Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ride 6: Northeast Mesquite Flats

This ride has almost become the "search for the Northwest Passage" for us. We have friends in Beaver Dam Arizona and keep thinking that "there just has to be a way to get there from here."   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Northeast Flats]

Unfortunately, there are a LOT of 2-wheel drive eating chasms between here and there and we have never made it despite three tries.

The Mesa Boulevard trailhead is convenient to ride the area (just at the top of Mesa Boulevard) and you are soon down in the flats next to the freeway. The sandy trail rides parallel to the freeway and soon becomes a tooth-jarring washboard.

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.”
Charles Kuralt

There are several washes which need to cross the freeway and they do so in large culverts at several places. You can ride your ATV in them to cross over to the South side. Remember, however, that on the other side ATVs are not legal.

After riding East'ish you run into a cliff which makes you acutely aware that all this time you've been riding at the bottom of a very large wash. Last year we were able to make it up to the top with our 2-wheel drive rigs.

This year, I made it nearly to the top before the incline got so steep that my tires began spinning in the sand. Backing down, we tried to find another way to the top by riding around the bluff to the North; but, there is no other way to the top and we were soon quite North and looping back West at the bottom of the cliffs.

Across the sand flats we saw that it was prime growing grounds for a plant which I had to admit that I didn't know the name of, on a recent ride — but I do NOW!

Desert Trumpet, or to you high-falutin' types "Eriogonum inflatum" or in Southern Paiute: "papa karum". Also known as "desert spoon," it has a few leaves at the base and several tubular stems with bulbous segments.

The new green stems can be eaten raw, otherwise it was dried and used to smoke tobacco and as children's toys. There is an insect which frequents the plants and leaves it fecal droppings inside, mistakenly looking like small grains or seeds. Reportedly eating too many of them was found to be hallucinogenic — seems like one of those suckers would be TOO many for me!

We did find a trail up to the top which we could negotiate only to find that we were back at the Nevada border and at the end of the airport runway.

A little further on, we topped a sand dune to an expansive vista over a manicured, and freshly watered, golf course green – oh well.


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