Southern Death Valley
Led by Ken and Diane Sears
October 9 & 10, 1999
Trip report and photos by John Page
The first week of October, 1999, was the hottest on record, with local temperatures in the 100+ range, so a weekend in southern Death Valley with the Sears and some other nice people seemed like the perfect thing to do.
We met at the Mad Greek’s parking lot in Baker where I just barely had time to inhale a honey-sweet baklava. Ken and Diane Sears, with dog Ben, were the leaders, I was the sweep, and the other participants were Joe Daly, Allan Wicker and Ding Elnar, Bob Younger (aka “Ford Bob”), Joan McGovern-White, and Bob Meador (aka “Isuzu Bob”) who we met later on up the road.
Ken announced early-on that he’d been to Ballarat the week before and had been told that Goler Wash (aka Coyote Canyon Road) was washed out and impassable without winches and lockers; we would therefore have to forego the transit through the Panamints from Death Valley to Panamint Valley.
Our first stop was at Sheep Creek Spring, where we checked out the cabin and the remains of the talc mining operation. Joe’s Blazer didn’t like the climb in high range and puked radiator fluid in the parking area. A little rest and use of low range seemed to satisfy the car, although it was never really happy at any time in the trip. Lost vacuum or something like that.
(click Read More, below, to continue reading)
The Lost Tribe Mini Trip Report
written by Neal Johns
Most photos by John Page, but some by Marian Johns, Marilyn Martin, and Virginia Hammerness
Copper Canyon again? Seems like we were just there, but I guess it has been over three years! You would think it would get easier each time, but it must be like childbirth; you forget the pain after a while. This time I will remember the pain for a long, long time. It wasn’t the people, they were great, but the gods seemed to snow on me (euphemism). Seven vehicles (Charles and Mary Hughes, John Page/Paul Ferry, Virginia Hammerness/Pat Loomis, Warren Alksnis, Ann Marie Nelson/Bill Turpin, Bob and Marilyn Martin and the Johns) met in Tucson where, to my horror, AAA would not process the border crossing paperwork as in past years. Then Warren got lost in the restaurant (thus The Lost Tribe name), and I started to get that funny feeling about things. Was this trip going to be like the task of herding cats? Short answer: Yes.
(click below to read more [there is 1 more related article], and see the photo gallery)
Anza-Borrego Loop Trip, April 17 & 18, 1999
by John Page
Photos by Allan Wicker
The Christmas Circle gang pulled out a few minutes after 8 o’clock. They were Mike and Phyllis Aguilar, Lou and Sophie Vener, Allan Wicker, John and Nancy Hoopes, Reda Anderson, Matt and Raquel Westlake, Rob Tugend and John Schmidt, led by John Page and Paul Ferry and with Carol and George Gilster in the sweep position. At the Banner Store we picked up the San Diego gang, consisting of Reena Deutsch and Beverly Ingram, Ron and Linda Lewis, and John Bortz.
(click below to read more, and to see the photo gallery)
Quartzsite January 20 & 26 2011 By Jeannie Jacobs
Jim and Jeannie Jacobs arrived on 1/17 and picked an open area to camp that would accomadate 10 units or more. Dick and Connie Taylor with Sassie arrived on the 19th, as well as Doug and Nancy Nunn with Tyler, Max and Kiva, and Steve and Wendy Mathisen with Daisy. On 1/20, Dan and Jan Messersmith with Buddy arrived. On 1/21, Carl and Nancy Noah and Mal and Jean Roode arrived. Bob and Shirley Bolin arrived. Charles and Mary Hughes arrived on the 23rd. Our first trip led by Dick was to Castle Rock Dome with Dan as sweep. Homer Weeks and Lou Valencia drove in from Blythe and joined us that day. We drove approximately 116 miles, and was Delighted with everything we saw. There was a nice stop at the visitor area with maps of the area. We toured the Castle Dome Miners Museum, which turned out to be a wonderful experience. The Buildings were kept up very well with a lot of work and refurbishing/or possibly moved in. There Was tons of memorabilia to see, and all well preserved. It was well worth the stop. Dick and Connie picked a really nice lunch spot, and we were being watched by a big horn sheep. Jim also picked out A really big ground squirrel????? We then traveled back to camp with some spectacular scenery along the way.
Just a few photos taken by Allan Wicker at the DE meeting in the Wicker residence on Saturday, August 3, 2013.
You really ought to come to the next DE meeting!
Overhead quote of the day: Neal Johns "I've got to learn to work on my serious face..."
(click Read More for gallery)
San Bernardino Mountains
August 23 - 25, 2013 written by leader Ted Kalil
It started on Friday, August 23rd. The meeting spot was Yellow Post 4 on 1N02 where I was joined by Neal and Marian Johns, Mignon Slentz, and Mal Roode. All had difficulty finding the spot and I was accused (by Neal, of course) of providing the worst instructions ever. My response was that they hadn’t read them completely. Oh, well, they all got there.
Saturday morning we went to the Angelus Oaks restaurant for a great breakfast and were later joined by Nelson Miller, Rick and Sharon Cords, and Terry Ogden. From there we went down Middle Control Road to its bottom at the Santa Ana River, and then up 1N54, Clark’s Grade, for a short distance before turning on 1N04, the Converse Trail. When we reached Converse Station we proceeded up 2N06, the Radford Truck Trail, climbing up to 2N10, the Skyline Trail above Big Bear. Following that down to the Moonridge area, we went on to Big Bear Lake to top off our fuel tanks. Traffic in Big Bear was extremely heavy, possibly due to an Air Show being held. We saw several planes and a helicopter flying around.
EAST MOJAVE GEOLOGY TOUR - March 2, 2013 written by trip Leader Bill Neill
From Baker, 6 vehicles drove about 170 miles through and bordering Mojave National Preserve, and viewed five rock types that represent the geological history of the East Mojave. Besides my wife Gwenn, participants were: Bob Jacoby; Steve & Debbie Marschke; Bruce Barnett and family; Terry Ogden; Gary Preston; Bob Peltzman & Anne Landon. While heading south on Kelbaker Road, our first stop was at the toe of a basalt sheet that flowed as molten lava down from the cinder cones. The basalt is the youngest volcanic rock in the East Mojave, around 10,000 years old, and it rests on the oldest formation in the desert, metamorphic granitic rock called gneiss that’s about 1.4 billion years old.The older rock forms the ancient “Precambrian basement” of North America, extending from the San Gabriel Mountains eastward and northeastward across the continent to the Appalachian Mountains and Canadian Shield.
East Side Inbound: Turquoise Mountain Loop, written by leaders Bob & Sue Jaussaud
March 1, 2013
This part of the desert has everything we love: unbeatable scenery to enjoy, lots of history to ponder, old roads to drive on, and mining ruins and cabins to explore. Add a whole bunch of Desert Explorers to share it all with, and you've got the perfect combination for a sunny, breezy Friday in March.
Our first stop was a small group of petroglyphs on a low, dark hill nearby. We saw only a few of the glyphs, which were inventoried by archaeologist Wilson Turner years ago. (An instructor at Rio Hondo College, it was Turner who sparked our first interest in rock art in the 1970's.) Halloran Springs tank, with its resident gold fish, and the boarded-over spring close by, were next on our agenda. As with any spring in the desert, this water source was very important for early explorers, prospectors, and later "auto-ists", and was probably known to early people who came to this area for its precious turquoise. A short distance away is the foundation of Halloran Springs Station, which was, among other things, a place for early automobiles on the Arrowhead Highway to stop and cool their overheated engines, after climbing the punishing grade out of Baker.
Four wheeling fun began at this point in the trip with our own "punishing grade", an uphill climb in very soft sand. But the reward was a visit to an abandoned mine, with its 2 mysterious metal "safes", one of which is still locked up tight. Nearby Bull Springs is a delightful place, its large corral intact, with a tank full of water inside the enclosure. The actual spring is in a sinkhole, covered with tules and overshadowed by a tall willow tree. Sadly, the two owls that we'd seen when scouting this trip with Charles & Mary Hughes were not around.
We stopped for lunch at "Francis Spring," which is sizable enough to be described as a small pond. This watering spot is correctly titled "France's Spring", named after William France, an early explorer and prospector in this area. Ironically, France would later perish from thirst near Cerbat, Arizona, when he got lost while prospecting and was unable to find water. Our repast here was made even better with a surprise birthday cake for Leonard Friedman, cake and candles supplied by wife Rebecca and daughter Hannah. Add to that Mignon's delectable "Wonder Bars," and we soon found ourselves on a "sugar high."
Our group got even higher as we drove the paved road up Turquoise Mountain to check out the large buildings and relay towers on the top. This installation is huge, and very startling to find in the middle of the desert. One account we read explains it as being a cold war installation, built to withstand the effects of a nuclear blast. The buildings supposedly extend downward for four stories into Turquoise Mountain. (We would love to have a chance to check that out!). Whether or not this is true, the facility is a very impressive site. And the 360 degree view from the top is fabulous.
A quick stop at a quail guzzler was next, and a drive-by of Hyten's Well(s) followed. Next stop was at the Wander Mine, a gold mine that has been worked from the early 1900s to the present, as evidenced by the small piles of recently sifted tailings. The miners followed a quartz vein close to the surface for quite a distance, and the result is a deep ditch that, ...well, wanders! Moving on, the cabin at Cree Camp came into view, and we stopped to have a look and hike up canyon to the small but wonderful mill and rock lined well. Unfortunately, none of our sources had any history at all on this old homestead.
Our thanks to everyone who joined us for this inbound adventure. Your enthusiasm, curiosity, and sense of fun made leading this trip such a pleasure for both of us!
We had about 70 intrepid desert rats show up at the most “desert” of all desert places; Zzyzx, CA for a delightful weekend. Nearly everyone in Southern California has passed the Zzyzx off ramp on I-15 near Baker but few know what is at the end of a short road.
Back when the world was a few decades younger, an itinerant preacher named Doctor Springer filed a mining claim on aptly named Soda Lake for the mineral crystals that were found on the surface. Overstepping the mining regulations more than a little, he built a health resort using homeless people from Los Angeles he bussed out to the desert for labor. He promised them sunshine, better health, and a place to stay in exchange for a little work. No booze was allowed, and guess what, it worked out well for all concerned. He let guests stay for whatever they could afford and sold the crystals as a cure-all with the help of his own radio program. My ancient wife remembers listening to it.
The end came when the Los Angeles Times published an long article basically stating “Why is this man allowed to build and run a health resort on public land under the guise of a mining claim and sell dubious medicines?” This prompted several government agencies including the BLM and the IRS to come down hard on Doc Springer. After a long legal battle, he was evicted and the now large resort was left to deteriorate in the sun and wind of the East Mojave Desert. After several years the BLM finally realized something should be done and arranged for the California University system to take over the facility under the lead of Cal State Fullerton and use it as a Desert Studies Center. Any educational organization can, for a modest fee, use the facility. Since the Desert Explorers are a section of the Barstow Mojave River Valley Museum, we were in!
Eight different trips were led to historical mining sites, petroglyphs sites, scenic canyons, a geology tour, ghost towns, etc. My Current Wife and I led eight vehicles to several scenic canyons in the Cady Mountains. Hidden away in one was a Bighorn Sheep Guzzler which furnishes water in a mountain range where few if any all year springs exist. We had a former President of the Bighorn Society along to explain why and how this volunteer organization builds and installs these expensive and complicated systems in remote places. One canyon rivaled Artist Palette Canyon in Death Valley for colorful formations while another had dozens of caves in the side walls.
May 11, 2013
by Bob & Sue Jaussaud
Yes, our Museum has been doing this for 47 years, and you don't want to miss it when it rolls around again in 2014! The folks in Barstow put forth a HUGE effort, and it shows in the quality (and quantity!) of events taking place throughout the day.
by Ruth Harder
It seems Zzyzx was the perfect place to hold the 2013 Rendezvous. Granted it wasn’t the Biltmore, but it was certainly better than a Motel 6. The ambience far outweighed the inconveniences. It was so peaceful and quiet and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Another plus was that we were completely isolated from the hustle and bustle of any city life. I had so many people tell me how happy they were that we held the Rendezvous in Zzyzx. Our host, Rob Fulton, was a delight. He has a wonderful personality and tried his best to please us in every way. He was available whenever we needed something or even just to talk. In his after dinner presentation we learned a lot about desert critters. Friday night we had our usual pot luck dinner with way more food than we could possibly eat. Friday, Saturday and Sunday Chef Victor Keaton did a great job preparing good meals for almost 70 people. Breakfasts were the normal fare but varied somewhat each day with many dishes to choose from; Saturday we enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner. Everyone looked like very happy campers.Each day there were plenty of different types of trips so there was something for everyone’s different preference.And, as usual, everyone had great fun finding things to outbid each other for in the Silent Auction which was a huge success.We appreciate all the help we had. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who put in so much time and work to help make this rendezvous one of our greatest.
March 3, 2013 by Marian Johns
This year our Saturday evening’s Silent Auction didn’t actually finish until Sunday morning. Consequently, we didn’t leave Zzyzx on our Cady Mt. Canyons trip until about 9:30 a.m. because Steve Marschke and Bob Jaussaud, our two Silent Auction organizers, couldn’t leave until the auction details were finalized.
We were fortunate to have Steve, (who is also our bighorn sheep expert and past president of the Bighorn Sheep Society), and his lovely wife, Debbie, on our trip because we intended to check out the bighorn sheep guzzler the Society has installed in the first Cady Canyon (on the south side of the Cadys) we planned to visit.
March 2, 2013 by Sunny & Jean Hanse
Trip participants: Sunny & Jean Hansen, Charles & Mary Hughes, Bob & Sue Jaussaud, Ron Lipari, Mike Vollmert, Mignon Slentz, Glenn Shaw, Pete & Janet Austin, Craig Baker, Leonard, Rebecca and Hannah Friedman.
It was a crisp, clear, beautiful day when we all gathered to begin our trip in the East Mojave. We formed up and drove to the parking area from which we would begin our hike. We hiked several miles, stopping along the way to view, photograph and appreciate petroglyphs. Part of the hike led us on an old trail, which Jean particularly liked.
Once we reached our site destination, we all relaxed and enjoyed viewing the petroglyphs and then we had lunch. After lunch, we got some great group photographs and then retraced our steps back to our vehicles. The return trip was faster because (1) Jean was not leading and therefore we had no long detours where she missed the trail on the inbound part of the hike and (2) Sunny just happened to mention “Happy Hour.”