Shoshone Day Trip (Rondy trip)
by Neal Johns
Twenty-four vehicles! That’s a bunch, but our fearful leader handled it well. I have to say that or the house, truck and dogs will no longer be available to me as well as certain other things. Marian led the motley crew out of the parking lot Saturday morning and headed south to the BLM improved Salt Springs ACEC. Sure, the water was a little salty, but in the desert who cares? This was a stop on the Old Spanish Trail and a good spot to tarry before heading uphill to even worse water at Bitter Springs (now on Fort Irwin). The BLM has killed the water-sucking tamarisk and put in a bridge and picnic tables. The water level has risen, the native plants are coming back, and the pupfish are doing well.
Next it was off to Sheep Springs, a way station of the Desert Studies Center at Zzyzx. This was located just southwest of the entrance to the Harry Wade route of the lost 49’ers fame. The water was flowing a little, and the shack was in reasonable shape. Many inspected the old car parts and debris of living in this old talc mining area. On the way to Salt Basin, we had to turn west along the edge of the mountains and oops! There was a two-foot bank where Sheep Creek Wash had cut the road. We turned the women loose on the problem and had a ramp of rocks constructed in no time.
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Marian was navigating so we ended up in dead ends a couple of times and had to back the train up to take the right fork (ignore a slightly different story from Marian, you know how women are). One of our people had been on this road recently with his Jeep club and said it was washed out in a few places. A challenge! Press on! Taking a few go-arounds solved that problem. We arrived at Salt Basin a little late but in great shape to appreciate the unexpected Technicolor view of the hills and the quaint and well-kept cabin. The several people that had not been there were amazed at the beauty of this hidden site.
Next, we stopped at Saratoga Spring, a major watering hole in the historic desert. Now it is home only to pupfish, but these large, spring fed ponds were nirvana to anyone near this edge of Death Valley. Since we were running late, we had to pass on seeing the ghost town of Ibex, and we headed home.
Driving a Toyota, my current wife and I naturally had no vehicle problems, but as expected, a Jeep broke down shortly after leaving Saratoga Springs. After suitable financial arrangements were made, we towed him into Shoshone. His claims of pushing us with a stiff tow rope are unfounded and ungrateful, typical of Jeep drivers. Good trip, good people, goodbye.