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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Irina said...

Hey Terrie,

Lots of good luck to you with the partners and climbing during your stay in JTree.

I'll check your blog often and live it vicariously...

Chia said...

I was at Joshua Tree earlier this year and also explored the Wall Street Mill area. When I got back I looked up the appeal from F.W. Key's Conviction for the manslaughter of Worth Bagley, and found gold--a better telling of the story than I have seen in any guidebook or web page! I reprint it in its entirety at my own blog: Mostly Plants

Where in the park was that last sunset shot taken from? It looks magnificent!

happiegrrrl said...

Thanks, Chia! Here's the link to your blog mentioned:

Very interesting reading!

The sunset photo was taken in the Hidden Valley Campground, from atop my picnic table in site # 24 and looking to the east. Sometimes people look at those rockpiles and all they see is a pile of rocks, but as that photo shows....there's gold in them there hills! Particularly for rock climbers....