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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Crossing Soda Lake on the Mojave Road

We drove south from Baker to Seventeen Mile Point and then turned east on Indian Springs Road. Years ago I had driven a loop from Indian Springs over to Black Tank Wash. We planned to travel the loop again before driving the Mojave Road out to Soda Lake.
At first the road was rocky but after a few miles it entered the wash and then it became sandy. We reached the spring after about 25 minutes.
The hillsides around the spring were covered with barrel cactus.
This was the road that I drove back in the 80's. It looped up onto the cinder cone plateau, then down to the Black Tank Wash and the Aiken Mine Road. Looks like it has been closed for a long time. I remember it being a very cool drive but we returned the way we came.
Looking ahead at Seventeen Mile point and the Mojave Road.
Driving west on the Mojave Road.
Up ahead we spotted a very large snake crossing the road. It must have been six feet long. A very intimidating serpent but as we drove closer the serpent became a piece of pipe.
The Mojave Road passes between two small mountain ranges.
Little Cowhole Mountains to the north
and the Cowhole Mountains to the south.
Old Dad Mountain in the distance to the southwest. Eleven years ago Jan's emotions swung from tears of frustration to dancing with joy on this mountain.
The closer we got to Soda Lake the harder the winds blew and the more the dust swirled.
It looked as though our plan to camp on the playa would end up being a miserable experience.
When we reached the hard pan of the playa the wind was still gusting but the surface of the lake was so hard that the wind carried no dust.
Sunrise behind a Four Wheel Camper. The winds were gone and it was a glorious morning on Soda Lake.
A noisy murder of crows flew around our camp shortly after sunrise.
So what creature lives in these holes? Miniature graboids?
Self portrait on Soda Lake. My shadow is pointing at Zzyzx Station, the former home of Curtis Howe Springer, on the distant lake shore.
 In the distance the Granite Mountains with the Devil's Playground in the midground. Twelve years ago I led a small group through the Devil's Playground. Just one vehicle got stuck and only for a short time but I remember how relieved we all were to reach the Union Pacific RR right of way.
After breakfast Jan explored the dry lake bed while I attempted to hit some repeaters on 2 meters. Around 9 AM an eastbound vehicle drove past our camp on the Mojave Road. Soon after we packed up and continued west.
Westbound on the Mojave Road crossing Soda Lake.
Crossing Soda Lake in 2003.
When we reached the travelers monument I spotted a vehicle approaching in the distance.
The travelers monument. Probably the most famous stop on the Mojave Road although the Penny Can Tree and the Mailbox are well known landmarks.
Jan celebrated placing her rock on top of the pile. A few moments later I tossed my rock at hers. She gave me a nasty look and said, "are you trying to knock my rock off the top of the stack?" I replied, "no, I was just trying to put mine on top of yours." She didn't buy it.
As we drove on more traffic appeared on the road. This was the lead vehicle of a group of ten.
Nearing the western shore a lone motorcyclist passed us headed east.
We drove on to the Mojave Preserve boundary. A few miles later we reached Razor Road where we turned right and headed for the I-15 and home.

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