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Thursday, January 8, 2015

East Mojave Preserve - "The trestles were long gone"

 Searchlight, Nevada in the distance and the Barnwell & Searchlight Railroad grade in the foreground. Our goal: follow the old B&S RR from Searchlight to Barnwell.
Fortunately, our navigation app, Gaia, has a feature that allows the user to download historical maps.
 The most difficult part of this journey was finding the route the railroad followed inside of Searchlight. Once we were outside of town the route became very clear.
 Occasionally we would see artifacts from the railroad.
 Upon reaching the foothills our route left the grade several times because the grade crossed obstacles that required a trestle and the trestles were long gone. We would drop onto a nearby road until regaining the grade.
 According to the historical map this was Juan siding/station.
 Hart Peak to the south of our route.
 The Castle Range to the north.
 The grade was cut along this rocky escarpment but the route was too narrow for us to drive.
 After about a mile we rejoined the B&S RR.
 We looked for drill holes in the rock of this cut but did not find any.
 Farther along the grade we found more remnants from the railroad.
At times the grade was the best road in the eastern Mojave Preserve.
 We made a quick detour to Stagecoach Spring.
 The windmill no longer functioned but there was water in the well.
The sign read "Road not Maintained," neither Jan or I disagreed and condition of the road made for slow going.
 As the sun set we neared our camp for the night.
 Well maybe not, our plan was to camp on one of the runways of the old Hart Airfield but it looked as though it is now part of wilderness. Beyond that fence, in the "wilderness," were two runways, one of which is 3,400 feet long.
 We set-up camp at a road junction less than a mile from the airfield. The night air at 4,500 feet was cold and still when this photograph was taken.
 Dawn on the eastern Mojave Preserve. The morning air was brisk but just about right for hiking.
 After breakfast I hiked across the hills to a Piper PA-31 Navajo crash that someone had told me about years ago. The NTSB report states that the crash happened 1/14/79 and that there were three people on board. No fatalities. At the end of the report there is a curious remark: KENNEWICK A/P CLOSED DURING RPTD DEPT TIME.RPT FLT DISTANCE NOT POSSIBLE W FUEL ON BOARD. It appeared that the investigator did not believe the pilot's story.
In the distance Hart Mine Airfield's shorter east/west runway is visible.
When I returned to the truck we broke camp and continued following the B&S grade.
Sometimes the road was on the grade and at other times our route paralleled the old railroad.
Eventually we reached Barnwell which is now the site of a ranch house and a few outbuildings.
Jan spotted this wooden culvert just before the Barnwell & Searchlight merged with the former Nevada Southern Railway grade that once connected the Ivanpah Valley and Goffs.

We drove north on Ivanpah Road. Clark Mountain on the left. I was about 200 vertical feet from the summit of Clark ten years ago but had to retreat because of an ice coated route just above the class three pitch.  It must have taken half a dozen sliding falls for the mountain to convince me that a retreat was in order.
The end of pavement for some ...
but the beginning of pavement for us. And time to begin the long drive home.
While stopped for a break at the Cima Road exit on I-15 we saw a blimp approaching.
The DirectTV blimp was flying west but at a much slower speed than traffic on I-15 because we passed it about five minutes after taking this photo.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Around Lake Mohave Pt 4 - "Crashed twin engine plane on the hillside"

After driving into Boulder, for lunch and fuel, we decided to head for another remote cove on Lake Mohave. It was late afternoon when we drove through the old mining town of Nelson, turned right onto Aztec Wash Road and began dropping down to the lake.
Beside the road Jan spotted a perfect example of how teddy bear cholla cactus propagate.
Deeper into the canyon the wash became a little sandy.
A "do not enter" sign on a locked gate is always enough to discourage me from entering. No need for armed guards.  But I know a couple of individuals who would consider this sign to be a personal challenge. (No names given here but you know who you are ;)
Daylight began to fade as we neared the lake.
Aztec Cove was our original destination but after looking around the site in the darkness with flashlights, we thought another cove might make a better camp.
 We drove back up Aztec Wash and found a connector that would take us south to the Powerline Wash Road.
 The power-line road had a 1950's sci-fi feel to it as we worked our way under towers toward the lake with the moon rising over distant mountains.
Moonrise over Lake Mohave at Powerline Wash Cove. The sci-fi mood continued at our camp as the power-lines hummed less than 100 yards to the south.
Dawn at Powerline Cove and the wind was calm. Maybe we could finally get out on the lake.
As we considered paddling the lake, the air began to move and the wind returned.
The return route through the power-lines seemed much less dramatic in the morning light.
There were a few prospects along Aztec Wash.
We decided to drive out to Fire Mountain Cove. The sign reads 4x4 required but this road was in great shape and could be driven in 2WD.
This was probably the best road to a cove that we drove during our entire time at Lake Mohave.
As we approached the lake the road became surrounded by a steel pipe and cable sheath.
There was a mile of this cable/pipe fence. (We measured it on the way out.) How much did this cost? Four inch pipes every ten feet equals more than 1,000 pipes. Upon our return I checked the price of four inch pipe and found a cheap price at $65, equals $6,500. 10,000 feet of steel rope/cable @ 55 cents a foot equals $5,000. The cost of this project was $11,500 before transportation and labor costs which would, at minimum, treble the total. Jan commented as we departed Fire Mountain Cove, "that was a lot uglier than some tire tracks." I added, "and those poles will be standing there for hundreds of years."
We found one spot where the shoreline could be reached but only on foot.
We considered driving down to Montana Cove but ...
... with no overnight camping most of the cove's appeal disappeared.
We continued on to Eagle Wash and drove down to the former site of Nelson's Landing. After looking around we gained pavement in a few hundred yards at the eastern terminus of Silverado Canyon Road.
Driving west up Silverado Canyon Road we stopped at the Techatticup Mining Camp.
A person could spend an entire day/night here with a camera. (I am thinking that my friend Ron will be making plans for a Techatticup trip after reading this post.)
Across the road was a crashed twin engine plane on the hillside. It was a prop used in the 2001 film "3000 Miles to Graceland" starring Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner. One of many movies filmed at this site which is only a 45 mile drive from Las Vegas.
This ancient bus, one of scores of old vehicles at this location, reminded Jan and I that we needed to motor on.