Desert Survivor Backpack
Mojave Preserve Granite Mountain
February 23-25, 2012
Bob Lyon

This has been said to be the most difficult section on the Desert Trail. It was mostly cross-country and through reed bogs and  thick grass and small brush. The 1600 foot elevation gain Budweiser Canyon ascent to the crest consisted of steep slopes, catclaw, cactus, yucca and granite slabs. There were multiple waterfalls and pools in slot canyons in Bull Canyon.

On the way to Budweiser Spring there was a bird guzzler. It is a slab of concrete with a roofed tank designed to catch rainwater and dew for wildlife. Budweiser Spring was a spring in a cave that is piped to a cattle-watering tank which was overgrown with reeds and willow.

We came upon withered buffalo gourd vines. One had 20 dry, 3-inch diameter lemon yellow gourds. When mature these gourds are foul, inedible and mildly poisonous. Large plants have massive roots that can weigh several hundred pounds. These were a food source for Native Americans.

From the crest we could see great views of Budweiser Wash and Old Dad Mountains to the south and dramatically shadowed Kelso Dunes to the north. We descended along a ridge to Bull Canyon where we made camp on soft sand near running water.

The passage through Bull Canyon was along intermittent stream that coursed over eroded rock slabs. The most difficult section was a series of waterfalls of increasingly steep rock terraces with two final slopes that are too steep to descend safely. We found a way to ascend the canyon wall with one difficult section then worked our way to the top and down the other side to the wash below. We concluded that there must be a better way to do this, which would have to wait for another trip.

Lower Bull Canyon had multiple rock narrows with pools of water requiring careful footwork to avoid wading. As we reached the bajada, Kelso Dunes progressively filled the north horizon until we reach the power line road and our ride back to our cars.