06 November 2014

Strategic Squirreling in the Mojave

Here's the plan...  accumulate 6 weeks worth of food and water, bury it in 25 different locations spread across 500 miles of Mojave desert, then walk from cache to cache, never carrying more than a few days' supplies, yet accessing some very remote and dry places.

Start location: Orocopia Mountains, just south of Joshua Tree National Park
Finish location: Last Chance Mountain, at the very northern end of Death Valley National Park

We'll roughly follow a route known to few as the Desert Trail, a connection of federal lands and a navigable route stretching from Mexico to Canada.  We'll go through the Mecca Hills Wilderness, Orocopia Mountains Wilderness, Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree Wilderness, Sheephole Valley Wilderness, Trilobite Wilderness, Kelso Dunes, Mojave Wilderness, Cima Volcanic Field, Mojave National Preserve, Kingston Range Wilderness, Old Spanish National Historic Trail, Ibex Wilderness, and finally, Death Valley Wilderness and Death Valley National Park.

This post has pictures from our cache assembly and the trip to bury them along the route. We will hopefully have an update with lots more pictures and stories come Christmas time.  Until then, you can track our route on the "desert map" tab.  Buck Nelson, the only person to have hiked all of the Desert Trail, was helpful to us in tracking down some mapping resources.  His thorough trip report is here.

Browsing intently for long shelf life, high calorie goodness, we found some strange things...

POWER CAKES!!!!

INJECTABLE BUTTER!!!!

DEAR LORD...

put your food in a box that looks like your food!

Oh man, these Cheez-its taste soooo "BIG!"

Just when you thought Handi Snacks couldn't get any more bad for you...

number one ingredient?  Biscoff cookies.  Pretty legit.

What's the shelf life on Snickerdoodle flavored non-dairy creamer?

You have to give it to Wally World... they know their clientele...

Sherman disguises herself amongst Snickers and Bit O Honey
Whey protein?  NOM NOM NOM

Scrabble edition Cheez-its!

we lined up 23 bins and got to work divvying up the supplies... canned salmon, triscuits, jerky, dried fruits, etc.

This should be a familiar scene to all the long distance backpackers out there.
Lord Underfoot, the cat, supervised the whole process.

I can has Cheez-its?

Sherman did an incredible job preserving pears, blueberries, apples, strawberries, peaches and plums.  There are also almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.  This represents close to 200 lbs of fresh fruit!

This shows the "candy, bar, and candy bar layer" of the sedimentary cache formation.

Now you can see the cheetos/chips layer and the "bonus tuna" layer

general cross-section of the junk food layer.

caches lined up, ready to go in Sherman's invaluable Tacoma

They just fit under the sleeping platform!

After all that trouble, we found that WinCo sells cache buckets with "up to 25 year shelf life"!  But are they mouse proof?

We stopped along the way to visit the White Mountain Bristlecone forest, home to the world's oldest tree-- 4650 years old.




Then, it was onwards to Death Valley and some serious squirreling

See the white rock?  There's water under there!

Cool unrestored Packard at Scotty's Castle

Aptly named Teakettle Junction

Old International KB dumpy at Goldbelt Spring

Food and water cache just above the roof on that hill over yonder

These internationals don't rot away in the desert...

Food and water cache number 15 under those rocks!



hey dad, i found your christmas present!

cache number 10

cache number 8
video

saw a train full of military trucks go by.

then a wagon train headed for furnace creek...  moments later they were passed by a caravan of big pickups towing massive campers towing jeeps towing quads towing lord knows what else.  it was a strange juxtaposition.

entering mojave national preserve

cache number 6...  this one might be hard to find... we had a bit of a discussion about "this bush, no that bush"

Lizzie fell asleep reading Lonesome Dove, like we do most nights.

midnight moonlight snack attack

cholla forest in Joshua Tree National Park

cache number 1, under a palo verde, marked by a head gasket

wrapping up the caching, time to mosey to Vegas to pack the packs...

ok, so we're bringing a tent...

time to hit the road