Thursday, July 03, 2008

High adventure: paging Earl Scheib (updated)

I've been doing some trippin'. On Wednesday I gassed up Clyde and went in search of an old ghost town up a gnarly canyon in the west desert. I recently posted about this area here, where some dudes were messing around with explosives near a rugged canyon. Well, I found out that the mining town, J@cobs City, was up that canyon--Dri Creek Canyon. The road going up was perfect for ATVs or horseback, not full-size trucks. I barely fit on the thing and my paint job is now officially ruined beyond recognition, plus some nice dents down the side of my bed.

It was miles of loose rocks, washed out sections, and steep switchbacks with drop offs of a few hundred feet. It sucked because I got on a really narrow area where I barely fit and was on all these loose rocks and my truck started sliding off the edge. I don't know that I would have stopped rolling if God's grace and my BFG's didn't catch me at the last minute. Did I also mention that my front end got swallowed up by a washed out section of the road? It was a stupid idea to go up there in the first place and here I am stacking rocks and hoping to hell that I could get out. I did and don't even ask me how.

I also took out a tree branch, which conveniently ended up in the back of the truck bed. It was a good thing it didn't break my windshield. The thing was that all the trees and brush have over grown so much that they are constantly scraping and grinding the vehicle. In some places it felt like I was going through a tunnel made up of brush and trees.

Once I started nearing the location of the ghost town I began to see some carnage of other vehicles that perished along the way (let's hope that the people inside didn't perish along with their jeeps). When I got my truck on top of a big mine tailing there was this late model truck that had been stripped down to its frame. That's when I knew that if my truck broke down that the "Hills Have Eyes" locals would help themselves to whatever if I didn't get it fixed and out of there in a day.

It was at that spot that I could see the old foundations, rail lines, water towers, and the collapsed remains of buildings. It was very cool. I found a dumping ground for their game--just tons of old bones--and came across rusted steel wash pans, broken china, and fragments of beer and whiskey bottles. The mines up there are huge, but most are gated off. My brother tagged along and took many pictures. I hope to post some of those for you soon.

I made it down in one piece, something that I was wondering would even happen with all the strange pops and groans coming from my frame and drive train. Clyde turned out to take the abuse quite well. Not bad for a thirty-year-old man. He just needs to stop sucking the juice so hard.

While it was fun when I finally got up there it would have been better if I had a couple of other 4x4's for support. Then again, a mule train would have been the best idea. Next time I go up there I'm either back packing in or attempting riding my mountain bike. It's a bit too lose and rocky for biking it in, though. Maybe I will just liberate (my word for steal) an ATV from some rich dude's garage and cruise on up there. I'm thinking that I could get off in five years with good behavior if I'm caught--if I'm caught!

Anyway, I think that Earl Scheib should paint my truck for free, just because I am a good guy and my truck looks like shit now. Plus, he could use me as a charity case--you know how I was all sick (cough cough) and that automatically qualifies me for free stuff. Yeah, I think that'll happen.

I found out that there is a better road to this area that starts in a town about ten miles north as the crow flies and comes from above, dropping down to this mining town (well, it used to). The trail I was on is the more direct path and the original trail. They used to cart the ore down this only trail until a guy made a better road, a toll road, to get there. There was even a crude tram that once got the miners and the ore up and down this canyon way back in the day. While there is no longer a toll on this road, it is somewhat maintained. I've heard that it can get rather narrow too, but for the most part there are places to pass. The route I took you are screwed if you meet another vehicle coming the other way. The toll road is steeper in spots, but because the road is in good shape it isn't that big of a deal for most 4x4s. At one time even 2WDs were able to take the toll road. I've heard that while one could possibly still do that, take a 2WD on the toll road, it would be crazy. Good SUV's are about the minimum required for the toll road.

I'd probably take Clyde without much problem except for having to make room for passersby. The deal with the toll road is that it is blocked off at the top by the new owners of the mining area, so you'd have to hike down a couple of miles. But, you do get to see another smaller mining town from that road that you couldn't from where I was, plus there is a well preserved log cabin at the top. I guess they figure not a whole lot of people would go the way I did, but you can get right to everything that way. I'll just post a warning that this area is private property and they do not like trespassers. I have no idea if the owners plan to reopen any of the old silver and gold mines.


Anonymous said...

That sounds like a real thrill.
I don't know if I could ever take a four wheeler up roads like that.

That trail sounds as if it was made for a dirt bike.

Can't wait for the pics.

Have a happy Independence day.

Anonymous said...

The message above was made in Japan

The Grunt said...

The terrain wasn't impossible. I've been on worse, but those worse areas were more like obstacles that I'd hit for fun and not several miles worth in order to get somewhere. I'm putting an update on this post because I've found more out about it all.

Julie Schuler said...

That really sounds like a fun time. I love ruins. I, too, am awaiting pictures.

The Grunt said...

It was fun. The ruins include my truck now. I needed to repaint it anyway.


Jules said...

Sounds like you're THE person to go on an adventure to a ghost town with!! You must be in God's good graces, my dear!

Sun Follower said...

I remember (ahem, when was a wee tot) that Earl used to charge $29.95 for a paint job. I'm thinking that was probably 30 years ago... I'm calling in a retro-price for Clyde.

The Grunt said...

Jules~ Yes, I admit it. I am Mr. Adventure! Anyway, it's about time I got in God's good graces.

Sun~ Ooh, retro prices! I like that idea.