2015 - Rondy Report - Coso Mountains Inbound Trip
Coso Mountains Inbound Trip
It was with anticipation of a great Rondy weekend that a group of ten Desert Explorers met on Friday morning, April 3, at Red Mountain near the south end of the Owens Valley. The participants included Bob Jacoby and Richard Brazier, Janet Austin and her friend, Fredric Raab and Maggie Clark, Daniel Dick and Bobbie Sanchez, Ron and Barbara Mildowski, June Box, and Debbie Nakamoto.
This group which consisted of seven cars was soon off for their first adventure of a busy weekend. The Coso Mountains are at the southern end of the Owens Valley on the east side of Hiway 395. Much of the Coso Range is, unfortunately, not accessible, as it is within the boundaries of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station. But on this trip we were determined to completely explore the area that is still available to the public.
We traveled north on 395 for about five miles and eventually turned right on a paved road across from the Coso Store. We soon turned left on a graded dirt road and entered the Cosos proper. The first stop was at a quarry site for pumice that apparently had been operated at least fifty years ago by the Desert Materials Corporation. We also noted one other quarry site that was still active. It is obvious that the Cosos are still a significant source of pumice as well as geothermal energy. We continued to travel north on a good dirt road and as we went through a very narrow canyon a beautiful Joshua tree forest became visible. This appeared on the map as Cactus Flats. More than one person remarked that the scenery, which also featured spectacular rock formations, was very similar to Joshua Tree National Park.
The road soon started to deteriorate as it headed northwest and high clearance, if not four wheel drive, became essential. We passed over McCloud Flat which included a moderate sized playa. Fortunately there was little moisture around. After crossing the playa it was time for four wheel drive and we descended a steep, rock hill to the site of the Jack Henry Mine. The only significant evidence of the mine still existing is a tiny cabin in the rocks on the side of the road.
We were now heading west and as the road improved we passed several active pumice mines. After traversing a pass, the Haiwee Reservoir, part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, soon became visible. Beyond the reservoir the graded dirt road now passed through moderately large alfalfa fields and an accompanying ranch. Soon we were on pavement and quickly arrived back on Highway 395 only about 20 miles or so from Boulder Creek. On the way up to Boulder Creek the group also stopped at the historical charcoal kilns on the western edge of Owens Lake. This proved to be a fun morning and a good way to set the stage for a weekend of fun.