Turned North and followed a dirt road into the El Paso Moutains headed for a canyon that I had planned to hike 20 years ago.
The road reached a broad plateau with a view of Black Mountain to the North.
Turning Northeast I passed a cairn made by a friend 18 years ago.
Soon the ruins of Colorado Camp came into view.
The cabin at this camp had a great view of the El Paso Mountains.
Inscription at the base of the fireplace.
We continued on toward our destination.
Stopped at a road, now closed, that led to an old mine shaft and a campsite. Twenty years ago I rappelled into this mine but found it flooded with water about 50 feet down the main shaft.
The sun was nearing the horizon as we drove on.
The first obstacle that required the use of four-wheel drive.
The road was as rocky as I remembered.
Twilight was approaching as we followed the road toward our campsite.
We set up camp at 3,800 feet.
After dinner Bosco and I hiked into the hills to investigate some caves in a sandstone outcrop about 500 yards from camp.
Our camp below and the town of Red Mountain far in the distance on the western slopes of the actual Red Mountain.
A cold starry night in the El Paso Mountains.
Sunrise on a frosty early morning.
While taking this photograph I thought that the air temperature was a bit nippy and guessed it to be below 32 degrees. But after the water in Bosco's bowl froze over in less than 10 minutes I decided to check the thermometer and was surprised to see that it read 17º.
After my morning tea it was time to hike up the canyon. Was surprised to find water/ice after just a few hundred yards of hiking.
The next surprise was finding multiple core sample holes in the sandstone walls of the canyon.
Closer look at one of the holes. Probably artifacts from the era of prospecting near Black Mountain before wilderness designation.
We continued up the narrowing sandstone canyon.
Hoodoos above our route.
There were at least 71 core holes in the canyon.
Spotted a cave above.
A look inside revealed some sort of den.
Okay, it seems like there were at least 109 core holes.
A large buttress guarded this section of the canyon floor.
I was only a few seconds late in taking an epic photo of Bosco posed in profile on the edge of the formation. It was irritating how easily he could scamper up and over obstacles. Occasionally he would turn and look at me as if to say, "what is taking you so long?"
Another seep in the canyon.
End of the right fork of the canyon. I scrambled past the location of this photo farther up the canyon until gravity sent me a message that my skills and physical abilities were no longer good enough for the task.
We returned to the the junction and started up the other branch of the canyon.
High on the sandstone formation was a block about 6 feet wide and 20 feet high.
Looking down the canyon at our route back to the truck.
On our return hike I noticed a formation not spotted on the hike up the canyon. Thought it looked a little Egyptian, maybe a stylized Nefertiti.
Our camper above the canyon and inside the refrigerator lunch was waiting.
After lunch we explored a side canyon but soon it was time to break camp and drive out of the mountains.
We turned south down a sandy Goler Gulch.
And then up a narrow shelf road.
Crossed a small plateau and then dropped into another canyon.
Then engaged the rear locker to climb up a rocky road.
That seemed to have one rocky section
after another rocky section.
Until we reached Mormon Flat.
Off to the West could be seen the remains of Holland Camp. Only the skeletal remains of one building stands today but 25 years ago there were three houses with furniture, dishes and clothing that seemed to be awaiting the owner's return.
We drove South across Mormon Flat and then down Iron Canyon.
Where we gained the pavement of the Garlock Road and made the turn for home.
We met in Mojave, drove East to US 395, then north for about 20 miles before turning East again and crossing a dry lake on our way to a remote desert campsite.
After about an hour of driving on dark desert roads we neared our destination.
Just after this cattle guard we turned left, drove a few more minutes and set up camp.
The game camera recorded a visitor to our camp at 3:46AM
Dawn at our East of the Black Hills/West of NAWS China Lake camp.
Jo Ann's kettle steaming in the brisk morning air.
Panorama of our camp with the Black Hills in the background.
Later in the morning we decided to walk across the desert toward Pilot Knob until we reached the NAWS boundary.
On our way we passed by Tank #3.
Looking south along the NAWS boundary.
During our hike Jo Ann found several WWII .50 caliber cartridge belt links. Video of how the belt links were made and used can be found here.
Bosco led the way as we hiked back to our camp.
Off to the West, Owens Peak, center right, could be seen in the distance. Hiked up there twice, the first time in 2001. Jo Ann has been to the summits of both Mount Jenkins, on the left, and Owens Peak.
Eventually we reached camp, prepared lunch and discussed hiking to the Black Hills HP.
Instead we hiked north to the mouth of Black Hills Canyon and discovered an old guzzler.
The shadow of dusk moved across the valley toward Pilot Peak and Granite Mountain as we hiked back to camp.
Night arrives early in the winter.
Pilot Knob silhouetted by the early light of dawn.
Just before sunrise Bosco and I went for a short hike.
Panorama of the area.
Soon it was time to head back to camp.
The Black Hills painted orange.
After breakfast Jo Ann was far from camp sweeping back and forth with a metal detector.
Later in the morning we broke camp and drove North.
A Jeep Rubicon and Pilot Knob.
As we drove West, Mount Langley could been seen to the North. Jo Ann and I hiked to its summit in 2002.
We stopped at Blackwater Well for lunch.
And then continued West toward Cuddeback Lake.
In the distance a cloud of dust told us that vehicles were headed our way.
When they reached the playa the vehicles fanned out into formation before turning North and away from our route.