Coyote (Canis latrans)

Coyote (Canis latrans) enduring a snow storm in Joshua Tree National Park
Coyote (Canis latrans)

A symbol of the American Southwest, the howl of the humble Coyote (Canis latrans) is synonymous with wild places. A member of the canine family and cousin to your pet, the coyote is a carnivore, predator, scavenger and survivor and even have a gord named for them, the coyote melon. The mammal is also known as the “little wolf”, “brush wolf”, “prairie wolf” and “American jackal”.

Although not necessarily nocturnal, they may hunt at night in the presence of humans. Regardless, they are more active in the evenings. They prowl and hunt in small groups. Their cries and howls at night are the reason they are known as the most vocal wild animal North American Animals. Personally, I welcome their vocalizations echoing access the desert night.

Coyote hunt reptiles, birds, small mammals, fish and even the larger bison, deer, elk and sheep. They roam up to ten miles per day on a constant hunt for food. In urban areas, this opportunist animal will eat dog and cat food, and known to attack domestic dogs and cats. In Death Valley National Park this resourceful jackal will eat large quantities of beetles and hawkmoth caterpillars for food. They are extremely resourceful and opportunistic survivors.

The coyote is classified in 19 different subspecies throughout the North America. A typical male will weigh between 18 and 44 pounds, while the female tips the scale a at a more modest 15 to 40 pounds. The fair color ranges from a light grey, tan to dark browns or even black depending upon habitat.

Coyote (Canis latrans) enduring a snow storm in Joshua Tree National Park
A extremely optimistic Coyote enduring a snow storm in Joshua Tree National Park waiting for a handout which did not come.

In Native American cultures, folklore depicts the coyote as a trickster. For this Irish American over a certain age, the coyote is call as wiley, known as a super genius and has, upon occasion, ordered an abundance of explosive from the Amce Corporation .


John Bull Trail 3N10

The John Bull Trail 3N10 has the solid reputation as one of the toughest and most challenging trails in the Big Bear mountains of San Bernardino County.   This trail should only be done with in a group of well-equipped short-wheelbase vehicles. Lockers are recommended, but not always required. The entire trail is strewn with boulders of various sizes. There are also a number of sharp drop-offs along the way. Be prepared for scratches, dings and flat tires. This trail is not for stock SUV’s.

The trail is part of the “Adopt a Trail” program through the National Forest Service, and has been adopted by the So Cal Broncos (east end) and the Waywegos 4 Wheel Drive Club (west end).

Running the trail west to east is somewhat easier, there is a campground at the western starting point. Most off-roaders prefer to start at the east end of the trail. The official start point is off of the Burnt Flats Trail (3N02), although many catch it at the end of 3N32.

Around April/May 2009 the ends of the John Bull Trail 3N10 has had more boulders pushed in to make more difficult “gateways”, which prevent under-equipped 4x4s from running the trail.

John Bull Trailmap

Website Overhaul

In the past few weeks, the website was overhauled to better comport itself to a higher standard. At its core, is a list of places that I have been, researched and / or places I want to go. These places are places that interest me, for whatever reason. I have found many of them from family, browsing the web or searching google earth.

The website is going over an overhaul at the moment and work is happening in the following ways.


Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps - By Stanley W. Paher
Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps – By Stanley W. Paher

Recently, I was on a fellow explorers website researching a site and he / she was lamenting that they were tired of people copying from their website. They made the statement something along the lines of quit “copying my content” and “do what I did and google it”.

At first I felt rather guilty. I was on another website and learning about a site with the intention of writing my own article. Then, I became annoyed as I was simply doing what they did and I found their website. This person is complaining about something that he/she never did. Give Credit where Credit is due.

In an effort to be as honest and informative as I can, I then and there decided that I was going to “do it better”. I am currently in process of adding resource links back to the source material for every page I publish were it is referenced. For example, the definitive research tome in Nevada for ghost towns is “Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps” by Stanley W. Paher. Much of his work serves as the backbone to Wikipedia and all of those who ghost town in Nevada owe him a lot.

Overtime I will add more book reviews, resources, useful websites, research,etc… to the website from my library. It will take a while.

Trail and Area Maps

Google Earth View of Destination4x4 during Website Overhaul
Google Earth View of Destination4x4

When I first considered Destination4x4 as a website, it was based around the concept of interactive trail maps. At the time, Google offered their mapping API essentially for free for smaller websites. At first, this allowed me to build maps with Google Earth and then save a KML file which I could then use to produce an online map.

About two years ago, Google decided to charge for this service and started watermarking my maps with “For developer use only”. To date, Destination4x4 is a loss and does not make any money, so it is difficult to justify spending anything on Google.

Over the past two years, I have search for various plugins for WordPress which allowed for free mapping. They all would do somethings well, but not others. I finally stumpled upon WordPress OpenStreetMap Plugin. This is a free open source wordpress plugin which allows me to publish KML file maps. Thank you!

Trail Lists

Additionally, I have done some polishing and clean up my lists on the website. Prior to this update, a list of locations would just contain a title and link to the page. Now, the lists will contain a featured image thumbnail, the title and a description. Essentially this is a little tweak which makes the site look and feel nicer.

Server Upgrades

Destination4x4 runs on a Dell poweredge server installed next to my desk. It runs on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Linux and features an 8 core processes, 32 GB of RAM and 3.2 Terabytes of Storage on a RAID 5 drive.

WordPress was complaining about running on an older version of PHP 5 and really wanted to run on PHP 7. So about two weeks ago, I made that happen and supposedly the site is supposed to be faster.

Additionally, the server is minifying and caching better, so hopefully the web server and web site are faster for all.

Rhyolite Nevada

Rhyolite is a ghost town location just outside of the Eastern edge of Death Valley National monument in Nye country, Nevada.  Founded in 1904 by Frank “Shorty” Harris when he discovered quartz with load of “Free Gold”, Rhyolite started as a gold mining camp in the surrounding Bullfrog mining district. As with many discovery’s during this time period, news quickly circulated and the Bullfrog mining district was formed.

Rhyolite, Nevada photo by James L Rathbun
Rhyolite, Nevada photo by James L Rathbun

Assays of $3000 per ton were reported by the mining press of the day, and the fall and winter saw many people converge on the area despite the weather conditions. Tonopah and Goldfield saw hundreds head south in the spring of 1905, and the migration caused “a string of dust a hundred miles long”.

It is an encouraging sign that the Ryolite Jail still stands. Also noteworthy, a brothel crib still stands as well.
It is an encouraging sign that the Ryolite Jail still stands. Also noteworthy, a brothel crib still stands as well.

The townsite of Rhyolite was found in a draw close to the most important mines in February, 1905. To start, the town was a mining camp with tents and canvas walled building. Fuel shortages caused the populous to burn sage brush and greasewood as fuel for their stoves to cook and keep warm. Food and fuel were teamed into the area on daily stages and water was bought over from Beatty for $5 per barrel.

A trains cabose as found in Rhyolite, Nevada
A trains cabose as found in Rhyolite, Nevada

However, as was common with gold rush towns, Rhyolite quickly developed all of the modern amenities of day, including newspapers, schools, hospitals and electrical power. Six thousand people called the town home in 1907. Luxuries unimaginable just two years before include, hotel rooms with private baths, and opera house, dozens of saloons, four banks, a butcher shop were brought to the town by three different trains.

The mines of Rhyolite, Nevada operated from 1905 - 1911
The mines of Rhyolite, Nevada operated from 1905 – 1911

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and a financial panic of 1907 dried up capital investment which doomed the town along with many others in the region. Rhyolite ceased to be and closed in 1911.  

Today, several building shells still exist, along with the infamous Bottle House, and outdoor museum.  The town is accessible via paved roads, which ruins the “ghosttown” effect and detracts a bit from the location.  In spite of this, it is easily accessible and worth a stop when you are in the area.

“The Last Supper” and other art pieces hold court just outside of Rhyolite

Rhyolite is a wonderful place to visit when you are running Titus Canyon and Leadfield trail.

Rhyolite, Nevada 1909
Rhyolite, Nevada 1909

Rhyolite Map


Titus Canyon

Titus Canyon has it all, rugged mountains, colorful rock formations, a small ghost town, mines, petroglyphs, wildlife, rare plants and spectacular canyon narrows as a grand finale! Titus Canyon is the most popular back-country road in Death Valley National Park and just plain fun to run.  The canyon is easily accessible from Stovepipe wells and Furnace Creek.

Titus Canyon, a narrow canyon drive in Death Valley National Park, CA
Titus Canyon, a narrow canyon drive in Death Valley National Park, CA

Although the Grapevine Mountains were uplifted relatively recently, most of the rocks that make up the range are over half a billion years old. The gray rocks lining the walls of the western end of the Canyon are Cambrian limestone. These ancient Paleozoic rocks formed at a time when the Death Valley area was submerged beneath tropical seas. By the end of the Precambrian, the continental edge of North America had been planed off by erosion to a gently rounded surface of low relief. The rise and fall of the Cambrian seas periodically shifted the shoreline eastward, flooding the continent, then regressed westward, exposing the limestone layers to erosion. The sediments have since been upturned, up folded (forming anticlines), down folded (forming synclines) and folded back onto themselves (forming recumbent folds).

Leadfield Gost Town, Death Valley, California
Leadfield Gost Town, Death Valley, California

Although some of the limestone exposed in the walls of the canyon originated from thick mats of algae (stromatolites) that thrived in the warm, shallow Death Valley seas, most of the gray limestone shows little structure. Thousands of feet (hundreds of meters) of this limey goo were deposited in the Death Valley region. Similar limestone layers may be seen at Lake Mead National Recreation Area and at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
At one of the bends in the canyon, megabreccia can be seen.

Leadfield was an unincorporated community, and historic mining town found in Titus Canyon in Death Valley National Park.

Titus Canyon Trail Map