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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Mesquite Canyon Trail-more from the El Paso Mountains...

Once the domain of prospectors and the claim-jumpers who preyed upon them, off-roaders and desert explorers, like your author, now meander along Mesquite Canyon Road in search of interesting scenery and old mining ruins.

This footage was filmed with my DJI Phantom 4 drone, which was flying southward toward Garlock Road.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Mesquite Canyon at dusk ...

I probably waited until the sun was a little too low in the sky, to film this. But, notice the sunlight hitting the top of the mountain in the distance.  Equipment:  DJI Phantom 4.

See my previous post regarding the history of this area, and imagine entering this canyon during the 1800's when danger lurked here!

This still image was shot a little earlier in the evening.  Slightly abstract, I know!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mesquite Canyon ...El Paso Mountains...has a dark history...

Today, a nice plastic marker identifies the road ("EP100," also known as Mesquite Canyon Rd.) into Mesquite Canyon.  The area is now the domain of off-roaders, and part-time prospectors.  The trail into Mesqute Canyon is a relatively easy four-wheel drive trail, and the only real dangers facing the modern traveler are the usual and very real hazards associated with entering a remote area unprepared,

This has not always been the case.

This trail was originally a Native American foot-path, that, by the early 19th century, was being followed by prospectors in search of gold.  During the 1850's, the trail was being used as a burro/pack route, with the animals hauling gold out of the mines and returning with supplies for the miners.

The area wasn't quite as barren as it is today.  A clump of mesquite trees once grew at the entrance to the canyon, and spring water once supported these trees, as well as grass.

This sounds somewhat idyllic.  But, during the mid 1800's all sorts of renegades and outlaws preyed on the miners.  There was no law enforcement, so the miners had to protect themselves-if they could.  Sadly, most of what happened in Mesquite Canyon, "stayed" in Mesquite Canyon, with very little news of the goings-on reaching the outside world.

Once in a while, though, a freighter would carry news of a tragedy to a nearby town.  One of these tragedies was the murder, in 1864, of the owner of the Yarbrough Gold and Silver Company.  The man was killed at Mesquite Springs, while he waited for a shipment of gold to be picked up.

Indeed, many travelers-some just passing through, found themselves looking down the barrel of a gun, merely for being in the canyon.  These types of confrontations, along with "high grading" (sneaking on to another miner's claim and stealing the "highest grade" gold) were occurring through the middle of the 20th century.

Now, though, the Canyon is quiet, save for the grumble of an occasional vehicle.

EP100 is a relatively easy trail.  Although sandy in spots, it is mostly a dirt road.  Recently, my wife and I took our Subaru CrossTrek on this trail, and we encountered no difficulty whatsoever.  We had no need to use low-range, which is good, because the CrossTrek doesn't have low-range.  However, we did encounter some sand, which necessitated the use of the Subaru's "X-Drive" button-which locks the transfer case in order to provide equal power to all four wheels.

EP100, looking south toward Randsburg-Red Rock/Garlock Road.

EP100, looking north, toward Mesquite Springs (which were dry during our visit.)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Old West Days: Randsburg, CA...

We took a drive up to Randsburg on Saturday, September 15, in order to check this annual event out.

As expected, the main street was lined with vendors selling their wares, from the kitchy (a coat rack made from horseshoes was one item), to the  merely somewhat kitchy (a 3-foot high steel windmill, which we purchased.)  And then, there was just some plain-old junk for sale, such as old VHS tapes.  Lots of them. 

The highlights of the day were the classic car show, and the staged gunfight, which featured two groups of geriatric "gunslingers" firing blanks at each other.  None of these guys appeared to be younger than seventy years old, and the same could be said of the "saloon girls" who were wandering around. Still, it was fun to watch.

Randsburg's staple businesses are its antique shops, the Randsburg General Store, and its famous watering hole:  The Joint.  Most of these establishments were open on this day, as were some newer businesses which include art galleries, a hot-rod shop, and a "motorcycle and surf" shop.  As I'm intrigued by a "surf" shop located in the middle of the Mojave Desert,  I'll have to look into that last business further, during my next visit.

Frankly, Randsburg has enough attractions - the Rand Desert Museum is one of them- definitely worth spending some time there-to make the trip worthwhile on any given weekend.  Well, almost any weekend-I'd avoid holiday weekends, as the town is mobbed, and it is virtually impossible to get into the eating establishments.

As for the Old West Days event; if I hadn't already planned to do some poking around in the nearby El Paso Mountains at the end of the day, I might have been a little disappointed.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Tiburcio Vasquez' Campsite: Close to the rocks...

This rock formation is at "Robber's Roost."  Robber's Roost is, according to lore, supposed to have been where infamous outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez camped with his men, while he prepared to rob the nearby Freeman stage stop in 1874.  

In looking at this photo, I was faced with a dilemma.  Look at the upper left corner of the photo, and you will see that the drone's camera caught one of the prop/rotor blades in the frame.  This happens if I don't tilt the camera-gimbal down slightly during forward flight.  

Cropping the image would have eliminated the blade, and would perhaps, have made for a "cleaner" image.  Leaving the blade in the frame, on the other hand, could add to the drama.  

What do you think?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Calico: Mule Canyon...

This is a drone image of Mule Canyon Rd. (a section of it, anyway.)  The area is a major off-road/shooting recreation area.  However, Borax was discovered here in 1883.  This ravine become known as "Mule Canyon," because twenty-mule wagon teams would haul Borax from here to the depot at Daggett.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Mojave Desert Secret: El Paso Mountains...

Photo by Scott Schwartz.  DJI Phantom 4 image.
This spot shown in this image is approximately one mile east of Hwy. 14, and about two miles north of the Red Rock Canyon State Park boundary.

At one time, wild mountain sheep and goats were hunted here.  Now, the El Paso Mountains are the domain of off-road drivers and part-time prospectors.  

Situated between Hwy. 14 to the west,  and Rte. 395 to the east, scores of trails are open to the explorer.  Some of the trails require four-wheel drive.  Others can be accessed with passenger cars (if driven with caution.)

I refer to the area as "secret," because I come across so many people- many of them recreational off-roaders-who have never heard of the El Paso Mountains.

A two-to-three hour drive from Los Angeles, the El Paso Mountains are worth the trip.  They have everything an outdoors person could want: beautiful scenery, interesting trails, mining ruins, and a fascinating history.