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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Surprise Adventure to the Carrizo Plain - "amid a blanket of blooms"

(photo credit: Megan Murphy)
Eventually a total of 21 vehicles sporting Explorers flag window stickers arrived at the rendezvous spot for this year's Surprise Adventure. We parked next to the San Andreas Fault alongside Soda Lake Road on the South end of the Carrizo Plain. After a brief discussion about the area and distributing maps the group dispersed and drove North.
(photo credit: Megan Murphy) 
We came to view the super-bloom and were not disappointed.
 (photo credit: Keira Banks)
(photo credit: Megan Murphy) 
Most of the group stopped at Traver Ranch.
I drove ahead of the group to mark the turn to "The Purple."
The week before Bosco and I had the entire area to ourselves. This weekend there were more than 20 vehicles parked near this massive floral display.
After "The Purple" most of the group continued North to Soda Lake.
I drove into the hills to secure a campsite for the Explorers who were camping for the night.
As sunset approached five families joined me and Bosco at a lovely campsite above the plain.
 (photo credit: Keira Banks)
The shadows lengthened as we set up camp amid a blanket of blooms.
After dinner we gathered together for S'mores and then retired for the night.
This particular night was the 365th for me in our Four Wheel Camper. Difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that in the last ten years I have spent 1/10th of those nights sleeping in a camper.
Our camp at dawn. The overnight low was 12 degrees lower than forecast.
 (photo credit: Keira Banks)
Keira captured an image of our camper in the morning light.
There was a large field of Fiddlenecks across the road from our camp.
After breakfast we broke camp. Bosco and I drove South for home while everyone else drove North to visit Soda Lake.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Two nights on the Carrizo Plain - "yelping of coyotes in the distance"

 We arrived late in the afternoon.
 As we looked for a campsite we found the side roads still muddy from recent rains.
 The spring wildflower bloom had begun.
We set up camp deep in the hills far from the main road.
 Dawn was misty.
 More mist rolled through after breakfast.
 Eventually the sun broke through the clouds and we went on a hike into the surrounding hills.
 There was rain to the East.
 We followed the road high into the hills.
Caliente Peak was far to the North.
 We cut cross-country across the hills.
 And made our way back to the road and followed it to our camp.
 I spent the remainder of the day reading while Bosco patrolled the perimeter.
 The yelping of coyotes in the distance signaled the approach of darkness and about an hour later we retired to the camper.
 Another foggy morning.
 We broke camp and drove back toward Soda Lake Road.
 In an odd twist of coincidence I was listening to Snortin' Whiskey by Pat Travers as we drove by Traver Ranch.
Massive fields of yellow were to be found along the road.
 And we found a gigantic field of purple.
 Then we drove farther to North Soda Lake.
 Reflections on Soda Lake.
 We drove East on the San Diego Creek Road and found a quiet place to eat lunch.
 On our drive back to Soda Lake Road we had a chance encounter with Tom Hanagan, who owned Four Wheel Campers from 2001 to 2016. We talked for awhile about exploration, retirement and Four Wheel Campers until it was time for Tom to drive North and me to head South.

 The Soda Lake Overlook was crowded with people and vehicles.
 We parked at a turnout to capture a photo of water in and clouds over this shallow, ephemeral, alkali endorheic lake.
 After visiting Soda Lake we turned around and drove South toward CA-166.
A mile from the highway and time to leave the lush blooming plain of Carrizo behind and head for home.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Return to the Turtle Mountains - "a screeching bush"

We reached the Turtle Mountains late in the afternoon.
In the distance shadows were moving toward the collapsed remains of the Lost Arch Inn as we drove to our objective.
Several years before I had noticed a grave marked on a topo map 1/2 mile from the Inn and decided to investigate on this trip. We found a mound of rocks about six feet long but no marker.
We drove into the sunset on the way to our campsite.
Evening in the Turtle Mountains.
After a late breakfast we hiked an old road into wilderness.
Soon there was evidence that the area had been trammeled by man.
We found several vehicles. This was the most interesting.
Cabin foundation.
A path led to the outhouse which was intact although reclined.
Curious machine. Maybe a home-brew dry washer.
After giving much thought to the history and forgotten stories of the old camp we hiked cross-country back to the truck.
We ate a late lunch serenaded by a screeching bush that had somehow managed to position a broken branch perfectly behind a BLM road sign that was moving with the wind. What kind of serendipity was at play to make this happen?
After lunch we drove about five miles West and reestablished our camp. Sunset was cloudy.
It was a windy morning with a gray sky.
Once again we were hiking on a perfectly good road into wilderness.
Bosco led the way as we began our hike deep into the Turtle Mountains.
We passed by many old claim markers
and unique pieces of
mining history alongside the road.
The road continued South.
Ocotillo were green with new leaves.
View from inside.
Many old campsites were discovered along the road.
And the road continued South.
Then turned East toward Umpah and Mopah.  A view of the Turtle Mountains that few people get to see.
And then South again passing more campsites along the road. This area must have been a wonderful place to explore and camp before the roads were closed by the Desert Protection Act of 1994.
45 minutes later we reached our objective.
This old Packard
marked the destination of our hike.
Herbert Pulver owned a Packard Automobile dealership in Santa Monica in the 1930's.
We found the outline of a cabin with rocks set in cement and several hardened bags of cement.
After lunch and rest it was time to hike back to the truck.
Photograph of a photographer taking a photograph.
Our route took us through several washes as we retraced our tracks.
We reached camp about two hours after sunset.
Later in the morning more than a dozen
helicopters flew over our location headed East.
We left the Turtle Mountains behind.
More helicopters flew East over the desert.
We visited
several old cabins
on our return to I-40.