I finally got a few minutes to go through the pictures from our visit to the Old Dale Mining District last weekend. The area is one of many overlooked southern Mojave gems, free of the crowds and nanny-state interventions often found in National Parks. This area sweeps from the rocky mountains at the edge of the Mojave, southward into the Sonoran desert and the Pinto Basin area of Joshua Tree NP, and is filled with mine sites and remains galore. We were joined by a small group of friends from OAUSA—Larry in the Crazy FJ, Jon in a 4Runner, and Nick in another FJ Cruiser. After a night of last minute installing, death-by-chocolate cake, and a sheltered “camp” at my folk’s place we headed out into the desert.
After exploring the “center of town” we went up to the Duplex mine for lunch. The top of the mountain above Duplex, a peninsula jutting out into Pinto Basin, is easily the best view in the Pinto Mountains with panoramic views of the Basin and the surrounding mountains. I was starving after skipping breakfast (the install of my on-board air took longer than expected), so having done the hike before I opted for lunch instead. As an aside, if you are ever in the Joshua Tree area the Indian Cove Market (Highway 62 near Lear Avenue) makes excellent sandwiches and has a decent selection of wine.
On our way down into Pinto Basin we stopped along the trail to check out a possible suspension issue on the 4Runner. That’s when our friend Randy caught up with us in his Xterra, and I learned you could “track” a group running APRS even if you don’t have it just by listening in and playing with the squelch.
After determining the ball joint wasn’t going anywhere we made our way down to the Mission mine where Nick and I promptly climbed the tower (I figured it was a bad idea on the scouting trip, since Dani and I were alone). The view was great, and it was at least 10°F cooler on top with a nice breeze. Mission mine is more modern than what is usually encountered out here, and has an abundance of equipment and other miscellaneous bits left behind. The tower itself is for the shaft elevator directly below it. Were it not for the bee hive, the mine could probably be explored since the ladders and supports are all metal and it was abandoned fairly recently (no crumbling wood ladders to worry about).
Next was a brief stop at the Goldenrod mine, which has a small collection of abandoned antique vehicles and a stable horizontal shaft about 100 yards deep, filled with assorted sparklies. Sorry, no pictures of said sparklies—my little camera’s flash tends to wash them all out.
Then off to our camp for the night at the Gold Rose Mine cabin.
The cabin is an ongoing restoration project started by one of the claim owners, and there are a few others like it in the area. This is similar to the Adopt-A-Cabin programs in some national parks, though much less formal, and visitors are encouraged to add their own additions/repairs to the place. At some point, the massive patio and firepit were added making for a very comfortable dining area.
Unfortunately, morning brings the bees…
Sunday, 06:29 hours.
The great thing about camping at Gold Rose Mine cabin is the shelter of the canyon walls. Dawn breaks early in this desert, but thanks to this shelter the heat doesn’t get bad until mid-morning. The bad thing about camping at Gold Rose Mine cabin is that the bees get bad long before mid-morning. With Randy’s help we smoked out the bees and quickly packed up before fleeing to the implied safety of the Los Angeles mine.
It was starting to get hot out, and the bees were following Larry’s giant yellow 4×4 flower, so we made our way up OK Mine Road to the OK mine where, free of the bee swarms, everything was OK once more.
Under some crazy cloud formations we made our way back to a spot just off of Old Dale / Gold Crown Road for lunch.
The rest of our photos are in the Flickr set »