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.


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