Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kiavah Wilderness and More

I escaped the confines of my home to spend the day in the hills on the very southern end of the Sierra mountains. I like driving around the 4wd trails just to see what's out there. I try to aim for places with some history that I've read about before-hand.

I turned into Jawbone Canyon OHV Area and headed for Butterbredt Canyon Road. The shot above looks east down Jawbone Canyon. Butterbredt was a pleasant meandering road down a sandy wash. The brush on the sides didn't encroach very far and never scratched my truck. I was surprised to encounter two signs that read "NO OUTLET" at a trail intersection a few miles east of Kelso Valley Road, but was very happy to find they were wrong and I was able to exit onto the road.

Next I drove north to take the Bird Spring Pass trail. The sign in the photo explains the historical significance of this route.

I wanted to visit Wyley's Knob at the top of the pass, where an old microwave relay station sits.


There was a great view to the east.

The PCT crosses the road up there. Friendly people leave jugs of water for the PCT hikers. Some of the bottles appear to have brown water in them, but plenty appeared clear.

I was surprised to see that all the roads I drove were shown on my Garmin Nuvi GPS navigator. Several do not appear in my printed maps, so it was nice to see them on the Garmin. I also used an old map from the Jawbone Canyon OHV visitor center. Years ago, they would give me old ones free. I don't know if they still do that. They're excellent maps, and I plan to buy a new one next time I'm there when the visitor center is open. On this trip, the store was closed when I stopped. But I did get to see "Mr. Bob" the very old desert tortoise. He was sitting half-way out of his burrow.

I turned north on SC82 (not on my printed maps) and headed for Horse Canyon. I encountered 2 different sites where commercial bee hives had been parked.

Here's the sign marking the boundary of the Kiavah Wilderness Area, then one for the Sequoia National Forest.


It was nice up on the ridge with temps around 80F. Not too bad, given that it was 100F down along Highway 14.

I had planned to drive the 4wd trail north to McIvers Spring and check out a cabin there available for campers to use. The road turned to class 3 right where the book said it would.

But within a mile it deteriorated to class 4 with a few small sections of class 5. This was the result of runnoff down the middle of the trail. I can handle this challenge, but I prefer to only tackle class 5 with extra trucks, in case I need to be pulled off a boulder. And with a spotter. So, I turned back.


Here's a photo looking east down Horse Canyon. There's some vestigial asphalt in places. I was able to spare my brakes by putting the truck into 1st gear, then 2nd as it got less steep.


The remains of an old stone cabin sit at the base of Sage Canyon. My trail books offered no info on this site.

Another mystery was at the base of Cow Heaven Canyon. A memorial cross for Lonnie Johnson. With subsequent googling, I could find nothing about this person. Based on the number of kind inscriptions on the cross, he was well liked.


I stopped off at the Indian Wells Brewery to see if they'd resumed brewing the strong version of Lobotomy Bock. No, they haven't.

All in all, it was a fun day. Relaxing.

Note: Most of the trails and canyons I explored are presented in Mitchells' books "High Sierra SUV Trails, Vol IV, The Southern End," and "Southern California SUV Trails, Vol I, The Western Mojave Desert." I was also using the Jawbone Canyon map (excellent). They offer a simple version free on their website. Here's the page, and here's the PDF map (1.5 MB).

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