41 Photos - Feb 18, 2013
Photo: The Afton Canyon campground (photo taken by my friend, V.) At this time, I was asleep inside the RV ahead.Photo: We're ready to start our hike and explore the nearby lands. Our annoying campground neighbors have already started to zip left and right on their ATVs and Dirt Bikes, despite the huge signs indicating their use was forbidden inside the campground.Photo: Morning in the Afton Canyon campground. We're finally rested from the long trip yesterday and ready to hit the trails.Photo: Railroad bridge over the Mojave River. This spot provides an excellent point to watch the passing freight trains. Even though the bridge provides the easiest route over the Mojave river at this time of the year, its use by non-authorized personnel is considered trespassing.Photo: Right next to the bridge, looking to the other side. There used to be a nice "No Trespassing" sign here, which was apparently stolen.Photo: Despite the desolation, someone has electric power somewhere in the desert. I wonder if this is used to feed railroad equipment.Photo: M & V looking at the small hills above. We were deciding which route to take. The small canyons and washes ahead seemed full of opportunities for an interesting hike.Photo: The railroad bridge, from the other side. At this time of the year, the Mojave river has (some) water flowing (right side of thep picture)Photo: The mandatory picture with the bridge on the background. It's a shame no trains were passing at this time. Seeing trains here is a pretty frequent occurence, but it's hard to be on the right place at the right time.Photo: Another part of the Mojave river. Surely, looks more like a small stream, but considering the fact this is the middle of the desert, it's no small feat. On my last trip here (October) the river was completely dry.Photo: Moving east along the railroad, we see the bridge in the distance.Photo: Looking east along the railroad. Last night, we tried to reach this spot via Basin Rd (a few miles east of this spot,) just to find a closed gate in the middle of the night.Photo: Old rails laying around. Most of them marked "scrap" with a few marked "Keep". Manufactured by the Krupp corporation in 1979. I wonder when it was the last time someone moved these.Photo: Another piece of heavy machinery carelessly left behind (who's going to steal it?) Note the welding scars, probably in an attempt to repair it.Photo: A purple switch labeled "D". I wonder what the "D" stands for? Detour?Photo: Another view of the same switch, properly secured against vandals with a big old padlock.Photo: More Union Pacific equipment with dire warnings that those unprepared should not attempt to operate it. Seems obvious, but I guess there's all kinds of people out there.Photo: More Union Pacific equipment with dire warnings that those unprepared should not attempt to operate it. Seems obvious, but I guess there's all kinds of people out there.Photo: A wide angle shot of the "D" switch. Notice the detour in the rails, going nowhere. Also, observe how the rails are broken in the detour. This was the place of an old station long ago and these are probably remnants of those time. The switch, however, seems to be still in operation.Photo: A truck approaches...Photo: The friendly fellow warns us that the power cables (on the left of the truck, laying on the floor) are "hot" (energized.)Photo: Crossing the railroad, we climbed a small levee, apparently protecting the railroad from this wash. The mountains in the background seem interesting, but it's hard to judge their distance and size due to the lack of references.Photo: The flat hill ahead was beckoning. We started looking for a place to climb to the top. Once again, it's hard to judge sizes and distances without known references.Photo: A wide view of the wash and the surrounding hills. It's hard to see in the picture, but there's an intriguing object in the distance, on the right corner of the picture. It definitely seems man-made and invites further investigation.Photo: As we approach, the strange object slowly takes shape. It appears more and more like a bicycle.Photo: As we approached the object, we guessed it could be an old bicycle, but it turns out it was (half) a motorcycle. There were many car parts junked around this place, including many engine and echaust parts, and a gutted car seat. One wonders how these things ended up here and for how long they have been in this place.Photo: Hard to imagine that one day this engine worked.Photo: A broader view of the abandoned motorcycle and a few of the many car parts littered around.Photo: We find out way up to the hill we want: It's a very rocky and uninviting wash going up. This picture was taken from the mouth of the wash, looking down.Photo: A somewhat unfortunate picture against the sun of the climb ahead showing the large number of loose rocks. Once we reached the top, the flat top hill ahead turned out not to be as big as we expected (but the climb was decent.)Photo: After a few minutes walking, we get to the top. We can see the tail end of the Afton Canyon Campground, on the left.Photo: More nice views from the top. In the distance, I-15 and the many cars driving by, unsuspecting of what lies a few miles beyong the highway.Photo: The climb (on the left) was somewhat gentle, but it ended in an cliff that went down vertically for some 60-90 feet. A bit scary that we could only see this cliff at the very end of the climb (and it seemed a natural continuation of the wash itself.)Photo: There's a cliff right behind this edge. It goes straight down for some 60 to 90 feet. The soil was crumbling away and the wind blowing strongly. I felt uncomfortable standing so close to certain death, so I decided to sit down a few feet away from the edge.Photo: Another picture of the big hill on our left, with I-15 far in the background.Photo: Me, with four layers of clothing and looking like a dork in the cold and sunny desert day.Photo: On the way down, we finally manage a close encounter with a Union Pacific train. At first, we thought it was an airplane, but soon it was clear that a train was coming, so we waited.Photo: UP 8203. It took a long time for this train to pass...Photo: This is a crossing on the mojave river, used by cars, trucks and pretty much anyone who need to cross from one side to another. It was deep enough to dissuade crossing by foot.Photo: It looks like not all "No Trespassing" signs were eliminated. Crossing railroad bridges is dangerous business. We went around and returned to the campground.Photo: The winds picked up and clouds appeared out of nowhere, making the temperatures drop even faster than they normally do in the desert. The Sun crossed a small clear patch of sky and shone its yellow light in the desert. I took this picture showing the constrast between the yellow light and the grey clouds.