Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Butt Rock

During Christmas break I got to go to the happiest place on earth. No I'm not talking about Disneyland, I'm talking about Butt Rock. For anyone scratching their head wondering where Butt Rock is you can click on the location at the bottom of this blog. Butt Rock is quite literally in the middle of nowhere by CoxComb Peak, 45 miles from Twentynine Palms, CA and about the same distance from Parker (Lake Havasu). It's so isolated from everything that gun shots from even the smallest guns will hurt your hears and you can hear a diesel coming from a couple miles away.

I started going camping at Butt Rock when I was in Boy Scouts. This was always without question our favorite campsite. When my latest pictures hit facebook four people were talking about past memories and asking for GPS coordinates, which I happened to get on this trip. When it was time to go to Butt Rock we always had the biggest group even though it's 145 miles from Riverside and our other campsites were only 1/3 as far. People that rarely went camping always showed up for Butt Rock. It was the best spot to play capture the flag or hide n seek due to all the hiding spots in the rocks and we could also look for quartz crystals, climb rocks, explore rock caves,  etc.

In the late 90's our government, in their infinite wisdom, decided to close off the dirt road leading to Butt Rock. They put a bunch of stakes in the ground but no sign. From what I heard it was to protect the desert tortoise but it only made the problem worse since people would now make their own roads to get in and destroy the desert even more. I had never seen a tortoise out there before but after the road was closed I found two tortoise shells, notice I said shells not and tortoises. Now in the days of the internet I have learned that Butt Rock is inside the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park, 50 miles from any entrance but nevertheless still in the park. Maybe this is the reason they closed it to offroading. The north side of the highway is BLM and the south side is national park. No matter what the reasoning it I think it was a poor decision to close the road. Our government doesn't think things through too well. It would be better to just ticket those who stray from the dirt road and act stupid.

Anyways in 2002 Brent and I decided to go camping at Butt Rock for my birthday just to find the road closed. So we drove a couple miles down highway 62 and this is where I found my new campsite, one they are trying to close off now. They keep moving the signs closer and closer to the highway. My new campsite is good because you can pull off the road into a cove where you're not seen from the road and there's about 1/3 mile open clearance to shoot towards the mountains.

So for the next few years we would camp at this spot and blow stuff up and then go over to Butt Rock afterwards to do our exploring. When I say blow stuff up I really mean blow stuff up. My friend Nathan taught me that if you pour a gas ring around a can of starting fluid, light it on fire and shoot the starting fluid you get a nice mushroom cloud. We would shoot watermelons, those small green propane tanks which would fly up to 200 feet up and come down frozen, cans, eggs, old computers and computer peripherals, monitors, and just about anything else you can think of. One time we even bought a console tv at a thrift store and blew it up then torched it. It was so much more fun out there than a shooting range because there were no rules.

I went out there one weekend with my cousin Sam and we camped in 110+ heat. It was miserable, but a lot of fun at the same time. At night it was hot, raining, and thundering so we had to sleep in the back of my truck with the top deck down. One of these days we were hiking and I found a tortoise shell. I went to put it on a rock to take a picture and heard a rattlesnake. I looked down and it was right at my feet. Luckily it took off. I was wearing shorts, it was hot, and we had a two mile hike to my truck and 65 mile drive into town. A snake bite would not have been a good thing.

In March 2004 I got a group together and we went hiking at Butt Rock the weekend before I had my fusion on my back. I couldn't find a better place to be the weekend before going under the knife.

In March of 2005 I went out there with Sam and my other cousin William after the 100 year rain. Normally they get just a couple inches of rain a year out there. This year they had gotten in the double digits. There was so much rain in California that year that people were going to Death Valley to see a flower that hadn't bloomed in 100 years. I remember for 20 miles there was nothing but desert flowers everywhere. The hills and even the rocks were green and at my camping spot where it was a desert waste land a few months earlier it was completely transformed and green. There was so much rain that it stayed green for a couple years after that and for a few years there was an explosion of pocket mice. I had never seen a pocket mouse before the rain and I think they've mostly all died off because I haven't seen any on the last two trips. But for a while they were everywhere.

In May I went out there with Sam and my neighbor two days before going under the knife again for hardware removal. My neighbor managed to get himself a rattlesnake at 2 in the morning in a dried up creek bed. Well he found it and all three of us unloaded on the thing. The next morning I saw my ammo box and thought of the rattlesnake head in it. I blanked out for a second and forgot about it and picked up the ammo box and asked what happened to the snake. Opened box and jumped. Haha. After breakfast and showing my Marine neighbor how to shoot we planned to hike all day. Instead we spent the entire day trying to dig my neighbor's Jeep out. He tried to drive in with bald tires and a dirt bike on the back of his Jeep. After the 100 year rains the roads were under 2 feet of sand and it wasn't hard to get stuck. It was pushing 110 that day and we spent 11 hours trying to get him out. We had to drive all the way to Twentynine Palms in my truck, get plywood and shovels, and were still unable to get him out because his tires were so bald. Knuckle head! I had gotten myself stuck a couple times but managed to get my ranger out. I got so scared of getting stuck again at one point that I just floored it and even when I lost the road I just kept going over bushes and all. I got to the highway and heard a scratching noise. I thought I broke my truck, it was a bush getting dragged underneath my truck. He ended up having to have a friend come back with a bigger truck to get him out.

In the fall of 2005, I went out there with my friend "The Other Joe" and I got a few tickets for all the fun I had. I got a call the Monday after we went camping and it was an agent with Bureau Of Land Management asking if I had been camping out there. I guess he found an AOL cd that survived the shooting and it had my address on it. I'm honest and told him it was me out there and everything I did. I got some pretty hefty fines and was told I can shoot there but keep my fires under control and clean up my mess. I left some stuff I blew up with the intention of going back the next week to shoot it up more and then clean it up. I had no idea they patrolled out there and after my fines I wasn't able to go back the next week.

Shortly after that I moved to Florida but I still managed to get in one more trip while living across the country. In 2007 I got a group of people including Brent and Joe and we went out there to go shooting. It was Natalie's first time ever shooting a gun (my Smith & Wesson .38 special) and she actually hit the can on the first shot. After shooting we had an epic hike around Butt Rock and we laughed the whole way home hearing The Other Joe's mission stories. This was the last trip I had to Butt Rock until last month. 

So a couple days after Christmas of 2012 my Dad, Jeff, Jeremy, and I went camping at my spot down the road from Butt Rock. When we got there it was bitterly cold. Nothing a good bonfire couldn't fix though. I snuck up to the top of the hill behind our camp ground and got a few night shots with my camera while my foil dinner cooked. I could have got some better pictures but didn't have my tripod so I had to rest my camera on rocks. After taking some pictures we ate dinner, had a fire, fired off a few guns shots, then crashed out. In the morning Ryan decided to join us. He wasn't able to make it the night before but my last minute directions were good enough for him to find us.

We had breakfast, did some shooting, and then busted out our Christmas presents. We all got paintball guns for Christmas. For a good hour and a half we just ran around shooting each other. Somehow Jeremy managed to shoot me right under the bottom of my mask in the jaw. After a little paint balling we packed it up and hiked to Butt Rock.

A night shot of my camping spot

A decent fire but I've had bigger ones.
After shooting and paintballing. Walking to Butt Rock.
A truck that has been stuck out there for years. During the 100 year flood back in 2005 the front end started sinking. Jeff doesn't know how to pose, he was suppose to be slumped over the steering wheel.

Jeremy wanted to play in the truck too.

The infamous Butt Rock.

I found a spot loaded with crystals like the ones below.

Here are some really old pictures I found from my camping trips in the desert, kind of in mixed order. Just picked out some of my favorites. I browsed through 100s of them and this is what made the cut.

After the 100 year flood. There's a picture below showing when it's all dead.
Our explosion was big enough to turn sand into glass.
Some barrel cactus.

There's a big Chuckawalla on the rock. The get in between the rocks and puff up with air so you can't pull them out.
Back in 2003
This was from the trip when I got in trouble. We tied up a terrorist bear, shot him and torched him.

Sam and I made it pretty far back into the hills considering the blistering heat.

2003 or 2004
The tortoise shell I found. This is right after I almost stepped on the rattlesnake.
A watermelon exploding after I hit it with my 12 gauge shotgun.
Nathan making stuff explode.
March 2004. I think it's a small barrel cactus.
2003. The day we were hiking in the heat.

Sam always cracks me up. This guy can reach around and pull his shoulder blade so we setup this picture.

The day we found our new camping spot. 2002. See how brown and dead it gets....

Natalie's first time shooting.
2007. Brent is on the left.
Butt Rock

2003. This was right after almost stepping on that snake. We were looking for it. It got under a big rock and was never seen again.