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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

March Mojave Rendezvous, 17th - 19th, 2011

I recently attended a desert rendezvous for overlanders. The event had all the hallmarks of a great time and it did not disappoint! For me it was another chance to offroad the trailer as well as meet old and new friends, meet cyber friends, swap tall stories and swap camping and other overland gear. And let's not forget exploring great trails and investigating old mining claims!

The area that we met at was East of Indio, West of Blythe and well south of Joshua Tree National Park and the 10 Freeway. The easiest way to get there is to exit at Red Cloud Mine Road and go south for 7 miles. However, there are many more fun ways to go in and explore the great terrain. Below is the BLM map that the rangers sent me.

Some folks started arriving as early as Thursday night and Friday morning!  That is the sort of anticipation that was generated by the trip organizer's plans for fun. Soon a small city was growing and eventually there were over 50 vehicles of all possible overlanding types.

Did you spot that cool offroad teardrop trailer?

For myself it was to be Friday evening when I arrived, having slogged through the slow traffic on Interstate 10.

Here is a shot of my setup the next morning as I cooked breakfast.

We had a visit from the BLM and Border Patrol too.

I had wanted to head all the way down Red Cloud Mine Road and mentioned it to a few folks but I hadn't really planned it as a group excursion. Just a sort of easy drive and peek. As I left camp I had a couple of vehicles in tow but I would look in my mirrors and notice there were three, and then five and by the time we got to the canyon we had a total of ten vehicles! I was both amused and embarassed as I had not meant to exclude anyone but I was happy that they made sure to just get out there and share the fun!

We took pictures of each other

I learned that if you see these plants growing that they might be one indicator of gold bearing soil

We all let our Inner Photgrapher roam freely

We admired the tenacity and industry of the miners who built structures that still seem to whisper tales of rich gold strikes

We hung out at high points and soaked up the views

.... and took time for a nice lunch

But we admired the lovely old cyanide tanks from a distance...

And beyond them was the canyon leading to the Red Cloud Mine! Why is this man smiling? Maybe he already knows how much fun lies ahead!

We managed to get into quite a bit of fun there. I really should have first walked up this one nasty loose road before pointing my 4Runner that way. I figured that if those cool VW Synchro Vans could go up it must not be that bad. Well, my respect for their capabilities now knows no bounds!

Here is the orange one precariously perched on a short and narrow tailing pile high above the canyon floor.

Look at how much ground clearance that Orange Beast has!

This is the green one. Note all of the loose broken rock that carpeted the rough and steep road.

The other vehicles heading up the road on the other side of the canyon.

Here is a shot of our vehicles parked across the hillsides of the old mine

And all together as we explored the upper reaches of the area

A few folks were heading back to the camp site to catch the raffle but some of us wanted to head up canyon explore a bit more. In the process we found a road that was a little trickier than we thought and ended up practicing our recovery skills

Ooops! I thought that this rock was deeper and heavier.... not such a good anchor to winch from!

We ended up effecting a safe recovery and headed a bit further up the canyon to practice some good ol' gun slinging.

And poking around some more old mines!

But soon it was time roll along the trail towards camp.

After a great time exploring it was time to head back and BBQ a steak and talk with friends all evening. The plan for Sunday morning was to pack up and to follow the Bradshaw Trail out a bit towards the Salton Sea and grab some shots of the abandoned railroad trestle.

As we headed out the trail Sunday morning we saw regular reminders that the trail ran along the edge of the military's Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range.

And sometimes you might see these inert, concrete filled practice bombs

Before too long we had our trucks all poised under the long and tall railroad trestle.

Naturally we couldn't wait to go up and walk across!

Naturally taking lots of pictures!

And I grabbed a nice bird's-eye view of my truck and trailer!

Soon we climbed down the bank at the far end and walked back to our trucks.

We went further down the road and enjoyed some of the ups and downs of the trail

The long stretches with expansive views

And the Canal too!

Almost too quickly we were back on pavement, not far from Mecca, California. We said our goodbyes and started our long drives home, already pondering the memories of a great time exploring California's fascinating deserts. 

Once again, thanks to all of you who follow my blog and enjoy my adventures as much as I do! Until next time.