Solo on and near the Mojave Trail -March 2010
Back in March I was itching for a solo ride on the Mojave Trail. I had ridden it with my friend Tommy a couple years ago but thought it would be a good choice for a mid week solo.
One of the cool things about going alone is that you get to make all the navigational decisions, set the pace and stop when and where you want to.
We had a good storm roll through and I knew the desert would be wet. It was time to go.
Here is the flood control channel by my house as I left. It had class 3 rapids!
I decided to start in Baker and skip the super cool Afton Cyn. to Soda Lake section. I was pretty sure the Lake was flooded and impassible. I thought the first Afton Cyn. water crossing would be dicey as well.
It was warm in Baker so I packed light, taking my super light "quilt" instead of a full on sleeping bag. I also didn't bring warm gloves or a winter jacket. It seemed like the storm had passed. That turned out to be a big mistake.
Here is the turnoff towards the lake. The ride is a '07 KTM 450 EXCR. There's not a cloud in the sky, a perfect day.
I skirted the edge of the lake until I hit the Mojave Trail. I could see standing water out on the lake and there were muddy sections visible.
This time I wanted to check out all the historical and scenic sites along the trail so I stopped at many of the spots listed in the "Mojave Road Guide" by Dennis Casebier (name pronounced "case o' beer"). The other time we were in high speed "must make the river" mode.
This is the Willow Wash section where the road follows a small lava escarpment for a while. I think there are petroglyphs along here but I didn't see them.
It is quite sandy for a few miles in this section so it was nice that it was moist underneath, the bike wasn't too squirrely.
After a few more miles I came to the Mojave Road Monument.
The register was kinda' wet, it just sits out in the weather. People have a tradition of leaving knickknacks there.
There is also a strange toad/frog shrine. I decided I better have a beer (ghetto 211 malt) and some brunch.
Perhaps a blood orange to chase that 211.
Soon I continued towards Marl Springs. The springs were considered a "vital" water source for the settlers traveling the trail back in the day and someone (the U.S. govt.) thought they needed protecting. There was an army post there briefly from 10/1867 to 5/1868. On 10/17/1867 the few (3) soldiers there were attacked by about 20-30 Indians and held siege through the night. Those fellows must have been pretty worried about what might happen in the morning. Luckily early the next morning a column of more than 150 soldiers appeared and the Indians vanished.
After the springs the trail is very fun, it is hardpack with whoops and rollers for several miles. Here is looking back along that section from the Kelso/Cima Rd.
I thought I would camp somewhere up in the Mojave Preserve and ended up in the Mid Hills campground. The campground is at about 6000', it was uphill all the way from Baker. This area used to be very forested when I last camped there but was ravaged by a fire a few years back. The whole area was burnt except for a small section of the campground. Hard to say if it will ever recover. The campground was completely deserted. I dumped my pack and rode around for awhile exploring and saw a wooden pallet at the end of a dirt road. It was just what I needed for a campfire. I just needed to get it back to camp. That turned out to be fairly difficult. I eventually figured out I could rest it on one footpeg and ride back one handed and one footed.
That night another storm front blew in and it got COLD, windy and started snowing lightly. My sleeping setup was totally inadequate and I froze my ass off even with every stitch of clothing I had on. Around midnight I got up and brewed some tea to warm up. That worked for awhile. A couple hours later I got up again and started a fire and made more tea. It was a long night. The temps were around 20-25 degrees f.
Inside my tent.
The next morning I got up predawn restarted the fire and got ready to bolt. It was a COLD, COLD morning.
I'll be back later to finish the post.
Beautiful ride :thumb
Is that snow on the ground in that last pic? :vardy
Having been accross that trail several times in the last few years I am really enjoying your story . Thanks for sharing. And I would guess thats snow for sure in early march!
Yes snow, as in freezing my ass off!
OK, I better finish this up!
When I left Mid Hills in the am it was still sub-freezing. I really wanted to lose some altitude and get down to some warmer temps.
I retraced the road back to the Kelso/Cima rd. and headed north about 10 miles and turned wsw just past Sunshine Rock. This turned out to be a good hardpack road out past the Valley View Ranch where it looked like some rangers live. It got sandy for awhile and then got progressively more and more rocky as I entered the Cinder Cone Lava Beds. By then it had warmed up considerably and my hands worked again.
There was one little technical section (4x4) where the road climbed up onto the lava flow. Right along there I passed the Aikens Mine which looks active.
A couple miles later I came to the "Lava Tube" and stopped to check it out.
About 50 yds off the trail are these 2 holes which lead into the tube. They looked bottomless from the outside so there was no way I was going in.
Looking west out over the Lava Beds.
After surveying the map I decided to finish the ride by going sw through Jackass Cyn. and then turning nw and looping around Old Dad Mtn. The road through Jackass was a pretty wide and well developed dirt road and followed some power lines.
Clouds over Jackass.
When I turned nw the road got much more primitive again. It was some of the best riding of the whole trip crossing in and out of dozens of small ravines.
Here is the sw side of the Old Dad.
By late morning I was back in Baker. I didn't see even one other moto or car the whole time, it was total solitude. My total milage was only about 175 but I did see alot of new area. It was a leisurely pace! I started out with 1.2 gallons in a can as I didn't plan to hit any gas stations and ended up with almost a gallon left. I figured the bike was getting 55 mpg.
Thanks for checking it out.
Nice report. I'm going to round up my brothers and try to ride the Mojave Trail this year.
Good report, love the Desert.
awesome ride! Too bad you got snowed on with just light gear. I would love to do that ride and see the sights- but not alone, no sir! Glad I read this, thanks for sharing!
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