Sunday, April 26, 2009

Devil's Fire - The Hike!

No matter whether you call it "Little Finland," "Hobgoblins" or its real name Devil's Fire there is a hike involved. And, now that the BLM has finished spewing their closures - a substantial one! However, I've just met a person who may have taken the longest one yet! [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Devil's Fire: the HIKE]

Several weeks ago I received an email from an unknown fellow who said he had looked at the information I, and others, had posted and felt he just had to see Devil's Fire. Because it appeared that he had the idea he could just drive up to the site and "car camp," I responded and very bluntly pointed out the "error in his thinking."

Apparently, his trip was part of an already scheduled conference attendance in Vegas, so he dropped off his companion and set off for Devil's Fire anyway. Of course he found that his compact rent-a-car wouldn't go past Devil's Throat, so he attempted the "end run" around the Gold Butte Back Country Byway.

And, of course, his "lower-than-a-segway" car didn't fare any better down there. So, not to be disappointed, and for diversion, he climbed up the mountain near Gold Butte Ghost Town before driving back up to Devil's Throat.

This guy showed that he was more tenacious than "moss on a rock" and decided if his car wouldn't go with him, he would go alone... and began hiking! Down the Byway he trod into Mud Wash and then down it too.

He said he was following the GPS coordinate he had gotten off the web so, just before the Mud Wash turnoff to Lollipops, set off Northeast cross country. That route took him through the red sandstone cliffs which few have seen and through the "back door" into Devil's Fire from the North.

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
Lao Tzu

He had finally achieved what he had set out to do and was able to photograph the delicate erosion's before realizing that he now had to go retrieve his car.

He then climbed down into the wash at the Oasis. His GPS was pointing Southeast over the cliffs as the shortest way back to Devil's Throat... so he took it, and found himself coming down into Mud Wash, East of the Corral.

Following the "normal" way back out, he was at least able to see the Mud Wash Petroglyphs before finishing his nearly 10 mile round-trip hike back at the Throat.

After he was back home he wrote to thank me and send the link to his photos. After a bit of correspondence, it turns out that this adventure was his normal "modus operandi." He sent me several of his "hikes" to add to the "master map" I've got accumulating on my web site

When you follow his track on Google Earth you can see just how difficult a route he chose; but he said he enjoyed every bit of it. Unfortunately, you can see that he came within 10 feet of the Devil's Fire Petroglyphs without seeing them. Which goes to show just how difficult they are to find.

[To read his view of the hike you can view his blog page at Michael Blitch Blog]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Disport: Hale Centre Theater

For several years we have obtained season tickets to Salt Lake City's Hale Centre Theater - HTC to those in "the know." We had seats yesterday for the afternoon performance of their latest show.

Disport: To occupy oneself with amusement or diversion.”

From its early beginnings as the local mom and pop "Hale Family Theater," it went big time when it expanded to a multi-million dollar facility on the "West Side" a few years ago.

One the one hand, trying to succeed in theater in a culture, who equates the term "locally produced" with years and years of church "road shows," is no small feat. Their productions often "stun" patrons, who then exit the theater with looks of incredulity muttering "where did they get all these out of town professionals."

On the other hand, the professionalism of the HTC campus seems, in some ways, to perplex even its owners and employees as well. For example, they haven't, even at this late date, figured out how to provide customer service at the concession stand. The rotunda was crowded, they had already begun seating, and there were probably 20 of us forming an impromptu line in front of the counter where two gals seemed to be busying themselves gossiping with someone they knew.

A lady at the front of the line asked one of the girls when they would begin selling, as it didn't look like they had any intention of doing it soon, and was condescendingly told "soon." Well, "soon" came and went several times before they finally took the first order, then acted like they were "making it up" as they went along. Clearly they haven't figured out the "concession part" of the business in the many years I've been going there.

On the other hand, "where did they get all that talent?" Many incredible voices sang their hearts out - (and even the audio guy seemed to have achieved enlightenment in running the volume knob so as not to cause our ears to bleed.)

On the other hand, if YOU, like me, jumped to the conclusion that the production's music would have been written by Andrew Lloyd Webber; then, YOU, like me would have been very confused as the play began. This was "Phantom" (by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston) NOT "Phantom of the Opera" (by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe).

The HTC playbill was almost identical to Webber's (perhaps deliberately so) but this was an "Operetta." I'm sure they surmised that if they would have publicized that fact they would have had empty seats.

If you never have,
You should.
These things are fun,
And fun is good.”
Dr. Suess

Now, I like musicals, understand operetta's and can even tolerate some opera's; but, unfortunately, these very professional quality singers were plying their craft on instantly forgettable songs. I couldn't even remember one melody as I left the theater.

On the other hand, the story-line you couldn't forget even if you tried — it was... odd! The antagonist in this version was not so much the "Phantom" but the farcically played, wannabe-diva, musical director's wife, Carlotta.

On the other hand, the fingernail-on-the-chalkboard, annoyingly-theatrical performance that she gave must have been good, for the audience applauded when the Phantom killed her.

And, on the last hand, as expected, their highest paid performer (the million dollar, hydraulic stage) not only worked flawlessly but was so overwhelmingly professional that it makes any HTC production worth seeing... operetta or not!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Will It Ever Stop Snowing?

I didn't always try to avoid snow. As a kid it was a novelty most enjoyable. Now, however it only serves as a detractant from life's real purpose - offroading!

One might think that after this many years I would have the rules of snowbirding down pat. So why is there so much snow out my door?

Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
Pat Conroy

One does have to give the mountains credit for the show they are putting on — and the Salt Lake Valley air is uncharacteristically clean and clear; but, sigh, most of my buddy's are riding back down where we just left.

Charley's ride with the club was down Scanlon Ferry road again — they had a lot of novice riders this trip and couldn't do much exploring. The cacti were still not much in bloom.

And this weekend, Rod and his family went back down to Lime Kiln Canyon. They used the info on this blog to plan the journey and I'm awaiting their report. They promised to send photos.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Snowbirds - Where are we today?

What in the sam *%! have we done! I'm sitting here looking out the window of Herriman Snowbird Headquarters at at least 20 feet of snow outside our door!

The lease was up on Mesquite Snowbird Headquarters April 1st, so we packed up and trekked back to Utah. What a big mistake! We had to dodge between two storms and have been stuck inside while it has stormed nearly all week. So much for trying to miss this winter's snow.

It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is," (said rabbit).
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore.
"However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately.”

The misery is made all the more poignant knowing that Charley and the club are going ATVing Saturday, down on Gold Butte. In fact he says they intend on riding every weekend in April. Hopefully they will send me their GPS trails.

One thing about snowbirds is that the biannual relocation gives you something to do. If you plan it right you can spend nearly 3 months unloading the boxes; then, you've got something to do for the next three months and reload them.

You see, once you've attained the rank of "snowbird" it's perpetual. The title holds no matter which side of winter you reside on. Oh, I know some change their name to "sunbirds"; but, us purists don't hold much with that foolishness... We know what we are!

[Charley said they have now taken the 96 mile ride. It was cool and the cacti still aren't blooming. Next weekend: "Three Corners" - Utah, Nevada, Arizona border.]

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ride 26 - Radio Crystal Mine

Last Saturday we took our traditional end-of-season ride down in the area around Historical Gold Butte. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 26 - Radio Crystal Mine]

We were quite disappointed, the last two weeks of March, that the succulents in the area hadn't chosen to bloom. Last year by mid March, almost overnight, the Joshua Trees began putting out their large, cream-colored blooms which filled the air with their fragrance. We took several rides through them, then the Mojave Yucca burst into bloom.

At the end of March last year, we took a final ride down to the Gold Butte area in order to try and find the "valley of the Mojave Mound" cactus which dad's friend had told us about. He and his wife had spent many years riding the area after they had moved to Overton.

We did find Radio Crystal Mine and several of the plants along the trail, but we didn't find the valley. This year we coerced Ralph to go back with us and see if being there would jog his memory of the valley's location. Charley even went with us.

We trailer'd down to Voight Well (next to Gold Butte) and headed down the trail. It turned out that dad and I had actually followed the correct trail last year. We stopped at Pleasant Valley and met two (I'll call them red necks) guys who hid their high powered rifles when they saw us coming.

We could see the beer bottles they had lined up in the doorway of the rusted out trailer that has been parked there for many years. They made small talk until we left and I called back that we would be riding down behind them so "don't shoot us." As soon as we left they resumed their play.

Radio Crystal Mine seemed to have increased in building numbers since last year. We rode up the trail behind the crusher and began finding many examples of Mojave Mound cactus although they were not ready to bloom.

Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”
Benjamin Disraeli

The trail seemed quite well preserved but soon led us into Pierson Gap which wasn't the direction we needed to go (we were still trying to find the valley.) We returned and rode up to Grapevine Spring, an area which was vaguely familiar from last year.

Around the spring were huge, "pudding-like" conglomerate rocks which were surface smooth. Charley pointed out that one above the spring looked like an elephants head with ears and trunk, and I found it's back-side right next to it with its tail and you-know-what. [Henceforth to be referred to as Elephant Rock.]

We continued on the trail until we arrived back at Scanlon Ferry road and still hadn't found the valley we were looking for. We rode back up to Gold Butte and on to Granite Spring where we had found the old mill stone used by the Chinese miners.

There was a lot to see and we found yet another passageway we want to explore, but not today.

One good thing: after the ride Ralph said that he had seen what he thought looked like the trail to the valley on the way back up Scanlon Ferry Road.

Well... maybe next year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ride 24B - The BLM and Petroglyph Trail

I needed to delay writing about the "second part" of this trail only partially because of the logical split in content. Another large part was in order to calm down enough to be coherent — for the BLMs misguided, heavy handed closures "stirs my soul." [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 24B - Petroglyph Trail]

As we have spoken about before, the mis-guided mayor of Mesquite joined forces with the fiends of gold butte in order to manipulate the odds of her proposed land-swap for airport reasons.

No matter that it would disenfanchise a significant majority of her citizens from enjoying the land that they bought houses in the area to see — you see "wilderness" type areas are prohibited areas to anyone who can't hike miles — like seniors.

Once the fiends get involved, however, the ball doesn't stop so easy — witness their paid lobbyists relationship with the decision makers of the BLM.

Even though the "land-swap" was defeated, the BLM contracted with a bunch of "institute" kids to descend upon the area this summer and closed access to most seniors from every petroglyph and rock formation in the area.

We've already reported on the closures in the middle Gold Butte area. We trailer'd to Whitney-Junction to ride the Petroglyph Trail and see what they've done there.

First Rock: This one site is pretty much the same as last year. The trail runs within walking distance and there is ample parking for a quick walk to the glyphs. There are "motor vehicles prohibited" all around the rock, but they were there last year.

Amazingly, I'm sure to the fiends, the glyphs are also the same as last year, no defacement, no damage, no harm — in spite of the fact that they are the most visited and most accessable of all the sites. Sort of removes credibility from their arguement about how us "nasty offroaders" are "destroying the desert."

Falling Man: One and a half miles down the trail is a new blockaid across the trail to Falling Man which is supposed to serve as a hiking trailhead. The lunacy begins here.

Over the years, in their infinite wisdom, they have moved the "parking lot" a little farther back several times. Each time a new parking lot forms such that now there are several and we are now starting a completely new one.

Now lets talk about the new quarter-mile hike they want us to do to get to the glyphs. Where do we do it? Not on the previous trail! The institute kids have thrown all the desert debri the could find onto it attempting to try and "hide" it from us! So where do we walk? — WE MAKE A NEW TRAIL! Pathetic!

Nevada Bear Poppy: A new addition to the trail is a 0.1 mile section lined with Rail-Road ties and cable purportedly so no-one will trod on the poppies. They claim it's a "pure strand"; but, in 4 years we've never seen anything there that we haven't seen all over the desert. [Maybe we should look better?]

We've now got post and cable fencing all across the desert ostensibly to prevent offroading in an area where there are no trails! No damage! No one has ever, it seems, ridden off the main trail. There is nothing to see or place of interest to go, unless they figure their closure of 21 Goats would spur the creation of an alternate trail unless they fabricated the "conservation story."

Twenty-One Goats: The idiocy continues at the wash to 21 Goats. There is a new flexible sign at the turnoff with deliberate confusing wording making you think you shouldn't drive on. In reality, it warns that the trail has been closed up further. When you drive up the wash you are soon stopped, about a half mile from the glyphs, in the middle of the wash.

That's the "new" trailhead, and it's barracaided with rail-road ties and cable on three sides! At least the institute kids did put a "gate" (of sorts) in the blockaid, unlike they have done everywhere else. However, I don't see how one is supposed to get a horse through the barrier (they are legal); but the BLM doesn't really care about that!

The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into... political... office.”
Robert Frost
Khota Circus: And finally, the biggest idiocy of them all, they have placed rock barracaids IN THE WASH going to the Khota Circus trailhead. A sign states that they are "restoring" the area! IT IS A WASH PEOPLE! The only restoration that now needs to be done is to get garbage bags and clean out all the crap the institute kids have tossed all over the wash!

What kind of a brain-dead idiot "restores" a wash?!! The trail into the glyphs has already been blocked off for years and required nearly a mile hike (one way) into the site. Now, they have added an additional 1 1/4 mile (one way) to it - making it a 4 1/2 mile hike round trip on foot!

If you continue straight past the wash and up the trail it will lead higher up on the mountain before it peters out. There you will be able to look back and see the wash which they are trying to "restore." It is rock, sand and hard-pan slick-rock - just what do they think they are going to restore? Absolutely nothing will grow back... ever, and rock is rock!

That's it. The Petroglyph Trail. What was once a magnificent destination for the burgeoning senior populations of Mesquite and Bunkerville, now turned into a playground for the elite hikers and rock climbers without even one consideration given to the impact on the current population.

I told you it stirred my soul!