IMG_3239Over the last weekend, my wife and I decided to take a camping trip into the back country of Death Valley National Park.  We were inspired to return to Racetrack Valley, and over night at the Homestake Dry campground.  Upon our return, we were greeted with the grim news that another hiker had died in Zion National Park.  Zion is a personal favorite location and I know it well, and every time someone has an accident in the area I can’t help of think of the small little details that allow these tragedy’s to occur.  I would later recall that an actor died in Death Valley National Park this year.  There is, in fact, a book series written by Michael P. Ghiglieri that emphasizes death in various National Parks and the locations of each, are places which I frequent.

To be sure, although stories like these grab attention and headlines I am sure that they are overblown in their publicity and for the most park the National Parks are safe.  The drama in each example is that we all visit there locations and with rare exception we all return with photo graphs and memories to last a life.  Many of this accidents are preventable, with the understanding the hindsight is always clear, I still can’t help but wonder what would happen should I ever find myself in a one of these situation?

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Bodie Gas Station

Bodie Gas Station

In June, 2012 my family took a family vacation to the Eastern Sierra area.  This was the site of many past family vacations throughout my life and I am fortunate enough to travel in this area with my entire family again.  For this trip, I am thrilled to bring my wife and son.  Although Heather visited this area a few times before, she and I had never been here together and I was really looking forward to sharing my memories of the area with her and Ryan.

After a quick drive from Las Vegas to Lone Pine via Death Valley, we met my folks and brother and sister-in-law in Lone Pine, California.  We took a few side trips including a drive up to Whitney Portal and the Alabama Hills.  The next day of the trip north on the 395 highway found us in Lee Vining, CA and prepared ourselves for Bodie, CA.

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A quick stop to air down the jeep, just off the Kelbaker Road.

After our recent trip to the center section of the Old Mojave Road, my wife Heather was really excited to run the western section and complete  the entire length of the trail.  Her idea was to drive the western section on our way to our annual trip to Big Bear, CA over the Memorial Day holiday.  I worried that such a trip during this time of year could be a rough trip due to high temperatures in the desert.  In late April we finished the center section in Baker, CA and the air temperature was only 107 degrees.  Despite my concerns, we gladly planned our trip and embraced her good idea.

As we prepared for our trip, gathered our gear, food, and checked out the mechanics of the jeep, I decide to check the local weather report.  To my surprise, weather.com predicted the temps in the mid 80s with clear sky’s and light wind.  The weather could not be any better.

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Old Mojave Road

Incinerator behind the house at Caruther’s Canyon Road

In April 23, 2012, my wife and I woke up early and packed the family into our jeep for a day of back country exploring in the Mojave desert.  On this day, our destination was the middle leg of the historic Old Mojave Road.

The Old Mojave Road was originally a series of trails used by the Native Americans of the Mojave desert to connect the Colorado River with the Pacific coast.  Native Americans developed the trail over time, which was later used by Spanish Missionary’s, U. S. Army, and stage operators.  The Mojave Road fell into disuse when the railroads came into the area in the 1880’s.  Dennis Casebier, and his Friends of the Mojave Road, ‘rediscovered’, mapped and documented the Mojave Road.  Our trip on this day, is possible due to their hard work and dedication, which follows centuries of history.

As we left Las Vegas early Sunday morning we drove past Primm, Nevada and continued into California we watched the temperature climb from 75 to 85 degrees.  We exited interstate at Nipton Road and drove East into the southern California desert.  A quick right turn at Ivanpah Road and we were on our way into the Mojave National Preserve.

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