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Trip Report: Mines of Joshua Tree/Trail Run

Ken Cooke

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Dear 4 wheeler/Desert Fanatic,

The following is a trip report of our Gold Mine/Trail Run we took in the
Joshua Tree National Park yesterday. I hope you enjoy reading its contents,
and will join us in the near future as we travel this trail again...

-The Desert Outlaw


We headed out at 10 a.m., and traveled to the "Gold Nugget" mine first.
We drove down a questionable dirt road to this mine, and
we noticed that the mine was operational until 1994. It was then abandoned.
Dan got out his high powered portable spotlight, and we
went inside. Inside "Gold Nugget" there was plastic hoses that ran the
entire length of the mine - for oxygen. There were still paper masks
to filter the air that were discarded on the ground that were still in
good shape. The walls were made of quartz, but there were no "Gold
Nuggets" to be found.
We then headed towards "OK Mine" which supported 500-1,000 miners at one
time. The road was also questionable, with steep ascents along a
mountain face and loose, jagged rock that had to be negotiated. Once at
the
top of the mountain, there were several mines that were in good
condition. This is because it was just too dangerous to drive to these
mines. We looked around, but were reluctant to enter these mines which
were
operational up until the late 1970s.
Our drive out became the challenge. As we scouted a mountain-top road
for
being passable, Dan's dog Kipper knocked the pickup into neutral, and the
truck coasted towards a rocky cliff. Dan jumped in the truck in time, just
before the truck picked up enough speed to get away from him (his door
handle does not open from the outside, so he had to stick his arm in through
the window to get inside). The road below Dan and I was so worn and steep,
that we both had trouble just walking down it - I had on skateboard shoes,
with hiking boots in the back of my truck - I was too lazy to put them on
throughout the trip. So, we backtracked to "OK Mine" and we took what
appeared to be a safe, heavily traveled route. This road turned into a
real
Jeep trail. Although it was able to accomodate our smaller rigs, a
Suburban, or a Hummer would definitely have to call it a day, and figure
out
how to get back to Old Dale Road the same way we drove in. With the
difficulty we encountered coming in, we felt this would be a much safer
route.
Sections of the road were washed out, with vehicles resorting to traveling
up the side of the mountain for extra clearance. This resulted in about
12"-14" of extra clearance for our tires. One washed out section would
eventually reveal another washed out section. Then, there were the tricky
washes that needed to be negotiated with all of their oil-covered rocks
that
some poor guy must have encountered with his oil pan earlier in the day.
In
some uphill climb sections, Dan needed a spotter to get around these rocky
outcroppings that had to be negotiated. His unlifted, high-geared Nissan
pickup proved a challenge to travel down the trail, although it eventually
surprised both of our expectations! This was the first offroad trip in
my
Ford Ranger since my rig was regeared [4.56:1], providing an optimal crawl
ratio on this trail. With the 6" of total lift from body and suspension
[coils and coil spacers], and 33" BFG-All Terrains (pre-KO's w/virtually
new
tread), my Ranger was my go anywhere, do anything rig. I was able to make
many of these mentioned sections look easier than when Dan attempted them,
although we both anxiously awaited the conditions of the trail around the
bend. One section of the wash was practically washed out, with rocks and
boulders left residing on the left, while about 14" of dirt trail remained
to the right. We had to straddle this section, and in doing so, I traveled
up a large rock, and my vehicle bounced off of it, spinning my Ranger's
rocker panel within inches of a boulder. Just missing it, we realized that
none of our body panels had been altered by this trail. As the Pinto Basin
began to reveal itself in front of us, one last obstacle remained. A
section of trail which appeared to be washed out, that was stacked with
rocks by some desperate soul. Dan took this section, and he had no problems
negotiating it, although he had no choice in getting around it, or
attempting the entire trail in reverse just 1.5 hours before sunset. I
was
able to make it through without much trouble - it's all about finesse, baby!
So, we made it back to Dan's home in Downtown Palm Springs, and discussed
future plans with this trip. Dan hopes to get himself a brand new 4 Runner
by the end of Summer [w/locking rear differentials and 31" tires - these
will probably be discarded for 33" Goodyear MT/Rs, a lift, and 4.56 gears).
I on the other hand, hope to wheel the wee out of my Ranger, making up for
all of the trips I had to miss due to my not being able to afford the
regearing that I finally had taken care of in January ($875 at 4 Wheel
Parts-Riverside). We both will take this trail again with a larger, more
capable group in the near future, so will you be up for it? Let us know,
because we'd love to return for some more rugged challenges and dusty mines
out in Joshua Tree!

-Ken

>>++--==DESERT-OUTLAW==--++<<
http://www.thedesertoutlaw.com
http://www.graver-industries.com
 



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zensius

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That's sounds like a good trip. Do you have any pictures? I spent last week in Death Valley checking out old mines and Ghost town. Had a blast. I was amazed by just how much stuff there is out in the desert.
 






Ken Cooke

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JPEGs available

I have JPEG images available of us walking around inside Gold Nugget mine, and looking around OK Mine. I can email these to you and whoever else is interested if you send me an email to kencooke@pe.net
 






DesertSpive

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I have done that trip about 3 or 4 times, great roads, lots of fun and the mines are neat. I have all the equiptment, and usually take some friends and repel into the mine shafts and go spelunking. I am going out the first weekend in May to do it again. anyone gonna be around? :D

--Sean
 






Ken Cooke

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May 4th PreRun!

Spive,

We're going to do a May 4th PreRun! We wanted to concentrate on the actual trails, but looking around inside some of the mines is always an objective. Which mines would you like to poke around in?
 






DesertSpive

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Well I am bringing my equiptment to spelunk, but I have a feeling it may just be a trail trip. It depends how many people decide to show up. If no one shows, then I probably will be doing some more mines at my own pace. I have done Old Dale and Gold Crown a bunch of times and it is a real fun road. I am up for a trip anytime. I e-mailed you and added you to my So Cal off-roading list.

fdcb4413.jpg



--Sean
 






Ken Cooke

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Riverside, California
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'03 Rubicon - Tomb Raider
Spive,

You're a madman! If I could post msgs w/attachments, I'd show you a little bit of some of the fun Dan & I had while visiting the mines in J.T. I really miss being able to hit the waterfalls in Rockhouse Canyon...I've got lots of photos of that old trail as well...
 






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