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My Expedition Vehicle & Trailer

Friday, February 28, 2020

Overlanding In The Mojave Desert - 2020

How often do you embark on a long-planned trip and at the end are surprised by what you actually experienced? This overland adventure was just such a trip with the reward of unexpected friendships and surprising  revelations about the historic adventures of the men who sought out California's gold and silver.

This 9 day overlanding adventure was planned by Mike of the Underground Explorers who invited me along to join the other 7 people and five vehicles.

The wags (who spend time worrying about such things) have opined that an offroad trip must last more than a week to be considered "overlanding".  Alas, our trip didn't qualify as an "expedition" as there are no less than eleven severely detailed criteria to meet. I guess someone has to worry about defining such things!

The vast dry lake beds and towering mountains provided a wonderful geologic backdrop for one of our many stops.

Our group comprised Mike and his daughter Nicole, Lee, Larry, Dan, Tom and Ed and in the pictures you can see the variety of vehicles from Mike's well equipped Jeep, Dan's wonderful Land cruiser, Tom's modified Tacoma and Ed and Lee's bone-stock Jeeps. I did not utilize my trailer on this trip so as not to slow down the rest of the adventurers or risk getting stuck on some of the more difficult trails.

One of those trails was a 1300 foot climb up a steep and rocky trail and required 4WD low gears and the rear locker. I'm really glad I have that option on the 4Runner! It saw a lot of use on this trip.

The journey started in the desert regions West of Las Vegas and eventually concluded in areas closer to Lone Pine.  Very little of the journey was conducted on pavement as evidenced by the dust and mud that ended up as much inside our vehicles as on the outsides!

Enjoying the shade of a desolate canyon during a break on a rugged section of our journey.

We made a number of stops at abandoned mining sites and explored the scenic remains of historic buildings and equipment.

Note the snow on the mountains.

Nicole always had a keen eye for the terrain's geology, flora and fauna and could often be observed taking a closer look at some interesting finds.

Dan lifting a tire in the air as he easily navigated this steep and challenging terrain.

Tom's turn to carefully crawl over the rocks!

Someone succeeded in beautifying the harsh white outlines of this wilderness marker. A nice re-purposing of beige nylon leggings!

This historic mountain pass is 7160' high

Mike provided some much welcomed guidance over and around the jumbled rocks of a tight, high-canyon mining trail.

An old and well-worn miner's arrastre I stumbled across

Ed and Tom taking a welcome break from the bone-jarring trails 

I often like to capture interesting pictures of the people I am with as a way to document what we experienced together.

Larry inspecting a well-worn truck

Lee scouring the hillsides for passages into the mines. He is an expert at mapping out the secrets of the miners' subterranean labyrinths.

Photographing Dan through the remains of an old cabin's window.

Nicole out exploring the area around a mine site.

A quiet campsite

There was never a shortage of scenic backdrops for photos of our rigs.

A long convoy across expansive terrain

Negotiating another rough trail.

Time to slip a bit on some snow, mud and ice!

For this trip without the "expedition" trailer I loaded up the roof rack with a fair amount of gear.

Experiencing some nice articulation. Photo Credit M. Schriber

On top are the following items: ARB awning, shovel, Hi Lift jack, 15 gallons of gas, 4 bundles of firewood and a rooftop pouch containing a small tent, folding table, sleeping bag, sleeping pads and a folding chair.

Battery charging during a layover

Thanks for traveling along with us on this unique overland journey through the deserts of California! Sharing an adventure is a great way to make new friends.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Adventures In The Marvelous Panamint Valley !

I was able to spend a few a few days in Panamint Valley and eventually meet up with a group of folks from the Underground Explorers at the location of a town called Ballarat.. 

I arrived a few days early and set up a full base camp in the Ballarat campground.

With the proximity to various military bases and also Rainbow canyon I often saw jets above which even included the USAF Thunderbirds running some practice routines.

As always, the F-35s were the kings of thunder!

Supposedly penned by Charles Manson, may he burn forever in Hell.

This 1959 inscription was left in the concrete slab of the shed.

I drove some of the high and narrow mining roads to  locate old underground mine complexes

Sometimes you have to work your way through narrow and overgrown canyons. The sound of branches pinstriping your vehicle's nice paint becomes a regular occurrence and less of a worry.

There are also places where the roads have almost disappeared and you'll weave a careful path through numerous rocks. One of many reasons to equip your vehicle with steel armor and a suspension lift.

The stories this old safe could tell!

Great views back down the canyon.

So many times a car would be stripped of its body, wheels and suspension and re-purposed to drive ore handling machinery.

A large ball mill used to pulverize ore.

 Interior shot of the ball mill

I love the old conical rivet work on the boilers!


I lost a nice Surefire flashlight somewhere near here.

Exploring some high, steep and delightfully sinuous mining roads

I am right here! High up in the canyons again,

And soon there were great underground adventures too.

A super-neat steel plate for ore carts to switch tracks at the crossing

A cool old stove left high and dry in the mountains

The ore bin to the right was part of a truly amazing gravity powered ore bucket tramway that started much higher up the canyon walls. Note the large idler wheel at the top of the bin.

There used to be two ore buckets but one was stolen! Please don't ask me for this or any other location.

Looking across and up the other side of the canyon at the location of the station where the ore buckets were filled.

I hope you enjoyed hanging out in the historic Panamint Valley with me! I've got new adventures coming up soon and will be sure to share those photos with you too.

Be safe on your own adventures. Until next time...