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My Expedition Vehicle & Trailer

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Quick Shakedown Desert Trip

I was anxious to try out the new 4Runner even though I still had the street tires on the rims. I prepped the trailer and headed out to the desert for what I hoped to be a long weekend.

I have to say the street tires provided great MPGs even when towing the trailer. I had a good run on the freeways without headwinds or heavy traffic and driving a new car is alwyas a treat. The dirt roads of the desert were easy to navigate and before long I had arrived at my campsite near the old mining operation I was interested in.

After I set up camp the wind started to pick up and I had no idea what a headache it would create. You can see how the tent's rain fly is being buffeted. It had already suffered some minor damage on the White Rim Trail and this trip would add to that.

I broke out my lights, gas meter and other gear and headed into the mine for a look. I have friends who will recognize this location but I will not provide any information on the name or locale in this blog.

I have explored some other areas of this mine before but this would be a more casual look and I would stay on this one level without venturing into the lower workings.

Here are the remains of a storage room, probably for blasting supplies or tools. I am always impressed by how fresh the lumber looks.

Pressing further into the tunnel there were now ore cart rails and compressed air pipes that evaded the metal thieves that roam the desert and destroy our history.

It is inevitable that the weight of the mountain wins out over the bracing that men have installed in their quest to wrest gold from the earth.

There were numerous large stopes where ore was extracted. The extent of this one far exceeded the ability of my flash to dispel the darkness held within.

Let's continue to follow the tracks further into the mountain! We just have to duck under this set of braces and ore chute.

This looks as if it was a workshop of sorts, maybe for repairing ore carts and other equipment.

Here is an example of the way the miners shunted ore carts from one track to another. Although the hand lever mechanism is missing you can easily puzzle out how it worked.

An old grease bucket and brushes for lubricating the track and ore cart axles.

This rusty receiver tank for compressed air was especially interesting to me. The old style riveted construction speaks to the length of time this location has been worked. The history of riveting dates back close to 5,000 years.

Miners could not surf the net and order what they needed so often they would use scraps of steel to fashion what might work well enough. This hinged steel gate on the ore chute is a great example of something functional that filled the need of the day.

I am not sure what led to this machinery laying in a jumbled mess. Even the deepest extent of an old mine is not immune from the stupidity that humans can dream up.

As much as I enjoyed poking around this buried history it was time to start the long underground trek back to the entrance. 

Before too long I spotted what has become a timeworn cliche but is always a welcome sight;

"The light at the end of the tunnel"

Once outside I could see the wind had not abated but instead had gotten worse. I had a quick dinner and turned in early. I managed a good sleep despite the lonely flapping of the rain fly.

The morning of the new day was windy and (being an optimist) I went for a hike to explore the terrain and look into some nearby adits I had noticed. As I roamed the hills I came across numerous test digs with small tailing piles giving testament to the futility of the dig. I also found this but don't know enough to guess at what sort of snake used to wear it. With the cool weather in place I never did see a live snake.

From on top of a high hill I could see back to my camp and the rain fly was straining to break free of the tattered restraints. Because the tent was old I did not know if I could purchase just a new fly or might have to purchase a new tent.

This adit looks promising!

It did not go in too far but the single winged, furry denizen seemed to appreciate the shelter the abandoned mine provided.

Returning to camp I could see that the rain fly would have to be removed. I also had a number of kitchen items launched into the air by a gust of wind and it was quite a sprint for me to chase them across the desert.

That was the breaking point. Time to pack up, get home and effect some repairs or order a new rain fly. Thanks for hanging out with me and exploring a new mine. I do hope you'll come back for the next adventure with me in the high forests above Bishop, California.

Until then, safe travels and rewarding explorations!


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