Do it in the Desert

With a heat-wave forecast during our scheduled vacation we moved to plan “B.”  Searched for last minute flights to cooler places.

There were no deals, so we developed plan “C.”

It’s hot everywhere so why not explore the desert?  Interior regions of the Mojave Desert are filled with places not easily accessible in two-wheel drive vehicles. Summer Solstice coincides with a full moon. It’s our wedding anniversary. Our pickup has four-wheel drive, A/C, cooled seats, satellite radio, and B.F. Goodrich All Terrain K/O2 tires.  We cooked some good food, packed thirteen gallons of water then hit the trail!

Heat-wave Holiday Day 1.0

Sheep Hole Heat-wave

What could possibly go wrong?  With a full morning of research and preparation we hit the road for the Cadiz Dunes Wilderness.  We’ll hike, explore, take some photos, eat well, and sleep under the stars.

The BLM website has clear directions and should probably be considered accurate “62 miles east of 29 Palms turn right…” but about thirty-five or forty miles out the phone says “Turn left…”  We stop, discuss the situation and decide to follow the phone.  After about 15 miles of dirt road with intermittent service we come to a fork. Phone says “veer right,” but the sign says “Not a through road.”  We determine the left fork is definitely not correct (it’s the eastern border of the Sheephole Wilderness) and the right fork is likely not correct, but we go another ten miles to a locked gate. On our return we get a signal and phone suggests we take a sharp right and continue across a salt mine’s evaporation pond.

Heat-wave Sheephole Valley

For sure, not the way

We drive back to the highway, the scenery is pleasant. The road is a cushion made of sand.

Heat-wave Holiday Day 1.1

The dirt ends and we turn east, another half hour we’ll be back in the dirt headed for the dunes.  As a reward for not getting lost and dying in the 121º heat (actually 122º but we didn’t get a picture) we decide to have a snack.  Lori roots around our expedition junk and can’t find the food.  We pull over and tear the truck apart.  The food isn’t in the truck.  Neither of has a clue where it is so we turn around and head back, there are no stores for sixty miles in any direction.

It’s solstice and a full moon, we really want to see this with minimal obstruction. Sunsets are early at Two Crows.  San Gorgonio Mountain stands at 11,500′ and it’s about twenty miles west as the crow flies. There’s a dirt road to Sheep Hole Valley south of Amboy with long east/west views.  We stop for bread and cheese in 29 Palms and aim the truck to Amboy Road. We’re two hundred miles into a one hundred mile trip, thirty miles from home, and forty miles from our revised destination.

Heat-Wave Sheep Hole Valley Mountains

We find a flat spot in Sheep Hole between Wonder Valley and Route 66. It’s 111º and there’s a light breeze. The sun’s low and it’s comfortable walking with long shadows. The cheese is soft and the bread dries quickly. Water from an aluminum canteen makes everything good.

Ram Truck Heat-Wave

We watch the sunset, watch the moon rise, and lay in the truck gazing at stars.  We still need food to stay in the dunes so we return home across the moonlit desert.  The food is waiting for us in the refrigerator, packed and ready to go. We sleep a few hours and head back in the morning.

Tune in soon or subscribe… (no “cliff hanger,” just tired)


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