I was able to get out this past week and practice some of my skills on the Mojave Road. The Mojave Road is a 140 mile long stretch which had all but been abandoned were it not for some four wheel drive enthusiasts. We hit an almost perfect time of the year to make the run. Temperatures hit a high of about 79 and dropped down to about 40 at night.
The scenery is pretty amazing and the flowers were in full bloom and that’s a pretty small window to hit timing wise. As we were driving along there were pops of yellows, blues, reds, orange and purples which were such a huge contrast to the stark landscape it was almost surreal. Driving though the desert is usually a fairly dusty smell, but with the flowers blooming even I with my limited sense of smell could smell the flowers.
We set up our first night of camping at “The Corral” which is actually the Kessler Ranch from the last century. The wood is barely standing but still provides some structure and windbreak. 100 years ago this desert was able to support cattle and some mining, but as time has gone by the desert has become drier and it’s hard to believe anyone could’ve lived out there.
Some of the most incredible sights are the abandoned ranches and mine buildings. Immediately you think they must be from the 1800’s but upon more careful inspection you see they are actually a little newer. This first cabin was built at the end of WWI and was used until 1985.
This mining building must’ve been used as a main building for the owner of the mine because it was a pretty large home, about 2,000 square feet. If you look closely you can see the power lines going down to the meter look fairly new and would’ve been as recent as the 70’s.
Navigating through the desert isn’t too difficult especially when there are dirt tracks and roads cutting through the vegetation. It can get a little tricky when you’re trying to discern which route will take you where you want to go when they are paralleling each other but diverging ever so slightly. In the back of your mind you wonder if the divergent path will take you to some horrific drop off into a dry wash. None the less we were able to find our way to the sign in book marked with an American Flag and we found the frogs which is a completely strange thing to find way out in the middle of no where.
Day 2 we found the lava tube. A lava tube is formed when a volcano erupts and the surface of the lava cools forming a crust, but the flowing lava still moves under that crust. I’m not sure why it doesn’t just fill in the tube and eventually become solid but none the less this tube has been formed. You can climb down into the tube (there’s a set of stairs the park service installed) and work your way down the 100′ long tube to the end where there are holes letting in sunlight. This is the kind of beam you get when your light source is 93 million miles away.
When going in there’s a low rock section you have to duck under, everyone is very cautious not to bang your head – on the way out however being 6′ tall and wearing a baseball cap is not advisable. I was looking down at my footing and took a step up before looking if I had adequate headroom and was taken out by a small jagged piece of lava rock. T’didn’t cut my cap but the impact created about an inch long cut. Head wounds bleed… a lot. My buddy got to dust off some of his EMT skills and I realized bandanas have a 31st purpose. Holding gauze pads on a head wound while you look like the Zig Zag Man sans the cigarette.
After a small recovery of my buddy’s pick up truck on a really soft sandy dry wash we set up camp in the middle of a huge valley. While the sun was setting we estimated we were camping in the middle of an area that you could fit the entire San Fernando Valley and we were the only two people there. At night, both nights it was so clear you can see the satellites crossing your field of view. All in all the trip was spectacular and I got to test out the Marshmallow by running her through some great terrain. We didn’t have enough time to get to see “The Hole in the Wall” campground so we have something to do next time. The ARB Fridge was unreal and I can’t wait to pick up my Cascadia Vehicle Tent in June.