North to Alaska
June 21 - 26, 2015
The return trip from the Arctic Ocean was by van, with most of the gravel road within sight of the pipeline, then an overnight stop in Coldfoot, AK.
I had thought the pipeline was as straight as possible, but it has lots of curves to allow for expansion. At each support, the pipe is free to move side to side on teflon bearings, and the curves allow that.
I left LAX at 7pm, and we flew into darkness, then on the NW course to Anchorage, the sun rose again in the west. Of course, at Deadhorse it was all sun all the time. A great, fun trip.
April 24 - May 6, 2015
by Anne & George Stoll
This was our third trip in as many years to this amazing country. In a short ten days we saw and learned so much, and although the long hours on an airplane seem to get harder with each trip, we came home invigorated and excited by what we discovered – so much so that I quickly became involved in an international effort to get the Zimbabweans some help with protection of their archaeological sites. This help is urgently needed – the country has been ravaged by the years of fighting and political upheaval. Though it’s calm there currently, their archaeological sites have been sadly neglected and some rock art sites have been damaged and vandalized. Trying to help with this has meant lots of email and assorted consultations – and while we still want to be supportive, I’m now trying to back away from writing proposals and the like in order to focus on what we saw and more upcoming travel. So before I forget how wonderful Zimbabwe was, let me share just a bit of it with you. We were accompanied by our two Shona friends and guides, brothers Willard and Farai Nyambiya (pictured with George below). We traveled east from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, into the countryside and for days never saw a white face. People everywhere were friendly and polite and many speak English which is taught in school from an early age. The U.S. dollar is the official currency in Zimbabwe, and our crisp greenbacks were much appreciated. In the countryside, food is quite cheap and fresh and as this was harvest season, people with extra to sell sat along the highway with heaping bowls and buckets of fruits and veggies for sale. We stayed in two decent motels with good plumbing for $60 a night each and were happy for the rooms, as we needed electricity to recharge camera batteries. The whole country lost power for a day while we were there. It apparently happens a lot. These people (below) are harvesting peanuts – pulling them off the green plant and letting them dry in the sun. The round house in the back is the kitchen (above) with interior walls plastered with dung, water in buckets and highly polished floor. The cooking hearth was in the floor just out of sight. People used to grow a lot of tobacco but the old brick drying barns are not much used now. We drank a lot of mahewu – hard to describe the taste but it’s delicious and very nutritious. It’s a thick liquid made from slightly fermented “mealie pap” (corn meal) and was often our lunch while on the road.
Intaglios, Petroglyphs and Coolgardie Mining District
Saturday, June 6
Leader: Nelson Miller
Once again Pat Schoffstall generously opened the Mojave River Valley Museum in Barstow for us as we gathered for our trip on June 6. Ten of us set off, including, Daniel Dick and Bobbie Sanchez, Fredrick Raab, Richard and Jo Pope, Peter and Janet Austin, Mal Roode, and Bernard Masson, who joined us from Meuse, France. Apparently Bernard overheard Allan Wicker and Janet Austin discussing our trips when Janet was conducting a tour at the Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, and was very interested. Janet invited him along. Mal Roode agreed to be sweep and as usual did an excellent job.
We took Highway 58 to Hinkley Road and north on Hinkley Road toward Opal Mountain. The saga told in the film Erin Brockovich regarding the contamination of the local aquifer continues and Hinkley is increasingly abandoned. The elementary school closed last year and the market and gas station closed this Spring. There are fewer and fewer people living in Hinkley, such that is almost deserted.
We first stopped at Opal Mountain Spring which was as constructed like a guzzler for small animals, but was bone dry. We also took a look at one of the over 2800 automated environmental monitoring stations in the western United States. You can download the daily, hourly data from these stations at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/wrh/faq/mesowestfaq.php.
We moved on to take a look at another one of those mysterious sites described by Bill Mann, the Opal Mountain Circles. We searched for the small triangle he described, but instead found another circle, see photos. As Bill Mann indicates, these are different from “sleeping circles, somewhat larger and enclosed with rocks.
From these circles, we proceeded to Coyote Gulch, another site described by Bill Mann, with a number of very nice petroglyph panels as well as some historical initials from later periods. Coyote Gulch is on the far eastern edge of the Black Mountain area, where over 10,000 petroglyphs have been recorded.
Next stop was the main historical Coolgardie Mining Camp. The Coolgardie District was spread over several square miles. The miners primarily used dry-washing techniques to mine placer gold in this area with the primary activity from 1900 to 1910, however activity continues to this day and we saw a number of people dry washing claims while we drove through this area. Several buildings remain, which appear to date perhaps from the 1950’s. Around Coolgardie Camp are a large number of narrow, vertical shafts going down 75 to 100 feet, in most cases uncovered, or covered with plywood.
From Coolgardie Camp we headed for another Bill Mann site, which has a “Spanish-style double arrastra”. I suspect this dates from the Coolgardie era, but unfortunately it was filled with trash. I have seen a similar, although larger, double arrastra near Kane Springs in the Roman Mountains, south of Newberry Springs.
(click Read More for the story and photos)
Ryan Camp Trip
May 19/20, 2015
Leaders- Emmett & Ruth Harder
We were excited to be going to the Ryan Camp. It was a very large and well preserved facility that had been the paramount mine for the US Borax Company where for years they had mined Colemanite, a Borax ore. After they developed other mines they converted the facility into a tourist Mecca, which lasted for a short few years. After that was discontinued they still maintained the large camp with resident caretakers. The Rio Tinto Corporation donated the property to the Death Valley Conservancy (This was finalized in April, 2013). The restoration and preservation of Ryan Camp is made possible by generous donations from Rio Tinto and U.S. Borax.
We had been invited as a small group to tour the Camp, guided by the current restorers and caretakers, Scott Smith and his wife, Dr. Jessica Smith RPA, who is Director of Archeology Ryan Operations.
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Leaders: Emmett & Ruth Harder
May 19 & 20, 2015
by Steve Jarvis
This trip was amazing! Touring the camp was like entering a time capsule. Over the years since it became a ghost camp, very little vandalism or destruction had taken place due to constant protection by various caretakers. Most of the original Pacific Coast Borax Company buildings and much of the contents is still there, giving us the feeling that we were walking back in time. We didn’t know what to expect before we got there, but thanks to the efforts of Emmett and Ruth Harder, our guide Scott Smith and his anthropologist wife, Dr. Jessica Smith, our visit was truly memorable. Scott is doing a meticulous job of restoring the buildings and points of interest while Dr. Jessica is doing a detailed site survey and the historical research. Together they are working to get Ryan Camp recognized as a National Historic Site. I have no doubt they will be successful.
by Bob and Sue Jaussaud
May16 - 22, 2015
We used the Mohave River Valley Museum's barbecue on May 16 as the kickoff for our PrePost Ryan adventure. It appeared that everyone at the barbecue had a wonderful time and enjoyed some tasty eats. I know we did. Thanks to all the museum folks for putting this event on.
Saturday afternoon, with good feelings and very full stomachs, our little group headed north to start the Pre part of our Ryan adventure. Since the weather was unseasonably cool, we decided to stay at lower elevations. Saturday night we camped by a small stream in the Sierra foothills south of Olancha. Nelson and Ellen fixed a very savory salad for Mignon, Sue and I.
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Leader: Bob Jacoby
May 2, 2015
Over the years the Desert Explorers have had great trips to interesting places all over California and the entire Southwest. On every one of these trips you could be sure that one or more DE members had been to the area before. That is why the Tejon Ranch trip on May 2 was so unique. No Desert Explorer had been there before and no one else had either with the exception of individuals working for the Tejon Ranch.
The following individuals arrived at the Tejon Ranch Conservancy headquarters in Lebec on a sunny Saturday morning for this very unusual adventure: Bob Jacoby, Nan Savage-Healy, Ted Kalil, Alan Wicker, Fredic Raab, Mignon Slentz. Glenn Shaw, Leonard Friedman, Ron and Barbara Mildowski, Danny and Norma Siler, Randy Mathews, Nelson Miller, Mike Volmart, Ron Lipari and Mal Roode.
(click Read more for story and photos)
Traversing the Great Western Trail
|It already felt like mid-summer in southern Arizona as a group of ten Desert Explorers met near Cave Creel. Arizona to begin an adventure along theArizona portion of The Great Western Trail (GWT). This hardy group included Yours Truly, Ellen and Nelson Miller, Richard Brazier, “Coop” Cooper and his dog Toby, Marian and Neal Johns, Bill and Julie Smith from relatively nearby Flagstaff, and new member Bill Powell who came all the way from Oregon. This gung ho group gathered together on the morning of Friday March 10 near Cave Creek, Arizona to begin this very interesting trek.|
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Mazourka Canyon Trip Report
April 4, 2015
|Attending: Bill and Julie Smith, Ted and Joan Berger; Louis Valencia; Nancy Maclean; Ron Ross; Terry and Eileen Ogden; Homer Meek; Peter and Janet Austin; Marian and Neal Johns; Nan Healy; Graham “Coop” Cooper; Deborah Nakamoto; June Box; Bruce Barnett; and Sue and me.|
The Plan: A drive up Mazourka Canyon to Mazourka Peak and out to the Big Pine Road, back to Big Pine and then home to Boulder Creek. If time and participants allowed, a side trip to the Reward Mine. It was expected we’d be back by 3 or 4pm, time enough to clean up and head for the activities. The trail was anticipated to be easy and we could make any stops along the way that were of interest.
(click Read More for story and Photos)
Rondy Trip Report
Saturday, April 4
By: Steve Jarvis
|First of all I want to thank Bob Jacoby, Emmett and Ruth Harder and everyone who went on our trip for helping me succeed on my first attempt at leading a DE trip. Thank you!|
Nineteen explorers in eleven vehicles left the Boulder Creek RV Park pretty much on time at 9am. It was a pretty morning perfect for a little DE adventure into the Inyo Mountains. The group headed for Hwy 136, an easy 13-mile drive to the turnoff at Keeler. I fumbled a little at first trying to get the hang of using my new CB radio but with Emmett and Ruth Harder in the sweep position backing me up on the CB, things went pretty smoothly.
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Coso Mountains Inbound Trip
It was with anticipation of a great Rondy weekend that a group of ten Desert Explorers met on Friday morning, April 3, at Red Mountain near the south end of the Owens Valley. The participants included Bob Jacoby and Richard Brazier, Janet Austin and her friend, Fredric Raab and Maggie Clark, Daniel Dick and Bobbie Sanchez, Ron and Barbara Mildowski, June Box, and Debbie Nakamoto.
This group which consisted of seven cars was soon off for their first adventure of a busy weekend. The Coso Mountains are at the southern end of the Owens Valley on the east side of Hiway 395. Much of the Coso Range is, unfortunately, not accessible, as it is within the boundaries of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station. But on this trip we were determined to completely explore the area that is still available to the public.
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Two Day Rondy 2015 Inbound
|The folks on the two-day inbound trip met at the Barstow Harvey House bright and early Thursday morning. After the greetings and hugs, we headed out in the wrong direction and were immediately lost. Seems the leader’s GPS had decided to keep all the trip waypoints in some secret, unreadable cache. We were back in the dark ages, leading with a compass and a topo.|
After tossing the GPS out the window (not really, just metaphorically) we somehow managed to work our way out of Barstow in the right direction. Several wrong turns later, we actually found our first site, the elusive XB-70 crash site in the middle of nowhere. If you can choose between being good or lucky, definitely choose to be lucky. Our luck did improve and we managed to visit a rock house, an old mining camp complete with arrastra, two springs, an abandoned ranch, an abandoned airfield, a couple of rock tanks and Coolgardie. Our last stop for the day was for a group photo perched in an abandoned sailboat, again in the middle of no where. We camped Thursday night at a pretty little site near Black Canyon. Many thanks to the campers, and especially Ron Lipari, for a wonderful happy hour and potluck.
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