California's Palo Verde Mountains, just east of the famed Hauser geode beds, seem to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the eastern Mojave. They just don't get any respect. Part of the cause might be due to the new wilderness designation which makes hiking the only form of entry possible to the curious. In the past, however, the northern portion of these mountains was a hub of activity. Several manganese prospects were being developed; rockhounds clambered over the hills in search of the acclaimed black and paisley agate as well as colorful nodules; Clapp Spring provided an oasis of life not only for prehistoric Indians, but also for wild horses, burros, mule deer, doves, quail, coyotes and mountain lion; and scenic Thumb Peak rose like a beacon above the colorful hills and washes to guide those entering the area.
After a description like that who could blame us for wanting to see this spot for ourselves? Could we find the old rockhounding sites? Is there still material there? What does Clapp Spring look like? Can any remnants of Indian use be found there? These and many other questions could only be answered by going there! So we did!
The Lizardmobile has just slithered to a stop and, as a yet ineffective sun struggles to dispel the brisk air of the morning, we shoulder our packs and head east into the wilderness area. Our goals today, in addition to a general exploration, are two old agate collecting sites and an area where colorful nodules were once found. Tomorrow, after spending the night to the north of Clapp Spring, we plan to explore the spring and see if we can find some of the rare tube agate that is reputed to be located nearby. Why not come along and check it out with us? lf you like what you see by clicking on the photo link below, you can return in real time! A word of caution though, a real rock hammer weighs a lot more than the cyber version that you'll be carrying today! Let's get going!