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Monday, January 20, 2014

North of the Cronese Mountains - "the route became sketchy, the sand deeper"

The sun breaks over the horizon just to the right/south of Cave Mountain. Jan, Jo Ann and I climbed to its bouldery summit 14 years ago. The top of this peak provides an magnificent view of the Mojave Desert.
Dawn at Green Mountain Lake.
Cave Mountain, a FWC, a tent camper and a sunrise.
Jo Ann walked over to check out the Green Mountain Quarry while I walked south on the playa. It took me awhile to figure out this print on the dried surface of the lake. Then it dawned on me, skid marks from a bird landing when the lake was covered with water.
Photo Credit: Jo Ann Ward
View of Green Mountain Lake from the top of Green Mountain Quarry.
After breaking camp we drove north and then east toward the Silver Sericite Mine.
Much less at the Silver Sericite than we expected. Although there was plenty of sericite laying around. Note to readers: This silky silver powder is the ideal base for your eye shadows and foundation bases. Combined with colored pigments and micas, the result is excellent slip and very soft skin feel while giving color great long lasting adhesion to the skin without clogging pores. From:
We drove past this can but because it was a pull top I designated it an artifact and it remains in situ so it can be studied by archaeologists in the future.
Our route continued east down this unnamed wash on a BLM signed route. Soon the route became sketchy, the sand deeper and only a few tracks continued on.
We found two cans alongside the road. What was their story? We will never know.
After a while we reached a finger of the West Cronese Playa.
Jo Ann found some dried fungi in the wash.
We explored an old corral.
We could hear water down in the well when we jiggled the pump.
Clam and snail shells were evidence of a time when West Cronese Lake was really a body of water.
Burro tracks in the foreground and Cronese Mountain in the background.
Our route down a low arroyo to West Cronese.
West Cronese Lake. This photo was taken about 200 yards from the place my Tacoma was stuck in deep mud eight years earlier.
Crossing a sand dune between West and East Cronese Lakes.
East Cronese Lake.
By 1919 the sporadic settlements in the Cronise Valley had been abandoned, but in 1922 the Arrowhead Highway was opened. It passed from east to west through the southern end of East Cronise Valley (Thompson 1929:536). Although two railroads passed through the valley, service was poor and expensive (Thompson 1929:535). One of the longest lived families in the Mohave Sink, the Proctors, were to move at this time from Crucero to a ranch in the east Cronise Basin. For a time, the Proctor family owned a restaurant, gas station, and motel complex at the junction of the Mohave inflow channel and the Old Arrowhead Highway at the south end of east Cronise Lake. About 1 mile east of the Proctor's establishment 10-15 acres was planted in alfalfa in 1930 and watered from a well (Shepard, personal communication). Furrows of this enterprise are visible on the lake surface, an may relate to the farming activities of H. D. Bradley or G. T. Roberts (Thompson 1929:538,544). The Proctors were one of the last families to stay in the region, and moved to a location on the present highway (Interstate 15) which was realigned approximately 1 mile further south to the extreme southern edge of East Cronise Valley. All occupants of the valley have now gone with the exception of one service station at the Rasor Road freeway exit located on the extreme southeastern edge of East Cronise Lake. The Proctor family remained in the vicinity until as recently as 1969 (Pierson 1970:207).

The Cronese Cat is a falling sand dune shaped like a feline viewed from behind. When a driver can see the Cronese Cat from this angle it means that your vehicle is near I-15. In 15 minutes we were on pavement and headed for home.
More on the Cronese Cat from Desert Magazine, August 1942:
The Cat on the Hill . . .
Dear friend Randall,
Several years ago there were inquiries as to the origin of name Cronese (appearing on most maps as Cronise). I had heard that it was an Indian word meaning wildcat, and that the Indians so named it because of the cat's image that sits on Cat mountain. But the Automobile club insists it was named after a scientist named Cronise, who wrote about the Mojave in 1880. I have talked with several old desert men who visited the valley in the '60s and they say it was named Cronese then, which was 20 years before Mr. Cronise's visit here. A short time ago I had a long visit with a Pahute Indian who has been my friend. I asked him to say "wildcat" in his language. He pronounced it CROdthESE. The dth is slurred and subdued so that it sounds like an "n," but if you pronounce it "n" they will correct you. There is no doubt that the Pahutes saw the cat on the hill.
ELMO PROCTOR, Yermo, California

Sunday, January 19, 2014

East of Green Mountain Lake - "rough old road that dropped into the canyon"

Dawn east of Green Mountain Lake. The small lake where we shot the reflection photos the day before did not have a name. The mine next to it was called the Green Mountain Mine because of the green stone mined at the quarry. Green Mountain Lake seemed logical.
Clark and Jo Ann watching the sun rise.
After breakfast we decided to follow a faint road track and see where it led.
In about 400 yards we discovered this collection of motorcycle parts.
NGK spark plugs were first sold in the US in the 1960's. The Barstow to Vegas race began in the 1960's. Could these parts and tools be artifacts from the race? How many years have the ViceGrips been waiting to be used after their owner placed them on the rock?
The 1974 BTV "Tie" between Bakken and Mayes.
We continued hiking, following the old road to the east.
 After another half mile we found this old "flimsy" gas can. Flimsies were used to carry gasoline before WWII but during the war both the US and British armies began to use "Jerry" cans after seeing their use by the German Wehrmacht.
After that we came across several oil cans and started to think that the road was going to lead to something.
Hiking another half mile and we discovered this rock shelter and a few prospect holes.
Jo Ann found some broken Johnson Brothers tableware.
Remains of an old cot frame.
An old sardine can.
One of the prospect holes. According to this was part of the Condor Group of claims. First recorded claim was in 1945 and the main commodity reported was copper although we found evidence of turquoise mining. Elmo Proctor's name surfaced in the claim report. He operated a service station at the south end of East Cronese Lake from the 1920's to 40's.
 Clark left us and hiked back to camp because he and Jan were headed for home.
Jo Ann and I continued east following a rough old road that dropped into the canyon ahead. We found this old tortoise shell alongside the road.
At the end of the canyon there was an old claim monument.
The claim papers were still inside the monument, although these documents would probably be unreadable.
We scanned around the first monument hoping to find another. Jo Ann spotted the next one, of what turned out to be four, to the north. It was the direction we were headed.
We began to see
more evidence
of prospecting
but never found another camp.
 No mystery about where this balloon came from considering that we were only a few miles south of Fort Irwin. It is amazing how many mylar balloons we find in the desert.
Another tortoise shell.
Looking NE with Kingston Range far in the distance.
We turned west with the intent to circle back to our camp.
Neither one of us knew what to make of this metal number tag glued to a rock laying in the wash.
I placed it on top of a nearby rock so it would be easier to find in the future.
We continued hiking west headed for the Midway Green Quarry.
The sun had set when we reached the quarry. From there it was only about a mile back to camp.
At the conclusion of our five mile hike the camp was just as we had left it, sans Jan and Clark.
Wanting to camp at another location we drove the two miles back to Green Mountain Lake. I demonstrated my laziness by leaving the camper popped up during our relocation. Tom Hannigan at FWC once told me how he had driven down the highway with the top up for several miles after a trade show. I figured that two miles at 10 MPH would be much less stress than Tom's freeway test and our move proved to be uneventful.
Jo Ann pitched her tent away from the camper to distance herself from my snoring. Part of our purpose in moving camp was to get close enough to the lake so we might see some wildlife coming in for water. Later after dinner two coyotes came to the lake about 200 yards away from camp and made their presence known with some very impressive howling. Wanting to join the carnivore duet I roared like a bear. The addition of the ursine voice concluded the coyote concert.