The Mojave Road – Day 4: Afton Canyon To Camp Cady

We woke up early (like 5am) in the Afton Canyon Campground, packed up our gear, made sure to check all our tire pressures and get them all situated (lowered the fronts to 12psi and the rears to 15) and then hit the road before 7am to beat as much of the heat as we could. From what we had read the going to Camp Cady would be much of the same sort of “trail” that we had endured and conquered the last couple of days, mainly deep sand riverbeds. Once we drove out of the campground and up the hill past the group campground we headed back down the other side of the hill, through an open gate and into the Mojave River wash. The BLM (Bureau Of Land Management) posts “BLM Open Route” signs along the riverbed in the direction they want people like us to travel and they change them up seasonally. This is to protect riparian zones that take a battering every winter and don’t need the extra stress of off-road vehicles grinding them into submission.

In numerous places the “trail” ended in new plant growth or rocks that had been moved by the last winter’s flash floods. We’re not complaining because we understand that the BLM is underfunded and understaffed so they cannot always get out to remote and lightly traveled areas like this in a timely fashion. So, we followed the posts when we could and did our best to stay on track, not get stuck and do no damage to the native flora in the area we were passing through. At times we had to keep our RPMs up so as not to bog down while at other spots we had to go slowly so as not to slam into large boulders or fly over mini dunes. While our Tacoma is very well constructed and smartly upgraded it is not made for desert racing and so several times we had to choose the lesser of two evils: go slow and get stuck or go fast and risk something breaking. As always we chose the “don’t-get-stuck-and-have-to-shovel” option and were amazed at some of the air we caught flying over bumps and rises in the riverbed. Fun Fun.

Following the directions the Mojave Road Guide gave us we eventually turned out of the Mojave River bed and into the Manix Wash. We thought. We hoped. More Go Fast or Get Stuck in deep sand happened. We were never sure of exactly where we were until we eventually saw in the distance the top of a highline tower which was our clue that the exit from the wash was near. We turned left up and out of the wash onto a nicely maintained powerline maintenance road unsurprisingly named Power Line Road. This is the main power line carrying electricity from where it was created by the turbines and generators within Hoover Dam 150 or so miles away.

Highline tower that greeted us on our exit from Manix Wash
I Have Never Been So Relieved To See An Electrical Tower

Staying on our suggested route we saw out in the distance a VORTAC tower exactly like the one we had seen while near the old school bus site on our first day. Today though, since we had made an early start we decided we had the time to take a detour and check this one out. We soon came to a side road leading off in the direction of the installation and within a couple of miles pulled up next to the fence surrounding the Daggett VORTAC at about 6:30 in the morning.

sun blocked by VORTAC tower
The Sun Was Still Low In The Morning Sky
Willow sitting in front of the Daggett VORTAC
Worried That The Feds Were Going To Bust Her
Federal No Tresspassing Sign
We Had No Intention Of Getting Any Closer Than We Already Were

Geek curiosity satisfied we retraced our path back to the powerline road and continued on towards what would truly be our final destination on this adventure. We were looking for an old barbed wire fence as our next landmark and when it appeared over a rise along the sand road we were on we took the right.

Old Fence Line paralleling our sandy road towards Camp Cady
The Old Fence Line Marks Our Turn-Off Point

All of a quarter-mile or so later we came to a dead-end turnaround in mildly deep sand right at the Camp Cady Historical Marker at about 7am. Even at that hour it was already 90 degrees or so.

Willow sitting in the shade next to the Camp Cady Historical marker
Willow Happy To Make Use Of What Little Shade Was Available

The remains of the camp itself are several hundred yards away and we were just not up for a slog through sand right then and so this is as close as we got.

Our Tacoma next to the Camp Cady Historical Marker
The Tacoma Proving She Was There As Well

So there you have it. We survived our journey to explore the Mojave Road and had a great time doing it. Right about the time I took that picture above I remember being kind of sad that our latest adventure had come to an end. While we saw many gorgeous sights, learned a lot of history of the area and became far more competent overlanders in the process I couldn’t help but think that we missed so much and could have done so much more had we taken a longer time in the area. But, now we know that there is more to explore and will make it a point to revisit the area at our earliest convenience as should you.

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