Monday, February 28, 2011

BLM CLOSURE ALERT! Bear Lake Travel Managment Plan

For some months Offroading Home has been preparing a post comparing the various citizen unfriendly, if not intentionally deceptive, tactics the BLM uses against offroaders in general and senior riders in particular. It's not quite ready yet but an urgent matter requires this short post about yet another BLM "Travel Management Plan" which is underway. This time it's for the massively popular Bear Lake offroad riding area.   [A more in depth discussion of this TMP is available at: Offroading Home Forum.]

The "Travel Management Plan" – you remember, that is what has nearly universally become the BLMs euphemism for their Democrat-Harry-Reid-backed closure of all offroad trails in America. Legally they are required to do it with full disclosure and include citizen feedback; however, BLM offices have gotten "spin doctoring" and subterfuge to the level of an art form.

We will have more to say about it in the future; but for now, all offroaders, especially those in the area, need to know that:

1- The Pocatello Field office, under the direction of Dave Pacioretty [ (208)478-6340] has set a comment deadline one month away – MARCH 24, 2011.

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Google Earth: Version 6.0

Google has released another update to Google Earth - now version 6.0!   [I actually had this post prepared last year for the update to version 5.2, and was nearly ready to release it on you, when my testing showed that a couple of very substantial bugs had been introduced into previously working code!]

So, even though there were a couple of interesting new features, my testing showed that the so-called "update" had broken part of the code which allowed you to save your trails correctly for others to see. I decided that was too much of a damage to the program for me to want to endorse; so, instead of telling you about it, I told Google – or at least tried to. Have YOU ever tried getting through to a REAL person at Google?

My bug discovery was published in the Google Earth forum and did receive comments from other users; but, not even a shred of acknowledgement from any Google official person. So, the only thing we could do was to wait to see when/if they improved it in later versions.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

GEO-tography: Night

Even pocket sized cameras are getting sophisticated enough to take photos which look good in some pretty tough conditions offroad.   I'm happy with the Nikon that I carry in my clip-on belt case, but the one thing it doesn't do well is make up for the "shakes." One time, while cleaning my lens for the um-teenth time on a trail, I was mumbling about how many of my photos just didn't seem "crisp" and were just a tad blurry - like they were out of focus.   A friend asked "why don't you try shutting off your ATV and see how that works?"

I did and it made a lot of difference.   The subtle vibration of the machine's motor was transmitted to my hand and blurred the photograph slightly, even though I had the camera's "vibration control" setting switched on.   We all know that no pocket camera can obtain the crystal qualities of a 35-mm camera mounted on a tripod and with a cable shutter release – especially when the light gets low.

The "vibration control" system on most cameras of any kind is much better at dampening the "low frequency" shakes from a tired hand than it is the high frequency jerks from an ATV engine, even at idol.

What happens when you are trundling along off-road on an iceburg trying to get to a spot where you can watch a volcano erupt – like in this photograph?   It's dark so what do you do then?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Offroad: Mesquite - Canyonlands, Virgin River

This second offroad excursion in the 2011 snowbird year was taken out of exasperation with the continual bad weather over the previous month. Rain and cold had precluded riding our ATVs for what seemed like an eternity so we bundled up at the first sign of the sun in weeks for an afternoon ride into "the Canyonlands."

We also wanted to see what, if anything was left of the trails along the Virgin River which was doing its SECOND "100 year flood" in five years.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Canyonlands-Virgin River.]

Tecnhically, I supposed, the Canyonland trails are on Gold Butte, but the area is only 4 miles past the Riverside Road turn off, and still connected to the West Bunkerville Flats riding area. Most locals don't consider "riding the Butte" to begin until you at least round the gap at the Little Virgin Mountains along Clives Landing.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gold Mines of Gold Butte

I have a friend who loves historic Gold Mines… well, all mines actually!   He's never heard about a mine that he didn't want to go visit. To look at them, to walk around them, to explore them and photograph them. He loves to drive his side-by-side up any old mine road to as close as he can get… even if it's straight up.   He's been to so many mines, and has so many mine photographs, we kid him that he must be writing a coffee-table book about them.

And he has chosen a pretty good place to snowbird because hundreds of the things are within a day-trip of his winter-time home. There are more than 40 claims on Gold Butte alone which have historically taken gold in some amount. None, unfortunately, are still in operation; and, as we have previously shown, the BLM is taking great pains to eradicate them from the face of the earth.

Today's map is a neat "network link" that I found at a website ( which will display all the mining claims in a Google Earth viewport which have been known to contain at least some gold.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Gold Mines of Gold Butte.]

Monday, February 7, 2011

Offroad: Gold Butte - Backcountry Byway

For the several hundred new retiree's who are moving into their Dell Webb homes near Mesquite bringing with them their offroad vehicles – where do you begin? And for someone just up for the weekend in an SUV suitable to go offroad – is there a sort of "sampler" which one can do in a day?

The answer to both questions is: yes. The Gold Butte Backcountry Byway. And the map for the ride described here was taken as an "introductory" ride for new members this year by the Kokopelli ATV club based in Mesquite.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Offroading: Gold Butte Backcountry Byway.]

This route winds through typical Mojave Desert sand, to Aztec Formation red sandstone; from volcanic intrusions to metamorphosed monzogranite; from desert floor and washes to the Pinon-Juniper biome; and back again.

There are three aspects of this full day adventure we should talk about which will help you understand the area well enough to tailor the experience to your own capabilities and needs: The Byway itself, The area's hiking trailheads and The Mine Area Side-trip.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What A Change: Mesquite Offroading

If there's nothing else that can be said about Mesquite it's that this years snowbirding adventure has been different than any others – anywhere! Well, perhaps not anywhere; because, if we went anywhere else one would expect it to be different. Coming back to a spot where we've been before, we expect it to be the same, or at least a little similar.

The Kokopelli club is still here. Nancy, the lobbyist is still at her paid job to turn Gold Butte into a "hikers only" coffee table book for the Sierra Club. And the Mayor is still here - for a little while more.

But, right off the bat we found that many of the washes had substantially changed from rains either last spring or early this fall. Charlie said that things had washed out a little – and boy was he right! We almost didn't recognize Mud Wash for all the rocks. BUT, little did we know that was merely the beginning.