2010-04-04 33 -112
Looks like today's location is in beautiful Tonopah, AZ. Lucky coincidence for me - I'd just discovered GeoHashing and this would be a convenient first expedition. Based on maps and aerial photos, the site seems reachable via mostly dirt roads with perhaps a half-mile hike or so from the nearest driveable spot in to the actual site. It is located between 411th and 395th Avenues, about 4.5 miles north of the nearest significant road.
This was a first GeoHash for both of us. SkinWalker is an avid GeoCacher and I have dabbled with them too, so while the concept is familiar, in GeoCaching it is presumed that at least one person has successfully reached the location (to place and log the cache) - not necessarily so with GeoHashing.
From the maps and aerial photography, it looked like there were two possible approaches to reach our target destination. Both involved dirt roads and a short hike, but the route from the east seemed to consist of more paved roads and better looking dirt roads, so that was the route we chose. It seemed the correct choice and we were able to make good time on the packed dirt roads heading north. As we got closer, the actual roads didn't seem to be exactly what we were expecting, but we kept going, trusting the GPS. We were very close; less than a mile south of the coordinates and no way to drive north. We were considering parking there to walk the last bit when a man came up behind us on a 4-wheeled ATV. Apparently we were on private property, though neither of us had seen a sign. We explained what we were doing, apologized, and decided it wasn't too late to try to get in from the other possible route.
So, south, west, and north again we traveled; about ten miles, the northbound leg this time a bit rougher over gravel interupted by frequent small washes. Eventually we were once more within a couple miles or so of the coordinates. This time we headed eastward. This road, if you could call it that, was even rougher, better suited for horses (as evidenced by the occasional "road apple") and 4-wheel-drive vehicles, but we pressed onward. We even passed an abandoned boat (?!) The eastbound trail eventually came to an end at a significantly better north-south gravel road. GPS said it was about a half-mile east and slightly south, so we turned south, and quickly found another east-bound road, though it was too rough for us to go any farther than to park the truck. We hiked the last half-mile east, maybe a quarter mile on what was supposed to be a road, and then through washes an across rock enjoying the desert terrain and the poppies and other wildflowers which were in bloom.
We reached the actual coordinates, in a rather bland clearing, took some photos, and, as nobody else was there, and what with our false start and long detour we were an hour late, we turned back, having enjoyed the adventure and proud of ourselves for completing it.
Possibly the most exciting part happened on the short hike back to the truck, when we encountered a Heloderma suspectum, the only venemous lizard native to the United States, commonly called a Gila Monster. This was the first time either of us had seen one close up and face to face.