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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Centennial Flat, Part 1 - "Weapons pylon from an F4"

 Met Dan and Rachel in Mojave then drove north to Olancha. After stopping for fuel our route took us east on CA 190 to find what we were looking for.
 Dan and Rachel out ahead and getting close.
 We walked on.
 And soon arrived at the fallen icon.
(photo credit:
 For decades I thought the U2 Joshua Tree was in JTNP but was told a few years ago that it was between Darwin and Olancha.
 Dan and Rachel next to the fallen U2 Joshua Tree. The props were found at the site.
 My favorite tribute at the U2 Joshua Tree.
Then we were off to Darwin.
The old mining town of Darwin is private property so this was the best shot available. I do remember back in the 80's walking through the old town and looking at the buildings. I seem to recall that one of the guys in our 4x4 group knew someone who lived there.
Rachel spotted the Darwin petroform.
We drove into the town of Darwin. Population 50.
Dan radioed that he was driving past a unique structure. Upon returning home I discovered that the structure was the Gordon Newell Memorial.
On our way out of town we stopped by the cemetery to pay our respects.
Leaving Darwin.
The Argus Range to the southeast. In a canyon on the opposite side of that range is the Defense Mine. About 15 years ago we enjoyed a drive to that mine and a visit to Lookout City.
The sun was setting as we drove into the hills headed for our campsite.
Sunset in the hills of the Coso Range.
The moon was so bright that a 20 second exposure looked like day.
Rachel retired for the night after stating that she was disappointed at not seeing any meteors. About an hour later a fireball streaked across the sky. Passing right over her tent. The next morning I showed Rachel the photograph of the meteor and she was extremely disappointed at missing such a remarkable astronomical event.
Full disclosure: I created the meteor by using a white light during a 20 second exposure. The ruse was so successful that I felt a little sad telling Rachel the truth.
At 4 AM the moon was down and the land/skyscape much darker.
The next morning I awoke to the sound of voices coming from above our Desert Madonna camp.
The sun created a lens flare halo around the Desert Madonna.
After breakfast we drove west through a Joshua Tree forest.
I turned us south one canyon early and we soon reached the boundary of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.
After a quick backtrack we continued west.
We made the correct turn south, reached the end of the road and hiked south up Black Rock Canyon.
After about an hour of hot bushwhacking we found Black Spring. No water at the spring box.
On our hike north back to our vehicles we spotted this faded symbol.
We drove west to another canyon and turned south once again.
This canyon would take us to the start of our next hike.
 A short hike up this nondescript side canyon would lead us to the remains of an event that happened more than 40 years ago.
Weapons pylon from an F4 on the floor of the canyon. On June 26, 1972, two Navy F-4J Phantoms collided over the Coso Range. Both crews ejected safely.
High on the slopes of the canyon was a portion of a wing.
Dan and Rachel approaching the tail.
Closer view of the tail. Rachel and Dan found another section of the plane high on a ridge to the SW of the tail. I walked south across the plateau but found nothing more.
After concluding our aircraft wreck investigation we drove over to the Astro Artz cabin.
I offered Rachel a "bright shiny new nickel" to spend the night sleeping in the cabin but she declined my generous offer.
We hiked up the canyon south of the cabin for about 3/4's of a mile searching for something but began to run out of daylight so we returned to our vehicles and drove on to our campsite.
After setting up camp Dan prepared some delicious hamburgers and Rachel googled the story of Juliane Koepcke. Amazingly she had cell service for practically the entire trip. Soon after the moon rose we turned in because we planned on hiking the canyon again in the morning.

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