Originally known as Blake, Goffs, CA is a small unincorporated community located off of Route 66 in the Mojave desert near the Piute Mountains. Originally named for Isaac Blake, builder of the Nevada Southern Railway, the town was named Goffs in 1902, when it served as a railway stop, and housing for the Santa Fe Railroad.
As a boy growing up, I was fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time in the High Sierra mountains. When I was about five years old, I learned to fish in Lone Pine Creek under the watchful eye of my grandfather. We left camp one afternoon and walked about 50 feet to a small pool next to our campsite. My memory of this event has faded, but my recollection of the event is that I quickly caught my limit of Rainbow trout within about 30 minutes and returned to camp with a full stringer of fish. I recall my grandfather recalling later that it was the “damnedest thing”, and surely proof of beginners luck. Time embellishes all tales, and true with fish stories the facts of the actual event may no longer support the tale being told. It is true non the less that I had beginners luck!
For the next fifteen years or so, my parents, brother and I would spend a great deal of time in the High Sierra, or other camping locations. My brother and I perfected our fishing technique in the high mountain lakes and streams. We did not always catch our limit, nor did we have a desire to harvest more than we could eat that day, but we often had fresh trout for dinner. Eventually, our camping trips became further and far between and my interest in fishing waned as the cost for a licensed increased.
Two towns located in the hills above Mono Lake maintain an unofficial rivalry that continues even now, long past their demise. Bodie, CA and Aurora, NV boomed with the gold rush of the 1870s and busted just years later when the gold ran out and faded into history. Miners, merchants, and people would undoubtedly moved either direction between the two cities and with good fortune would undoubtedly talk down the previous city. Such is human nature, but why would this rivalry continue long past the demise of both towns?
Over Presidents day weekend, my wife and I were travelling back from Big Bear, CA to our house after a visit with family towards our home in Las Vegas. Frequently, my wife will point out an old road or mine and comment that we need to take that trail someday. During out drive home, we were talking about the mining district in Mountain Pass and the Evening Star mine. This is one of the great reasons for owning a 4×4 and the Mojave Desert is a prime location to explore.
After our recent trip to the center section of the Old Mojave Road, my wife Heather was really excited to run the western section and complete the entire length of the trail. Her idea was to drive the western section on our way to our annual trip to Big Bear, CA over the Memorial Day holiday. I worried that such a trip during this time of year could be a rough trip due to high temperatures in the desert. In late April we finished the center section in Baker, CA and the air temperature was only 107 degrees. Despite my concerns, we gladly planned our trip and embraced her good idea.
As we prepared for our trip, gathered our gear, food, and checked out the mechanics of the jeep, I decide to check the local weather report. To my surprise, weather.com predicted the temps in the mid 80s with clear sky’s and light wind. The weather could not be any better.
Another interesting development, is that Heather kept offering to drive in the event I got tired of driving. She didn’t just offer once, but several times per day for several days before our departure. Being the good husband that I am, after about twenty or thirty offers, I started to get the idea that, subconsciously, Heather might want to drive this run. So after some arm twisting and bartering, I finally convinced her and Heather agreed to take the wheel. This of course, would be a great source of confusion for me during the trip, however I am certain I can persevere this new dynamic. This is not to imply that Heather is not one of the finest drivers I know, far from it.
An old trail leads off through the lava and into the great unknown.
All packed up, we left the Las Vegas area at 7:00 am on Saturday morning, and headed towards Baker. A quick stop in Baker, we topped off the fuel tank and took our respective bathroom breaks. Once Heather reminded me that she was driving this trip, I took my seat on the right had side of the jeep and we headed down Kelbaker Road. It took me a few miles, but soon I became used to having my coffee cup on the wrong side, no pedals, eta… This must be what it is like in England. The map and guide-book took some getting used to as well, but somehow I managed to get us to the trail head. It certainly didn’t hurt that we were here just a few weeks before. A quick turn on to the trail, and we stopped to air down the tires for some ride comfort.
After dreaming of this trip for the past few weeks we are finally on our way. We followed the trail around 17 mile point and then turned southwest into the Mojave. The road steadily looses elevation as it cross a fallout zone of lava and start to head down into the valley.