Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Snow in the East Mojave

Just thought we'd share a link to photos and videos of the Mojave Road from this past weekend (November 28-29) that have been posted in the Flickr Mojave Road Pool.  A beautiful wintry day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trip Report: October 10-12, 2009

"off-roader" recently posted a report and photos from a Mojave Road trip during the weekend of October 10-12 on the Expedition Portal forum and gave us permission to share.  Here's the report, with a direct link to the photos:

Mojave Road, Mojave Desert, California October 10-12 2009

Just finished the trip. 14 rigs, 25 people.

Trip started in Laughlin Nevada traversing the Mojave Road through the Mojave National Park/Desert and ended just west of Barstow California.

Rigs kept fairly separated in order to avoid dust on the trails & overall the total length on the road was nearly if not over a mile.

The trip itself was mostly uneventful with the exception of a few event and surprisingly some vehicle casualties

One driver (04 Isuzu Axiom) accidentally locked his keys in his running rig. Fortunately it had electric windows and we were able to use a tape measure to hit the window switches to gain access.

Another driver (09 Jeep Grand Cherokee w/ ~2000 miles") over-ran his bow wave while crossing the Mojave River, ingested water and threw a rod requiring AAA premium (200 mile towing) for a +100mile tow to S. Cal.

Another driver (Isuzu Vehicross) had electrical issues when his voltage regulator quit while we were on the trail. He was able to complete the run and limped most of the way home before is Transmission Computer finally gave out. Unfortunately it looks like the tranny will need a complete rebuild. We used AAA+ to tow him much of the 100+ miles home.

Another driver (01 Isuzu Trooper) also encountered issues when his front axle disconnect got stuck in the midway position. Fortunately he was able to drive it home and knows it can be fixed easily enough.

Aside from these 3 issues, the trip was a total success and everyone including those with issue are hoping to go again on another of my trips in the near future.

Pictures for those interested...

Thanks to "off-roader" for allowing us to post this report!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Explorers blazed trails in early Inland Empire

Mark Landis, Correspondent
The Sun
Posted: 09/07/2009 07:06:58 AM PDT

Beginning in the late 1700s, a succession of legendary explorers and missionaries started to traverse San Bernardino County to map out new overland routes, carry out military missions, and convert the local American Indians to Christianity.

In 1772, Pedro Fages, a Spanish soldier, became the first white explorer to pass through the San Bernardino Valley and cross into the Mojave Desert. For the next 50 years, explorers traveling through the region didn't show an interest in the San Bernardino Valley and their passages through the area was incidental.

The date and leader of the first exploration of the San Bernardino Valley for the purpose of establishing a settlement here has been the subject of controversy for many years. Now, with the upcoming San Bernardino bicentennial celebration, the debate among local historians has been rekindled.

According to a popular history book written by Father Juan Caballeria in 1902, Father Francisco Dumetz, an elderly priest from the San Gabriel Mission, led an expedition in 1810 to the San Bernardino Valley. Caballeria claimed that Dumetz had been sent to search for a good location to establish an inland mission outpost.

According to Caballeria, Dumetz found the area around the Indian village at Guachama to be an ideal location. Guachama was located near the present-day intersection of Hunts Lane and Hospitality Lane in San Bernardino, along the Santa Ana River.

Caballeria cites May 20, 1810, as the date Dumetz set up a crude capilla or chapel at Guachama and bestowed the name San Bernardino upon the site. The name honored St. Bernardino of Sienna, whose Feast Day was on that day. He was an Italian priest, Franciscan missionary and Catholic saint who lived from 1380 to 1444.

In the years following the publication of Caballeria's book, 1810 became the accepted date that the valley was first explored and named. But research by later historians raised questions and doubts.

Prominent San Bernardino Valley historians George and Helen Beattie noted that major American Indian attacks against the San Gabriel Mission in 1810 nearly led to the overthrow of that mission.

Documentation from the 1810 period shows that the Indian unrest halted the establishment of new mission sites beyond the military protection of the San Gabriel Mission.

One possibility is that Dumetz did visit the San Bernardino Valley in search of a good mission site in 1810, but due to the American Indian unrest, nothing was permanently established until several years later. It is well documented that the San Gabriel Mission established "Rancho San Bernardino" in the valley in 1819.

Unless new evidence is discovered, the full story of the valley's first exploration will remain a mystery.

The first American explorer to pass through San Bernardino County was legendary mountain man Jedediah Smith, in November of 1826. The Smith party had traveled south from the Salt Lake Valley and begun crossing the Mojave Desert when they veered west from the Colorado River.

Guided by two Indians who had run away from the San Gabriel Mission, Smith followed the old Mojave Trail that padre Garces used more than 50 years before.

On the last stage of his long overland journey to the Pacific, Smith described the Mojave Desert as a country of "complete barrens." The party traveled from morning until night from water hole to water hole. When Jedediah reached the Mojave River, he called it "The Inconstant River" since it ran both below and above the surface.

Smith followed the Mojave River to its source in the San Bernardino Mountains and then crossed into the San Bernardino Valley on Nov. 26, over the old Mojave Trail, near the Cajon Pass.

Upon reaching the San Bernardino Valley, the exhausted band of explorers turned west and traveled to the San Gabriel Mission where they were welcomed by the padres. Described as being "nearly naked," the tattered Smith party was clothed and treated to a great feast of beef and cornmeal.

Smith and his men were detained by the Spanish authorities who were suspicious of American intrusion into their territory. Smith finally convinced the authorities of his altruistic motives, and the party began moving again on Jan. 18, 1827.

Jedediah Smith made another trip into Southern California in 1827. On this trip, the party was attacked by American Indians along the Colorado River, and more than half of the men were killed.

The seven survivors came back to the San Bernardino Valley to get help for a wounded man and collect supplies. This time, Smith thought better of going to the San Gabriel Mission and departed by the same route across the desert.

Famed explorer John C. Fremont crossed through the Mojave Desert and San Bernardino County on his second great expedition in 1844. The Fremont party included renowned frontiersmen Kit Carson and Alexis Godey.

The weary explorers were on the return trip from their expedition through Washington and Oregon. They had come south through the San Joaquin Valley, crossed the Tehachapi Mountains and were headed east through the Antelope Valley, in search of the Mojave Trail (which was now being called the Spanish Trail, and portions of which later would be called the Mormon Trail).

On April 19, Fremont was greatly relieved to find the trail near present-day Oro Grande, northwest of Victorville. The trail followed the life-giving Mojave River that provided just enough sustenance for the men and animals to cross this particularly harsh section of desert.

Along the way, the Fremont party had a bloody skirmish with local American Indians near Bitter Springs (within the boundaries of present-day Fort Irwin). The American Indians had stolen a herd of horses, and Kit Carson and Alexis Godey led a vicious foray to retrieve the animals.

Fremont left Southern California over the Mojave Trail and returned to Kansas City via Salt Lake Valley and Pueblo Colorado.

Many of the routes used by San Bernardino County's earliest explorers have evolved into major roads and highways and countless names they gave the sites along the way are still in use today. Their trailblazing expeditions eventually opened the way for the great wave of immigrants who settled Southern California.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Great Trip Report

"Citizen Grouch" provides another great trip report with photos. And we note that these two latest reports include sightings of the infamous Mojave Green rattlesnake, so make sure you are alert to their presence (and all other venomous creatures) when you're out there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May Trip on the Mojave Road

As usual in spring, there are a lot of folks out on the Mojave Road. We ran across a blog post about the Perry family's recent trip. They took some great photos. Enjoy!

On trek, "No one comes back the same"

Area teens make 138-mile journey

Geared up for the start of their weeklong Mojave Road adventure are, from left, Lino Cantos, John Slagboom, Jubal Marlatt, Michael Wellesley and Andrew Vasiloff. Photo courtesy of John Slagboom.

By Alicia Doyle
Ventura County Star
Sunday, May 17, 2009

Considered a favorite among four-wheel-drive enthusiasts, the Mojave Road is generally covered on wheels, from its start near the Colorado River in Nevada through the full length of the Mojave National Preserve in the deep desert of southeastern California.

But when a handful of Oxnard teens made the 138-mile journey last month as a backpacking trip on foot, it was more than simply a physical feat. It truly was a religious experience.

“Every hike I go on brings me closer to God and shows me what I’m capable of,” said 15-year-old Andrew Vasiloff.

As a member of Venture Crew 9228, based out of Oxnard First Presbyterian Church, Vasiloff was one of three teens and two advisers who completed the trip over seven days in mid-April, covering the 138 miles from the Colorado River in Nevada to within 25 miles of Barstow, traveling along the historic military wagon route through the Mojave Desert.

Others who finished the trek were Michael Wellesley and Lino Cantos, both 18.

John C. Slagboom, president of Crew 9228, did not hike because of a physical condition but drove his members 1,000 miles to and from their destinations.

Averaging 20 miles on foot a day, the crew is quite possibly the first to ever achieve such an accomplishment, said John Slagboom of Oxnard, crew adviser along with Jubal Marlatt of San Diego.

“There is no evidence that I know of that this has ever been done before,” he said. “It is not contrived to say that the Mojave Road trip had a spiritual development to it as well, which made it all the more worth it.”

The newest Scouts

The Venture Crew is the newest type of Scouting unit for youths ages 14 to 21, said Slagboom, 47, who is certified with Boy Scouts of America for desert and high adventure backpacking.

“Venture crews are designed to teach advanced leadership, organizational skills and character development by providing a venue where young people can collaborate to determine their crew’s mission code of conduct, meeting times, uniforms and, most important of all, their adventures — termed Super Activities like the Mojave Road trip,” Slagboom said.

The young crew members have been preparing for their latest feat for the past five years, since completing a 55-mile trip around the Providence Mountains in the central core of the Mojave National Preserve in the spring of 2004.

Additionally, “Their completion of the entire world-famous John Muir Trail this past summer in 14 hiking days was featured in March 2009 edition of Boy’s Life magazine,” Slagboom said.

On the most recent trip, Vasiloff said, Mother Nature posed the biggest challenge.

“Some are going to say their feet, others might say the mileage each day, but for me, besides not bringing pants, the weather was one of the biggest challenges I faced,” said Vasiloff, an Eagle Scout. “When I think of the desert, I think of sand and gnarly heat, which it basically has been in past trips. The difference between this trip and other trips was that we experienced almost every type of weather condition: extreme heat, extreme cold, rain, snow, extreme wind and sandstorms.”

‘Wizard of Oz’ moment

One of the wildest, most insane moments on the trip was when their tent flew at least 200 feet in the air, he said.

“Usually if a tent flies away, it gets stuck in a bush or rolls into a riverbed, but it never flies 200 feet in the air,” Vasiloff said. “Image ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when the house is spinning in the tornado; that is how it was. I have never seen anything like it before in my life.

“It was so funny to watch, but when we went to fetch it, there were tears in the material and our tent polls were broken. Yet, we still made the tent work like a champ, and slept in it.”

Overall, members of the Venture Crew love the intense physical challenge, Slagboom said. “Even their athletic competitions at school cannot compare to high-adventure backpacking at this level, and they love doing it together. No one comes back the same.”

For Cantos, the experience changed his life in ways he never expected.

“Out there on the road and sometimes too tired to talk, you get into deep thought and you really get to know yourself as a person,” said Cantos, who is now planning to climb Mount Everest with Vasiloff. “I don’t know how or when but expect us to do crazy things in the future. But at the moment we need to recuperate from this monster of a hike we were crazy enough to do.”

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Busy Time on The Road

Once spring arrives with its mild weather, traffic on the Mojave Road increases. When you're in the area, you start to notice more and more caravans passing through. We also notice more postings on blogs and forums, as people share their experiences and photos when they return home. This report, with lots of great photos, is from a Land Rover trip taken last weekend, April 3-5.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What you might encounter along the way...

We ran across this blog with some wonderful photos of the smaller creatures you are likely to encounter if you make stops on your journey along the Mojave Road.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Mojave Road - The Government Road: Mules, Springs, And Regulations

Jeeping The Mojave Road (In A 4Runner)

By Kevin Blumer
Photography by Kevin Blumer
4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine

No matter how many times you may have read about an adventure, there's nothing like firsthand experience to truly understand what it's all about. Even though I've enjoyed trips to the desert since the mid '80s and consider myself somewhat of a desert rat, I had yet to travel the Mojave Road until recently.

To read the rest of this trip report with photos, visit this link: