Creek Running North

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March 09, 2004


I’m back, slightly sunburned, slightly achy, and wholly recharged, from the Mojave. I did no writing at all the whole time, so I have no trip journal to post. But I do remember some of it anyway.

1 I went on this trip with Matthew, one of my oldest friends and perhaps the only one who tolerates my impromptu, devil-may-care, caution-to-the-winds, do-as-I-please, clichés-separated-by-hyphens style of travel in the Mojave. We had no schedule other than "Leave Thursday, Back Monday."

2 It was windy in Red Rock Canyon State Park, at the base of the Sierra Nevada, where the Mojave and the Great Basin meet. It almost always is.

3 I count every Mojave trip where I avoid Barstow as a personal and spiritual victory.

4 We stopped at the famous "Alien Fresh Jerky" store in Baker. I bought jerky for Becky in three flavors: Buffalo, Ostrich and Cowboy.

5 Jerry at Nipton makes a mean roast beef sandwich.

6 The road into Caruthers Canyon is just shy of being 4WD only. We headed in, watched the storm clouds gather, and I fretted over getting stuck if the road washed out the rest of the way, so we left after a short hike despite our having found the perfect campsite, complete with pre-stocked firewood. Leaving the canyon, we tried to shortcut to Mid-Hills and got nearly lost in the maze of two-ruts south of the New York Mountains.

7 Mid-Hills was cold. We shivered in a campsite with a stellar view of Cima Dome and Teutonia Peak, ten miles to the north, and invented the Mojave Sunset: one part rye whiskey, five parts desert groundwater.

8 We clambered on metal rings down into and then back up Banshee Canyon and joked with the Boy Scouts. Banshee Canyon is the one place in the Mojave where you’ll always see Boy Scouts.

9 I don’t like to publicize the location of native rock art sites, so even though a little bit of research will reveal the location of the petroglyph shown in the post below, I’d rather leave its location a mystery. Unless you ask me nicely. It’s not like it’s a secret or anything, as the BLM has interpretive signs up and the location is marked on my map by the word "petroglyphs." But still, the more publicity, the more likely it is that some vandal will spraypaint the things, or that some clueless tourist will smear peanut butter on the rocks by accident.

10 That said, it was the best such site I’ve ever visited. And I saw a chuckwalla there.

11 We sat at the Big Bend of the Colorado south of Laughlin and watched that tortured, strangled, still incredibly powerful river boil past. On the Arizona side, ridiculous houses lined the river, sure to become driftwood when the Glen Canyon Dam fails and takes Hoover with it.

12 That night in Needles, bats filled the air. We looked in vain for a place to camp. On coming back, I found we’d merely missed the large tenting site at Park Moabi. Damn it.

13 A stranded German Tourist flagged us down on Morning Star Mine Road. We gave him a ride to Nipton, Matthew enjoying the 70 mph zephyr in the back of the pickup. "I hope they get me a new rental car today," said the Tourist. "I have a room tonight reserved in Yosemite." He pronounced it Yossmight. Yossmight is an eight hour drive from Nipton.

14 Your Basic Hike from Cima Road to Teutonia Peak’s summit on a warm day brings with it many skinks and desert night lizards and a need to drink pints of water.

15 Avoided Barstow yet a second time.

16 Called Becky from a payphone at that same rest stop outside Boron, my spousal longing an ache.

17 At Red Rock again, owls sang us to sleep. The next morning we hiked up into several box canyons, then found a sheer and vicious drop off, an ephemeral waterfall, through lava rock. Above the abyss, a seep dripped slow tears onto the sand.

Posted at March 9, 2004 04:57 PM | TrackBack


Sounds like a great adventure, and one good for the soul and the senses. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Robert at March 10, 2004 06:00 AM

That line had a spring, Becca. What more do you people want from me?

Posted by: Chris Clarke at March 10, 2004 07:13 AM

Actually, I said he'd need three lines, a season, and a punch line. Haiku have had many different rules over the years, and making up rules has been oart of the fun. See

Anyway, English haiku don't need the 5-7-5 pattern, for at least three reasons:

First, there's more information in an English syllable than a Japanese one.

Second, syllables in fives and sevens are important in many ways in Japanese, and aren't in English.

Finally, the notion of a syllable is different in Japanese. In English, syllables are usually crisply delineated, whilst Japanese syllables exhibit "mashatugata" -- the syllables are kind of mashed together.


Posted by: Phil at March 12, 2004 08:58 AM

Crisply delineated? Not where I live :-)

Posted by: dale at March 12, 2004 10:00 AM

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