There's nothing like a dutch oven pot luck meal
But Jake prefers the minnows.
Most of the people from Idaho who come down here in the winter have been exploring the wilderness areas of this region for decades. They go back up into the mountains for quail hunting, fishing, rock hounding, finding old mining camps, and to just enjoy the scenery. We've always been limited in our explorations by how far we could drive into a 4WD road and then how far we could hike in a day (no more than 15 miles). Well, everyone down here has a 4WD quad ATV of some kind, and that means much more accessibility to the backcountry.
As boondockers looking for quiet, we've always been leery of the weekend ATV'ers who show up near our campsite, unload their noisy vehicles, and race through the desert. So we were sceptical when the gang said we had to borrow one of their quads and join them in a backcountry jaunt.
Unlike the usual weekend ATV crowd, our group was an early rising, look for a seldom used area kind of group. In our full day excursion, we didn't see any other groups of any kind. That was unexpected, but part was being able to experience far more terrain and carry a wider array of gear than we ever could before. After about 15 miles, we arrived at a junction in the canyon where we had lunch. Instead of the usual fruit and nuts, we started a small fire in an existing fire ring and grilled some brats. That along with the ice cold drinks and smoked oysters, set us up for the three mile one way hike up a desert wash that was still alive with spring water.
The site was once busy with mining activities 100 years ago.
It's always fun to find water in the desert. This old dam was probably built before WWII to provide water to the mining camps. It has filled in with sand, but still had spring water filtering through it and into the canyon.
We found this endangered desert tortois in one of the washes. It was about 14" long and must be pretty rare because it was the first of it's kind that anyone in our group had ever seen outside of a zoo.
There are old mines and veins of minerals everywhere out here.
We found a bat cave up one wash that had big powder blue/gray bats flying around inside it. There weren't any other footprints besides ours inside.
There was a fortune in guano fertilizer inside!
This was a great experience. We were able to access an area that couldn't be reached by jeep, mountain bike, or day hike and wasn't in any guide book. We were able to get in a nice six mile hike in a remote, historic area. We were able to enjoy a nice lunch and cold beverages. We were able to explore some old mines and see an endangered desert animal that is almost never seen outside of a zoo. We were the only group out in a wild and remote part of the desert. Overall, I don't think we've ever been able to pack so much into one day. We definitely need to alter our view of outdoor exploration.
And just for our buddy Boonie, who is our favorite intellectual RV fulltimer blogger, some postcard pictures of the ridiculous sunsets we have every night.