Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wandering The Desert

Yesterday I explored the desert trails south of Baker, CA. In particular, I wanted to recon the 4wd road that I hope to take when I hike Cowhole Mountain next month. That road would get me right to the base of the mountain, leaving a short hike. I've learned over the years that desert roads can range in condition from easy (street cars can handle), to moderate (rocks and washouts), to bushy (overgrown creosote scratches your car), to dangerous.

It's a good thing I checked out the road in advance. The last 1.5 miles has been blocked off by the BLM with a sign indicating no motorized vehicles are allowed. I walked part of it and it's in great condition! Much better than any of the roads I took to get there. Oh well. This just means that I'll have to park there and walk the last 1.5 miles before starting up the hill. Here's a Google Map centered at the road junction where this sign is located.

That wasn't the only road blocked off. I encountered the same sign on other roads that I planned to explore. The weather was cooler than I expected. It was about 60F and overcast, compared to the forecast 72F and sunny. This made all of my photos dreary looking.

Before heading home, I drove over to East Cronese Dry Lake. Apparently, it's an ACEC. It's also a desolate place. There's loads of dead blackened brush. I wonder if there'd been a wildfire there. I'll return another day to drive Cronese Road north across the playa toward West Cronese. Here's a Google Map centered on East Cronese Dry Lake. I walked out toward the playa but discovered the flat tan feature that I thought was lakebed, was actually a waist-high sea of dead brush. It looked like I'd have to hike at least another half mile to reach the lakebed.

The BLM sign reads: "The Cronese lakes periodically fill and drain in response to changes in the flow of the Mojave River. During prehistoric times, the area was occupied by native Americans who used lake resources and associated mesquite trees for food. The area was on the trade route between the Pacific Coast groups and the Puebloan groups in the southwest. When the lakes contain water, they are used by birds as a migratory resting place."

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