Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mojave Megaphone - The Easy Way

I get a lot of visitors to this blog reading my posts about the Mojave Megaphone.  I've described two routes to the megaphone: the normal route from I-15 along the railroad, via the old town site of Crucero, and the very dangerous route from the west.  This Google map is centered on the megaphone.  

So I decided to visit the Megaphone taking a new route.  The easiest route.  It's a 20 mile drive up a dirt road leaving the pavement at Ludlow, CA.  It takes about an hour and 15 minutes.  Less if you don't stop to take photos along the way.

It can be a tough drive.  That road is sometimes in terrible condition.  On the best days, the worst part is the washboard stretch running for about 5 miles after leaving I-40 that seems to rattle your car apart.  On the worst days, the road is muddy, rutted and partly under water as you pass Broadwell [not so] Dry Lake.  Those conditions require high ground clearance and 4WD.  If the conditions are dry, then you can drive this route in almost any car with a ground clearance of 7+ inches.  Years ago I did it in an Acura MDX.

Today, the conditions were sandy.  There was a couple mile stretch starting about 1 mile north of Ludlow where the loose sand was 5 to 8 inches deep.  It bogged me down to 12 mph, but I never had to use low range.

My "blizzard pearl" paint job seems to glow in the morning sun.

I stopped to take some photos from the playa.

After about 12.5 miles, you reach the intersection with a powerline road.  I've driven that road toward the northeast.  That's a great drive.  Parts of it are quite challenging.  On my return today, I'll turn to the southwest on that road.  That section is easy and very scenic.

Further north, there are some kooks that seem to live out here.  I don't think they're meth labs.  But they're probably armed.

When you reach this dip in the road, you're almost there.

Soon you'll see the megaphone atop a short ridge on the left.  When you reach the 2 trees, then you can turn off the main road and follow the road to the right to reach Mesquite Spring.  This map is centered on the spring.

As always, I did not drink the water from Mesquite Spring.  Actually, I couldn't find any exposed spring water as I had in the past.  The old bathtub has seen better days.

The rocks behind the spring have petroglyphs.  On this visit, I spent some time inspecting the nearby rocks looking for any additional petroglyphs.  I didn't find any.

The old charcoal kilns are still there.  You can see the megaphone in the distance atop the ridge.

There's a nice parking area close to the ridge.

I didn't hike to the top this time.  Here's some photos from below.

Returning to I-40, I turned right onto the powerline road heading southwest.  That way I could avoid the sandy section just north of Ludlow.  I like this stretch of powerline road.  It's very scenic.  

On one trip along this road, I almost stepped on a rattlesnake when I got out of the car to take photos of the landscape.  You've been warned.

I hiked up a hill to get a good view.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Zion: Hike to Parunuweap Canyon Overlook

On a recent trip to Zion NP I explored an area new to me: south of Lost Peak to the rim of Parunuweap Canyon.  It wasn't technically difficult, with mild route finding and a high chance of encountering rattlesnakes.  If that's your cup of tea, then keep reading.

The first part is simply a hike to the south ridge of Lost Peak (peak 6460) and takes less than an hour.  Here's a post describing how to get to Lost Peak.

That portion of the hike has a fair chance of rattlesnakes.  I've seen them in the brush near the top of Cockeye Falls.  I've even had one rattle at me from the bushes at the base of the south ridge of Lost Peak.  On this trip, I decided to be a tiny bit safer and wear rattlesnake gaitors as I crossed the meadow of bushes that surrounds the southern side of Lost Peak.  I bought them onlilne from a supplier to forest service workers.  Since then, they keep sending me catalogs with the most intriguing gear for sale.

The above photo shows the meadow of brush that's between Lost Peak and The Triplets, looking south.  This is what I crossed.  Here's another view looking from the base of Lost Peak's south ridge.

I hiked south along a dry wash to avoid snakes.

South of Lost Peak, I reached the edge of a small gully.  It was much deeper than I imagined from viewing Google/Bing satellite imagery.  I figured it'd be 30-40 feet deep and it was at least 80.  I traversed easily enough to cross it at the shallow east end and reach the ridgeline.

Do not stray too far west when you're on the north side of that gully.  A biological research area extends south to the bottom of that gully and east to roughly the longitude of Lost Peak.  Hikers are not allowed in that area.  The research area is indicated in green in the images below.  I drew my route onto the second image.

Looking back north, it's easy to see (left to right) Lost Peak, The Triplets, and Nippletop.

I hiked down the ridge heading south from that point.  On a future hike I'll head down the longer ridgeline to the west and south.  The next photo was taken from the ridge where I noticed that I needed to backup and downclimb to get further south on the ridge.

These photos are taken at the southern end of my hike.

Here's a shot looking back northeaast toward Nippletop.

My GPS track is shown in these Google Earth screencaps.

This was a fun hike.  Not too hard.  Not dangerous.  Plus, I lucked out and didn't notice any rattlesnakes.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

2016 Land Cruiser Ground Clearance

I decided to measure the ground clearance of my new 2016 Land Cruiser.  I made 3 sets of measurements: after I bought it (factory), after I mounted larger tires, and after I had the lift kit installed.  The measurements were made with no cargo in the car, on a flat hard surface, and with very little tire wear.  These are not high precision measurements, or even highly accurate.  I simply used my Stanley tape measure.

The results are not surprising.  The larger tires raised everything as expected.  The OEM tires are 285/60R18 (31.5" diam) and I mounted 275/70R18 (33.2" diam), so that should raise everything 0.85 inches.  For anybody without a favorite, I use the site  The 2 inch lift kit raised a few areas but did nothing for the rear differential (duh).

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Progeny Peak at Zion Natl Park

Recently, a visitor to my blog asked if I had a GPX or KMZ file for my Progeny Peak hike.  I didn't.  However, since I was about to visit Zion NP, I decided to hike Progeny while I was there and record the route. 

I've hiked all over Progeny Peak (aka Peak 6275) over the years.  Here are my earlier posts:  

I eventually found an easy route to the top.  That's the one described in the top link, and that's what I'm showing here.

The KML files are posted in a zip file to my google files folder.  You can download that zip file here.

My most recent hikes up Progeny have been up the south ridge.  That's a much harder route.  

This easy route begins by parking in the paved turnout and hiking up the wash.  I prefer to stay a bit high on the left side, to avoid the dryfalls in the wash.  Within 5 minutes you can see the base of Progeny and the route you'll follow.  

You can see the arch circled on the right.  That's also a relatively easy route, but I prefer an easy ramp to the left.  

Just aim for that ramp and make your way up the slickrock.  Here's a photo of the ramp from its base.

I had to skirt a small group of bighorn sheep.  They kept a close eye on me as I hiked up toward the ramp and beyond.

After reaching a somewhat flat area above the ramp, this is the view looking back down toward the road.

My route heads toward the summit and a nearby group of trees.  This is a landmark for me and helps me orient.  I actualy hike right through those trees.

Beyond the trees, I turn right and traverse across a sandy area to get around steeper rocks.

Then I turn left and traverse up to a wide flat shelf.

That shelf leads toward a shoulder with large trees that provide a shady spot to rest before walking up to the summit.  I leave my backpack there in the shade, and pick it up on my way back down.  The summit is just 5 minutes away.  The route makes a traverse across the back side of the summit and ascends some natural steps.

Here's a shot looking back at the spot below the trees where I left my backpack.

Don't go too far around the back of the summit.  Start hiking uphill as soon as possible.  But be warned, the slope on the west face of the summit is covered with large slabs that move when you touch them.  Hiking that is like rock-surfing.  I've done it a few times and it's not enjoyable.

I didn't find a summit register this time.

It takes me about 45 minutes to reach the summit if I stop to take a bunch of photos on the way.