The Quest for White Pocket
Story and photos by Deb Miller Marschke
Last fall in September of 2016, Steve and I decided to go on a noodle in Northern Arizona. It was kind of a last minute, seat-of-our-pants adventure. Ideally, we were interested in an area southeast of Kanab, Utah that is known as Coyote Buttes. This geographic area contains the famous feature “The Wave” which now adorns calendars and art galleries nationwide. We were fortunate enough to get the required permit to hike to the Wave some years ago, but these permits are tricky to acquire and take some orchestration. The Wave steals all the thunder from the Coyote Buttes area as a whole; this geographic zone is a wonderland of sculpted colorful sandstone. We considered the possibility of targeting Coyote Buttes South, but it was still too hot, and we didn’t have the necessary permit. It was too late to get one as they were all booked up.
I scoured my maps for more possibilities. During my investigation, I found promising leads to an area called “White Pocket” so we decided to shoot for that. I cobbled together enough information to get us there, but there was not much on the internet that answered all of my questions. So by design, there was going to be an element of surprise or spontaneity in our endeavor. This geologic area actually overlays the Utah/Arizona border so it’s in two states. We accessed the area by driving south from UT High.way 89, east of Kanab, and left the pavement on The Honeymoon Trail (this is a historic 1870’s Mormon route). You can also select the Great Western Trail as these two trails converge and cross. We hopped onto route 1065 and looked for our access trail. We needed to get into an area called Poverty Flat. We choose the route that began at Lone Tree Reservoir 1079 and cuts in to Paw Hole trailhead.
(Click Read More for the rest of the story and the awesome photos)
Desert Cowboy Man
The story below appears in our book Curiosities of the California Desert. However, we drove by the cowboy man site a few weeks ago and the Cowboy man had disappeared. No one around to ask what happened. If anyone knows, we’d love an update
The Cowboy Man of Mecca near the Salton Sea must be lonely, having been placed far from most of his family. As he stands in a small strip mall parking lot, his fate is unknown, as is the case with everything near the Salton Sea which ebbs and flows in the natural and political winds.
During the heyday of Route 66, a series of these fiberglass figures sprang up as roadside attractions. With growing traffic along the Mother Road from Santa Monica to Chicago, businesses were creative in luring travelers to their stores or restaurants or gas stations. The statues were there to lure business and they were changed to meet the local theme. There is the muffler man, the hot dog man and even the green astronaut man in Wilmington, Illinois which is also known as the Gemini Giant. The first of these oddities to appear was dubbed “Tall Paul” who popped up in 1940s in the suburbs of Chicago.
Another favorite is arguably a younger version called the Chicken Boy. Standing proudly in Highland Park, California, the 22 foot statue first appeared in Los Angeles atop a fried chicken restaurant between 4th and 5th Streets. When the restaurant owner died in 1984, the Chicken Boy was put into storage. At last in about 2007 the fiberglass boy found a new home at 5558 Figueroa Avenue in Highland Park. Today he towers above the buildings to the joy of passersby.
These iconic statues were born at the International Fiberglass Company in Venice, California for use in outdoor advertising. Chicken Boy was altered from a Chicken Man that was originally created to be a Muffler Man or Paul Bunyan Man. His head was altered to resemble a chicken and a bucket was fashioned to replace the hot dog or muffler.
These statues are familiar sights especially along Route 66, but the bearded Cowboy Man near Mecca seems lost and he has suffered much abuse. He was reportedly decapitated around 2001 and then went missing altogether. But he now stands proudly in front of the El Tompa Mini Mart, enjoying visitors who come to take his photo. His address is 93243 California 111, Mecca. ~ Alan & Claudia Heller
Ballarat by Night
by Jay Lawrence
So, what do you do when you have a special piece of photographic gear on loan, you need a really dark sky, some interesting foreground possibilities and the only new moon is right around the corner? Obviously, if you are Stan Sholik, longtime Desert Explorer, photographer and author, you head for Ballarat. Never mind that temps in the area are projected to be 120°+ for the next week. Prep the truck and try not to do anything too stupid. A breakdown could be ugly. No questionable rock crawling, no weird trails, just get the shots and stay hydrated.
Crest Of The Inyo’s and Saline Valley Salt Tram
Trip report and photos by Ken Eltrich
First weekend of June our small group met up in Olancha to explore the crest of the Inyo’s and the salt tram that brought salt from Saline valley to Owens valley from 1913 to 1930. After topping off our tanks we made our way to the other side of Owens lake bed to the trail head at Swansea. The road up was not too bad only a couple spots were rocky and loose. The views kept getting better the higher we climbed. The first view of a tram tower was pretty amazing. Once we arrived at the top of the Inyo’s we went left to the Burgess Mine shack for a quick look. The views from there were unbelievable. On one side of the ridge you had the snowcapped Sierra’s and on the other side the mighty Saline Valley and beyond.
No one in our group had been on this trip before so we decided to camp at the Tram Station. In hind sight that was not the best idea as it’s right on the ridge and was windy all night. I opted to sleep on the porch of the cabin so I was protected from the wind but there are several camp sites just before topping out on the ridge that offer good protection and plenty of tree cover. The next day we made our way across the ridge and down into Cerro Gordo mine. We had hoped for a tour but we missed the only one that was given Saturday. We checked out a couple buildings then headed east towards Lee Flat. We spent the second night at the Holiday mine about half way down the mountain from Cerro Gordo. Good place with plenty of Flat area and still in the trees with great views into Saline Valley. Sunday morning we took our time breaking camp and headed towards Highway 190 and home. ~ Ken
Touring the Santa Ana Mountains
By Bob Jacoby
Photos by Norma and Danny Siler
Our DE tour of the Santa Ana Mountains finally took place on Saturday, June 10th 2017. This interesting adventure was originally scheduled in January, rescheduled for April, and we finally were able to do it in June. The problem, as we are all aware of, was a very rainy winter which prompted Cleveland National Forest to close most of the roads in the area until they perceived all were passable.
Fortunately, June 10th turned out to be a bright, sunny and clear day as the following DE adventurers gathered for this scenic trip: Terry Ogden, Danny and Norma Siler, Jim Watson and Linda Stevens, Matt Jones, Dave McFarland, Neal and Marion Johns, Leonard and Rebecca Friedman, Jay Lawrence and yours truly (if I forgot someone, my sincere apologies). Our meeting place was right off the Ortega Highway near a Cleveland National Forest fire station. Because of a warning from the Forest Service ‘to not have a large caravan” some of us doubled up. The Freidman’s and myself had the opportunity to ride with Jay and his big time truck.
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Dale Mining District
Friday-Sunday, June 2-4
Leader: Nelson Miller
Photos: Bill & Julie Smith
We explored the Dale Mining District, east of 29 Palms and visited the Old Dale and New Dale townsites, a couple of mill sites, and a bunch different mines and mill sites. There were large structures still standing at several of these sites. Most of the mining in the Dale District occurred from 1883 into the 1920’s. Mines of the High Desert, by Ronald Dean Miller, describes the mines, people and history of this mining district. ~ Nelson
Click Read More below, there are a lot of photos taken by Bill & Julie!
Saturday, March 25
By Mignon Slentz
On March 25, a group of 16 DE members, friends and neighbors got a private tour of the latest mine acquired by the Werly family at Nelson in El Dorado Canyon, Nevada.
We arrived at the complex at 9 a.m. and were each outfitted with a hard hat and flashlight. Documents had to be
filled out and we literally had to sign our lives away - no kidding!
After listening to an interesting history of the mine and the area, we boarded a bus that looked right out of a Mad Max movie. The drive to the mine site was about 2 miles away .
When the mine shut down years ago the entrance was dynamited shut. The entrance and exit are now accessed through two air shafts.
I won’t ruin it for those of you who might want to take the tour- but there is water, boats, bats and lots of artifacts. Requirements are a minimum of 16 people, no children and a cost of $25
If you haven’t been to Nelson
lately there are lots of new additions - old vehicles, mines, buildings and artifacts. ~ Mignon
Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes February 11, 2017
Attending: Dave Burdick, Daniel Dick & Bobbie Sanchez, Barbara Midlikoski, Mal Roode, Bill & Julie Smith, Jerry & Dolly Dupree, Bob Jacoby, Steve Jarvis & Kate Fosselman, Neal & Marian Johns, Nelson Miller, Sunny & Jean Hansen, Terry Ogden, Allan & Ding Wicker, Jay Lawrence.
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Sidewinder, Stoddard & West Ord Mountains
Saturday, April 22, 2017 • Trip Leader: Nelson Miller • Photos: Ken Hemkin & Jay Lawrence
Heading eastish from Apple Valley, Nelson led us by a local dinosaur gathering place then we visited backroad springs, a quail guzzler and several mine sites. Unfortunately, the big blue dino pictured in Bill Mann’s book has seen its last roundup and is now just a memory. We had a beautiful day with perfect temps and a light breeze. One flat tire, but otherwise a fine day in the desert.
Wyatt Earp’s Neighborhood
By Alan & Claudia Heller
Photos: Alan Heller
As Rondy Explorers set out from Blythe on various trips, we hooked up with DE member Cooper and his dog and caravanned to the Blythe Intaglios making a stop to visit Wyatt Earp’s cottage. To see the pretty, modest blue cottage with a white picket fence in Vidal, California, one would never guess it was the home of the infamous tough lawman/gunslinger, Wyatt Earp. He led a tumultuous life with a long line of legal and questionable occupations but in the end, he and his wife Josie settled down in what was supposedly his only permanent residence (1925-1928). From his home he could work in his “Lucky Day” mine located nearby in the Whipple Mountains. Ironically, the little cottage was sold a few years back to Terry Ike Clanton, a direct descendent of the infamous Clantons which were Earp’s rivals.
We made a stop at what was the Post Office in Earp which is in Parker Valley near the California-Arizona border, not far from the cottage. It was originally named Dennan, founded in 1910, and changed to Earp in 1920. ~ Alan
Mule Mountain Intaglios and Petroglyphs - Rendezvous Trip
March 10, 2017
by Nelson Miller
We had six vehicles depart from the Rendezvous RV site at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. Participants, besides me, included: Frederick Raab, Ron Ross, Nancy McClean, Barb Midlikoski, Steve Faulstich, Janet and Peter Austin, Daniel Dick and Bobbie Sanchez. As we headed west on the freeway, I was chatting away and missed the turn-off! Janet Austin was paying attention, so half the vehicles got off at the right exit, but I had to go ten miles to the next exit. I considered turning around in the median, but just where I was about to do it, there was a highway patrol vehicle parked there. So, it took me twenty minutes to get back to the group.
As we headed south from the Freeway, we encountered fields of desert lilies. These have beautiful flowers with unusual long, wavy or ridged leaves. They grow from bulbs a couple of feet deep, which Native Americans ate. Thanks to Sue Jaussaud who pointed these out to us on another Inbound trip.
We soon arrived at the intaglio site, which consists of small 2-3 foot cleared circular areas arranged in horseshoe shaped designs or long parallel lines. There is also a ceremonial circle about 125 feet in diameter. A clearly observable trail connects this site to the petroglyph site about one mile to the west. Archaeologists have traced this trail most of the way to Corn Springs petroglyphs, about thirty miles further to the west.
We proceeded to the petroglyph site where we explored the small canyon and tank, which contained numerous petroglyphs. We returned to the Rendezvous RV site in time for Happy Hour. ~ Nelson
Inbound Rondy Geology Run
Trip Leader: Bill Neill
Participants: Bill & Gwenn Neill, Allan & Ding Wicker, Norma & Danny Siler, Steven Faulstich, Fredric Raab. We met at Chiriaco Summit and caravaned in 5 vehicles down Box Canyon to Painted Canyon.
Photo 1 – 11.30.30: Our group is at an exposure of Orocopia Schist near Shaver’s Well, at the upper end of Box Canyon, formed in a subduction zone during Mesozoic time (age of dinosaurs) when the North America’s continental margin was located at present Coachella Valley. The San Gabriel Mountains have an identical and formerly adjacent rock called Pelona Schist that has moved 160 miles northwest along the San Andreas Fault.
Photo 2 – 11.48.06: Also near Shaver’s Well, we viewed “slickenlines” — rock smoothed and polished by fault movement -- and abundant lupine flowers surrounding Steven Faulstich.
Photo 3 – 12.48.31: Gwenn and Ding are resting on trail into Painted Canyon. Sandstone and conglomerate in canyon walls are relatively young, deposited as early movement on the San Andreas Fault formed Coachella Valley.
Photo 4 – 12.56.58: In Painted Canyon, Danny Siler stands on ancient metamorphic rock named the Pinto Gneiss that’s about 1.7 billion years old and similar in age and origin to the Vishnu Schist at the bottom of Grand Canyon.
Photo 5 – 13.01.18: In Painted Canyon, Fredric Raab views the banded and folded Pinto Gneiss, named for exposures in the Pinto Basin of Joshua Tree National Park.