Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ride 20: Kurt's Grotto - Black Wash Loop

Gordon and I rode with some people who hadn't been into the Kurt's Grotto area before, to show them some of the local sites. Our first stop from Whitney Junction was to ride just a short distance toward Whitney Pockets and see the CCC dam.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 20: Kurt's Grotto - Black Wash Loop]

I must have ridden by the thing 20 or more times (even looking for the "petroglyphs by the CCC structure") but never saw it. The trail goes down between two berms just as it turns a little corner, and the "Water Trough" as well as the Rock Dam is just up on top.

If you keep to the left on the shoulder you will see a parking area on the top of the shoulder, by the water trough. The dam is a short hike through the crack in the rock. You can tell it must have taken a great amount of effort to construct. They sure don't build them with this amount of effort any more.

From the top of the dam you can see yet… another small dam a bit further up the crack. Unfortunately, the stream or spring is no more.

Down the Gold Butte Road is always a fun ride, especially in the clean air following a storm. No dust, dark red rocks and fresh smell.

With stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain.”
Friedrich von Schiller

We passed the Mud Wash Petroglyphs and stopped to discuss the many and varied "reports" and "claims" of vandalism to the glyphs. [I have subsequently spent a fair amount of time obtaining and comparing photos along with analyzing the area with the BLM ranger and will post some findings in a future article.]

Gordon got "lost" and went the "long way" around to the top of the mesa while we took the "standard" way up the side-wash just before the corral.

The parking "corral" was just as we had seen it before. The BLM, under pressure from the political groups, got the cart before the horse and closed the thing off in a very unsafe manner before they had even thought about how people were going to get down the cliff safely.

I had to man "base-camp" but the others tried the trek down the hill to the grotto. I watched them head back toward the "corral" when they were finished then turned my attention to getting out the lunch until I heard a shout. One of them had fallen trying to get back up the hill.

In all they said that it was something worth seeing. However, anyone attempting what is now an unreasonable climb needs to be careful about footing in the loose cliff rock.

Bureau of Land Management
4701 N Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89130
BLM Mailing Address:

Another good thing to do would be to write the BLM about the unsafe and "age-discriminatory" conditions that should be corrected immediately. It wasn't until after local outrage that they even said, basically, that even though they didn't have a clue yet what they were going to do, they were going to create a "way down that could be used by people with all capabilities" — we'll believe it when we see it. Meanwhile it's blocked off pretty much to all seniors (possibly 50% of the population of Mesquite).

With a bit extra time to spend we decided to return via the Back Country Byway and see Devil's Throat, then take a short trip attempting to find the Zarina Mine which was showing on our GPS maps.

After turning toward Arizona and onto the trail there was a sign which said the trail ended in about a mile. However, that isn't specific about whether it "ends" or is "closed" — so we went up to take a look. This time it really ended in a complete washout and fairly impassibly steep sited crevasse.

The map showed the trail also coming in from the other side so we went around and took that as well. We came to the other side of the exact same washout, although you can't see one one side from the other due to the cliffs.

For future record, we never did see a way to get up to the Zarina Mine, or even either a tailing's pile or mining road.


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