2011 Trip Report - SouthEastern Nevada
February 11 & 14, 2011
By Leader Dan W. Messersmith
Friday, February 11: Dick & Connie and Dan & Jan Messersmith made the trip down to Katherine’s Landing Campground on Lake Mohave and found a couple of good sites in the very nice camp ground. After setting up our camping units, we headed over to Sam’s Club to see if they had anything we couldn’t resist buying. We spent a little money there, but not too much. As we had a fair amount of time left in the day, Dick took us over to see a nice little beach area on the lake called Telephone Cove. After a short visit there while the dogs played in the water, we headed up a trail that would take us up Lower Grapevine Canyon. It was very dramatic and beautiful, but alas it was a dead end drive. We had hoped it would take us all the way up to Upper Grapevine Canyon where the major petroglyphs are located. It was so nice, that we resolved to bring everyone back to enjoy the sights the next day. We then returned to the highway and went up to Upper Grapevine Canyon so Dick could see exactly where they were located. Heading back to camp, Dick took us over the power-line road that leads down into Laughlin, NV. This is a dramatic little trail with some great views along the way. It is a bit rough in spots and slow going. Upon our arrival in Laughlin it was decided to eat out for the evening and we decided to go to the Black Bear Restaurant in Bullhead City rather than fight the crowds at the Laughlin casinos. Back at camp we retired somewhat early as there was a cold wind and it was too windy to have a campfire.
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Saturday, February 12: (Better known as: “The Long and Winding Road”) Our meeting point for the Saturday day trip was the park north of the Riverside Casino and Dick & Connie Taylor and Dan & Jan Messersmith were joined by Ken & Ava Todd, Larry & Edna Brown, Gary & Cathie Myers, Jim Byrne and Homer Meek (eventually). As planned, we departed at 8:45am and headed for Telephone Cove, minus Homer who we expected to be there. Although it was a sunny bright day, it was windy and a bit on the chilly side, which the wind did not help. We arrived at the cove and enjoyed the beach area observing that the lake was filled with white caps. The dogs took to the chilly water, but not for long. After enjoying the area and using the restroom facilities, we headed up the trail to show the crew Lower Grapevine Canyon. We slowly drove up the canyon to its dead end, enjoying the fantastic rock formations and winding trail that intersected the deep wash in numerous areas. This is a very beautiful canyon and well worth the trip even if it requires a return trip to get out. Just gives you a great view going both ways. Upon our exit from the canyon and while heading back to the highway, I got a message signal on my cell phone. It was Homer who was on his way to Grapevine Canyon (upper section) to hopefully catch up with us. I was able to reach him on his phone and he had already made it as far as Christmas Tree Pass. We told him to hold there and we would eventually catch up with him. We stopped at Grapevine Canyon and hiked the 1/4 mile trail up to the petroglyphs and spring. Sadly, some of the nicest petroglyphs had been removed by thieves to sell on the black market. The dogs enjoyed the water coming from the springs and we enjoyed the site in spite of the damage. Returning to our vehicles, we proceeded towards Christmas Tree Pass and Homer. Along the way I shared a couple of Mohave Indian stories about the area, including the legend of the Frog People. We saw several rock formations along the way the people saw as various creatures.Just as we got to the beginning of the trail up to the pass, we decided to check out a spot called Pipe Springs Road and see the springs and perhaps have lunch. I took the opportunity to call Homer and let him know our plans. I found that he was coming down the mountain to meet up with us, which he did. The Pipe Springs Road ended in about 1/2 mile and was blocked by wilderness signs and cables. Some folks walked down the road to see if the springs were nearby, but none were found. We decided it was a good place for lunch and set up using our vehicles to block the still chilly wind. After lunch we headed up toward the pass and found that people had reestablished the custom of decorating the trees in the area. There was a time when the BLM forbid it and took everything out. It was this custom that gave the pass its name and it was nice to see that folks had not given up the tradition. BLM may not be happy about it, but I’m not too happy about some of the silly stuff they do. Over the pass we looked for a road that would take us northerly and did not find the one we were looking for, so we continued westerly until we found an alternate route that would get us over to the old Loran Station and on to Empire Wash road. We worked our way down Empire Wash road enjoying the sights and historic mining areas. Following the road we would connect with the Power Line road that would wind its way northerly. This was a great road for lake overviews and observation of the Arizona side of Lake Mohave. It was also one of those terrain following roads that never seem to stop. Every once in a while you could see a long straight road ahead in the distance. This was our objective to take us to Cotton Wood Cove road and then on to Searchlight, NV. The issue was whether or not we would ever reach it.
Well, we did reach it and we had a good time doing so. It was a long drive, but towards the end of the straight section we found an old cemetery. We stopped to take it in and found it a graveyard for both people and pets. There was a dog section that bordered the fence line and at the end of the section was one man’s grave. It reminded me of what I think was a Mark Twain quote, “I don’t know if dogs go to Heaven, but I want to go where they do.” A Park Ranger came into the site just after we arrived and talked with Dick. Told him that the site had been grandfathered in when the National Recreation Area took over the area. He asked Dick if he knew how many people were buried there, and Dick declared he did not. The Ranger then reeled him in with a simple, “All of them.” We made our way back to Searchlight and the trip ended there with folks going their various ways back home, to Laughlin or in our case back to camp.
Sunday, February 13: We met again at the park north of the Riverside Casino and were on the trail by 8:45am. Homer made it today. Our numbers were less today but we had some new participants. Along with the Taylors, Messersmiths and Homer, we had Charles & Mary Hughes and Keith Schweizer from Las Vegas. We had decided to make today a shorter journey and headed down the highway to pick up the MoJave Road which we would take over to Fort Paiute. We found the trail and took it up through the washes and trails that would take us over the hill and on. It was, as usual, a great drive in the desert. We saw a number of hawks posing on rock tops looking for a meal and even a roadrunner doing the same. It was noted when we saw cairns as many had been replaced by BLM trail markers. We enjoyed the mostly sandy roads with a few twists, turns, dips and inclines along the way. After crossing U.S. 95, we encountered the rockier plain that would take us to Fort Paiute. When we got to the fort we found that it had been fenced off and you could no longer drive down to the stream that ran below the fort. Lots of kiosks had been put up and small foot trails installed by the National Park Service. Some noted it was not an improvement. We decided to do our lunch stop there and enjoyed a nice social time while we fed our bellies. After lunch, we headed back toward the Power Line road that would take us south towards other things to see. At the Power Line, Keith said he wanted to head back to Las Vegas so he took the line north towards Searchlight. We found this trail to be both straighter and much less wash boarded than the prior days run and we made good time across it. At one point I had planned to take a longer route but missed the turn ending up rejoining our Power Line road. As it would take us down to old U.S. 66 we just continued on it enjoying the desert scenery. As we approached the area of old U.S. 66 we encountered a railroad crossing and one of the longest trains I have ever seen. From our early perspective, some miles out, we could see the entire train which seemed to stretch forever. When we reached the tracks, it was still crossing the road and we had to wait. Just before it cleared the crossing, another train from the opposite direction started across the crossing and we had to wait for it too. It was not as long as the first and our wait was not long. Crossing the track it was only a short distance to old U.S. 66. We had thought about going to Goffs for a visit, but decided to head on back towards home. We got back to U.S. 95 and headed north towards the Laughlin turn-off. After we made that turn, the Hughes’ asked if we had ever been to Hiko Spring. As none of the rest of us had, they took the lead and took us to the site. It was an area just off of the earliest road through the canyons and provided a water source for travelers along the route. It was a site of petroglyphs both ancient and modern. Terribly overgrown with underbrush, only the dogs could get to the water. Some of the historic petroglyphs were: G.A. Lane 1898, F. Holms (Holmes?) no date and Dr. Benson 1911. (A Google search did not turn up any information on these names that I could connect to the time or place.) After our visit there we made our way back to homes, hotel or camp. Another great day in the desert was on the books.
Monday, February 14: Dick & Connie and Jan & I went out to breakfast then returned to camp. Jan & I packed up our trailer and headed for home. Dick & Connie were going to go over to Laughlin and play some of the games available at that location.