Turtle Mountains Introduction
by Deb Miller Marschke
I had worked with Dave Given and Bob Rodemeyer in coordinating our trips to the Turtle Mountains area. We had unknowingly planned trips for the same area, but through conference and planning our trips were different. The only common quality was traveling from Needles south on the 95. We had our groups line up in the same place. It was a little chaotic at first, but we managed to get both groups lined up and sorted out ;Bob & Dave’s group were at the lead of the pack, and our group comprised the second half. Bob & Dave peeled off the highway and headed for West Well. Steve and I had eleven vehicles with us: Ron Ross & Nancy McClean, Bill & Barbara Gossett, . Our trip was focused on the mineral resources that are found in the Turtle Mountains. Steve and I were traveling in our Jeep CJ without a roof – it was a cold day that threatened of rain. Sometimes, rain would lightly spit on us, but not enough to soak. It was never raining when our group exited the vehicles to explore.
Our first stop was at the Lost Arch Inn, where Charley Brown resided as a miner with his partner Jesse Kraik from 1922 to 1942. I told the group the tale of the Lost Arch Mine, where a prolific abundance of gold was said to be located directly under a natural arch. Of course, as in all lost mine tales, the exact location had been lost and never relocated. It is said that there are many natural arches within the Turtle Mountains, and my perusal of the Desert Magazine Index demonstrated that the legend has been the catalyst for many countless adventures, most likely ongoing. One of the two cabins are still standing, but don’t wait long to see the last one because it is rapidly deteriorating. Steve and I lead the group past the cabin south, along an increasingly rough track. At one point there was one steep spot when the trail elevation dropped about 20 feet from the edge of the wash to the bottom, but this did not impede the group. We continued past the remains of Carson’s Well and parked in a wide area to collect rocks . This particular spot had nice specimens of red and striped jasper. Immediately the group fanned out to harvest some good polishing rocks. Even if some of the group was not collecting, the scenery was spectacular. The peaks and features of the Turtle Mountains are reason enough to make this journey. We got moving again, exiting the way we had entered, and again past the Lost Arch Inn. We criss crossed paths with Dave & Bob’s group, who had just arrived at the Lost Arch Inn (yes! Perfect timing as we had previously discussed…we thought it would be serendipitous to have both groups cross paths). We wound our way out of this section of the mountains and traveled along the East Mojave Heritage Trail westbound. We skipped some features which we planning on visiting on our way back, and continued to Chalcedony Hill. I advised the group to eat lunch right away, as once the collecting of rocks began, there would be no stopping! Marion Johns had already had lunch, and she was the first to march up Chalcedony Hill. It wasn’t long before she could been seen hunched over, scouring the ground for treasures. The rest of the group followed soon thereafter. The walk from the road begins by traversing flat areas with the goal for getting one’s self as high upon the side of Chalcedony Hill as you can. Easier said than done…once you start finding chalcedony, progress is completely impeded and sometimes halted! The chalcedony is milky white to clear quartz rock that forms in blobs, ribbons, and bubbles. Some of the material found are chalcedony “roses” which are flower-like buttons of quartz. Some have druzy crystals that sparkle and some form chambers like arches or have geode-like qualities. Any way you describe them, they are intriguing and addicting to pick up. At one point I made a 360 degree turn to observe a good number of our group spread all over Chalcedony Hill, bent over and picking up rocks like an adult easter egg hunt. At one point, Nancy McClean stood up straight, looked off into the distance, and declared “ Have any of you taken a good look out there? It’s beautiful!” Indeed it was, we had reached a time of day where shadows accent the scenery and uplight others. When I was sure that the group had enough collecting, we began the trek back. We had opportunity to stop at the landmark Quartz Knob, which is a huge pedestal of quartz smack in the middle of desert floor. We investigated the ruins of an old cabin, and stopped at the mailbox on the EMHT, where some of us signed in. All in all it was a very pleasant trip, the weather held out for us, and everyone had an interesting day.