OK, here's the pics from the Road of the Devil 2002:
We started our day at the Circle K at Wellton for a final top-off and last minute supply. Check the shiny paint on the Jeep. It won't be that way for long. The lineup included George and Vinette in the Cherokee, Jon, Heather, Kyle, and Ashley in the Supa Duty, us in the Ramus, and Joe and Jackie in the yellow 440 Ramcharger (Bananaram.)
To enter the Camino from this direction, you first encounter the Barry Goldwater Gunnery Range. We weren't sure if this was a target or a gate guard, but we stopped to inspect it.
The Tank Girls - L to R - Ashley, Jackie, Vinette, Jalene, Heather. Dodge girls like heavy equipment.
The gateway to the Camino.
We stopped for a nature appreciation break along the trail. This was a trail we hadn't seen before, running southwest from the Tinajas Altas ("High Tanks") Mountains to the border with Mexico.
Near the end of the trail, only a few hundred yards from Mexico. This is a start point for many border crossing groups and illegal smuggling activity. The sign, placed by Border Patrol, depicts an individual in distress and warns that "There is no food, water, or hospitality for 70 kilometers" and that there is "Danger of death!" Makes me glad I have two batteries in the Ramus and a spare ignition module in the the toolbox.
The sun bears down on the Tinajas Altas. Since our trip started on Nov. 9, the temperature was wonderfully cool. But I wondered how many travelers in times past have stared up at this same sun, over these same mountains, and longed for a sip of water.
George and Vinette in the rocks near the water tanks. The tanks are natural depressions in the rocks that fill with water. They were the destination of the desert crossers and their water levels meant life or death to the travelers. You can read more about the Tinajas Altas in the links provided in the first post.
Evidently, these tanks were known to even the ancient residents of this desert. This is a prehistoric pictograph found under an overhang near the tanks. There are many of these, along with petroglyphs (rock carvings) and depressions in the rocks where grain was ground with stone tools.
Heather gives a sense of scale to the rock face. There are nine tanks, and she is at the level of the second or third one from the bottom. Travelers had to climb much higher to get water when the lower tanks were dry.
Jon in the overhang, photographing more pictographs. When he emails these pics to me, I'll post them here.
Our campsite at Tule Well. This is another water source about 30 miles east of the Tinajas. US Fish and Wildlife service, and other volunteers, have established a nice campground here. There were no other campers here, in fact, we only saw one other vehicle the whole weekend, and that was a hunter who was scouting for an upcoming hunt.
Joe and Jackie set up for the evening.
Kyle, Ashley, Jon, and Heather encamped. Not sure what Kyle is doing. It was pitch dark before my flash went off, so he might have thought he was being stealthy.
Sunrise at Tule Well camp.
The Casita at Tule Well. This is a small adobe cabin built by the Air Force as a shelter here. Travelers will leave supplies, like wood, candles, canned food, water jugs, etc. There's a journal inside that visitors can use to record their impressions of the area. This cabin was occupied, though we did not know it till later.
Joe and I went on a short excursion up a nearby hill. While we were enjoying the view, we got a call from George W. on the radio. I thought he was kidding me at first, but then Vinette came on the radio, and convinced me that indeed, they were cornered in the Casita by a rattlesnake.
Here is Jake the Snake No-Shoulders. Jake is a Mojave rattlesnake, which is the most toxic variety of snake in this desert. He had been coiled by the door, and let George and Vinette come in. But when they came back near the door, he objected noisily with his tail, and indicated that he would bite anybody trying to pass. George and Vinette were trapped! Luckily they had their handheld radio and called us up.
I teased Jake out with a long Saguaro rib, and George used it to gently re-position him outside the Casita. We put him in the bushes, unharmed, behind the building, and then wrote a warning in the journal to visitors, to check the room before going in.
We pressed on eastbound from Tule Well. The Camino is closed farther east, so we went as far as Otto Nameer's gravesite, and stopped for lunch. The rocks laid out here spell out his name, and date of death: 1871. We paid our respects and turned back west toward Christmas Pass.
For this part of the trip, we turned over the driving chores to the ladies, and what fun was had. Of course, they did a great job and had fun, as we men used the radios to amuse ourselves at their expense. I think we were really salving our male egos over the fact that they can do anything we can do. It was super fun for all though. Here, Jackie pilots the Bananaram through Chrismas Pass. (Bananaram is not an authorized name for Joe's RC, BTW. I just made it up.)
The Jeep traverses the narrow pass. It seems rather less shiny than it was, and more the color of the desert, eh? All of them were by now.
Sunset at Christmas Camp.
Sunrise at Chrismas Camp. We broke camp and drove north through the ranges to Tacna, where I got some gas, having run out on the trail and had to use my jerry can supply.
I didn't take many photos after this because my camera battery was about flat. I took 99 pictures, including several digital movies. There's a great one of Twister piloting the Ramus thru the deep silt beds.
Anyway, my fellow travelers took more after this, and I'll post them as I get them.
Here's a video of Twister driving the Ramus: Gas it baby!
-1 meg download, requires Quicktime to play.