding Wicker, Jay Lawrence.
Meeting Opened 11:45 a.m.
Previous minutes: Approved.
Regrets Nan Savage-Healy, Debbie Miller-Marschke & Steve Marschke
Treasurer Bill Smith has taken the bit in his teeth and reported balances in Paypal, savings and checking totalling $5,011.73 including a small profit from the Rondy and $303 from the Silent Auction. A big thank you to auctioneers Bob Jaussaud and Steve Marscke! Great job on the Rondy Jerry Dupree and Bob Jacoby.
Newsletter Bill Powell volunteered to lend a hand to back up the newsletter assembly. He currently has a complete newsletter and all the ingredients so he can see how he likes the software and if he needs any help learning it.
Subscriber Guide No new news, but Mal Roode, Bill Smith, Bob Jacoby and Jay Lawrnce are digging into it.
Museum We are currently trying to get a system together to keep up-to-date on MVRM memberships. Bob Jacoby will talk with Pat Schofstal. Also noted that all future DE checking accounts should be company accounts rather than personal to ease turning over signers when DE leaders change.
The museum is in need of volunteers. They have a lot of pieces but the exhibits have not been updated in a very long time and there are many things that need to be repaired or tuned up, particularly the displays. There are nine board seats and currently three or four of them are vacant. They also need docents, the research room and the huge historical photo collection needs organization.
Discussion on setting up a work trip and museum cleanup in May or early fall, possibly including camping at Paradise Hot Springs. The museum is struggling. Jerry moved to donate to a museum building fund. The motion passed unanimously. It was noted that they have funds, but not enough hands.
Website Deb reported via Bob Jacoby that the website is up-to-date including trips and the PayPal subscription system.Thanks, Deb and Crazy Suzy!
News Welcome to Dave Burdick from Corona who described himself as a ‘desert rat’ for the last 45 years. He enjoys desert history and currently drives a Jeep Rubicon.
The Old Spanish Trail Association will have 16 speakers at its national conference in Barstow October 5-8. It will be held at the Quality Inn.
Rondy Unanimous accolades on the success of the 2017 Rondy and many attaboys for Jerry Dupree who put the whole thing together from the getgo. The location and facilities were great, we had a bunch of trips, now where are we going to have the next one? Trona was mentioned but lack of facilities would be an issue. Ballarat and Ridgecrest were also mentioned. Barbara Midlikoski knows the area well after having lived in Ridgecrest for a number of years. She suggested the Fairgrounds for a site and the Carriage Inn for catering. We had a successful Rondy there in 2004. Bob Jacoby will give it an initial look and report back.
Trips Nelson is running his Stoddard Mountains trip on the 22nd and Bob Jacoby will run his Santiago trip on June 10. Nan is working on a possible May trip to the William S. Hart museum and maybe dinner at the Rock Inn. Nelson asked that if you have a place you would like to explore, let him know and he would research it. Bob Jacoby is contemplating a Fall trip on unpaved old sections of Route 66. Big Bear area trips from Bill Mann’s book on that area might be some good possibilities.
New Business Bob Jacoby will stay on as Chairman now that Bill Smith has taken over the Treasurer duties. There was unanimous approval and a general sigh of relief to accompany the applause.
Next meeting Ding and Allan Wicker’s home Saturday July 8th, 11:00 a.m.
Adjourned 1:00 p.m.
Movie! We all got to see Steve Jarvis and Kate Fosselman’s excellent new full length documentary The Women in the Sand and it was excellent! Steve and Kate obviously poured their considerable talents into every bit of it and it shows at every turn. All who saw it were wowed and wished them luck on the national and international film festival competitions. It is both powerful and beautiful. Very nice work indeed.
Sidewinder, Stoddard & West Ord Mountains
Saturday, April 22, 2017 • Trip Leader: Nelson Miller • Photos: Ken Hemkin & Jay Lawrence
Heading eastish from Apple Valley, Nelson led us by a local dinosaur gathering place then we visited backroad springs, a quail guzzler and several mine sites. Unfortunately, the big blue dino pictured in Bill Mann’s book has seen its last roundup and is now just a memory. We had a beautiful day with perfect temps and a light breeze. One flat tire, but otherwise a fine day in the desert.
Wyatt Earp’s Neighborhood
By Alan & Claudia Heller
Photos: Alan Heller
As Rondy Explorers set out from Blythe on various trips, we hooked up with DE member Cooper and his dog and caravanned to the Blythe Intaglios making a stop to visit Wyatt Earp’s cottage. To see the pretty, modest blue cottage with a white picket fence in Vidal, California, one would never guess it was the home of the infamous tough lawman/gunslinger, Wyatt Earp. He led a tumultuous life with a long line of legal and questionable occupations but in the end, he and his wife Josie settled down in what was supposedly his only permanent residence (1925-1928). From his home he could work in his “Lucky Day” mine located nearby in the Whipple Mountains. Ironically, the little cottage was sold a few years back to Terry Ike Clanton, a direct descendent of the infamous Clantons which were Earp’s rivals.
We made a stop at what was the Post Office in Earp which is in Parker Valley near the California-Arizona border, not far from the cottage. It was originally named Dennan, founded in 1910, and changed to Earp in 1920. ~ Alan
Mule Mountain Intaglios and Petroglyphs - Rendezvous Trip
March 10, 2017
by Nelson Miller
We had six vehicles depart from the Rendezvous RV site at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. Participants, besides me, included: Frederick Raab, Ron Ross, Nancy McClean, Barb Midlikoski, Steve Faulstich, Janet and Peter Austin, Daniel Dick and Bobbie Sanchez. As we headed west on the freeway, I was chatting away and missed the turn-off! Janet Austin was paying attention, so half the vehicles got off at the right exit, but I had to go ten miles to the next exit. I considered turning around in the median, but just where I was about to do it, there was a highway patrol vehicle parked there. So, it took me twenty minutes to get back to the group.
As we headed south from the Freeway, we encountered fields of desert lilies. These have beautiful flowers with unusual long, wavy or ridged leaves. They grow from bulbs a couple of feet deep, which Native Americans ate. Thanks to Sue Jaussaud who pointed these out to us on another Inbound trip.
We soon arrived at the intaglio site, which consists of small 2-3 foot cleared circular areas arranged in horseshoe shaped designs or long parallel lines. There is also a ceremonial circle about 125 feet in diameter. A clearly observable trail connects this site to the petroglyph site about one mile to the west. Archaeologists have traced this trail most of the way to Corn Springs petroglyphs, about thirty miles further to the west.
We proceeded to the petroglyph site where we explored the small canyon and tank, which contained numerous petroglyphs. We returned to the Rendezvous RV site in time for Happy Hour. ~ Nelson
Inbound Rondy Geology Run
Trip Leader: Bill Neill
Participants: Bill & Gwenn Neill, Allan & Ding Wicker, Norma & Danny Siler, Steven Faulstich, Fredric Raab. We met at Chiriaco Summit and caravaned in 5 vehicles down Box Canyon to Painted Canyon.
Photo 1 – 11.30.30: Our group is at an exposure of Orocopia Schist near Shaver’s Well, at the upper end of Box Canyon, formed in a subduction zone during Mesozoic time (age of dinosaurs) when the North America’s continental margin was located at present Coachella Valley. The San Gabriel Mountains have an identical and formerly adjacent rock called Pelona Schist that has moved 160 miles northwest along the San Andreas Fault.
Photo 2 – 11.48.06: Also near Shaver’s Well, we viewed “slickenlines” — rock smoothed and polished by fault movement -- and abundant lupine flowers surrounding Steven Faulstich.
Photo 3 – 12.48.31: Gwenn and Ding are resting on trail into Painted Canyon. Sandstone and conglomerate in canyon walls are relatively young, deposited as early movement on the San Andreas Fault formed Coachella Valley.
Photo 4 – 12.56.58: In Painted Canyon, Danny Siler stands on ancient metamorphic rock named the Pinto Gneiss that’s about 1.7 billion years old and similar in age and origin to the Vishnu Schist at the bottom of Grand Canyon.
Photo 5 – 13.01.18: In Painted Canyon, Fredric Raab views the banded and folded Pinto Gneiss, named for exposures in the Pinto Basin of Joshua Tree National Park.