Monday, January 12, 2009

Ride 11 - Gold Butte Back Country Byway

This was an unexpectedly different ride. I say "unexpected" because we didn't end up where we intended. [For full Google Earth map see here: Gold Butte Back Country Byway]

Not all those who wander are lost.”
J. R. R. Tolkien

We intended to return to the Oasis in the middle Gold Butte area and ended up down at Gold Butte (the ghost town) on the back country byway. The reason: yet another BLM closure (with the help of the fiends of gold butte).

Trailheading at the Mud Wash we rode Southwest around the wash, past the petroglyphs, and up Red Rock Springs wash toward the Oasis. Not more than a quarter mile up the wash a brand new railroad tie and cable BLM blockaid had sprung up since we were last here [And we had thought they were through]. This left a 0.6 mile hike for which we hadn't come prepared.

It is crystal clear that seniors have absolutely no place on the fiends of gold butte's agenda; nor, apparently, the BLM who seems to use the group as it's only consultant. An incredibly insidious form of age descrimination. But, I digress.

Only one good thing. While we were taking a time out for "fuming," I spotted a single specimen of "strawberry hedghog" cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii) that we hadn't previously seen in our many trips past this very spot.

We went back around the bend to the other BLM blockaid near Red Rock Springs to recognoiter, and decided to take the wash around into Gold Butte Road Wash.

It was one of those things where we had too much time to just go home, but were on a bit of a time schedule because of prior committments. We had never taken the "byway" route down to the ghost town, so we did.

It went fairly easily through a beautiful valley. Many Joshua Trees, Mojave Yucca, Barrel Cactus dotted the hillside, as well as several corrals, water tanks and a guzzler.

It was a treat to find a few specimens of "mojave" or "grizzly bear" Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia erinacea). We've only seen three areas now where this species has grown.

The trail, although fairly easy, was longer than we had expected so we needed to run faster than we would have liked. The ghost town of Gold Butte was exactly the same as we had seen it last year. The two graves at the site witness just how much attraction the area can exert on people.

On ATVs the Old Gold Butte Road goes fairly quickly. There is some washboarding and a lot of dust but the scenery is quite varied.

The view as you crest the top of the grade at Valatier Wash is really grand! What an area.

We didn't have time to swing around Devil's Throat but were able to load up and make it back to Snowbird Headquarters in time for our activity.

We've talked before about Google Earth and I've been attaching map files of the rides we've been taking. This week I recieved a new program from an acquaintance in France [more on that later] and I've added some photos attached to the track file.

Be sure and click on the link to see this route in Google Earth: Gold Butte Back Country Byway. (If you don't already have Google Earth you'll need to install that first.)


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