Friday, March 12, 2010

Ride 26: The Middle Gold Butte Loop

The ride dad and I took today was one of our "old standards" but then again, nothing is quite "standard" on Gold Butte.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 26: "114" - Middle Gold Butte Loop]

We hadn't seen "the Lake" [one of our favorite past times] in quite awhile so we headed toward the water on our ATVs. The trails down the Clives Landing road are a bit confused on the BLM closure maps they publish and when you compare them to some misplaced photos on Google Earth you can get confused.

The trailhead at the Clive's Landing turnoff of the Gold Butte Road isn't often used so makes a good staging point for this ride. It was… quite cool and a bit overcast the day we rode but this is the desert and was very comfortable.

We found the "trail 114" turnoff a bit north of where "trail 112" and "trail 113" split off. It ran down and over a couple of washes before it took us down into a side wash to Fisherman's Cove.

That trail had washed out a bit, but it was there I noticed the first of the "deltas," as they say in NASA-speak for things a bit out of the ordinary. The conglomerate rocks were full of extraordinarily large fragments in a highly divergent variety as though they had originated in a hundred different places.

We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.”
Wernher von Braun

Others were eroded so as to look like they were volcanic clinkers — very sharp and hard on the tires and the hands.

Unfortunately we didn't see any of the wild burro's like we did the last time – just plenty of "tracks."

Dad had never seen the ridiculous BLM closure at the Mud Wash Narrows before. It's not a difficult detour but in all my times through the narrows, I don't remember ever seeing anything that needed protecting up where it is now closed off.

On our detour however — that's a different story! Off-nominal delta number two! Going in this direction, this time I noticed an entire hillside of the most fragile soil type there is in the desert – entire hills of it.

The largest single patch that I've ever seen on the Butte – so much so that the place has named itself: "Cryptobiotic Hills." It's incredible to me that anyone would knowingly re-route all the traffic which comes down the wash into such a sensitive area – but it's not my job to ex-plain… just com-plain.

What?… Do I hear you saying that not to try would be "off-nominal of me"? Well, ok– "that's what happens when a shark feeds. Their eye's roll up into their brain and they can't see what they are doing. They just know that they are feeding and it feels good."

This one we'll have to let them explain cause I can't – I'll let you know if I ever find out.

Dad had not yet seen the blockade at Kurt's Grotto before. The Grotto was the first place on the Butte that we came to 5 years ago, when we first started wintering here. He even named the "lizard" guarding the entrance. It's discouraging to look out on something that we most likely never be able to see again, due to the completely unnecessary blockade over-kill.

It was coming down off the butte again into Mud Wash when we noticed "Delta" number three. Somebody had been down there plastering the area with new "GPS" signs! After seeing many, just yards apart, we seemed to realize that they all were on the "back side" of flipper-signs which had the "Gold Butte Back Country Byway" decals on them.

They were a fairly large decal which had latitude and longitude hand-written on them in magic marker. I took photos and marked waypoints for a ways along the trail until it just got too many to handle.

Why they should be pounding new signs so close together all along the byway is a mystery. No one around here seems to know. I'm not sure how accurate their markings are – their correspondence (or lack thereof) to our GPS readings was quite variable. And it looked as though whoever was writing them was sort of making it up as they went along, because the format changed three or four times. Most of the signs had numbers written in a completely made up format.
[Addendum: I just found out that the plan is to place "mile-markers" all along the byway to facilitate accident and trouble reporting. The BLM is aware that there has been a "communications" problem and efforts are underway to remedy the issue.]

The free map accompanying this post is also a bit non-standard. It contains a couple of photographs of the "Crypto-hills," road signs which can be turned on and off, the trailheads for the various side-trails all along the route and a segment of the byway where I tried to log all the new GPS signs with new GPS map symbols.


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