Epsom Salt Mine/Crystal Hills/Radio Tower

I’ve wanted to check out the Epsom Salt mines for sometime… but given its remote location never got the courage to drive all the way out there.  How far?  Well, as the crow flies it is about 60km (37 miles) from route 127 over dirt roads to the trailhead.  Yes… 37 miles!  As it turns out, most of the time the road was not too terrible but it was pretty darn bumpy. There were a few stretches where 4wd was very helpful if not required.

The below map gives you a good idea of the off-road drive I had I took this weekend and where the salt mine is.  It took me about 2 hours from when I turned off the paved road to to the trail head.  I was slightly faster on the way back.

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The beginning of the drive along Satatoga Springs Rd.  The condition of this part was the best and almost good enough for a normal car.

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The wildflowers were up in force everywhere I went.  The colors were spectacular.

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Owl Hole Spring is basically the 1/2 way point.  This old spring was used as rest stop for caravans going from Death Valley to LA.   These days it looked a bit unclean likely due to all the wild donkeys crapping in the water.   The fence looks to be some type of trap/guard (i can’t tell which) to either keep the donkeys out or in.

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Old mining relics at the spring.

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Back on the road this is the descent into a small valley (about 25 miles from route 127)… actually you can’t even tell this the road here.

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Eventually I made it the 37 miles and parked where I knew the hike started.  The hike starts by following an old road.  The well used trail u see here is NOT from humans but burros (wild donkeys).

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The trail dead ends at the Davis Gate.  This is the edge of the China Lakes Navel Weapons area.   I saw no sign of any activity and have no clue what they use this land for.  I made a right turn here and followed the fence.

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The fence then ends?  How odd.   Anyways from this point I could see the Crystal Hills in the background and headed off in that direction.

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As I got closer to the hills I saw the old monorail!  This monorail was state of the art back in the early 1900′s.  It connected the Epsom salt mine with the main rail road in Trona 28 miles away.  It was completed in 1924 and was in operation for a few years. Read more about the monorail here.

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Back on an old road I was approaching the main camp.

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Various structures lie in ruin at the mine site.

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It seems many mines in Death Valley have an old oven/furnace rusting out front.

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One of the actual salt mines.  It is all collapsed in. No free epsom salt for me.

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Maybe even more interesting than the salt mine is the spectacular geology of this region.   Mixed in with some surface salt the area is littered with crystals.. hints the name: Crystal Hills.

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This is a closeup i took of the ground.  Everywhere you step looks like this.

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Many of the crystals are pretty big.  I’m guessing this is quartz  (sorry.. im terrible at chemistry and geology but this stuff sure was neat).

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The next few pics come from my vantage point atop a small hill.  I climbed up there to get a better view of the area.  You can see the mine ruins as well as the amazing colors of the hills.

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Around 4pm I headed back to where I had parked the truck to setup camp.  I had some afternoon tea to cap off a long long day.

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It got dark around 630.  ZzZ

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First light on Sunday morning.  Sunrise in the desert is always special.

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Time to saddle up and throw in one more little adventure before I head home.

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From where I had parked the road continues up another 4 miles or so to an old radio tower.

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Here it is.  It is not in operation anymore… but I am happy it is here.  The view from the top was great and because of the tower.. the road build up here was in pretty good shape compared to some of the old mining routes I’ve found myself on before.  By pretty good don’t think you will be getting your BMW or even rear wheel drive SUV up here.  4wd was defiantly needed on this last stretch.  There are no guardrails up here either so a skid will leave you pretty much dead at the bottom of ravine.

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While the radio tower is dead I think this GPS beacon is still working.

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A few more looks around at the top.  43 total driving miles off road to get here :)  Then I had to go all the way back.  Oh.. and after you get back to route 127 it is another 222 back to Marina del Rey.   Oh potato… good thing I only commute 2.5 miles to work each day.

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Posted in Cali, Hikes | 2 Comments

Trip to the Confidence Wash & the Ibex Hills

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Somehow the settings in my camera got screwed up and my pictures from this weekend’s hike into the Confidence Wash and up to the America mine are horrible.  Here a few pics that actually look ok.  Guess I have an excuse to go back now.

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Here a few additional pictures of really cool stuff have horrible resolution.  So sad :(

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Hike/Camp in Mojave

I haven’t been able to get out of LA (or any city for that matter) for several months so this weekend I decided to go camping/hiking in the desert.  As the roads in Death Valley are still out, I headed to Mojave.

My first task (after driving 3.5 hours) was to find and drive down the 2 mile dirt road leading to the Silver Peak parking area.   This particular dirt road was pretty tame compared to the ones I normally find myself on in Death Valley.  I didn’t even need 4wD.

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After starting the hike one of the first things I came across was this rusted axle.  Maybe an old mining car?  Who knows.

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The trail up is pretty easy to follow.  Eventually it turns right and heads up the ridge.

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Gaining some elevation now.

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Then at the top:  Silver Peak.  It is about 2Km high (~6000 ft).

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The register was inside this can.

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I was the first one to climb up here since May 26th.  Just about 1/2 a year.

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Some other pics on the way down:

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This old corral is near the base of the hike.  I guess there was some ranching that took place a long, long time ago here.

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The 9.6 mile hike took me about 6 hours.  I was pretty beat when I got back but wasted no time in setting up my camp.  For the first time I broke out my tent.

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I used this hated Lakers jersey to start my fire.

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As night fell I put on my soup.

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It was fully dark by about 530pm.

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trying to keep warm

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Eventually, the coyote howls subsided and I fell asleep.  Dawn then came around 530am… the best part of camping in the desert.

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I tried to do one more hike in the morning but after 2 miles I was pretty dead from the long hike up to Silver peak the day before and no breakfast…

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Took this last pic of the Comanche Trail as I turned around and headed home.

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Zion & Hike Down the Narrows.

Darian and I setting off on our trip down the Narrows.

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Starting to get a little deeper.

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This is the upper Narrows.

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Wearing a trash bag to keep dry from the rain.

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Waterfall @ the upper portion of the Narrows.

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Darian wasn’t exactly thrilled with our camp site.

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One of the more amazing portions of the hike.

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Next day we headed to a more well traveled part of Zion. This is where most people go….

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A wonderful yet challenging trip to Zion.

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Saddlerock Mine

Sunday’s short hike was up to Saddlerock Mine.    This particular mine was one of the discoveries that led to the boom of Skiddo.

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The bottom of the old road heading up.

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As the road climbed views got better and better.

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Eventually you arrive at this old house.  Not much left.

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One of the mine openings.

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From the inside.

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Lemogne Canyon & Mining Camp

Lemogne Canyon is named after a famous French miner who use to work a mine west of Stovepipe Wells.   This is the turn off from the main highway.

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The road up is pretty rough. Actually.. it is one of the worst I’ve seen in Death Valley.

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Judging by these rusty remains…more than a few folks didn’t make it up.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eventually the road ends.

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As I started hiking… I took one last look back at the truck.

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Various pictures of the route up

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Arriving at the old mining camp you are greeted by this sign. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

This is Lemoigne’s old cabin.  It doesn’t look like much now but it  was said that Mr. Lemoigne kept this cabin clean, cozy, and stocked with books when he lived here back in the late 1800′s. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There isn’t much left now.

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The next few pictures are of another cabin in the area that was built sometime in the 1950s.  This cabin use to be visited regularly by off road drivers back in the 70s and 80s before the road closed for good.

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Many early visitors signed their names on the walls.

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Few old relics around the camp….

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Last view before heading down.

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Back on the rough road out…

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Took this picture on my way to Beatty right at sunset.  Funeral Mtns in distance.

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Feb Kyoto Trip Pics #3

Off the bus from Shiragawago… we arrived in Kanazawa to a freezing and snowy day.  Our first stop was a local food market for lunch.  We spent some time walking around….

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My favorite stand… fried goods.

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We ate lunch at this local seafood restaurant.

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Most of the locals and Darian got this sushi bowl.

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I opted for this fried monstrosity.

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We then headed over the a pretty famous garden.  Did I mention how cold and snowy it was?

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Me destroying a Japanese snowman.

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Back at the train station. Bye Bye….

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