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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.