Monday, September 07, 2015

Cady Mountains Wilderness

I had a nice drive in the middle of nowhere yesterday.  My plan was to recon a very remote BLM road to see how difficult it would be.  I also wanted to see if it was really there, since many maps don't show it.  This road, named BLM route 9470, is almost half way between I-15 and I-40, cutting across the middle of the Cady Mountains Wilderness area in the Mojave desert.  


I wasn't pushing myself to drive the entire road because, when I tried to follow it in Google Earth, I lost the tracks many times as it headed north down a very wide wash.  The northeastern end of the road is at Mesquite Spring.  I've been to Mesquite Spring once before, driving a 2003 Acura MDX!  I took some friends so we could visit the mysterious Mojave Megaphone.  From there, the roads are not too bad, either south past Broadwell Dry Lake to Ludlow at I-40, or north to Crucero then west to Basin Road and to I-15.  This map shows the NE end of the route (my GPS track is in red).


My drive started at the Hector Road exit of I-40 where I made my way to where the main powerline road crosses the train tracks.  I arrived just as a train approached.


I've driven that powerline road many times.  In 2010, I drove it all the way across the desert, heading northeast, past Old Dad Mountain and on to Kelbaker Road.  That was a lot of fun.  Here's my summary map of that adventure.


I was surprised at how easy the roads were after leaving the powerline road.  I didn't need 4wd, but eventually the high ground clearance helped when crossing some gullies.




There was only 1 intersection, where routes 9489 and 9470 join.  It's not a tidy site with all sorts of odd things laying about.  Here's a google map centered on that spot.





Further to the northeast, the road crosses private property.  The BLM has kindly posted signs warning drivers to stay on the trail.


One short stretch has a barbed wire fence on both sides of the road.


In the middle of Hidden Valley, I came across this old pumpjack.  It wasn't running.  I'm guessing that it once pumped water from a well.


The road climbs in elevation as it heads northeast, then here I reach the crest.  From here it crosses a short grassy area  and then begins the long slow descent down toward Mesquite Spring and Crucero Road.




The "road" is then just a gently sloping sandy wash.  Narrow at times and I couldn't avoid all the creosote.  The sand wasn't too deep at this point, but deep enough that it took a lot of attention (and steering input) to avoid the embedded rocks.  Four wheel drive was very helpful in the sandy wash.  I even decided to look at the dopey 4wd display on my LR4 (see below).  The icons for the center and rear diffs kept switching between locked and unlocked due to the all the slipping that the computer was detecting.


This would be a very fun road in a dune buggy or an Ariel Nomad.

I decided to turn around.  I'd seen enough and I knew that it was just going to get harder as I continued down the wash - especially route-finding / navigating.  I hadn't even reached the really narrow section before the wash spills out below the bajada.  You can see in the first GE image that after doubling back, I then continued west toward Daggett.

I still don't know if 9470 officially extends to Mesquite Spring.  I found a 2014 BLM map (part of their Travel Management Area series) that shows 9470 ending 5 miles beyond where I turned back (ending 6 miles south of Mesquite Spring).

I want to drive this entire route some day.  But I need to find some adventurous people to come along in other 4wd vehicles.  That way we can pull each other out of the deep sand if we get stuck.  I'd want to prepare by noting some GPS waypoints through that wide wash on the northern end to make sure I didn't miss Mesquite Spring. 

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