This is real Desert, a reminder!

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Gorgeous morning today… not a cloud in the sky and the temps have gone up… I could feel it, somehow, and, it might be the time change it seems like, we are getting on the road earlier then previous weeks, or is it the anticipation of riding the unknown? We did one more stop to the Visitor Center, nice people… always ready for a joke and a smile… I needed some more info on the roads ahead, and watch the 15mn movie about the Marshalls which lived about 15 years on Ghost Mountain, away from civilization, totally self sustained, quite a story…I wanted to ride Fonts Wash today, amongst others… somehow that did not happen… This is a huge Park, I am still amazed at its size, actually the largest park in the USA, but what I am even more amazed is the fact that you can camp just about anywhere!… for 30 days. I mean free rent!… Create you own power, carry your own water and let your mind entertain you in the solitude of the desert. I decided that it will be… our plan next week… Spirit does not have much to say about it, even though he is not happy today as you will find out…

Today the winch had to come off, don’t ask… I was told it was not quite a proper way to mount it when I did… and whoever told me was quite right… no damage, but some ‘fixing’ is required… actually some welding! I found a welder in town, an ornamental welder, but everyone here does off roading and knows what is needed for strength on a vehicle. He knew!… with some ideas to make the whole mount much stronger. Hopefully by Thursday or Friday he will have my mount fixed as it should have been from the beginning… it is very hard to not be mechanically inclined and stubborn enough not to listen experienced friend’s opinions. Yes, that is me!

Actually I think the winch will go in the back this time! To pull me out of bad situations instead of pulling me forward?… also closer to the rear wheel that always needs the pulled? Who knows what the right solution is. Well, I sure wish I had it today…
Back to Palm Canyon Drive, we want to do Fonts Wash to Fonts Point… But another road is inviting on the left, called Rockhouse Canyon. Wide dirt road, much washboard… fast or slow…

It narrows as it reaches Clark Dry Lake where I bump into some campers I had seen yesterday, curious about their contraption tied on the roof of their 4 x4! The first thing they said was “are you following us”, which of course I replied “yes”. I had not seen his parachute yesterday so I had wondered if he was just going to jump off a cliff!… Nice people, but the winds were not good today, actually barely any… there was not much going on as he explained to me the physics of it all… basically what I understood was, you have to fly early in the morning.

We go on, the road is getting a bit rougher and much sand. Nothing that a skilled rider like me cannot handle… funny right?… The fun factor again is here, more difficult than yesterday, and an intersection, a fork is ahead. Ah! I need to take a picture… it will cost me… the situation looks so innocent, wondering… after the picture right or left? To the right some big rocks followed by some flat terrain which looks safe, to the left much more sand… This is when reality hits me… when spinning and going sideway I am stuck and the wheel is only going in deeper and deeper…

This was not just a couple inches of sand, but about 2 feet of it, mixed with rocks which at the time I thought was a blessing… comes out the jack… the shovel… there is no way to push the rig… more rocks are just ahead and I managed to have the car’s tire also right in front of another big rock… I try again, but no avail… great! I am not burning my clutch… at least it is the right temperature, it is noon… I have plenty of time to go get some help… Just leave everything there, take a light jacket, hat, water and Spirit!

We are going to go beyond the dry lake where some campers might help me pull out… it is about 3 to 4 miles. Never know my Oxtar boots were so comfortable to walk in… wish it was a plug, just reality!

We are into this by a couple miles, when behind me… where I came from, a black Jeep appears coming our way! Fully loaded… winch… straps… high clearance, you name it. This is Joe from Jillian. No problem, he is just out for the afternoon, probably deep down excited to put his toys to good use! He takes us back and even with his rig took 3 tries to finally turn me around and drag me about 100 feet to a rocky part of the road! Full gear back on we follow him back to the main road… without any further problem even when same amount of sand as previously was present.
I finally stop to take a breather… let Spirit have plenty of water after his ‘plenty’ of exercise… he is such a trooper, never complained… just going along the program… but also never helping!
Joe in the meantime had turned around and come back to make sure we were okay… nice touch…
If you read this Joe… “Thanks a million, you saved the day…”, hope to see you down the road sometime.
It is still early, I truly do not feel like doing Fonts trail now, specially after I see a sign that says “deep sand” as I arrive to its entrance. Instead we just ride on S22 to look at the Truckheaven Rocks with its canyon and have a glimpse of Salton Sea…
That was the day… and my thoughts where on the incident that happened! I have to regroup I told myself as the Desert here is not to be taken lightly. With 500 miles + of trails it is impossible to get exact information on each of them, I am also the only one that knows the capability of the rig, it is not a four wheel drive, just a bit better than a 2 wheel drive… and sand is the biggest problem!
What I learned?… Do not stop on sand, even if it looks innocent, sometimes it is hard packed on the surface with two feet of sugar sand underneath! I knew that… did not apply!
Do my riding early in case of such incident with plenty of time to get help before dark and cold temps sets in… I did that!

Even as the traffic during the week, since everyone has gone home now, is scarce, better to wait a while, someone might come through as it happened yesterday, the walk was great but not necessary.
Re-mount that winch ASAP! That will be done tomorrow or Friday… and buy some flares!… today!
We were pretty much prepared for the rest… much fuel, still have a couple MRE’s compliment of Walt from Mississippi, space blanket, first aid kit… compliment of JKam, plenty of water as we always leave with 12 liters every morning, some warm clothing, hat… have air compressor… 600amp power pack… plugs… tools… Did I forget anything? Yes… talking to a friend last night, some 1′ x 5′ or so of carpeting to use for the rear wheel traction before trying the winch… I forgot about that… and a better jack which I have two of them, the one I carried was just totally useless…

So will try again today… more trails… trying to find a good spot for Saturday when we start camping in the wilderness…

Be well…

Ara & Spirit

Spirit has not moved since we have been back except for a walk… I sure hope he still likes his car after our Louisiana mishap and today!

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One Response to “This is real Desert, a reminder!”

  1. brian chambers Says:

    cool pictures. sorry you got stuck. I know all about being stuck but being in Georgia clay. bc

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