Wandering In The Mojave Desert = El Paso Mountain Trip

In 1934, Walt Bickel wandered up Last Chance Canyon in the El Paso Mountains and found gold. It was placer flakes and dust and for Bickel, just a weekend hobby. A diversion from his workaday world in Los Angeles, 150 or so miles south. He joined the Army in 1942 and left the service in 1944 with an honorable medical discharge. When California created the Red Rock Canyon State Park in 1968 it wrapped the boundary around Bickel’s mining camp along with several other mining claims. Walt Bickel died in 1996 at the age of 91 a scant two years after the Bureau of Land Management created the El Paso Mountains Wilderness. Unlike many desert historical sites that have been plundered and ravaged, the Bickel Mining Camp has been protected and maintained by a cadre of volunteers who welcome visitors and give tours.

Bickel's Mining Camp

Bickel’s Mining Camp

I wrangled an invitation to ride along with some friends to a fund-raising spaghetti lunch at the camp hosted the volunteers. Our chariot for the trip was a four-wheel Land Rover. You could make the trip to the camp without the four-wheel drive but don’t dare try it in the family sedan. If you go, remember this is in the Great Mojave Desert — it can be a treacherous as it is beautiful. If you aren’t familiar with the desert, Google up an article on the precautions you should take.

My friends, the Reese's and thier Land Rover

My friends, the Reese’s and thier Land Rover at Bickel’s Mining Camp

Here follows a few of the photos I took on the trip

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A Joshua Tree pup, age undetermined.

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Sometimes called the Golden Prince’s Plume, this is just one desert wildflower to be found in the El Paso Mountains.

A Stand of Joshua Trees LORez

A stand of mature Joshua Trees. If they surive the rigors of the desert, they can live for hundreds of years.

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The Southern Sierra Nevada seen from the El Paso Mountain foothills

The Southern Sierra Nevada seen from the El Paso Mountain foothills