The Santa Barbara 4×4 club made its annual Randsburg run out to the Mojave desert during the recent Veterans day weekend. Some members arrived on Thursday to secure our club’s favorite location and everyone else flowed in on Friday. We had a good mixture of club rigs including Jeep J K’s, a new J L, T J’s, CJ’s and even a Samurai. Many of our club members take advantage of motorhomes, truck campers as well as there were even a couple of ground tents to round everything out. The weather was fantastic night and day, high 70’s during the day and low 40’s at night. We even had the added benefit of a full moon, incredible campfires (expertly built and tended by our club’s resident bond fire builder/extraordinaire Jeff ) and as an unexpected bonus we even received multi-night repetitive visits from a family of kit foxes which we thought found us all very entertaining.
The Desert is always beautiful in its own way and this trip did not disappoint. Our runs were guided by our most experienced “trail boss” Dick Hoppe. As an expert on the Randsburg area from many years of club excursions to the desert, even the club “Newbees” all felt like we were being guided by a true pro’s pro. He kept us all in check, made sure we had fun but didn’t get lost or separated and was always checking to see that we had everybody in line when we were making course change’s. Our tail gunners for this weekend’s outing were Bryan and Jeff. They are also two more very experienced members of the club and have been out to these areas many times. They covered our “6“ and were there to help spot and watch out for problems.
Saturday morning after airing down and getting some chow and packing a lunch we all headed out; members included, Dick, Bryan and family, Tiffany, Casey, Brian, Jeff, Bobby & her son Joe, Kirk, George and his wife Pam & Ken as well as a guest and prospective new member Ben.
We were all excited for a great day wheeling, exploring & sightseeing with lots of fun and adventure mixed in. We had a FULL DAY of 4 X 4 fun as many interesting, educational and almost unbelievable “pit stops” including the abandoned open “Old Dutch Cleanse Borax Mine” in the back country near Black Mountain which we all enjoyed exploring. Next we went to see the old Rock house built in the Randsburg mining heydays. After a relaxing lunch with an incredible view to boot at the Rock house we headed over to the Bonanza trail to Last Chance canyon and Bickle Camp. Walter Bickle spent 2/3’s of his life beginning in 1934 in this area prospecting, mining & was known as quite the “Renaissance man” and was also affectionately know as a “true-life desert-rat miner”.
It was eye-opening to consider the incredible struggles of the people of those times trying to eeeek out an existence in such remote and tough location with incredible tough hot & inhospitable terrain. After seeing all that was there we headed for the Burro Schmidt Tunnel, another popular sight to see by 4 x 4 in the Mojave desert. It took Burro Schmidt 38 years to hand dig through the mountain. It was by all accounts a story of will, determination and persistence. The goal was to create a way to transport the mined oar more easily as it created a shortcut straight through the mountain. It was incredible to see. A few club members were adventurous enough to make the nearly ½ mile trek down the tunnel to the other side.
After gathering all our members, we all headed back to camp via Goler Gulch and the Narrows for a fun evening around a roaring bond fire while cooking up our dinners for the night. Many shared special treats that they had cooked or prepared specially for the trip while we all shared stories from the day and what we had seen. What a great day.
Sunday, the plan was to head to Government peak. It is the highest mountain in the area with an elevation of 4,573’. Dick again expertly guided a group of us up the mountain through changing various terrain including bouldered riverbeds, narrow rocky canyons and even several challenging dry waterfalls of various difficulty. We snaked our way all the way to the top. All club members on the run made it up to the top without issue and had a great time especially with the anticipation of ice cream and lunch in the little town of Randsburg at the general store afterwards. After spending some time at the top of Government Peak and enjoying a 360 degree view of the Mojave Desert, we all headed down the mountain past the East side of the Yellow Aster tailings on our way to Randsburg. Well, unfortunately, because of the long holiday weekend the little mining town of Randsburg was inundated and overflowing with off roaders of every conceivable type. It appeared we all had the same idea. So, while we didn’t get a cold treat we all enjoyed a nice break in the shade where we had some snacks and did a little people and rig watching; it was a packed house.
While most of us had to head back to “civilization” on Sunday a few us diehards stayed one more night and enjoyed the amazing desert evening, another full moon, some good food, conversation and we made sure we burned up the rest of the wood that was so generously provided by club members. We left a spotless camp when we were all done and I’m sure everybody is looking forward to next year’s trip.