Sunday, October 22, 2017

Petroglyphs Near Halloran Summit

A small collection of petroglyphs is located about 10 miles north of Baker, CA beside I-15.  They're on large boulders below a bluff just south of the Halloran Summit exit.  Here's a google map centered on the area.

It's an easy walk from the powerline road, less than 0.25 mile.  You can also drive the 4wd trail right to the location.  The only hard part is finding where the trail hits the powerline road.

The bluff above has the remains of an airmail navigation arrow that I visited in June.  Here are some photos of the rock art, in no particular order.

This website also has photos of the glyphs.  They show more markings than I have found, so I'll return some day to look for more.  Here's a view from GE showing the location.

The start of the 4wd trail looks like this.

It's to the left of the power pylon.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

My Hiking Poles Lasted a Long Time

After hiking up the last cinder cone, my Black Diamond Contour hiking poles broke.  Not the poles themselves, but a small flexible rubber/plastic ring that covers two recessed buttons to release the 2nd extension.  The polymer degrades over time (UV exposure, outgassing, etc.) and it's normal that it would eventually crack and split.

I don't feel bad.  They lasted over ten years.  That's money well spent.

I visited REI last weekend to buy some replacements.  I bought another pair of Black Diamonds, the model that most resembled my old poles.  I got the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles.  If all goes well, I'll get another ten years of use out of them.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Toyota RSCA Button

My 2016 LC has a button that many Toyotas now have.  It's labeled "RSCA OFF".  My drive on the 4wd trails around the cinder cones last week was the first time that I've used that button.

RSCA means Rollover Side Curtain Airbag.  These aribags are activated by some inclinometer in the vehicle.  If it detects that the truck has tipped over too far (e.g., a rollover), then they are inflated.

Toyota provides the button so that this system can be intentionally deactivated by the driver when driving in "extreme off road" conditions.  Here's a screencap from the 2016 LC manual.

This prevents the system from activating simply because the truck is tipped over a lot in pitch or roll.  During my drive in the desert, my truck was tilted a lot.  Not as much as I've done in the past in a Land Rover.  But I didn't want to take any chances.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Cinder Cone 4WD Trails

After hiking the cinder cone, I drove a few 4wd trails in the area and returned to Kelbaker Road near the Old Mojave Road crossing.  

The trails are not signed, but are in good condition and had recent tire tracks visible.  The first one heading northeast had some creosote brush on the sides.  

Then the trail heading south was brush-free once you reach the lava zone.  That road is in great condition and was an easy drive.

Then came the hard part.  I knew about this already because I had explored the southern end on a previous trip.  The trail crosses a short field of very large boulders as it drops into a sandy wash before continuing the short stretch to Kelbaker Road.

I decided to take the alternate.  Yup, there's an alternate!  It's not easy, but it's a lot easier than the main trail.  The alternate crosses a zone of embedded lava rocks, with some pinch points to hit, and some to avoid.  Then it drops into the sandy wash crossing only a few large boulders.  One of those large boulders is just waiting to scrape your tire sidewall as you try to turn left into the wash.

Once you're in the wash, you need to make two sharp turns.  That's a bit hard in deep sand.  The sand was 12 or more inches deep, stirred up by previous visitors.  My 6000 lb truck just starts to swim in sand that deep and I can't drive any precise line.  I didn't lock the center diff, and at the second turn I ended up power-sliding the rear around the corner.  Cool.

Apparently I was distracted by the boulders and I forgot to turn on my Garmin Nuvi before taking the alternate route.  That's why the GPS track in the GE image above (the red line) ends before I made it back to Kelbaker Road.

There are more trails up there and I plan to return some day.  I want to hike a few more cinder cones in the area.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Mojave Cinder Cone 2 Hike

I returned to the lava beds of the Mojave National Preserve to hike another cinder cone.  This hike was much easier, mostly because I brought my trekking poles.  Here's a google map centered on this cinder cone.  This one has a long black lava flow pouring out of the blown-out top.  The photo below was taken from halfway up the previous cinder cone.

I drove a 4wd trail to get closer to the base of the hill.  The "road" is partly rugged, partly rutted, and covered in lava rocks.  I expected to puncture a tire, so much so that I brought two spares on this trip.  Luckily, the hard part is less than half a mile long and my tires survived.

The hike took only 20 minutes to reach the summit by hiking up the northwestern ridge.  Here's a photo from half-way up the ridge, looking toward the cinder cone I hiked previously.

The lava flowed to the west after spewing from this volcano.

After reaching the summit, I was surprised to find a road that leads to the summit.  I could have driven!  OK, that would be very dangerous in my truck and it might even be illegal.  The road traverses up the northern slope and then spans the summit before descending down the southern slope.  It's covered in a soup of small cinder rocks and is off-camber, sloping away from the hill. 

I hiked down the road so I could inspect a 4wd trail on the east side of the hill.  I planned to drive that trail after my hike.  This photo looking northeast shows some of tose 4wd trails.

This map is cropped from the USGS quad topo named Indian Spring.  It shows the sandy road I've been taking, the previous cone I hiked, this cone, and the 4wd trails I drove (see future post).  Interestingly, it does not show the roads to the top of this cone, but they are visible in Google satellite imagery.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Safari Actually Clears Browsing History (FINALLY)

Apple's newest version of the Safari browser (v11.0) actually deletes your browsing history as advertised.  This is a welcome improvement over the old version (see my post here) that claimed to clear the history but actually left the sqlite files untouched for anybody to read with a text editor.

The new version even clears out the favicons.  Yay!  

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Mojave Cinder Cone Hike

The Mojave National Preserve in southern California is speckled with volcanic cinder cones.  Remnants of a violent past.  They're mostly seen from Kelbaker Road south of the small town of Baker.  Many are accessible from the 4wd trails that criss-cross the desert.  For years I've wanted to hike to the top of these.  Some of them have old mining roads heading right up the sides.  A few weeks ago I decided to hike one that's easy to reach from a sandy 4wd trail I've driven several times.  Here's a google map centered on the one I hiked.

The hike was short and not strenuous, although it was much harder than I expected.  Let me explain.  I expected the hill to be covered in small cinder stones with sharp edges and very rough, offering good traction.  That was, indeed, the case on the lower slopes.  

Further up, the slope might have reached its limit and the little cinder stones are just waiting for something to cause them to begin sliding down the hillside.  Something like my footsteps.  That made ascending slower than I expected and descending was a constant challenge to avoid falling.  Glissading on cinder cone stones is not like snow or sand, or even talus.  The cinder stones are covered in sharp points providing grip, so they might slide an inch or three feet.  I regret not bringing my trekking poles.  They would have been helpful.

The photo below is taken from the summit and looks south.  The basaltic lava flow from a neighboring cinder cone is seen in the foreground.  You can see the summit ridge of Old Dad Mountain in the distance.  If you haven't hiked it yet, then I recommend Old Dad Mountain.

The next photo looks north toward Baker.

Here's a shot of the nearby cinder cone with a blown out top that spilled out the large black basaltic flow.  I hope to hike that one soon.  I'll drive the 4wd trails you can see on the left side of the image.

Both of these cinder cones appear in Courtney Purcell's book "Rambles & Scrambles - A Peakbaggers Guide to the Desert Southwest".    That's a useful book if you're interested in hiking random peaks in the desert.  Although these cinder cones don't require any instruction.  They're pretty straightforward.

Friday, September 22, 2017

We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

I just finished the book "We Are Legion (We Are Bob)" by Dennis Taylor and I liked it a lot.  It was "hard to put down".  Actually, since I listened to the audiobook version, it was hard to stop listening.  For what it's worth, I am not a science fiction aficionado.  Here is a summary from the book jacket... 

"Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.  

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he'll be switched off, and they'll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty. 

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad — very mad."
One interesting element of the story is how the US becomes a theocracy, led by Christian extremists.  Wow.  Parts of it reminded me of a Simpsons episode where Ned Flanders became the ruler of the world and anybody who stepped out of line was forced to endure "Re-Neducation."

I have only two criticisms of the book.  First, I was hoping to find the book's title spoken as dialog by a character in the book.  If it was there, then I missed it.  And second, the story ended kinda abruptly.  I would have enjoyed a few more of the plot threads getting tidied up.

I just received the next book in the Bobiverse trilogy, For We Are Many.  I'll listen to that on an upcoming drive to Utah.

Friday, August 04, 2017


I was rummaging around in my closets the other day looking for something.  I found something unexpected.  I discovered that I have two boxes of old computer keyboards.  Two.  This is too many.  This makes me look weird.  The acceptable limit for boxes of old keyboards should be one.  

Now I need to find a bigger box.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Airmail Navigation Arrows - Los Angeles to Salt Lake Route

I found a document online that shows the details of several airmail navigation routes, including the route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.   The beacon/arrow sites that I have been posting about are all on that route.  

The US Government Printing Office published an "Airway Bulletin" document for the US Department of Commerce.  It's titled General Airway Information and dated September 1, 1931.  Google scanned the original that was sourced from the University of Michigan.  I found the document here.

The LA-SL route is shown in the image below.  It's broken into 4 segments: from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Las Vegas to New Harmony, New Harmony to Lyndyl, and Lyndyl to Salt Lake.  These images are posted below as PNG images and they're larger than appear here.  Click on them to see the larger image, or right-click to download the linked image file.

The beacon numbers don't match exactly what I've been seeing on other web sites.  For example, the map shows beacon 38A at New Harmony, UT with another beacon very close (likely 38).  This web site shows beacon 38 to be at Quail Creek.  Quail Creek is nowhere near New Harmony.  And I know there's at least one more between Quail Creek and New Harmony, at Black Ridge.

I can't reconcile those discrepancies.  Maybe these maps show newer beacon numbers, since the document is published many years after this route (Contract Airmail Route 4) was first flown by Western Air Express in 1926.  Or maybe the map shows an original planned route, but additional beacons were later added, without updating the government's maps.  Who knows.