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Monday, May 20, 2013

To Mesquite Canyon and Beyond - "bulldozers leveled the camp"

 It was May and that meant it was time for our annual trek to the El Paso Mountains. This year 14 vehicles left Mojave and drove north to Jawbone Canyon.
Our first stop was the Los Angeles Aqueduct Jawbone Siphon. The siphon is 8,095 feet long, with a vertical drop/climb of 850 feet. The entire system is more than 200 miles in length.
 Next we entered the El Paso Mountains via Mesquite Canyon. The canyon was an easy drive with only one difficult section near the College Girl Mine.
We made a brief stop at the site of Della Gerbracht's camp. Nothing remains after bulldozers leveled the camp more than ten years ago.
Our next stop were the camps of Burro Schmidt and Toni Seger.  Tonie Evelyn Seger and her husband, purchased the tunnel and surrounding land in 1963. She passed May 30th, 2009.
 Everyone in the group hiked up the road to the tunnel, turned on their headlamps and walked through this long corridor of desert lore. The tunnel is 2,087 feet long and took Burro Schmidt 32 years to dig. He finished the tunnel in 1938 and it has been estimated that he moved 5,800 tons of rock. Schmidt died in 1954 at the age of 83.
 Next we drove down into Last Chance Canyon to visit the camp of Walter Bickel.
 A new addition was made since our visit last year. The Friends of Last Chance Canyon installed an Andy Gump style portable restroom. Many in our group, including Jan, yelled "yahoo."
As we drove west from Bickel Camp Jan's eagle eyes spotted a desert tortoise about 50 feet from the road. We stopped our caravan so everyone could get a view of this elusive desert dweller. No one got closer than 50 feet. This photo was a result of 12x zoom.
After making the turn north out of Last Chance Canyon we drove west to our next destination. The Cudahy Old Dutch Cleanser Mine was an pumicite mine or as old commercials once reported, "Seismotite."
Down in the canyon below is a location from the movie "The Big Country" starring Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston.
Screen shot from the movie. Heston standing and Charles Bickford sitting on the horse.
A daughter is photographed taking a photograph of her famous father.
The caravan continued on to our last stop before dividing into two groups. Those headed for home and those staying to camp.
Richard and his daughter Sheila pose beside their Toyota Prius that he boldly drove though the entire route of our desert trek. After each difficult section of rock or sand, drivers of the SUVs and pickup trucks stared incredulously as Richard pushed his car onward. It was a remarkable demonstration of skill and determination.
When photographing the last of the departing vehicles I noticed that its driver looked a bit different than the others.
A closer look at the driver. Who knew that equines could afford an Audi SUV.
 The remaining members of our group set up camp as the sun set behind Wyley's Knob and Skinner Peak.
 We gathered around the campfire, ate dinner, and shared stories. Thank you Paul, for preparing the tasty steaks and delicious corn on the cob.
Dawn at our camp. Two SUVs, two Jeeps, one Tacoma with a Four Wheel Camper and an intrepid Toyota Prius. After a delicious breakfast, thanks again Paul, of scrambled eggs, bacon, sweet rolls and bagels we broke camp and headed for home.


  1. I'm sorry we weren't able to make it, it looks like everyone had a great time. Maybe next year!

    1. No worries, Beth, we travel to this area every year. You are welcome to join us anytime. Cheers.