The “New Guy” Chimes In
by Ed Jack KM6NTV
Greetings from the new guy. I’m sitting here in my home office in Thousand Oaks reflecting. At the start of the year I was excited about my new membership with the Desert Explorers. There were grand visions of tooling around on old desert tracks and learning as much as I could about this amazing landscape we live in and around. Little did I know the impact a global pandemic could have.
On March 19th, 2020 I found myself camped just west of the Salton Sea with my buddy Pat. He’s also a new member to the club. We were ready to meet another group of explorers on the other side of the lake/sea and explore east along the Bradshaw Trail over to Blythe and the Colorado River. Things were getting complicated as the governor had just shut down the state. After a bit of deliberating we decided to roll on. Where better to social distance?
According to the BLM website: “The first road across Riverside County to the Colorado River was blazed by William Bradshaw in 1862 as an overland stage route. Beginning in San Bernardino, the trail was used extensively between 1862 and 1877 to haul miners and other passengers to the gold fields at La Paz, Arizona (now Ehrenberg). The Bradshaw Trail is a 70-mile dirt road, periodically graded by the Riverside County Transportation Department. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended due to stretches of soft sand. The trail traverses mostly public land, and offers spectacular views of the Chuckwalla Bench and the Orocopia, Chuckwalla and Mule Mountains. The Bradshaw Trail National Backcountry Byway is administered by BLM’s Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office.”
From the Salton Sea side the start of the trail is several miles of washboard. This resulted in a field repair for a lost hanger bolt on one of the Jeeps (repurposed a small piece of round stock). Another Jeep broke a brake line and unfortunately couldn’t be repaired. After a worthy try that vehicle turned around and limped back to Mecca with another vehicle (for safety). We saw several small side-by-sides zooming around the west end of the trail.
Once the washboard ended the desert came alive. It always amazes me to see the life that can spring fourth out of the desert. I gained a new perspective of the tortoise and the hare. An amazing little orchid growing out of a pile of rocks in a dried up wash. There are beautiful vistas if you are willing to climb out of the vehicle and walk a little. A beautiful moth that wanted to hitch a ride.
The trip east of the washboards was fairly smooth with no more mechanical failures. We stopped to check out a couple of old mining operations and spent two nights in the fresh desert air. All in all a nice place to spend a quiet weekend away from the rif-raff. ~ Ed