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Desert Explorers - 2017 Trips

2017 Trips (32)

Reports on trips taken in 2017.

San Bernardino Mountains Trip

Saturday, August 26

Leaders: Danny & Norma Siler

It was a beautiful day in the San Bernardino Mountains on Saturday, August 26; not a cloud in the sky and 75 - 80 degree temperature.

Our instructions were to meet at the public bathrooms in the town of Running Springs. A bit awkward but there’s plenty of free parking and everyone loves a bathroom in the morning. Also a bit tricky was that there is not a street address for this location. But… everyone made it on time!!

Because this trip was to be a scenic      trail ride through the forest, and not a      heavy-duty four-wheel drive event,     we piled all nine of us into three vehicles; Danny and Norma Siler as leaders, Dave Burdick, Moe LeBlanc, Hector and Sandra Mangione, Mal Roode, Allan and Ding Wicker.

We first drove to the very lovely Green Valley Lake to enjoy the serenity of it, then we said “good-bye” to the paved road and “hello” to the unpaved forest service road.

It was about an hour and a half drive from 5,500 ft. elevation to 8,500 ft. elevation. We passed through burn areas and the vegetation changed as the elevation changed; sagebrush, yucca, manzanita, juniper, pine trees, fir, spruce, and much more. This route is close to the north side of the mountains and we often got glimpses of the Victor Valley below in the desert.

The spur road to the Butler Peak Lookout was rugged and narrow in places but we made it fairly easily. Because it was a Saturday there were a lot of vehicles coming and going at this destination. 

We parked in the shade and it was a nice spot for our picnic lunch and group photo. Then we spent 45 minutes hiking up the trail and staircase to the lookout. The 360 degree view can only be described as incredible. The

lookout has a sweeping viewing deck surrounding its entirety with plenty of room for all of us to enjoy. Both Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake were visible from here. Surprisingly, there was not a volunteer on site this day.

Our return trip was on a different forest service road which was wider, flatter and smoother; more relaxing with a lot more pine trees. 

At 4:15 p.m. we arrived, once again, at Green Valley Lake and stopped at a small café to enjoy ice cream, milkshakes, root beer float, etc. All of us could sit around the table and chairs and share good times of the day and discuss other enjoyable aspects of our experiences with the Desert Explorers.

Time came to pay our bill, say our good-byes and depart for home.


Photos: Allan Wicker & Mal Roode

Friday, 15 September 2017 23:58

The Ongoing Anderson Expedition

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The Ongoing Anderson Expedition

After a recent plea for items for the Desert Explorers newsletter, this note came in from one of our subscribers, Joey Anderson:

“Feel free to use any of our posts from our trips on our website for the newsletter!! www.andersonoverland.com You can also follow us on instagram or facebook -  @andersonoverland”

The Anderson family is Joey Anderson, Robyn Anderson, Jetta Anderson, and Luna Anderson (the puppy).

Here is their introduction on their website: “Hello. We are here to encourage, motivate, and assist those seeking to be adventurous! We strive to be an inspiration to the 4x4’ing and adventurer community by sharing wonderful experiences we have out on the open road! Our goal is to also provide unbiased opinions about products we use on as regular basis whether it be for dispersed camping or just trail riding.”

( the included items were poached off thier website)  Their site is terrific, outstanding photos and text, good looking layout and sets a very high bar. We will be following it in the future and snagging the odd photo and bits of commentary as the world turns. Thank you Joey and family for your kind offer and a great site. Glad to have you with us in the Desert Explorers.  

Friday, 15 September 2017 23:52

Friedman Family Eclipse Trip

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We went to the see the total eclipse August 21, in Madras, Oregon, and ran into fellow DE member Craig Baker. What a show! ~ Leonard

Friday, 15 September 2017 23:48

Joso in the Oval Office?

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Joso in the Oval Office?

This is the kind of thing that haunts our dreams... Desert Explorer, reprobate and raconteur Bob Jaussaud at the helm of the ship of state. Here is the evidence:

Bob in replica Oval  Office, Nixon library,  Yorba Linda, CA.  Is that Putin calling?

Friday, 15 September 2017 22:23

Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes July 8, 2017

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Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes July 8, 2017

Attending: Bob & Sue Jaussaud, Debbie Miller Marschke, Bill & Julie Smith, Ding & Allan Wicker, Dolly & Jerry Dupree, Emmett & Ruth Harder, Mal Roode, Jay Lawrence, Neal & Marian Johns. Regrets: Nelson Miller, Nan Healy, Steve Jarvis, Steve Marschke, Terry Ogden.

Meeting Opened 11:45 a.m.

Previous minutes: Approved.

Treasurer Bill Smith reported bank checking and savings total $4,426.10 as of June 30. Discussed possible calendar year renewal subscriptions to newsletter instead of subscription anniversary date renewals. We all figured it would cause as much work as it cut so it was dropped. Also covered the idea of lifetime subscriptions and decided against it. The newsletter is already inexpensive so just subscribe for a longer time. Easy peasy. We are sending $50 to the Needles Museum to put our logo on one of the pages of their excellent calendar. We are giving several honorary subscriptions to the MVRM, Museum Lead Pat Schoffstall, DE pioneers Neal & Marian Johns and Crazy Suzy our website builder.

Newsletter The newsletter is running smoothly with quite a few regular contributors. We had a brief discussion on what works well for contributions in terms of text and images. Jay will write up a short recap for the newsletter.

Website Deb reported that she received all the materials to post recent newsletter content. May, June and July will be up on the web shortly. Right now it looks good, runs good and all is well.

Subscriber Guide Tabled. Updating the Guide has been on the back burner but we will endeavor to have it whipped into shape soonish.

Museum No MVRM newsletters in the summer. They are getting tons of visitors despite the heat. Nelson Miller will be speaking at the September BBQ on the Old Spanish Trail Association. Stand by for a possible work weekend with Nelson.

News The Old Spanish Trail Association will be holding their annual convention in Barstow the first weekend in October. More info at their website:


Rondy 2018 Jerry Dupree and Bob Jacoby are scouting Ridgecrest accommodations for our next annual DE Rendezvous. Checking on lodging, camping and RV sites, catering and site suitability. Discussed past Rondy site at the fairgrounds. Possible local, inbound and outbound trips could 

include the El Paso Mountains, Trona, California City, the Borax Museum, Panamints, Ballarat, Shoshone, rock art by Little Lake and maybe Little Petroglyph Canyon on the China Lake base. Will report back next meeting.

Trips Mal Roode reported Ron Lipari has a July trip to the White Mountains and Log Cabin Mine, Danny Siler will be leading an August trip in the Big Bear area. Bob and Sue Jaussaud will be leading an exploratory trip in the Spring Mountains in Nevada from September 19-21 plus a trip to Tonapah, the Belmont Mountains, Barcelona ghost town and Monitor Valley from October 23-27. Bill Powell is putting together an October trip in Nevada for 2-3 days covering the Hastings Cutoff. Neal & Marian Johns will be leading a two day trip on the first segment of the Mojave Heritage Trail out of Needles. Date is still undetermined. Discussed doing a trip in the Black Mountains near Barstow covering Inscription Canyon, Scouts Cove and Rainbow Basin. All agreed this needed to wait for much cooler weather and we will put it on the schedule for sometime in the first part of 2018. And thanks for the suggestion Ken Hemkin!

Discussion The subject of publishing specific trip meeting places and times in trip writeups was tossed around and it was generally agreed that trip leaders should give that info out directly to folks after they sign up for the trips so the leader has a good head count and contact info for all the trip attendees. General info on the trip location, highlights, dates, degree of difficulty and special vehicle or gear requirements is what is really important in the initial trip writeup for the DE newsletter. • Sue Jaussaud is keeping an eye on news about the Walking Box Ranch between Nipton and Searchlight. (Karl Welch’s old ranch). • Reminded everybody who is leading a trip to either DO a trip report after the trip or ASSIGN the reporting to someone on the trip. We need your words and photos! • The huge collection of petroglyph and pictograph slides from DE member Dwight Stroud is now safe from the elements with Dennis Casebier in his archive building in Goffs. Dwight passed away several years ago and all 

agreed he would approve. Mal Roode scanned all the slides and will try to locate his files so other DE folks might get a copy on CD or DVD in the future.

News All of us were saddened by Jerry Harada’s accident and grave condition. Prayers and good wishes from everyone who knows him (and that is ALL of us) go out to him and his family.

Next meeting  Neal & Marian Johns’ home, September 9th, 11:00 a.m.

Christmas Party  December 16th

Adjourned 1:15 p.m.

Friday, 15 September 2017 21:57

"Old Dinah" Lives On

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Old Dinah

An article from Westways September 16, 2016 issue sparked some interest from DE’er Julie Smith. A little digging revealed this: “Old Dinah was Borax Smith’s experiment in transporting ore from the mines at Borate to the railroad at Daggett in 1894. Dinah was a traction engine which burned coal – 3.5 tons a day. Her speed was 3.5 miles an hour on level ground, not including time out for getting stuck in sand. On steep grades she slipped backwards faster than she could go forward.

It took four men to keep Dinah running: an engineer, a fireman, a brakeman and a mechanic who worked all night, every night to put her in shape for the next day’s run.

After a year struggle, Dinah was abandoned and the 20 Mule Teams which had continued to haul alongside of her took over the job again.”

Old Dinah got one more chance when borax operations resumed in Death Valley in 1904. Trying to avoid the expense of a railroad into Death Valley, the Borax Company graded a 98 mile tractor road from the borax mines to the railroad. Dinah broke down on her first trip, and had to be towed home by the very mules she had tried so long to replace. In 1910, Old Dinah was sold to a freighter for use hauling supplies between Beatty and the Keane Wonder Mine. After a couple of years, Dinah broke down in the Daylight Pass and her owner abandoned her in disgust. In 1932, Harry Gower rescued Old Dinah and brought her to her  present location in Furnace Creek.

Friday, 15 September 2017 21:38

The Vicki Hill Report

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Desert Explorers at Large

The Vicki Hill Report

Artist, teacher, desert lover and generally keen observer of things beautiful and rare, intrepid DE “cub reporter” Vicki Hill shared a few of her recent findings. Her son Grey spotted this little guy (see photo of the lizard) a few weeks ago in Wonder Valley. Look close!

And then there was 4th of July in Randsburg. Vicki has always been thin, but this might be taking things just a bit too far...

And finally, from Virginia City, Nevada One of the few female blacksmiths. She built the motorized bike from parts. It gets 75 miles on one tank of gas! (This was what she told me when I visited the other day).         ~ Vicki

Friday, 15 September 2017 20:39

2017 - Trip Report - White Mountains Trip

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White  Mountains Trip

Friday-Sunday, July 21-23, 2017

Leader: Ron Lipari

Text & Photos: Ron

The White Mountains trip took a different turn when several folks who had signed up for the trip ended up not being able to make it at the last minute. Mignon Slentz, Glenn Shaw and John Bell ended up meeting on Thursday, June 20 at 2:30 in Big Pine. The temp in Big Pine was 95 degrees and the group decided that camping at altitude would result in cooler temps! So we headed up to Bishop and up to the 4x4 Buttermilk Road to a campsite (altitude 8,000 feet) that the leader and John had camped at before. The snow and rain last winter really rutted out the road. To quote Glenn, “it was a good test of my new 4x4 truck!” Arriving at camp at 5:00 after at least one wrong turn, we enjoyed a delightfully cool happy hour and evening. Friday morning we decided to stay at this camp site another night, but Mignon suggested we visit fellow long time DE member Allan Schoenherr and his wife Kenna at their home on Bishop Creek near South Lake. Fortunately the Buttermilk Road is a loop and we did not have to back track over the very rough inbound road to get back to Bishop Creek. The creeks in the area are all part of the City of LA water and power system and on our way we passed by the giant intake tube on Bishop Creek. We arrived at Allan’s home and had a wonderful visit with he and Kenna. Leaving Allan and Kenna after inviting them to our Happy Hour that evening, we attempted to lunch below South Lake, but the mosquitoes were relentless, and decided to go back to our bug free camp high in the Buttermilks on Mcgee Creek. We relaxed that afternoon and began Happy Hour early. Mignon received an email from Allan stating that he would have loved to come to Happy Hour with us but his wife had an appointment in Bishop and could not make it. Bob and Sue Jaussand were meeting us Saturday morning to join the trip in Lee Vining. We met up and had a delightful lunch at the Whoa 

Nellie Deli in Lee Vining with a beautiful view of Mono Lake. After lunch we headed up Tioga pass to the Log Cabin Mine, which is also called the Mine in the Sky due to its 9500 foot elevation. We explored the very extensive mine works for over 3 hours as there is much to see. Most interesting was the windlass and the machinery that operated the elevator cables. We all took turns sitting in the operator’s seat and pulling at the levers. Moreover, since the mine was operational for over 80 years, the old original stamp mill and necessary flywheels were pushed off a nearby ledge, but still able to be enjoyed and explored – including an old truck from the 20’s which Bob thoroughly enjoyed! Getting late we left the mine and camped at a hand-hewn log cabin from the late 1800’s and enjoyed a great happy hour and dinner.

The next morning Bob suggested that we explore the area between Lee Vining and Benton and also the area over Montgomery Pass. The first stop was Mono Mills, the saw mill that built Bodie and fed the steam engines of the Standard Mine. Not much is left of the mill but the venue produced by the National Forest rangers was historically informative and contained pictures of the mill and 32-mile railroad that was built from the mill to Bodie in only 6 months in 1872. We then headed for an old ranch to check out some abandoned buildings and a native American cremation site near a very lovely spring. We hiked up the ridge and found several “sleeping circles,” as well as some metate slicks. Very interesting rock formations!! We checked out the abandoned ranch house and looked for Wild Bill Gossett’s signature among the written names… no luck!!

Around noon we headed up to Montgomery pass to find a dirt road that was to lead to the a stamp mill and mine. Following Bob and his GPS we drove quite a distance looking for the mine - climbing up and up and up into the pines. We finally reached some shafts and determined that the structures we were searching for had to be near the many diggings. Mignon and John were the first to hike around to see if they could find any structures through the trees. The rest of us began to eat 

lunch. After eating Bob asked me if I wanted to go search for Mignon. Off we went in the direction she hiked, and soon heard the horn honking and Mignon saying she was back at the cars. Bob and I kept walking on the road and glancing to my right there was the 10 stamp mill we were searching for!! The mill was intact and magnificent. There was also a steam motor that operated an aerial tramway to bring ore to the stamp mill. The date on the stamp mill which was manufactured in San Francisco was 1913. After many picture and lots of ooohs and ahhhs we headed back to Montgomery Pass and down the valley to search for the ghost town of Oneo.ta. Following Bob again we found the road and began the long journey up the canyon to the ghost town. Arriving we found 2 cabins, one of which was well taken care of and was neat clean and usable. Also found was the body of a 1930’s vintage old truck – Bob was hap.py!! Getting late we took a short cut to Deep Springs Valley stopping at Dyer, Neva.da for gas. We arrived at Cot.tonwood Creek to camp next to the flowing stream and un.der the shady cottonwoods. Some of us jumped in the stream immediately to cool down as it was about 90 de.grees. We enjoyed a balmy evening and good comradery. The next morning John and I headed south to Big Pine and Bob, Sue, Glenn and Mignon headed up to Lida to explore more mines and cabins and outhouses in that area!

Everyone had a great time and really enjoyed the trip!! A little different as instead of going up into the White Mountains we circumnavigated them!!          ~ Ron

Sunday, 09 July 2017 08:35

The Quest for White Pocket

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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!

Sunday, 09 July 2017 08:27

Desert Cowboy Man

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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

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