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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Surprise Adventure: Kelso Dunes - "It was very sneaky of you"

The invitation read: "Surprise Adventure"  Must be willing to drive more than three hours and camp at a remote destination. You will discover where you are headed when you pick up the directions at RP at 4:30 PM. Follow the directions 221 miles to Mr. Johnson's location.
Late Friday night we arrived at the Kelbaker exit on I-40 and drove north into the Mojave Preserve. This area is now part of the National Park Service but 20 years ago the area was managed by the BLM.
 Slightly frozen rain was falling as we set up camp near Arrowhead Spring on the western slopes of the Providence Mountains.
 Dawn and when the clouds cleared snow could be seen on the mountains in the background.
 A view looking SW toward the Granite Mountains.
 At noon we packed up camp and drove SW toward pavement. Granite Mountains in the distance.
 Our next destination slowly appeared in the distance.
 We set up camp about a mile from the tallest dune in the Kelso Dune system and awaited the arrival of the Explorers who were headed our way on the Surprise Adventure.
 I hoisted a flag on a tree to signal to the coming group that they had reached their destination.
Around 8PM the lights from two vehicles appeared in the darkness to the east.
 In a couple of minutes the passengers of the vehicles saw a familiar flag and knew that they had reached their destination.
(photo credit: Sandy Yu)
In the next 90 minutes 14 families joined us at our Kelso camp. Truly an intrepid bunch of Explorers.
 After everyone set up camp it was time to hike to the top of the highest dune.
(photo credit: Sandy Yu)
Lights of the group returning to camp.
(photo credit: Sandy Yu) 
 Ethan and Austin battled with light.
(photo credit: Sandy Yu) 
There were Explorers somewhere in the darkness.
(photo credit: Sandy Yu) 
 Odd looking creatures near our camp.
(photo credit: Sandy Yu)
Walking past the "painting with light crew" they asked me to stand still for 30 seconds. This was the result.
 Campers continuing a tradition.
 Around 1:30 AM everyone began to head for their tents and sleeping bags. Thank you Cheryl B, for providing the accent lighting in this photograph. ;)
 After everyone retired for the night I walked out into the dunes to enjoy the quiet, cold moonless night.
 Fifteen separate camps made one large camp. In one of those tents is the famous football player, "Nathaniel but I go by Nate." The Granite Mountains, in background, were topped with snow 24 hours earlier.
One last look at the dunes before we departed. Some of the Explorers commented, "It was very sneaky of you, Mr. Johnson, to have us hike to the top of that sand dune at night because I don't think that I would have hiked up there after seeing it this morning."
Driving back to pavement. Providence Mountains in the distance. 24 hours earlier they were also topped with layer of snow.


  1. Your pictures are awesome! My husband and I haven't had a chance to get out to the desert much. He just bought a new Jeep last weekend though, I keep telling him he needs to join a Jeep club. If you can suggest one please let me know!

    1. Really enjoyed the painting with light photos that Sandy Yu and her crew created.
      Thanks for commenting Beth.
      I sent you a personal message.

  2. Replies
    1. The two best parts of the trip were the arrival of the group because we don't know who is coming and the excitement when they begin their hike into the darkness toward the highest dune.
      Thanks for commenting BB.