Reports on trips taken in 2018.
Evening Star Mine Trip
By Ken Hemkin
I joined a small group of adventurers, September 8, 2018 to explore various parts of the Mojave National Preserve. The sites to see there are as numerous as the vast expanse of land in the preserve. One of my favorites was the Evening Star Mine.
For me, part of the joy of exploring the desert is the history. I am amazed by what folks back then did with limited resources. The Evening Star Mine is one of the best preserved mines in the MNP with the head frame and rock crushers still in place. The main shaft as well as some of the side shafts are now sealed.
It began life in 1935 as a copper prospect by John Riley Bembry. He was a World War I veteran, a medic in the US Army and also taught soldiers how to use explosives. This skill was put to good use upon arriving in the Ivanpah Mountain Range in the late 1920s. By 1930 Mr. Bembry had nine claims in the area and by the time of his death in 1984, he had placed 56 claims. Mr. Bembry’s contribution to the history of the area is amazing and well deserves its own article.
(Continue to read more, and see photos)
Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes
December 15, 2018
Attending: Bob Jacoby, Bill & Julie Smith, Ron Ross & Nancy Maclean, Neal & Marian Johns, Bob & Sue Jaussaud, Steve Jarvis & Kate Fosselman, Ellen Miller, Nelson & Marie Miller, Daniel Dick & Bobbie Sanchez, Terry & Eileen Ogden, Emmett & Ruth Harder, Steve Marschke & Debbie Miller Marschke, Joan McGovern White, Glenn Shaw, Jerry & Dolly Dupree, Jay Lawrence, Mignon Slentz, Allan & Ding Wicker, Vicki Hill & Dave McFarland, Anne Stoll, Ken Searer, Danny & Norma Siler, Axel Heller, Genmarie Wentworth, Anne Yibing Bai, Bill Neill & Gwen Albright.
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History of Techatticup Mine
Located down at Nelson in the arid Nevada hills south of Boulder City, the Techatticup Mine once spat out enough gold and silver to inspire murder, treachery, and claim-jumping. Now it has been restored and is partially open to visitors looking to take a tour through the rocky but, luckily, bloodless tunnels.
While the thick veins of precious metals were discovered in the hills of what is now Nelson, Nevada by Spanish explorers in the 1700s, digging did not begin in earnest until around a hundred years later in one of the largest mining booms in the state history.
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Rattlesnake Canyon - Mines, Cabins & Springs
Saturday, December 8, 2018 • Trip Report by Jean Hansen
Our group gathered at 9:00 a.m. at the Lucerne Valley Market for the start of the trip. Trip participants were Nelson Miller, Jean & Sunny Hansen, David Mott, Dave Burdick, Dean Linder, Marian & Neal Johns, Janet & Pete Austin, Beth Mika, Jim Watson, Linda Stevens, Gary Hilder and Don Zarzana. There was some concern about the state of the roads in Rattlesnake Canyon due to rain the previous few days, but Nelson Miller, our fearless leader, made the executive decision to proceed as planned, with one change; instead of going out via Baldwin Lake, we would exit via Pioneer Town in Yucca Valley.
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Living Desert, Eagle Mountain Railroad Trestle, Bradshaw Trail, Whitewater Nature Preserve & Mission Creek Fault Lines
December 11-12, 2018
Leaders: Jerry & Dolly Dupree
We were hoping more of our members would be going on this trip. We had originally signed up five vehicles, but four backed out. The trip was attended by Jerry and Dolly Dupree, Peter and Janet Austin. It turned out to be fantastic weather and a perfect trip. The timing went on schedule and we saw and did everything we wanted to.
We met at the Living Desert in Palm Desert and walked to many of the exhibits and then found we could ride the tram and get off anywhere and take another tram which are at 20 minute intervals. They have an amazing array of animals from every continent, specializing in desert environments.
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Anne & George Stoll Explore Brazil
I have wonderful shots of birds, flowers, rock art, and other fabulous Brazilian wonders to share with you – so what do I pick to show you first? CABYBARAS. What can I say? They are just such excellent creatures. We saw lots of them, despite the fact that they one of the jaguar’s favorite foods. They’re maybe the size of a pig but actually a relative of a rodent. On the river in the Pantanal, they feel safest in water and spend a lot of time there – but when it’s safe they also do OK on land. They have partially webbed toes, good fur, funny little slit eyes and don’t say much – sometimes a little bark, but thats it.
Lower left: an early-morning grooming session. Note the black bird sitting on this upturned Cabybara? Well, it’s picking bugs out of the delighted creature’s fur. The bird lights on the standing Cabybara and soon it lies down and rolls over – what did the bird say? – and next thing, the capybara is stretching its silly feet out in pure bliss. How can you not love cabybaras?
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Mountain Pass Mine
Although this news flash from the East Mojave COULD have come from a paper like the San Francisco Call a hundred years ago, this news is hot off the presses from today’s (11/30) Wall Street Journal, page 3, front section (I’m paraphrasing their observations):
There are new developments at the former Moly Mine up in Mountain Pass – that big one we’ve all driven past a bazillion times on I-15 from Baker to Vegas. Under the headline “Tariffs Scorch ‚ÄòRare Earth’ Mine” we learned today that the Trump Administration’s trade tariffs with China have put the newly reopened Mountain Pass rare-earth mine between – wait for it – a rock and hard place. It appears 40-year-old majority owner James Litinsky of Chicago hedge-fund JHL Capital Group, which owns a 65% stake in MP Materials, is struggling to make what should have been a juicy profit from the property, the only current source of rare earths in the entire U.S. Litinsky et al pumped a pile of dough into the mine – a total of $200 million -- to buy it out of bankruptcy and get it running about a year ago. He was certain that demand for such rare ores as europium (makes your monitor see red) would be red hot and when the Administration states that “a lack of domestic rare-earth supplies undermines a competitive modern economy and strong military,” this mine had to look like a sure bet. But get this – while there is plenty of Bastnasite, there’s no way to refine it here. The ore was being shipped to – where else? – China for processing. But now with Washington’s 25% import tariff and China’s 25% retaliation tariff, the ore is getting hit going both ways, making it unprofitable. It takes Big Money, Litinsky says, to finance the expansion and upgrades required to refine the ore here. It’s clearly a tough sell. Furthermore, refining rare earths takes “massive amounts of water” which becomes contaminated in the process so we’re back to the unresolved environmental issues. Meanwhile there is a workforce of about 200 up there mining now, but for how long? Hope it’s not a black Christmas at the Mountain Pass Mine ~ Anne Stoll
San Andreas Fault Line - Moving Geyser
December 12-13, 2018 Trip
by Jerry Dupree
The San Andreas fault is very active and is constantly moving at about 1 1/2” to 2 1/2” inches per year. We live about 6 miles from the San Andreas and about 10 miles from the San Jacinto fault. The San Andreas fault divides at about Thousand Palms Nature Preserve into the Mission Creek fault which runs through Desert Hot Springs and the San Andreas fault which continues northwesterly until it goes under the ocean north of San Francisco.
I read an article online about a geyser near Niland by the Salton Sea that is moving at an alarming rate. It has moved 150 feet since April and the Southern Pacific Railroad has built a new track ahead of it and dug down 70 feet to install a steel dam to try stopping it. It didn’t work and the geyser continues to work itself toward the Salton Sea which is about 1/4 mile away. The geyser is also threatening State Highway 111. The area is full of springs and forms swamps and mud bogs. It is the water source for the waterfowl reserve across the highway and is a vital location of the Pacific flyway for several species of migratory water fowl feeding and nesting.
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East Mojave Heritage Trail #3
Leader: Nelson Miller
We gathered in Baker with eleven vehicles to start the trip, including: Mignon Slentz, Bruce Barnett, Dave Hess, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Ken Eltrich, Vicki Hill and Dave McFarland, Ron Lipari, Mike Vollmert, Jim Watson, Marian and Neal Johns, and Leonard Friedman. Right across Baker Blvd. from the Shell Station where we met, you can still see the old T&T Railroad berm with small bridge abutments. We will touch the T&T again on this trip.
Our first stop was the dry, lava falls, which are actually a part of the East Mojave Heritage Trail #2, but I always them find particularly scenic, not to mention providing nice shade on a sunny day. From there, we headed to Rocky Ridge, the start of East Mojave Heritage Trail #3. It is a short walk from the powerline road to actual rocky ridge where they took wagons down. You can pretty clearly still see the wagon route. It is always amazing to me that anyone ever took wagons down this way, but Steve Marschke has told me there is a spring near the bottom, so that would account for using this route.
A short side trip from the East Mojave Heritage Trail took us to Sands, an old railroad siding. Along the way there we passed over a piece an old plank road. At Sands, the large engine and pump that used to be there have been removed and there was a fair amount of flood damage that has blocked access to the pump house.
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Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes
September 29, 2018 Attending: Axel Heller, Bob & Sue Jaussaud, Ruth & Emmett Harder, Steve Marschke & Debbie Miller-Marschke, Lindsay Woods, Terry Ogden, Allan & Ding Wicker, Jerry Dupree, Neal & Marian Johns, Tracy Wood, Bob Jacoby, Jay Lawrence
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Gettin’ My Kicks on Route 66 in Arizona
by Axel Heller
I pre-ran the proposed trip of Route 66 through Arizona in October, anticipating that it will be near the end of April as a DE trip, three to four days.
I have highlighted exits along I-40, for sights to see. Of course there are many more attractions of Route 66, where I followed as many alignments that I could locate. I-40 did not “pave” over Route 66, but followed it for a lot of the distance. Since everybody is in a hurry these days, they made a straighter road with less elevation gain/loss and FASTER (75 MPH). Business loops, that were 66 roadbeds, became the norm for many cities and they tried to capitalize on that. Alas, many towns became ghost towns, like Two Guns and Twin Arrows, even though there were off-ramps to them. Other towns were completely bypassed, like the fictitious town of Radiator Springs (Cars movie by Pixar), but I did find that particular town (or claimant to the title) in my journey. You’ll have to sign up for the trip to find it, with all of the old cars.
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Global 4-wheeling and Rock Art
By Anne & George Stoll
Just back (10-2018) from another rock art exploration in Brazil, this time involving some serious 4-wheeling that might bring a DE smile. It’s all Bob Jaussaud’s fault, actually – he’s the one that insisted we see Iguassu Falls in 2010, our first intro to this remarkable country. This time we made it into a few more remote spots in northeastern Brazil thanks to our English-speaking guide Filipe, a most amazing Brazilian many-time off-road rally driver, Sabiá, and a classic lady, a very dark green vintage turbo-diesel Land Rover Defender.
Wish I had a buck for every guy that offered to buy this car as we traveled through the Brazilian countryside! Between the Defender and our white hairs and dark glasses, we had people staring at us everywhere, which made it all that much more fun. Sabiá and that Defender did quite well with the two-lane “highways” in the back country, passing huge trucks with ease. But what that pair could do off-road was the really fun part.
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The Vermillion Cliffs
By Mignon Slentz
Early October, Mal Roode, Chris Dulk (from Germany) and myself journeyed to Paria, Utah to explore the Grand Wash Overlook area. Rain the previous couple days and reports of slick dirt roads and high water crossings led us instead to the Vermillion Cliffs region off Houserock Road which runs between 89 in Utah and 89A in Arizona and where you can access the well known “Wave” hike. The normally deep sandy roads had been compressed with the recent rain and were a delight to drive on. We camped at Pinnacle Valley, visited Big Pockets and discovered Ed Laws’ 1911 signature. Joe’s Ranch had several intact buildings and the two natural ponds nearby were full, making it an ideal setting. We hiked up a cliff to find foundations of Indian structures, a great view and good cell service. Other stops led us to pictographs on a rock wall, more ranches and additional signatures.
The whole area is made up of fantastic geological formations resembling a myriad of toadstools, hoodoos and other apparitions. Rain was forecast again and Chris’ Jeep was making noises so we scurried back to Paria for the last rainy night. ~ Mignon
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