The Mojave Road - A Newbie's Tale Pt 1 - Pic Heavy

#16
Shaw Pass - this is interesting. In my planning for this trip, I noticed that that marked "Mojave Road" in Google Earth continues straight against the right side of the mountains rather than making the left hand turn called out in the Mojave Road Guide. I then checked the Lowrance routing in my Avalanche, and it also had the route sticking to the right like Google Earth, rather than making the sharp turn left. The Tom Harrison map I have shows a SLIGHT left that actually could be interpreted as bending around the mountain. I previously mentioned that I had "flown" the road virtually many times on GE just to familiarize myself with terrain and landmarks (that did prove to be a a good use of time) - but there are two clear paths - one that goes straight and hugs the mountain, or one that runs left and then down to a wash - and disappears into nothing but deep white soft blow sand. Ironically, my girlfriend's dad used to work with Dennis back in the 70s and he would tell me about the guy he worked with who got all into the Mojave desert and even bought the schoolhouse to turn it into a museum. Her dad is also the one who bought me the book. It's just a dang small world. When I told him about the discrepancy, his reply was " Trust the book, Dennis is never wrong about anything in Mojave." Side note: Her dad used to do Riverside Mountain Rescue so, whenever we go out, I give him the details and Mapshare my Delorme InReach with him - he gets a breadcrumb every 10 minutes; and he will sit and watch our progress (I do have his daughter and two grandkids in the vehicle with me).
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We took the left and once you get down to a main wash, take a right - the trail stops being marked by cairns and starts being marked by wooden posts driven lengthwise into the ground - THANK YOU volunteers for doing that!!!! Wending our way through the deep blow sand I kept it in 4Hi and in Drive; I also had my new rear locker on just because I thought it would be best to spread the load of moving the fully loaded weight of my vehicle through the soft sand. I don't know if that was a good decision or not, but my Av never once even hinted at getting stuck and I got to use my locker. So, I'll just take credit for a good decision.
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Successfully navigating the Rasor area, we then found ourselves in Afton Canyon and at the RR bridge. We posed the vehicles for a picture and my girlfriend said, "It would be perfect if a train came by." Within 30 seconds, we heard the train whistle coming. No kidding. I need to have her pick my Lotto tickets next time. The engineer laid on the horn for the kids (ok - and us) and gave us a wave as he raced West.

Afton Canyon Train.jpg

Back on the trail, it looks like you should bend right up on the service road, but don't - stay left against the cliff walls, the exit point is much further down through the wash. After a bit, we jumped up on the service road and then come around the bend - and there it is - my nemesis from a few years (and many mods ago): The Mojave River. There was a couple in a Toyota with a hard shell. They were not wanting to cross the river as it was higher than they thought it would be. It was definitely higher than when I had backed away from it the first time. We all stopped and took a look, but having the snorkel on my Avalanche automatically made me the guinea pig. It's not like I could say "No". If I backed away from this, with the snorkel, locker, and 35s - then I would have to go home and order a personal license plate that reads: MLCRWLR. Now, I've never done a river crossing or water crossing in my vehicle. I used to do water rescue and was a rescue diver - so I know all to well what can happen when vehicles (of many sorts) lose the battle with water. Facing my previous demon, I turned on the Go Pro, the air compressor, the locker, put it in 4Lo 2nd (to keep the RPMs up), and eased into the throttle. Here we go kiddies..........
River Crossing 2.jpg
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I do read the "How To..." articles both on ExPo and in Overland Journal - as I'm learning this whole overland/expedition/adventure thing. So, I knew what gear to use to keep my RPMs up and get enough steady speed to have traction and maintain enough speed to create a bow wave in front of my Avalanche. If the author(s) of said articles are reading this (LOL - right?) take a look at my pic below and let me know if I did it correctly.
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Well, I enter the water and there is a sudden, very unexpected, DROP. It felt like a foot or more, but in reality was probably closer to 6-10 inches. But, it was enough that the nose down attitude of my entry caused water to come OVER my hood. So, being the drag racer that I am - front end lifts on acceleration, I hit the gas before my rear tires got into the water. That jumped the nose back up and as I got to 10 MPH I back off on the throttle and followed the bow wave all the way through. WOOHOO!!!! Knocked that river out - though I'll concede that it won the first bout and then landed the first blow of the rematch.
River Crossing.jpg

My buddy in his Raptor was next and I had told him on the radio about the drop. He said, "Yeah - saw that." I told him to keep his nose up. Well - damn son. I didn't get a pic, but I have it on Go Pro video - he hit the throttle hard on that Raptor and had a bow wave I could have surfed. His wife in her JK made it through fine as well.
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With the joy of completing the final obstacle, came the immediate realization that it was over, we had done it. The only remaining obstacle was to navigate the freeway traffic home. We aired up at the Afton Canyon Campground and headed for pavement with the knowledge that we can do this, some experience under our belts, and tighter friendships than were in place just a few short days before. Socrates once said, "One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been." Now, that the sun was setting on our first adventure, I look back and realize what a splendid day it was.
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EPILOGUE
A few weeks after the Mojave Road trip, we were on I40 headed to Flagstaff, AZ. As I mentioned at the start of this thread, I've been up and down the I40 and I15 my whole life and never gave a second thought or glance to the dirt space in between. On this trip in my girlfriend's Camry, I was riding shotgun. I found my eyes glued out the window to the left now knowing what was out there, and how much more there is to see. It's pretty amazing what exists between two freeways. It's even more amazing how many millions of people drive up and down those stretches and have no idea how much adventure is right there - literally - right there to be enjoyed. I am blessed to count myself as no longer being one of them.
 
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#17
Nice write up. Like you I have driven through the area a dozen times. I bought the Mojave Road Guide and map, studying it for future travels. Thanks for sharing.
 
#19
Great trip report. I am copying some of what you did in terms of vehicle prep and trip research. I ordered the Mojave Road book you mentioned when I read your post. Good sales pitch for overlanding enthusiasts. Thanks for sharing!
 
#20
Thanks for the write up and pics. Great that you had family with you. The kids will remember this for the rest of their lives. Hoping to do Mojave for the first time later this year. Maybe do it in 4 days 3 nights so we have more time to check out stuff.

Love it when you mod your rig and actually get to put the stuff through it's paces.

Did you have to do a lot of air down/air up on this trip?
 
#21
Thanks for the write up and pics. Great that you had family with you. The kids will remember this for the rest of their lives. Hoping to do Mojave for the first time later this year. Maybe do it in 4 days 3 nights so we have more time to check out stuff.

Love it when you mod your rig and actually get to put the stuff through it's paces.

Did you have to do a lot of air down/air up on this trip?
No on the air down. I normally drive around at 36psi. I had heard about the sharp rocks on the road to Ft. Piute so I dropped just to 30 to do the road - also given the sand I felt that was a good number. However, on Day 3 with the deep blow sand and water ahead of us - I went ahead and dropped to 25 for that entire leg. No need to go below that and I'm pretty sure I didn't need to go to 25 - but why push my luck right?
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If you are doing 3 nights - 4 days; I would definitely add in: Kelso Depot and Indian Hill. PM me your number and I can show you a few things that are not on the map or in the book. I didn't get a chance to do then - yet. I'll be doing another trip out there to hit some other stuff.
 
#23
Thanks for posting a very entertaining and informative article! I too have bought the book, and have been reading maps and looking online in preparation for an early April trip.
 
#25
Awesome trip report!. When I did the trip last May the bypass was just beginning to be used as the road had just recently washed out. We got TONS of pin-striping on our trucks from the narrow trails (especially our wide raptor). I was curious if you had that problem on your recent trip? I figure a year later it must be a bit wider by now. What was teh damage through that section if any?
 
#27
Awesome trip report!. When I did the trip last May the bypass was just beginning to be used as the road had just recently washed out. We got TONS of pin-striping on our trucks from the narrow trails (especially our wide raptor). I was curious if you had that problem on your recent trip? I figure a year later it must be a bit wider by now. What was teh damage through that section if any?
Apologies - I'm only 10 months late in replying - ooops. Yes - I got pinstriping - no big deal it's a 15 year old vehicle and most of it waxes out. Like you, my buddy was in his Raptor and he wasn't real thrilled with his new pinstripes - LOL.