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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Surprise Adventure - The Salton Sea, Salvation Mt and Niland Mud Pots

The invitation read:
Surprise Camping Adventure
  "Take a trek into the dark of night without knowing the final destination. Well, Mr. Johnson will know where we are headed. If you can commit to a maximum drive of three hours to a remote camping destination this adventure is for you. Meet at 4 PM on Saturday April 27th and then drive into the coming darkness. Bring your camping gear and a sense of adventure. We will return on Sunday. No special vehicle required."
 Jan and I arrived at Mecca Beach Campground at 4:30, about 30 minutes after a colleague, 180 miles away, had met this year's participants and provided directions to our location. We set up camp and waited to see how many people were going to join us at our Salton Sea rendezvous.
As the sun dropped below the horizon the first vehicles began to arrive.
After an hour ten families had arrived and set up camp. Jan and I were pleased that so many people made the journey but then more vehicles drove into camp. The arrivals continued until 23 vehicles were parked on our end of the campground.

We had so much fun walking around the campsites and visiting with folks that I forgot to take more photographs.

A few campers decided rise early and greet the dawn.
 A view of our camp from the south.
View from the north.
A Four Wheel Camper at Mecca Beach Campground. The night before in Little Box Canyon there probably wasn't one person within two miles of our camp and today there were 57 within 200 feet.
 After breakfast everyone agreed that breaking camp early to avoid the heat was an excellent idea. The high the day before was 103ยบ. We were ready at 9AM to caravan to our next destination.
Salvation Mountain was only 30 minutes away. No one in the group had ever visited this famous art installation. Erin M. said, "this is the most random thing I have ever seen."
We followed the yellow brick road to the top. At the summit Jan asked if we should enter Salvation Mountain into our peaks climbed database. :)
The next stop of the tour was Slab City. Well, actually there was just a really good place to reverse the direction of our long vehicular caravan about 1/2 mile into the Slabs.
A very funky place but not really on our itinerary. The area gained some notoriety from both the "Into the Wild" book and movie. Christopher "Alexander Supertramp" Johnson McCandless should have taken the map that Jim Gallien offered him at the start of the Stampede Trail.
An aside: "When in Alaska, back in 1986, I drove part of the Stampede Trail. After driving a few miles my common sense slapped me in the face and said, "you are alone and 2000 miles from home, turn around and get out of here." It was a muddy, swampy, rutted, mosquito infested mess. Turning around was an adventure on its own."
This old bank building in Niland is always an eye catcher. Whenever I drive by it, it makes me want to see it when it was in operation.
Our last stop on the Surprise Adventure were the Mud Pots southwest of Niland. Some of the gryphons are eight feet tall. This area is also known as the Davis-Schrimpf Seep Field or the Niland Mud Volcanoes.
A closer look at a mud pot. This one is about six feet wide.
 As everyone in our group began their drive home, Tori, Madalynn and Susan returned to pots for a little more investigation.

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