Offroad and on the Trails

Overland Expo Road Trip: Day One

The road trip started, as usual, with me getting up far too early. Before 0600, if memory serves. I was meeting Anthony in south San Jose at the same kickoff location we use for many of the GBA offroad runs. It’s conveniently located by the intersection of two main highways, and the shopping center has a McDonalds, a Shell station, and a Starbucks.

From there, we had about a 400-mile drive to Barstow where we were meeting up with Bryon in his Sportsmobile. It’s a long and mostly dull drive and I think Anthony and I were both going a bit bonkers by the time we pulled up at the Barstow Vons. We grabbed some supplies & chatted with Bryon in the parking lot, where a guy in a Toyota pickup saw us and said “Hey, are you guys overlanders?” Guilty as charged.

From there we embarked on a minor comedy of errors called “Let’s try to top off at a gas station as close as possible to the start of the Mojave Road trail”. This saw us heading east, backtracking west, then south, then east and finally west again. We finally located what was probably the closest gas to the starting point, but it was also some of the most expensive of the trip at something horrific like $4.79 a gallon.

The next challenge was locating the start of the trail. We located a likely dirt road & drove it to a point very close to Camp Cady but we were stopped by private property gates. From there we decided to swing around to Cherokee Road and into the Manix Basin area, where we again missed a turn here & there before finding ourselves passing through Manix Wash and into the dry bed of the Mojave River, where the real fun began.

I made it about a mile, sometimes though the deep, soft sand. I’d just powered through a particularly deep section, and I’d come close to bogging at one point. I reached a firm stretch of ground and decided that I really needed to properly air down before continuing. I looked back and Anthony appeared to be doing the same. Then the call came over the radio from him: “I think Bryon’s stuck.”

After airing down I drove back and sure enough, the 10,100lb. Sportsmobile with 80psi in the tires was well and truly sunk into the sand. He was able to move ten feet at a time with the help of Anthony’s Maxtrax, but that was about it. Thus began a one-and-a-half hour recovery process to get the stranded beast up onto the firmer terrain on the edge of the river bed. Fortunately he was very close to the hard ground, but we also had to get the vehicle up onto it. In the end, two 12,000lb winches and some patient maneuvering got the job done, and the Sportsmobile escaped the sand.

We backtracked to Manix Wash & with the sun setting, began racing along the alternate path along the roadway that parallels the Union Pacific railway line just to the north. More worryingly, along the way Bryon came on the  radio to report that his speedometer and transmission were acting up. Darkness fell, out roof lights came on, and we eventually managed to reach our first campsite at the Afton Canyon campground.

We were beat, but thankful to have made it through a difficult first day. The wind was also blasting at the campground and was strong enough to knock over full beer cans! I opted to pitch my tent behind the Land Cruiser, using it as a wind break. We were near a railroad bridge and a few short trains came through, shaking the campground and providing a nice light show. We all crashed out quickly to the sound of the high winds, perhaps wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into with this Mojave Road, but tomorrow would be another day and we’d carry on. Around 0100 I was awoken to the sound of coyotes yipping on a nearby hill, before dropping off to sleep again.

  • Day One Miles: 482
  • Day One Miles offroad: 36.5
  • Days without a shower: 1

Overland Expo Road Trip: Day One photo gallery


May 28th, 2012 at 8:17 am

4 Responses to “Overland Expo Road Trip: Day One”

  1. David Says:

    Be sure to check out Anthony’s posts about our road trip too. The first is at

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