Thursday, May 27, 2021

Johnny Lang Mine: The Hike Back!

Thank goodness, the return hike from Johnny Lang Mine (where I left you hanging on my last post) is mostly downhill. It's a very hot day, and with all the hiking and climbing, my legs feel like noodles. When legs get overly tired, they stop obeying commands from the brain. From past experience, I know downhill injuries and especially end of hike injuries are by far the most common. Trip and fall, sprained/twisted ankles and related bad outcomes are always lurking, so I remind myself to slow down, rest often, and FOCUS on each and every step. One step at a time, right?
We'll say adios to the Johnny Lang Mine and begin the return hike.

Does anyone else see "sleeping rock"??

How about bird stick?

I thought I found a pottery sherd but it was just a rock 😕

Heart-shaped rock

What the heck??

I come across this survey marker out in the middle of nowhere. I guess back in the day, the government had to survey the country and they did it with these markers. I don't see a date on this one, but a quick Google search tells me the US General Land Office (GLO) was renamed BLM in 1946, so this survey must be pre-1946. GLO has been around since 1849, so this marker could be really old. Any idea what that slash is across the top of the marker? Here, this will help...
That slash aligns perfectly with the N/S axis!

A large critter burrow of some kind. I thought it might be a tortoise burrow, but the top of the opening isn't shaped right. Tortoise burrows usually are more domed-shaped, conforming to the shape of their shell. This is probably a fox burrow, but that's just a guess.

The sun is low on the horizon, the shadows are long, the the light is golden. My favorite time of the day! I'll just stop yacking and share a few more photos now that we're almost back to the Jeep.

The Gaia GPS app on my phone tells me I hiked 7.6 miles, and I climbed a little over 1000' in elevation. A pretty good accomplishment on a very hot day, but to be honest, it felt longer than that, and with more of a climb. I decided to check my Garmin GPS to confirm the numbers. They should be identical. They were turned on and off at exactly the same time and same location.

Hmm, that's weird. My Garmin tells me I hiked a mile further (8.6 miles) with an ascent of 1368'. That explains why I'm totally exhausted, but it doesn't explain why the big difference between Gaia and Garmin?? If anyone out there has any insight, I'm all ears!!
Thanks for joining me on another desert adventure!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Johnny Lang Mine

 If you google "Johnny Lang Mine", nearly all of the search results direct you to Johnny Lang and the Lost Horse Mine. The Lost Horse Mine is a popular destination within Joshua Tree National Park, and it's perhaps the best preserved mine in the Park. Johnny Lang discovered the Lost Horse Mine, so I guess it's not surprising that this is where Google directs you.
And yet, there is a location called "Johnny Lang Mine". It shows up on some maps. In the desert blog sites and social media pages I follow, I can't recall seeing a post, or even a photo, of the Johnny Lang Mine. I love a good mystery, and places that are off the beaten path and rarely visited, so join me today as I try to find the Johnny Lang mine!
The drive in to the spot where I'm going to begin my hike is absolutely stunning. Driving this old dirt road through the Joshua trees was one of the highlights of my day. Unfortunately, this day turned out to be hot (upper 80's). The hike would lead me up a mountainside, so lots of elevation change. I was hiking solo in an area I've not hiked before, so important considerations were to proceed with caution and carry lots of water. I am also carrying a Garmin InReach (since there is no cell service in the park) so I can send my wife my location on a regular basis.
I spot this interesting arch on my drive in.
Throughout this hike, I would be seeing dead Joshua Trees. In 2009, the so called "Lost Horse Fire" burned 450 acres in this area. It destroyed many Joshua trees, pinion pines, and junipers. The area is still in recovery mode, and it's encouraging to see new sprouts coming from some of the damaged Joshua trees.
There is no trail to follow to get to Johnny Lang mine, so I'm hiking across open desert, following a route I've saved to my handheld GPS. My track is being recording on my Garmin GPSMAP 64st and also on my phone using the Gaia GPS app. In theory, the data recorded at the end of the hike should be identical.

Interesting rock formations.
Beautifully balanced boulder!
The rocks in this area are getting interesting and colorful.
This rock catches my attention. First of all, it looks as if it was placed here. Secondly, it's got a lot of interesting color in it (predominantly gold, although hard to see in the photo). I have no idea what a gold nugget would look like in nature, but perhaps something like this?? It's quite large, and requires two hands to lift it. Have I struck it rich?? 😉
Scallop rock. My climb to the top of this small mountain is starting to begin. It's steep, it's hot, and I'm huffing and puffing. For this kind of hiking, you take your time. One step at a time, rest as often as you want, and enjoy the scenery along the way!
After a long uphill slog, I finally make it to the top. I think that's Mt. Minerva Hoyt in the distance. Somewhere up here is where the mine should be, but I don't see it yet.

The views are nice, but where the heck is the Johnny Lang Mine??
Finally, my first view of the mine! I'm going to have to climb down to it. My legs feel like noodles from the long climb up, but I think I can make it. It's a long hike back so I have to be smart and keep some gas in the tank.
I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that the mine has a protective cage over it. It will make it hard to get any decent photos. But these mines are extremely dangerous and often very deep.
I'm sticking the lens of my camera through the iron cage grates to get this photo. What an interesting old crank and cable. I can't tell how deep this vertical shaft descends, or how someone would get down there to dig. Is there a horizontal shaft somewhere in the area that connects to this shaft?
My friend Steve C. told me that this cage wasn't here in the '80s and before. He has memories of crawling on hands and knees to the edge to look down. Both scary and dangerous!!
After a little more exploring, I need to start thinking about the hike back. I'll sign off here, and share photos from the hike back on my next post. Thanks for joining me on this adventure!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Stay safe & stay healthy!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Desert Moon

 I usually plan my hikes to end shortly after sunset. The desert light is just so beautiful when the shadows get long and the mountains pick up that golden color on the peaks. Not to mention the beautiful sunsets. But it's always a balancing act. Finish your hike too soon, you miss the best light. Finish your hike to late and you will be hiking back to your car in the dark wearing a headlamp.
On this particular hike, Mitch, Roger and I pretty much nailed it. This was near the end of our hike and the mountain ridges had already turned from gold to purple. Mitch and Roger almost disappear into the creosote bushes. Where we were hiking was in total shadow, but the far horizon was still bathed in the last light of the day. And although it was close, we managed to get back to our cars without the use of headlamps. This photo was taken at 6:47PM on 2/26/21. But let me rewind the clock by about 20 minutes...
6:27PM: Golden light on the Coxcomb mountains

More golden light. It's amazing how quickly the quality of light changes this time of day... from flat, to long shadows, to golden, to purple, to dark, all in about 30 minutes.
Even in b&w, the late afternoon light on the peaks makes for an interesting photo. Check out the peak at the top, just a little left of center. Does anyone else see a face looking left? Perhaps the person is wearing sunglasses, long sloping nose and a frown? A little Nixon-esque? No?? OK, just my imagination (runnin' away with me).
A big bonus on this hike was the rise of the full moon! We hadn't planned for it, so looking off to the east and seeing this big guy rising above the mountains was a real treat. So glad I brought my telephoto lens. This photo was taken at 6:40PM.
Four minutes later (6:44PM) and the moon is a little higher.
Five minutes later (6:49PM), and higher still.

If you overlay these images, it's easy to see that the moon does not rise in a straight vertical line, but rather, at an angle. At least, that's our view from planet Earth!
Moonset (8:00AM the next morning)
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!!