201104-MojaveRoad

Mojave Road 2011

Mojave Road, one hundred thirty-odd miles of dirt that bisects the Mojave National Preserve and offers a spectacular visit to the beauty of our desert and history.  This is a trail that we almost lost due to the Mojave Preserve and Wilderness areas.  I ran this trail again this past weekend with LOST Jeeps SoCal.

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Mojave Road is a required trail for anybody that can do it.  It’s long and doesn’t offer anything that is particularly challenging but gives you a crash coarse in the Mojave Desert.  If you’re going to run it I recommend spring time; the temperature is mild and the desert is that much more spectacular when it is in bloom.

I last ran this trail in 2004 and had no intention of attending this run, I wanted to but felt I did not have the time.  While having a random conversation with Holly I mentioned that LOST was hitting Mojave Road and that conditions were near perfect for the event, she simply told me to take my two and a half year old son Sebastian and go.  I did not argue, five days later the Jeep was packed and we were on the freeway.


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This also marked Sebastian’s first camping trip as well as his first extended off road excursion.  While he has been on dirt a few times in the past, including one trail maintenance day, this was the first multi-hour trail ride, I was curious how he would perform.  As I expected he absolutely loved the entire experience, from bouncing around in the car seat to sleeping in the tent; he will be going along with me again.

After the long trip from Torrance to Laughlin, NV I met up with Kelly, Greg, and Gary so that I could lead Gary to our camp site at the Eastern edge of the Mojave Road, Greg and Kelly opted to spend the evening at the Avi Resort and Casino.  We arrived at the camping area at dusk and had just enough time to set up camp before the sun dipped behind the hills.


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On Saturday morning the group got together, nine vehicles in total, and we started our trip West on the Mojave Road.


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Being mid-April the weather was quite mild and the desert was in bloom.  It was a bit warm on the Eastern side of the trail but I didn’t mind, I drove my ’96 Cherokee with working AC, Sebastian and I kept nice and cool.


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If you’ve never seen Prickly Pear in bloom they have quite the pretty flower.


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Max Wilson, our fearless leader.


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Kelly and Greg from a distance.


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The school bus.


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Sebastian and the bus.


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Group photo.


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Dirt Bound Offroad


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Joshua Tree forest.


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Interior of an abandoned house.


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Sebastian did not allow the bumping around to disturb his nap, all he asked was that I put music on to help him go to sleep, I complied and put Black Sabbath on the radio.


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Descending the rutted out hill, this was probably the most challenging part of the entire trail (provided you weren’t driving doorless vehicles).


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Mojave Road


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As those of you who were there know, Sebastian spent a lot of time moving sand and rocks around.  Here he is trying out the pebbles in our Saturday camp site.


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Not so bad a view from camp.


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We were soothed to sleep by the distinct crackling sound as energy flowed into California.


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My father signing in at the mailbox.


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Inside the Lava Tube


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Sebastian and my father hiking back to the Jeeps.


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Some sections of Mojave Road have been co-opted by local dirt roads such as this section.


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Unlike the last time I was on Mojave Road we chose to cross Soda Dry Lake.  Before starting the crossing we ate lunch on the edge of the lake while watching two groups cross.  Soda Dry Lake is known for having mud under a thin layer of solid-looking crust when ran too early in the year or after recent rains, this has caused many unplanned camping days and rescue missions over the years.  We had no problems at all; to be safe we spread the group out, not only in case we found a mud hole but also to keep out of each others dust.


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As we regrouped on the West side of the lake we were treated with a well formed dirt devil.


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Shortly after Soda Dry Lake we were passed by a group of four motorcycles heading Westbound, about twenty minutes later we saw them stopped ahead.  As I was pulling up to the rear most bike it was plain he had problems.  He had crashed the bike but appeared to be fairly unhurt other than some cuts on his hand.  His motorcycle had a large hole where the clutch basket lives.  After talking to him for a few minutes asking if he needed medical help or water I pulled forward to speak to the rest of his group.  I then asked Greg to speak to him to determine if he showed any warning signs of a concussion, as I was speaking to his friends Greg gave him the all clear.  I made sure they were set on water/supplies, had a plan in place, and knew where they were going, their plan seemed sound and they knew the area so we continued our trip into Afton Canyon.


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Kelly and the canyon wall.


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Remember when I said that the steep rutted out hill was the most challenging part for most people?  It seems both my dad in his borrowed TJ and Matthew in his ’79 CJ-5 both had transfer case shifting issues.  They also both had sink into the quicksand issues.  Max got to use his strap and winch today while we sat back and heckled.


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All told it was a great weekend on the Mojave Road.  Everybody was happy at the end of the day and we had no serious problems.  Max did a good job of leading the trail despite having a yellow Jeep.

I have many more photographs from this weekend, I will update this post when I have them all hosted.  That will likely be done later this week.

Sequoia