This trip happened by accident. We weren't supposed to be anywhere near Fenner Valley but when Fate decides that she has other plans for you then you just have to play along! The real culprit, though, was rain. We're not talking about a gentle mist that drifts down to delicately moisten the tough little leaves of the creosote bushes. We're talking major thunderstorm cells that were dumping over two inches an hour onto the eastern Mojave. We had planned to do some hiking south of Danby in the Old Woman Mountains, but our access road was cut by swift, angry Schulyer Wash that had reclaimed its domain. We tried again to cross up at Essex, but with the same result. Fenner Valley was our last option and here we really have to thank Fate for making the change for us!
We knew that there were some petroglyphs that are found in association with a spring and some old mining activity in the hills north of Goffs in Fenner Valley. Now seemed like a good time to do some exploring there since the heavy rains had blocked our other choices. This turned out to be a beautiful area with healthy vegetation and large barrel cacti. We eventually found the petroglyphs and pictographs, the spring and we even found a large rock shelter that must have been used by both prehistoric and historic inhabitants. Just below the shelter was an old arrastra with one of the drag stones still there. A dry stacked stone partial wall divided the shelter. Thick soot from many, many fires coated the ceiling and there was a nice little can dump with Sanitary and hole and cap cans. Hiking up the wash near the spring was interesting as the recent rains had created pockets of quicksand that would suck our feet down to above our ankles before we could yank them out! The weather, which had been fairly nice in the early morning when we started hiking, deteriorated gradually as first one thunderstorm cell would skirt us to the east, then another on the west, until finally one came far too close! Lightning, thunder and rain drove us back to the truck and we took stock of our situation. First of all, this is a beautiful area and we were very happy that we had gotten the cosmic nudge to come up here. Although we had just touched the surface in our explorations when we were forced to turn around, we both agreed that our trip was over. There had been too much heavy rain and more was on the horizon. Washes were impassable and even ones that could be crossed now might not offer safe passage later in the day. Even the paved road between Essex and Fenner had been covered by mud flows and had standing water in the dips. So, with a vow to return on a sunny day, we turned the Lizardmobile toward home and savored the exploring that we had been able to do in the hills bordering Fenner Valley. The smells, the dappled sunlight and the dark masses of angry thunderclouds with their thunder and lightning and veils of rain were all well worth experiencing!
If you'd like to join us on our soggy sojourn, just grab your raincoat, put a Ziploc bag over your mouse, and click on the photo link below!