Monday, March 17, 2008

Time for a Trip!

In less than 48 hours, I'll be leaving, on a jet plane.....

Readying for my annual spring kick-off trip to Joshua Tree, I realize(well, that word's not accurate) that I still have some stuff from my last trip that I wanted to write about....

As regular readers know, my last trip was in November, and I detailed over several posts my comings and goings every few days. I'll do that again, thanks to the laptop. It sure makes things easier. I can upload pictures at days end and edit as I sit near my cozy campfire, and write my stuff in the mornings, which is my time of the day where I have my most creative energy. And recharge the battery as I drive into town.

So, look for frequent updates for the next two weeks. i think it's going to be a good trip. I have some climbing partners already committed, plus I'm sure there will be some dirtbags still there(unlike last fall, where my earlier than usual arrival coincided with tourist season and was too early for the dirtbag season).

Here are some photos from a hike I did last fall, on one of those (many) partnerless days. I decided to go out and visit the old mine located in the park. It's east of the Barker Dan area, and is certainly worth doing. There's some nice formations along the way, with good routes established. And once past the mine, there is ....more rock. Much, much more....hahaha. I ended up traveling down a narrow canyon which had a barely passable trail, and turned back for fear of getting lost. Nobody - and I mean nobody, was back there.

So....we have here just a picture report, really.

This car is setting in the desert as the first 'landmark' along the way. I've heard there's a geocache inside it....

I love old, rusted relics of americana. I don't know why, but do know that I'm not alone. As you near that car, you'll have spotted the windmill to the southeast. Along with it, there are some pieces left over from when the area had a bunkhouse. I can't recall if that was for mining employees, or for the Keys Ranch... But, there is a clutter of...junk... laying around the windmill. National Park-owned junk, mind you.

As I headed on toward the mine, I found the infamous tombstone... A marker signifying where Bagley bit the dust at the hand of another man...Wild west stuff, still in action in the 20th century!

Further along the road are grazing lands of desert grasses, with portions of wire fences still intact. The desert begins to grow more plush...a sign that water is near.

Soon, the footpath begins to widen, cutting lower than the grade. What's left of the original road to the mine operations, I presume. Trees, numerous, tall and healthy, give away the wealth that lies beneath the ground. Gold? Silver? No - WATER! An oasis in the dryland, this is a place that natives knew well.

A pump was sunk to brink the water to surface, and shop was set up, looking to exploit the precious fluid. There is an educational sign which gives the history of commerce in the area, and also shows a detailed schematic of the mine, explaining the operation from delivery of raw product, through the process of separating ore from good old dirt. The mine is just feet away, intriguing and still fairly well preserved.

I was surprised to see that, though there is a barbed-wire fence surrounding the actual mine, it's no obstacle to access, and one can wander inside and view the building from a hand's touch away, even to the point of walking inside. How long that will last, I can only wonder. Get it while you can, and be careful while you're there.

Here is just one such view; a small part of one conveyor that moved the ore along. Notice that desert pack rats have helped themselves and built a comfortable home, using the sturdy machinery as foundation.

Once through the building, you'll find yourself out back, atop a pile of silted dirt that's incongruous with the surrounding land. The ore was not locally mined, but carted in to be processed here, and the fine dirt is all that's left. Here's a view of the mine from atop one of the piles.

In the "yard" you'll find several relics of the operation - pails, metal troughs, and, best for the kid at heart, skeletons of a few old jalopies.




Don't worry - I haven't shown it all, and a trip to the area is definitely worth your while. There's wonderful, undulating rock formations just beyond the mine, where even a hefty family could safely scramble and get up high. Further north...and you're in the Wonderland of Rocks from a non-guidebook entry point. Who knows what you might find!

Back to the camp, on my last night in Joshua Tree, I arrived just in time for a nice sunset. Looking eastward, the hills were golden in alpinglow. Soon, I'll ge there again....

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008!

Here's an interesting site -

The content you'll find there should be fairly self-evident; weather forecasts for locations of climbing destinations around the United States. What an idea! On my bookmark it goes.

The design layout is very simple and not distracting. Easy to see the navigational aspect of the site and find your way around. The Home pages starts by listing each state in alphabetical order, as a headline. Below each state(which is clickable as a whole) are the various climbing areas they cover, clickable in themselves.

The "State" pages open up with a listing of their respective climbing areas, which are linked, and a general overview of the day's weather at them(Hi/Low and chances of precipitation during the day/night). There's also a Google map with the crags pinpointed and linked for driving directions. Finally, there is a comprehensive overview of the topography and year-round climate variables within the state.

When you navigate to a climbing destination's page, you will see a heading that contains GPS coordinates for the area, and a link to online route databases, such as

Next comes the weather report... a six-day general outlook with highs/lows/chance of precip and relative humidity. Some pages include professional and semi-pro quality climbing photos specific to the area(photographers are appropriately credited with hotlinks to their websites or online galleries).

Back to the Home Page, of course you will find an "About Us" and contact information, and a search function. Also, an inspiring climbing "Photo of the Moment," and a list of posts, including videos links, from professional climber's recent accomplishments.

All in all, seems to be an interesting concept that I hope will flourish. Why not take a look for yourself!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Do It Yourself!

The other day I was at my usual - spending time at the Supertopo virtual campfire.... Discussion moved to the topic of decent headlamps, and Werner Braun chimed in with a link to a site with instructions on the Ulitmate Night Vision Headlamp. Clicking the link, I just couldn't help thinking that at least a few of the guys weren't already headed off to their workshops, seeing if they had the goods on hand to create the thing right that moment.

Well, here in my NYC studio apartment, where my cafe table pulls double duty as a workbench and for many years my flat-headed screwdriver was a butter knife, I knew that I wouldn't be sporting a fine bit of homemade gear. Still, I took a look at the page and realized it seemed to be one of many "do it yourself" type of projects.

This DID intrigue me, as I have always appreciated craft, and even though I am not mechanically inclined, I do have some abilities in the realm of hand-mades. In fact, I recall, come to think of it, that last year I was really excited by seeing instructions to create a solar-powered oven, and how completely within my ability that would be. As I write this entry, I searched the site and - what do you know!? They have instructions on how to make a solar powered cooker!

The name of the site is, and it a just exactly that - a forum of people who have come together and created/posted detailed instructions on just about anything one might need instructions on.

Anyone can participate. You don't need to become a member to search the site with full access to whatever instructions you seek. The site is set up to allow comments, so you can get an idea on what others think about the project. Often people will comment on the clarity of the instructions, or point out any issues they feel would come up, so you aren't going in on blind faith that this stranger actually knows what they are doing and how to explain it properly.

On each listing, there are links to other, similar types of projects. And of course, each member has their profile page. If you like the thinking and ability to show work from one user, you can quickly get to see what else they have put up. On your own profile page, you can bookmark the instruction sets you were interested in.

I know that a lot of climbers are the type who enjoy science and craft, and enjoy having things that are unique and not this years model bought from a store. So, I thought some people would be interested to know about this place, whether to get ideas on their own projects, or to share with others about items they have already created.

Below are some of the listings I came across that would interest me.
Camper Van Conversion
Bicycle Paniers
Duct Tape Wallet
Home made Climbing Holds
Hobo Stove Made from Tin Can
How to Open a Pesky Pistachio Nut
Roof Top Car Camper
Simple Shelter in the Woods
Rope Made from Dead Plants
Snow Lantern
$10 Portable Air Conditioner

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