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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Majestic Mines of The Mojave Desert

 This adventure is a follow up to my last trip to this area and I invited a few friends to help me safely explore some truly majestic mines. Let me state right here: Do not ask me for the names or locations of these mines. The information is out there but if you have to search for it and then drive hundreds of miles and overcome difficult hikes you too will strive to protect these vanishing treasures. The vandalism we witnessed is sickening. This is a museum without display cases or barriers so please help to preserve it.

The desert is dangerous for the unprepared. The steep and unrelenting terrain can quickly injure or kill you. Its remoteness demands that you be self-reliant. Even if you could dial 911 on your cell only a helicopter might save you but is there one that can be dispatched in time to save you?

I know that some of you reading this have been to these locations and I applaud your achievement. To those of you that have yet to go, perform your research! The history is amazing. The struggles, abysmal failures and triumphs of the men and women who first came here are to be appreciated and preserved.

We spent three days for this adventure and I still feel as if we barely touched a small portion of what is to be discovered. Along with me were these hardy overland adventurers:



 Mall Ninja of the East Mojave Desert
(Jim's finger is OFF the trigger)

Of course I did not miss the opportunity to bring out my expedition trailer!

Camp Teotwaki Aerial Shot

We traversed many miles of rocky and elevated trails as many mine adits are well off of the beaten path. A quality compass, old topo maps and a good GPS are invaluable.

We were amply rewarded for our efforts! At higher elevations spectacular structures and adits  patiently await cautious exploration.

photo by Alan

Photo by Alan

Sometimes the spirits of jealous miners stand a fierce guard over their gold and silver.....

D. McC. was here in 1923! Miners often used the soot from their carbide lamp's flame to write names, dates and ribald comments. (Photo by Peter)

Alan inspects a vertical shaft that was boarded over.
Photo by Joey

Route finding under cloudy desert skies. (Photo by Peter)

 Once back at camp Joey enjoyed Mike's well equipped all-frequencies communications station.

We all enjoyed Mike's very agile and swift drone which allowed us to easily inspect old burro paths and  mines before we tried clambering up to them.

photo by Joey

How to swat a pesky drone
Photo by Alan

We hugely enjoyed great meals of Mediterranean meat skewers, teriyaki chicken, stew and Apple pie.
Spectacular sunsets at Camp Teotwaki were always far better than mere photographs can portray

My camp the next morning

Only three of us would go on the last day's hike. We packed up camp and said our goodbyes to the others. We planned to navigate faint desert jeep trails to a rugged and forbidding canyon to search for a mine that few have ventured to.

This location did not disappoint!

 The day was getting late and I was tired. I had run a marathon the weekend before and was still recovering. The steep descent went more quickly than anticipated. In large part it was due to Alan's keen eye that traced out an old miner's trail that helped us to avoid the scree covered slopes.
Photo by Alan

Upon my return to home I was able to research one location that we visited and match up this old photograph of a steam train's visit to the remote location. It explained the section of former railroad bed that we discovered near a mine's ore chute.

We also identified this old can with a small valve and spout as an old kerosene container from Standard Oil with a brand name of "Pearl Oil".

Thank you for joining us on this adventure! I'll be sure to give you a call on the next one.

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