2013 Trip Report - Ibex Boondoggle !
Survivors Traumatized No Rain; Some Pain
Leader in Denial
January 19 & 20 2013, Leader and author: Ted Kalil
Peggy Sue’s Diner, Yermo. This was the meeting place where I thought we might enjoy a breakfast or coffee together. However, I was the only one who dined, everyone else waited outside (was this an omen?). Those present were Gene and Beverly Stoops; Jose Alvarado together with Steve, Aaron, and Jordan; Rebecca, Hannah, and Leonard Friedman; Alan Hodes; Nelson Miller; and Nan Savage. We then went to the Mad Greek’s parking lot in Baker, where we met up with Mignon Slentz, and continued on SH 127 to the radio tower. There we turned off onto Ibex Spring Road, following it to the settlement and mine where we saw and photographed the old buildings.
Gene shared a lot of great information about this place, having been with Bill Mann when Bill persuaded the National Park Service to refrain from destroying the sites. The provision was that the Mojave River Valley Museum would annually monitor the changes and provide photos. Gene had brought newspaper articles and pictures from when they first photographed the area in 1991. In comparing them we could see some deterioration, but not much considering twenty one years had passed. The palm trees were alive and flourishing. Our two signs there are readable but could use some help.
Following lunch there, we went to one of the talc mine sites and then headed back out. At a deep wash with a rough patch, Mignon’s new Toyota totally lost steering ability. The left upper ball joint had separated and the wheel had folded under, a very serious problem that usually spells “tow truck.” However, to the rescue came ex-Marines Jose and Steve who, with a lot of maneuvering, managed to get the ball joint and half shaft reinstalled. The retaining nut was missing, having been stripped out along with the cotter pin keeper. They were able to fashion a replacement keeper from an Allen wrench, though. With the Toyota now drivable, Gene and Beverly offered to accompany Mignon out to the highway, where she would be able to call for a tow, since it would be far too dangerous to try to drive further. When I called Mignon the next morning, she said all had gone well; she was home, the Toyota was in the shop and she had a loaner car. I told her we had again enjoyed her Wonder Bars that she had thoughtfully left for us.
The rest of us proceeded toward Saratoga Springs down the connecting road through the sandy sections and past beautiful sand dunes. When we reached the turn-off to the Springs, though, it was a bit too late to go there so, after Leonard read us a brief description of what we were missing, we went on to Bob and Ward’s Cabin, a first come, first served open cabin on BLM land.
To my surprise nobody was there; we had it all to ourselves. Soon a campfire was blazing, which we enjoyed all through the evening since we had a large supply of wood, largely contributed by Jose and Steve. Our potluck dinner was great and most retired early. It was a cold night - how cold was debated since no one had looked at a thermometer. Some complained of that cold – privately I felt they should just chill out. After we’d packed up, off to Shoshone where some topped off with gas and got some things in the store.
Next, on the way towards Warm Springs Canyon, Jose told us he was having a severe headache, didn’t feel well, and was turning back towards home. From the original eight, we were now down to five vehicles, a 37.5% loss, 25% even if we didn’t count the Stoops who were only going to spend the day. This is a computational gray area, but in any case far in excess of permissible shrinkage, as those remaining promptly and loudly pointed out to the leader. To no one’s surprise, the leader completely denied any responsibility and further stated that allegations of impropriety, doping, or illegitimate birth were scurrilous, unfounded, or at least unproven.
Continuing on to the Warm Springs area we found the houses and the site in general to be in fair condition. The main house has a great newer roof but there has been some vandalism, as with the other buildings. At the building to the rear, a hantavirus warning is posted due to rodent droppings. There was a lot of evidence or recent trimming of bushes and trees, so the site is being maintained. Afterwards we went on up to Butte Valley where we saw the magnificent Striped Butte, a geological wonder, and the Geologist’s Cabin. A group of very nice people were staying at the cabin, and they allowed us to look through it. We visited with them, had lunch, and then went back to the West Side Road. At that point, I called an end to the official run, since the Friedmans wanted to stay in Death Valley longer; Nan and Nelson wanted to go out by the much shorter West Side Road; and Alan and I wanted to go by way of Shoshone. We agreed that the first to get to the Mad Greek’s would be winners. Well, Nelson and Nan were already courteously waiting for us by the 127 and Harry Wade Road, but Alan and I sped right by and clearly beat them to the Greek’s. We won, right? After all, those were the rules. Alan, Nelson and I had dinner there (Nan had already continued on, being unsure that this Greek was organic). We then went our separate ways home.
No rain or snow this trip; the hex is broken - we had beautiful weather. Great, huh? OK, OK, so we lost a few. Many, many thanks to all who came and congratulations to those who survived. I’m thinking of organizing an “Ibex Survivors’ Reunion” at the Rondy. Invitees will be participants and non-participants only. What do you think? Buehler? Buehler? Anyone?