There are a few traditions that we celebrate each and every time the month of March rolls around. Things like St. Patrick's Day, Daylight Savings Time, and the annual March Mojave Road trip. Started many years ago and revived back in 2007 by a group of people on a Ford Ranger enthusiast website the annual pilgrimage to the Mojave desert has become somewhat of a time honored tradition with a core group of Southern California wheelers. In 2008 the Ford Ranger website closed down but luckily the annual trip did not go down with it.
For the Fifth Annual March Mojave Road Trip we had a total of ten vehicles and 19 people make the journey with a not so diverse group of vehicles including three Ford Rangers, Three Jeep Wrangler, a Jeep Cherokee, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a Chevy Tahoe and a Toyota Tacoma. Of these ten vehicles only four completed the entire trail from Barstow CA to Laughlin NV, they were the slammed Ford Ranger of Jason Gonderman, the Ford Ranger of Jon VanDragt, the bodydropped Jeep Wrangler of Kevin Morgan, and the Jeep Wrangler of Justin Maddox. All the rest of the participants DNF’ed the trip thanks either to mechanical or mental issues.
Day 1 - Thursday March 10th 2011
We began the 2011 trip on a near perfect Thursday morning in the Mojave Desert. The group met at the Slash X bar in Barstow CA to drop the trailers and then head off to fuel up then to the trail head.
After a quick drive up the 15 freeway we made it to the start of the Mojave Road. The trail head is located off of Harvard Road and the I-15 freeway. Once we hit dirt it was time to air down for the 170 miles of dirt we were about to face off with.
The beginning of the Mojave Road trail is a seemingly endless sand wash that thanks to all the rain this past winter was now strewn with boulders and other debris. The sand wash claimed the first victims of the trip with Josh's Ranger overheating slightly, and George, Kevin, and Adam all getting stuck in the marsh near the end. Once out of the sand wash you come to the first real obstacle of the trail, the Mojave River crossing at the start of Afton Canyon. Again thanks to all the rain the crossing was filled with debris making the crossing easier and shallower than normal. Once everyone was through we regrouped before heading into Afton Canyon.
After the water crossing we headed along the railroad tracks and into Afton Canyon. Afton Canyon is a beautiful canyon created by the Mojave River with very high red rock walls on either side. This was the perfect setting for a quick lunch break before continuing on.
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