El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

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Thread: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

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    El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

    Burro Schmidt Tunnel and the El Paso Mountains

    Just before New Year’s a couple of friends of mine and their young son’s headed out to the El Paso Mountains near Ridgecrest for a little camping and exploring. Our caravan consisted of two nicely equipped FJ Cruisers and one well equipped Tundra. We met up in Adelanto around 3:00 p.m. for lunch. After a quick bite to eat we got back on the 395 and headed north. We stopped in Johannesburg just as the sun was setting to top off our gas tanks and pick up a little firewood. From Johannesburg we went a few more miles up 395 and turned off on Red Rock-Ransburg Rd. and headed west. About a mile past the merge with Garlock Road we turned off onto Mesquite Canyon. I believe Mesquite Canyon Road is also marked on the trail as EP 100.
    All trails large and small were marked with a trail number throughout the mountains. If the trail was closed or unauthorized there was a red marker denoting it as closed. (I wish the Mojave road was as well marked.) The only problem was none of my maps used those identifiers so they did not help me much. I took note of some but not all so I will use the trail #s when I can.
    I aired down off the pavement and we started up the canyon in the darkness. Darkness was relative because the trail was well lit by my 50 inch light bar mounted on my Baja rack. We drove for a couple of miles before we stopped for our first mine which was right off the road. We hiked a few hundred yards up the canyon and found the mine. The mine was pretty unremarkable as you really could not go into it more than a few feet. I did not take any pictures here because it was dark and frankly not much to see but it did get the boy’s fired up for what was yet to come.
    From there we continued up the road until we hit the turn off on the left for the Walsh cabin. I used a Dual GPS 150 connected via Bluetooth to my iPad. I was running Gaia maps and had loaded waypoints from Google Earth to help me navigate and identify possible points of interest.
    Walsh cabin was in pretty rough shape. It sits on top of a peak completely exposed to the wind and elements and probably only remains there because it is tied down with thick steel cables anchored to the mountain. Of course vandals have done this cabin no favors and have contributed to its poor condition. It is a shame some people cannot just enjoy it for what it is and not feel the need to destroy everything they come in contact with. Again no pictures because it was dark and I just wasn’t thinking about it yet.
    We headed back down the way we came. So far everything was done in 2 wheel drive without any difficulties. I decided to put it in 4 wheel low for the trip down so I would not need to use my brakes down the hill. Once at the bottom it was back into 2 wheel drive.
    Back on Mesquite Canyon we followed it north/east to Colorado Camp. We decided to camp here for the night so we found a level spot and set up camp. After getting camp squared away and cooking up some dinner we spun the obligatory campfire yarns and then called it a night. (You do need a fire permit which you can obtain for free from the ranger station or get one online after watching a short video and taking a few question test.)

    The sun rose early but I managed to catch it lighting up a nearby peak.
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    It was a crisp 47 degrees so the campfire was rekindled while we made breakfast. When I say “made breakfast” what I really mean is most of us had cold Pop-tarts which I love but really only eat when I am camping. All that is left of Colorado camp is a falling down fireplace and some rubble from the foundation.
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    The boys wanted to shoot their Ruger 10-22’s so we let them have a little target practice while we broke down camp. It is legal to shoot on BLM land as long as you follow all the safety rules and do not shoot across roads or use armor piercing or tracer ammo. Rain was forecast for the weekend and we could see it heading our way from the west so we cut the boys target practice short and mounted up.
    We drove up EP 197 which was in camp towards the top of a peak. There were a few places where it got very steep! I got about ¾ of the way up and leveled out on a plateau. The road seemed to go on and only got steeper and narrower as it continued. This trail was not on my map and we were heading away from our intended first stop of the morning so we turned around. At this point I was about 4,500 feet and there was snow at my level across a canyon.
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    This was the view looking back down. You can see the trail disappears just ahead of me. I know the inclinometer on the FJ is not exactly super accurate but it was showing 30 degrees nose down. I would have taken a picture but honestly I did not want to let go of the wheel. This section was done in 4 wheel low!
    08 Sandstorm, Baja rack with 50" LED light bar, Demello hybrid sliders, Icon 2.5's front and rear with Icon UCA's, US Offroad bumper with two 2" LED's, Enco 9,000lb winch, synthetic line, CB and Ham radio.

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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

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    Once we got back down to Mesquite Canyon Road we headed west to EP15. EP15 seemed to be a major east west road through the park which only required 2 wheel drive. We took EP15 west until the turn off for the Burro Schmidt Tunnel. There is a sign with an arrow pointing you in the right direction. By this time a light rain had begun to fall but it was not really a problem. We arrived at the tunnel and thought we were going to have it all to ourselves but a few more vehicles showed up right behind us.
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    You can’t really tell from the photo but it was raining pretty hard and my camera was getting wet so we quickly pushed on into the tunnel. Not much to see inside, it is a tunnel…..
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    08 Sandstorm, Baja rack with 50" LED light bar, Demello hybrid sliders, Icon 2.5's front and rear with Icon UCA's, US Offroad bumper with two 2" LED's, Enco 9,000lb winch, synthetic line, CB and Ham radio.

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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

    The tunnel is a half mile long and is almost as straight as an arrow. Towards the end there is a 90 degree T intersection. The left spur goes about 100 feet before it just ends and to the right it opens out onto the mountainside.
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    In the picture above you are looking south towards Mojave. You can see the rain as it is falling over the dry lake and the town of Saltdale. We retraced our steps through the mine and made it back out to our vehicles. It was still raining so we loaded up quickly and headed off to our next destination. There is an old cabin near the mine but it has been fenced off by BLM because the vandals were destroying it. No pictures because it was still raining and I was trying to keep the camera dry.
    We headed back out to EP15 and continued N/W to EP30. We made a quick E/B turn for the ¼ mile to Bickel Camp. There is a lot of old mining paraphernalia and the general collection of old items commonly found in the desert. A caretaker came out and talked to us even though it was still raining. We wandered around the camp briefly and then stood under an awning while the caretaker educated us on Bickel Camp and the surrounding area.
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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

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    We left a donation in the donation box and headed back to the vehicles. I would have liked to have spent more time there but the rain dampened our enthusiasm. I will definitely be back on a future trip.

    We headed back to EP15 and took it north up a canyon. There were a couple of very cool cabins along the way one of them being the Sears cabin. I believe these are open on a first come first serve basis and both of them were occupied with smoke coming from the chimneys. We did not stop as to not disturb the occupants. A bit farther down the trail was the turn off for the Bonanza trail and the old Post Office. The building is roped off so we continued on our way up the trail. We followed this back generally in a westward direction until we came upon the Holly Mine.
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    Pumice was mined here and used in Holly Cleanser. The mines went back a hundred yards or so but one had suffered a roof collapse so we stayed out. About this time the rain finally let up and we mounted back up.
    At this point we didn’t have any more places on our agenda so we decided to just follow the map and see where we ended up. We headed back out and took Last Chance Canyon southwest until we came upon EP30. We headed east on EP30. My only thoughts were to head generally east and try to use a different trail than we took the first time. We made a couple of loops and stopped anytime we thought we saw a mine or something interesting.
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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

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    We continued heading east and ended up at Holland Camp.
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    Our original plan was to camp again for the night but a larger storm was forecast to hit later in the night and we did not really want to be packing up camp in the rain. We decided to call it a trip and started making our way out to the road. I consulted the map and we decided to head for Iron Canyon and EP11 as our way back to pavement. At the mouth of Iron Canyon the road narrowed considerably and there were a few off camber turns as it dropped down. The FJ’s could make it no problem but it was going to be dicey for the full sized Tundra. If we dropped in we would have been committed because there was no place to turn around. We decided discretion was the better part of valor since these are all our daily drivers and we turned back. We back tracked to Mesquite Canyon and hit the pavement just as the sun was setting. After airing up we headed back to 395 for our journey home.
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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

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    A couple of notes on this trip. We took extra gas just in case but we really didn’t need it. Total miles off pavement was approximately 125. The FJ normally can’t pass a gas station without needing to fill up but we used just under a half of a tank. Most of this trip was done in 2 wheel drive. There were only a few sections where I used 4 wheel drive and that was just as a precaution more than absolute necessity. A 2 wheel drive with rear lockers could probably have made this trip just fine. That being said, I would not try this solo without 4 wheel drive. This was a fun trip and I would like to do it again in the future. Below is a snapshot of our travels.
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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

    I go there quite frequently nice pics and write up.


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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

    Great Trip!

    One more on my list.

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    Santiago Peak Tour Guide Sanderhawk's Avatar

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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

    Great write up. Any trip with mines in it is a good trip.

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    Re: El Paso Mountains and Burro Schmidt Mine

    http://www.desertusa.com/desert-peop...er-bickel.html

    This email thingy I got Thursday was timely for this write up.


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