El Paso Mountain Trip Report
February 20, 21, 2010
Leaders: Johns and Hansens
We were afraid the rainy weather might scare off some of our participants, but everyone who said they were coming showed up in Randsburg, our jumping off point. It turned into a beautiful sunny day although it was cool enough for jackets most of the time. Riding in seven vehicles were June Box and her friend Nancy Robles, Debbie Nakamoto, Rob Hefner who is also a friend of Junes, Glenn Shaw, Sunny and Jean Hansen and Marian and Neal Johns plus two of our pooches, Blue and Feliz. Vicki Hill and Dave McFarland had to cancel at the last minute because Dave caught a cold, but they were replaced by new folks, Nelson Miller and Carrie who joined us Saturday morning, although they didnt camp out and stay for Sundays adventures.
After assembling in Randsburg, we followed Sunny and Jean to the Terese petro site north of Randsburg. There, we also found several house rings and some small check dams along a nearby drainage. Thanks Sunny and Jean!
Continuing west, we reached the two-track to the Sheep Springs petro site and had our lunch on BLM picnic tables by the cottonwood trees. As we hiked along the ridge to the west above the springs looking at the petros on black boulders, it seemed there werent as many as we recalled from earlier trips. Was it just our imagination or has someone been carting them off?
Next we took a trail directly east of Sheep Springs for about a mile and found another spring, complete with a fine-looking rock reservoir and water-filled troughs that Quail Unlimited maintains. A friendly lab with another group plopped himself right down in one of the troughs, getting himself all wet and dirty, but was he ever a happy dog!
The rest of the afternoon was spent driving down beautiful Goler Gulch A few rough spots got our attention and kept us on our toes, but all made it with no mishaps. Even the tricky stretch through The Narrows didnt stop any of us for long.
That evening, we found a nice open camp spot on the south side of the El Pasos where we soaked up the last rays of sunshine and enjoyed a potluck dinner. June outdid everyone with her huge pot of chili that fed us all.
Sunday morning we headed back into the El Pasos via Mesquite Wash. The first stop was Burro Schmidts Tunnel; several people had never been there. In fact, I dont think any of us had been there since Toni Seegar died in 2004. Just the buildings and some stuff remain. Sadly, vandals have been at work despite signs requesting the respect of property.
From Burro Schmidts, we drove down to Bickels Camp in Last Chance Canyon. We were met by Mark Aslin who guided us on a tour to see all of Walt Bickels hand-made machinery and raw materials. Although Walt died in 1996, the Friends of Last Chance Canyon have since been preserving his camp under the watchful eye of the BLM. Before leaving, we added a few dollars to the Friends donation box. Neal told us a story of breaking his Landcruiser and riding into Los Angeles with Walts pot-smoking grandkids.
On down the canyon, we passed by gorgeous, colorful formations pink being the predominant color; it was a truly a beautiful sight and several stops were made for photos. Just above Cudahy Camp, we came to another attention-getter which was a short, but steep 4x4 hill. We were headed down canyon and had no trouble. After lunch at the Cudahy Camp where we chatted with members of a Jeep club (some of whom June knew), it was time to head out to Hwy.14. We turned west and drove up, up and up on a rough road that had one narrow section with a left-hand drop-off that required careful driving. When we finally reached the summit, we stopped - looked back down at the road we had just driven up and admired the awesome view. Then over hill and dale we went, finally emerging in Red Rock Canyon State Park. From there it was just a short distance to Hwy. 14 where we said good-by to our friends and fellow travelers.