17-Jan-2004 -- This confluence is located in the middle of nowhere, just west of the Mojave National Preserve, about midway between Interstates 15 & 40. If I had been successful in my attempt at 35n 119w a couple weeks ago, this visit would have completed a California Confluence Bingo across 35n.
Reviewing the previous two visits was extremely helpful. We decided to proceed north on Crucero Road from I-40 at Ludlow. There is a sign that warns that the road is not maintained, but a high clearance 2wd vehicle could easily make the trip. 15-20 mph was a comfortable speed increasing to about 30-40 mph across Broadwell dry lake. Intersecting the power lines at 34 54.195n and 116 12.079w and turning northeast, we followed them until a wash at 35 01.364n 116 02.378w, where we parked just behind a small hill.
From here, my daughters and I started out on a 3 mile journey to the confluence. Both previous visitors' descriptions and directions were found to be very accurate. Following the wash uphill will get you very close to the confluence. I used National Geographic TOPO California for route planning and had uploaded the route into my Garmin eMap & Rino's. The wash narrows as you get closer becoming multiple ravines with walls about 20-30' high and narrowing to about 5-10' wide at the bottom. It's like walking in a maze with high walls. When we were within 300 feet of the point, we climbed up out of the ravine only to discover that we had to cross another one to get to our destination. Post hike analysis of my track file revealed that we should have taken the southern ravine fork at 35 00.113n 116 00.102w to prevent scrambling up and down two ravines with walls of very loose rock. A turn here would also have saved about 15 minutes. The cairn was found to be well-placed by Devron Byerly as my GPS receivers were in very close agreement with each other and his cairn (photo 5).
A snack of trail mix returned our energy levels and prepared us for the hike back. The temperature was very nice - mid 60's (F) and extremely quiet - except for the sound of trains. During our hike we heard and saw 11 trains in the distance. This confluence would be extremely difficult in the summer heat - there would be absolutely no shade. The sparse plant life was very adapted to the arid conditions in this area.
Photo 1 looks northwest towards Baker. Notice the maze-like ravines! Photo 2 looks north. Photo 3 looks east. Photos to the south were washed out by the sun. Photo 4 looks southwest at the Bristol Mountains. Photo 5 is a quad-redundant GPS position on the existing cairn. Photo 6 shows my Garmin girls by the cairn unfazed by the 3 mile hike and ready to hike back. Somewhere on the way back, I lost the valve to my Camelbak water bladder. I made an attempt to find it but had no luck. If a future visitor should find it, I'd appreciate if they would pack it out of the otherwise pristine desert. Replacement valves, I discovered a couple days later, are a lot more expensive than you'd think!
From where we parked by the power lines, it was a 3:30 round trip hike with 1000' elevation gain. From Ludlow, it was 1:15 to where we parked our car. Since it was such a nice day and we were on our timeline, we decided to exit to the north to I-15, retracing the route taken by Devron Byerly to determine which approach to this confluence would be easier for future visitors. Continuing northeast we came to a fork in the road at 35 02.064n 115 59.089w. The left fork followed the power lines over sand dunes and over the Kelso Mountains. The right one followed the railroad tracks and looked to be more direct with little elevation change. I chose to follow the railroad tracks and, initially, followed the dirt road adjacent to the tracks but at 10-15 mph soon realized that it would be a long time before we reached Kelbaker road at Kelso. Proceeding onto the service road adjacent to the railroad tracks, we could easily average 30-40mph. We made it to Kelso without encountering a single train which is amazing, considering that during our hike, we saw/heard a train about every 20 minutes!
It took 2:20 to get to Baker from where we had started our hike. My recommendation would be to approach from Ludlow if possible - it's more than an hour shorter each way and the road is in better condition - although a high clearance 2wd vehicle would make it from either direction.