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
(click Read more to see the photos)
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.
(click Read more for the rest of the story and photos)
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
(click Read More to see the photos)
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.
(click Read more for the rest of the story and photos)
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
(click Read more to see more photos)
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.
(click Read more for rest of the story and the photos)
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!
(click Read more for the rest of the story and photos)
A Day in the Desert: Encounter on Ghost Mountain
by Vicki Hill
Most of you are familiar with Desert Magazine, published since 1937. One of their most famous writers was Marshall South. Over the years, he wrote 102 articles and poems for the magazine. His articles, essays and poems were published in many other magazines across the nation.He wrote with passion about the desert. He felt that one needed to surround oneself with silence, peace, harmony and nature, and he valued freedom and creativity.
He was an artist, as well as writer.
He and his wife, Tanya, did not want to be slaves to making money.
One of his interests was in native people, natural foods, and archaeology.
Being a non conformist, he and his wife decided to build a house in the desert and experiment with living naturally.
They built an adobe house on top of Ghost Mountain, which is now part of Anza Borrego State Park. At the time it was managed by the BLM.
They raised a family there from 1930-1947. Their three children were born in Oceanside. Tanya spent her last month of pregnancy there, but then they went to live on top of the mountain with sweeping views of Blair Valley on one side and the Vallecito wash on the other.
They lived simply, became nudists, ate natural foods, and he wrote articles from there. The trail to their home is one mile up a steep slope. Everything had to be carried, including water when there wasn’t enough rain.
(click Read more for the rest of the story)
by Mignon Slentz
Several DE members, former members and non- members met at The Big Water Visitors Center on Highway 89 and were treated to a preview of a dinosaur skull and mural display. Many of the bones were discovered within 30 miles of the Center.
After gassing up we headed up the Smokey Mountain Rd., toward Kelly’s Grade which is pretty steep with great views. The group included- Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Glenn Shaw, Mal Roode, Mike Vollmert, Ron Lipari, Ken Searer, Shane Somers, Benny Hill, Jenny Jahraus and Mignon Slentz.
At the top we stopped to look at several smoking seams in the earth that have been burning for hundreds of years from a lightning strike.
In the afternoon we parked and hiked to Top Collet Arch which is a natural arch on top of an ancient granary. We could even see fingerprints in the mud mortar. We lost Ron walking back to our cars but as Neal Johns says, “ a 10 % loss is acceptable.” We made camp nearby and enjoyed the cooler temps.
(click Read More for the rest of the story and photos)
Bristlecone Pines White Mountains Trip
August 6-10, 2016 • By Ron Lipari
The trip began on August 6 where the participants met at the Country Kitchen in Big Pine at 10:00 a.m. The participants included Ron Lipari, Mike Vollmert, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Mal Roode, Mignon Slentz, Vicki Hill, Glenn Shaw, and Sunny and Jean Hansen. Neal and Marion Johns were signed up for the trip but called on Thursday stating that their pop up camper had detached from the bed of their Toyota and had to be repaired… they were missed!! Ken Sears was also at the Country Kitchen, but was traveling home and was there to say Hi! Great seeing Ken.
Upon leaving Big Pine, we quickly began our climb out of the Owen’s Valley up Westgard pass turning left at the road to the Bristlecone pine forest. We stopped at the Schulman grove to take pictures and look at the ancient pine trees. The weather was cool and pleasant, and the new forest service visitors center was exceptionally nice. I remember the old visitors center as an aluminum covered trailer!! The new building is wonderful.
Next we loaded up the vehicles and drove the 4x4 road to cottonwood creek. Many of us who have been down the road before remarked that the road was in very good shape compared to previous years. The afternoon and evening were spent in a beautiful meadow next to the stream! Some of us took a hike down the stream to enjoy the meadows and wildflowers. Happy hour was upon us and a wonderful dinner was prepared and enjoyed. The campfire was inviting as the night grew cold at almost 9,000 feet. The sun ushered in the next day, and the temps grew warmer.
Climbing out of cottonwood creek, the group traveled down Wyman Canyon. We stopped at a mining camp, that included a cabin and some kind of smelting oven. We also stopped at a cowboy camp that was part of Deep Springs College. Very interesting. At the bottom of the canyon we reached the site of White Mountain city where a smelting smoke stack still stands, and petroglyphs are found along the stream.
The next destination determined by the group was to visit the mining ghost town of Sylvania. As we traveled highway 266 we quickly found the dirt road into the town. Leading the group equipped with GPS and 1953 topos included Bob and Mal. However, the desert in the general area had been hit hard by thunderstorms and flash floods - the same floods that have closed Grapevine canyon to Scottys castle. The group was stopped as the road moved into a sand wash that was severely washed out and full of rocks. It was decided to go back to a camping spot at the base of the White Mountains on Cottonwood Creek. The location is beautiful and shaded by numerous cottonwood trees, The weather was much warmer, but in the shade of the trees and the delightful stream made the campsite magical.
The next morning we traveled up Highway 266 to Dyer to get gas. Then backtracked towards Palmetto to check out an old stage stop and to approach the mining ghost town of Sylvania from the north. After checking out some old inscriptions at the stage stop we made our way off road to Sylvania. This mining town was worked in the 70’s, and the workers were known by Wild Bill Gossett, who visited this town in the 70’s. There are numerous buildings, vintage cars and trucks (circa 40’s and 50’s), mining equipment, and lots of old stuff to check out. To quote Mike, “It is the best mining ghost town he has ever seen next to Bodie.”
Leaving Sylvania we retraced our steps and traveled to Hanging Mesa to check out some petroglyphs, but also to find a camp at altitude for cooler temps. We camped in a pinyon pine forest and enjoyed a pleasant evening. The next morning we headed for the ghost town of Gold point. We stopped at the closed bar and walked around to enjoy the various old buildings and artifacts. After about 15 minutes the caretaker (friendly guy packing a 45!) arrived and opened the bar for us to check out. All of the drinks in this old bar are free - but, they do take donations. Mike and Bob competed in a game of shuffleboard - I think Bob won, but it is worth noting that the friction less game was produced with the use of sand!!! After spending some time talking with the caretaker, and picking his brain as to what to visit, it was decided, after looking at an old map, to go to the ghost towns of Old Camp and Stateline with a visit to the Treasure mine. The group, with Bob, Mal, Sunny and Jean using their GPS and 1953 topos on their tablets and phone, were led to an area with numerous mining adits and old building foundations. The first place we visited was Old Camp. There were dilapidated buildings, stone foundations and old stuff laying around. Mal found an old arrastra that was interesting. Lots of evidence of cattle ranching was everywhere. The next location to visit was the Treasure Mine. This mine had a large spray painted sign in front that stated, “Theives Beware, We have no morgue.” We entered the mine that included rails for ore carts, and went in about 100 yards or so. It was very interesting and well preserved.
The next location to visit was the large mining area of Stateline. We drove to the well preserved cabin and stayed a while. Also in the area were head frames, adits, and some small outbuildings. Then the group traveled to a higher altitude to check out some other mining areas, and finally ended up in the pinyon pine forest just above Devils Gate road into Highway 95. We camped in the pines and enjoyed a nice happy hour and campfire. The next morning we drove down Devils Gate road and to highway 95 where the trip ended. After our goodbyes, folks traveled home, after a fabulous experience in the desert!
~ Ron Lipari