Gold Butte, Nevada Run - MOE
November 13 & 15 2009
By Dan Messersmith
Friday, November 13
The trip was scheduled to depart from Kingman Regional Medical Center in Kingman at 8:30am and at the appointed time, only Dan Messersmith and Ted Kalil were on site. I had received word the night before that Dick could not make the trip although he really had wanted to go. Ted and I were off and on our way to Overton, NV to meet with the rest of our group. I made a quick stop at the Alan Bible Visitors Center (Lake Mead Visitors Center) to buy my lifetime pass for National Parks as I had just recently turned the magic number of years to do so.
We arrived in Overton a bit late as the traffic at Hoover Dam and construction along Lake Meade slowed our progress. Everyone who was expected had arrived and we joined them in the Lins Market parking lot. Waiting for us were: Alan Hodes, Bob & Karen Monsen, Mal & Jean Roode, Mignon Slentz, and David & Bobbie Vick. After getting introduced, we used the services of Lins deli to gather in our lunches before heading out.
After lunch we made a quick stop for last gas at the Maverick Station before heading out of town and up onto Mormon Mesa. The Monsens ran sweep for me. Making our way over to the eastern edge of the mesa, we turned northerly and worked our way along the edge enjoying the beautiful fall colors along the Virgin River valley below. After a short time I announced that we
had arrived at Double Negative. A large chunk of dug dirt and rock from two areas of a small indentation of the mesa that line up across a short divide from each other. Some call this art. (the artist did) Some have doubts. All enjoyed the stop and the discussion of what is art once more. You can Google it and find out more information about it. This work may challenge folks to appreciate art for arts sake. If nothing else, it provokes one think about it, and I believe that is what art is all about.
Continuing on a northerly direction we finally got to the power line road and took it easterly until it dropped (almost quite literally) off the mesa. I just asked that everyone trust me and follow me over the edge as they observed my rear differential and bumper disappear from sight.
All followed and enjoyed the steep, winding trail down to a wash that we would take northerly. The wash is an easy run to an even nicer graded road that takes you back up on the mesa to the old highway that parallels Interstate 15. A quick stop for a comfort break and then easterly to where the old highway winds itself back down off of the mesa once more to the modern Riverside, NV road.
Crossing the Virgin River at Riverside, we immediately turned right on the far side of the bridge and headed out into the Nevada Strip toward Gold Butte. The map I have calls this the Old Overton Road, which may account for why so much of it is old pavement.
When we reached the end of the pavement, we searched for a campsite around the rock formations called Whitney Pockets. After a short search, we found a place and set up an early camp. Mignon, dragged in a bunch of firewood and I brought out some wood I was carrying for that purpose as others set up their camps. Soon got a fire going for warmth and ambiance and cocktail hour began.
We enjoyed our fire, cocktails and dinners for the evening and retired to our respective camps for the evening.
Saturday, November 14
The group got up around sun up and Mignon got us a morning fire going. We were on the road by about 8:30am. The road was very dusty and we had to spread out a bit to keep from choking. The Monsons were running sweep for me again and kept everyone in line.
Our first stop was the Devils Throat. This is a large sink hole in the desert and has been fenced off for safety purposes. After all had an opportunity to look it over and take pictures we took the trail westerly to do the west loop of the Gold Butte Back Country By-way. This is a narrow but scenic route. When we dropped into a wash it would take us by a large formation of red rocks which contained a nice set of petroglyphs. We stopped and took time for folks to take them in.
Moving on towards Gold Butte, we continued to enjoy the great rock formations and strata that make up the area. Karen, who has been taking some geology classes, was able to fill us in on a good number of the formations we were observing.
When we reached Gold Butte, we took in the sites and everyone broke out their lunch provisions. After a leisurely lunch and visit, we headed southerly along the Scanlon Ferry Road to find a trail that would take us down to the lake for our second camp for the trip. We made a couple of stops along the way to allow for the gathering of coyote melons as Mignon collected them to sell to artists who painted the gourds and in turn sold them at craft shows. When we arrived at Catclaw Wash we started our gradual descent. It was an easy drive. A short way down the trail we encountered a lone bovine that all presumed was the cattle guard we kept seeing
Enjoying our drive, Mal eventually called out over his CB that his GPS had just put us in Lake Mead proper as it still showed it at a higher level. We would eventually be 120 to 150 feet below the high water mark \for the lake. In the lead, I was searching for a way down to a great looking sight near the water. I took first one route and then another. On the second attempt I found myself in deep sand and I got stuck. A bit of digging and lower tire pressure allowed me to back up into more stable ground and get out of the soft stuff. A third attempt at a route to the beach was successful and we all got down near the water.
This part of the lake is actually part of the Virgin River drainage area and what is more commonly known as the Overton Arm of the lake. Our camp was approximately 7 miles north of where the Virgin River and Colorado River joined prior to the lake being formed.
As we were setting up camp a Park Ranger boat made its way in to check us out. The two young men were Ranger Steve Glaser and Ranger Greg Johnson. Several of us went down to the water to greet them and we had a nice conversation with them as they asked the questions they need to ask as part of their duties. One of their first comments was that they didnt see many groups like us in this area as it took a great deal of effort to get to where we were located. When we told them we were from Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah, they were even more impressed with our efforts.
They were very good at their jobs and offered some trash bags which I accepted as I had not brought any large ones. I gave them my card and got their names for my log and they were on their way.
We gathered firewood again for the night with Mignon in the lead. As it was still early, I took Buddy for a walk along the shore and he had a great time running in and out of the water along the way. The only thing that would have made him happier was to have had Sassy there to chase and be chased.
Cocktail hour came around and we enjoyed the early campfire and fellowship. As it got darker, we had a great sunset to observe and most took time to get their dinner.
After sunset, we enjoyed the fire some more before retiring for the night. That evening, a hard wind blew most of the night.
Sunday, November 15
Camp was up and moving by sun up and Mignon had a morning fire going to greet us once more. We would head for home today and did not have much of an itinerary planned.
We got going after breakfast and headed back up the wash. About half-way up we encountered another single bovine, different from the day before and someone commented the cattle guards must have changed over night.
When we reached Gold Butte, we stopped for a little while and Mignon had to look at her engine as her engine service light had come on. After a good look, it was suspected that the dust was messing up her sensors and we moved on.
Folks had asked if we could go up to Whitney Pass on our way out as some of them had not seen the pass before and I agreed it would make a nice side trip. After I got them to the top, I decided to take them around to the BLMs Whitney Pass Administrative Site as it has a great view of the valley and Arizona Strip area.
We got to the site and enjoyed the views for some time. As we were planning on going out via the Old Overton Highway, several folks asked if it would be OK to go out Lime Kiln Canyon instead. I agreed to take them out that way and it was a good call. It was a beautiful drive and certainly nicer than retracing our steps. Several of our travelers had never been through Lime Kiln Canyon.
We got to the Lime Kiln Canyon Pass and stopped for one final view of the Arizona Strip and then began the descent into the canyon and on to Mesquite, NV.
At Mesquite, folks got gas and headed for home. Buddy and I again went via Overton back towards the lake and Hoover Dam. Mignon came along until we got to Rogers Springs. Buddy and I would stop so Buddy could have a swim and Mignon headed for her home in Boulder City.
It was another good trip for the books and the smell of wet dog all the way home made it worth it the stop to see Buddy play in the deep water spring and chase the little fish.