The group assembled at the Safeway lot in Morgan Hill on Dec 3 at 7:30. At this point, I met Greg Youree, Ursala and Detlef , Jesse and Vidas,Greg and Tom. We proceeded as a group to Fort Mojave Arizona, travelling through Bakersfield, Tehachapi, and long the Southern edge of the Mojave.
We arrived at Fort Mojave just after dark, and proceeded to gas up at $1.82 a gallon. Here, we met Dave, who drove in from St George Utah to accompany us on this trip. I stocked the ice chest with ice and food, and we proceeded back out of town to air down at the start of the trail. We then travelled to our first campsite - Balancing Rock. We arrived just a bit before 8:00, and set up camp with another group that was also about to begin the trip across the Mojave road. Elevation 2,560 ft
In the morning, we packed up and were on the road, by 9:00 AM. Our next stop was Fort Piute, where we found petroglyphs amid a amphitheater of barrel cacti. It was at this stop where we last saw the group we shared Balancing Rock with the night before. From this point, we backtracked a bit, then went up a pass(which adjusted both side steps of my truck, and cleaned it's skid plates), then sidetracked over to a corral at 35.103936N, 115.012715W. We made a brief stop here, took some pictures, and continued on to the penny can and abandoned school bus and car. We stopped at this point also, to look over the vehicles and assess their suitability for repair, then continued on to Rock Springs, where we were met by a Park Ranger, Roland, who has a 3:30PM talk scheduled every Friday.
Along with a surprising knowledge of "Long Hair" contests and the previous employment of President Ford, Roland provided us with a private tour of the cabin at Rock Springs which had been built by a soldier returning from the First World War, who recovered from chemical gas attack wounds to outlive his prognosis of 5 years to live at the cabin for and additional 27 years. The cabin was then purchased by an artist who lived in it for decades, but has since moved on to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
After leaving Rock Springs, and the first indoor toilet of the trip, we continued on to our next campsite, hitting pavement for the first time since we left Fort Mojave. We soon left pavement, and hit the second night's resting place, very close to Marl Springs, on the western edge of a hillock where we camped for the night(Lat: 35.182116 Lon: -115.613958 ). This night was colder than the first, with the wind a significant factor in the relative chill. The stars were astounding, with a clear sky and an abundance of stars. The firewood made for a cheery campfire as the night progressed, with Mogley the adventure dog keeping the troupe entertained.
On awaking, we again broke camp by 9:00AM, and made our way to the actual Marl spring, through the frog/jeep/gnome/... shrines, and then on to the Lava Tubes, and Cinder Cones. We drove up and then climbed down into a lava tube and saw it from the inside. It was probably 30ft from the surface to the bottom of the tube. Leaving the Lava tube, we then made our way back to the Mojave Road, and continued on eating lunch on our way to the Green Mill, where we picked up rocks for the trek across Soda Lake. This was one of the more discussed portions of the trip, as Soda Lake can become impassible with rains. As it turned out, we had no problem making our way across it, and to Traveller's Monument, where we dropped of the rocks from the Green Mill and looked out over the expanse of the dry lake.
From this point forward, we were on our way to our night campsite, and made our way along the dry riverbeds to our Afton Canyon campground. At this point, we had two water fordings to accomplish. On the first fording, I chose a less than perfect line and had to correct as the front of the truck began to dive into the mud under the railway trestle. The second fording had a gravel bed, and was less of an issue for me than the first. I think I was alone in this assessment of the fordings, but all vehicles made both and we continued on to the campground and the final night of the trek.
On the final day, we arose, and again broke camp before 9:00AM, and finished out the final leg of the journey, again traveling down the sandy river bed of the Mojave River. Our trip on the Mojave Road ended at the site of Camp Cady. From here, we drove back to paved roads where we aired back up, and broke up for our trips to our homes.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and one that I had hoped I might be able to make. The planning for the trip was pretty astounding. We were able to see sights all along the trip, stopping for the iconic areas on the Mojave Road - corrals, shrines to frogs, jeeps, gnomes..., historic cabins, thousands of Joshua trees. The navigation was impeccable, and with six vehicles moving along as a group, we were able to keep moving and yet still enjoy the experience.
Thanks much to all my travelling companions for a great trip along the Mojave Road, and a big thanks to Greg for the fantastic planning and execution. I hope I've got things in order, but I'm certainly open to revision if I've forgotten something.