Friday, May 31, 2013

Kern River Pipeline Road

Returning from a recent trip to Utah, I decided to take a scenic route.  I drove a long section of the Kern River Pipeline service road.  It also services several high power transmission lines and long-haul fiber optic cable trenches.  

This section parallels I-15 from the south west corner of Utah toward Las Vegas.  In years past, I've driven other sections of the Kern River Pipeline road from Primm, NV to Barstow, CA (see here and here and here).  The section I drove on this trip is highlited on this map.

I was very surprised at how easy this drive was.  I never had to raise the suspension above normal height (7.3 inches of clearance) and it didn't require 4wd.  That is not the case for the stretch from Primm, NV to Barstow, where both high clearance and 4wd are definitely needed at times.  I was worried about this gully when I saw it in Google satellite imagery, but there was an obvious road across the wash.

The pipeline along this section is comprised of two 36 inch diameter steel pipelines.  The entire system carries 2.17 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.  The initial lines were constructed in 1991.

Other than the normal pumping stations and L3 network repeater stations, there were very few structures.  Here's one that looked interesting.

All in all, it was a pleasant alternative to the highway.  The only unpleasant part was the very washboarded Lytle Ranch Road off Utah's Old Highway 91.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kokoweef Peak

I finally got around to hiking the famous Kokoweef Peak that sits atop the legendary river of gold.  If you've got some time, then follow that link and read about the fortune in gold that is rumored to lie in the black sands in an enormous subterranean cavern.  Here is a google map centered on Kokoweef.

I parked along the road at the base of the north ridge, and then just hiked up that ridge line to the summit.  

It's a short hike with plenty of things to grab your attention, including some holes dug by modern prospectors.

It took less than an hour to reach the summit.

The next photo looks to the south west, showing Cima Dome, Teutonia Peak, and Striped Mountain.  The top of Kessler Peak is also visible above a closer group of hills.

Here's a shot showing the Molycorp rare earth elements mine at Mountain Pass on the left, and the Bright Source solar energy project at Ivanpah Dry Lake.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Desert Drive

A couple weeks ago I went for a drive in the mojave desert.  My first stop was to hike to the Cow Cove petroglyph site and explore the adjacent areas looking for more glyphs.  I found a few more, but I've decided to not give the exact location in order to help protect them.  People with a sincere interest can similarly explore the nearby rock formations and find them.  

Here's a snake I almost stepped on.  It was sunning itself on the path to Cow Cove.  Apparently, it's called a Mojave Patch-Nosed snake.  Neat.

Heading back toward Baker, I decided to venture off I-15 and explore some areas on the NW side of the highway.  In particular, I drove BLM routes on both sides of Turquoise Mountain.  

I wanted to visit a low mesa I saw in Google Earth (here's a google map centered on that mesa).  I saw trails in the satellite imagery, and was surprised to find almost all of them displayed on my Garmin Nuvi map.  After taking the Halloran Summit exit, I just kept following the Carsonite signs until the trail got pretty rugged.  As it was, I had to get out and move a couple 16" diameter boulders from the road.

I hiked to the western edge of that mesa.  Here's a photo showing the high point to the south.

Here's the top of Turquoise Mountain from that mesa vantage point (and my camera's 12x zoom).

Later in the day I was driving some trails on the west side of Turquoise Mountain and here's a shot taken from that side.

I hiked Turquoise many years ago.  More accurately: I drove up to the tower facility and walked up a very short trail to the summit marker.

Before I returned to Baker, I had to pull off a powerline service road to let a short caravan of trucks pass.   

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Carrizo Plain

I finally decided to visit the Carrizo Plain National Monument.  It's located kinda halfway between Bakersfield, CA and Vandenberg AFB.  The famous San Andreas fault runs right up the middle of the monument showing some interesting large-scale geologic deformations.  Here's a google map centered on Carrizo Plain.

The wikipedia page includes photos of the San Andreas fault formations there.  It also confirms that Pronghorns live there.  I was startled when a small group of them ran across the road in front of me.

If you visit when the wildflowers are in bloom, it's supposed to be a nice sight.  Unfortunately, they weren't blooming during my visit a week ago.  I was actually a bit bored.  I'm not sure what I was expecting.  I think I had too many things on my mind at the time.  Some day I'll return and drive the many dirt trails that stem from Soda Lake Road.  They looked interesting and appeared to wander around the gentle hills bordering the valley.

I stopped by to check out the KCL Campground.  Only 2 of the 12 sites were occupied.   It looks like a nice place to camp.  It's the only campground with shade trees.

I cut across the big plain and left the monument via Hurricane Road.  That is a great dirt road with nice views of the plain as you climb the hills on the east side.  Then it becomes a narrow shelf road as you cross the hills.  The drop off is very large and might be unsettling to some drivers.

Ranches come into view east of the hills and the road dumps into the busy oil production fields.