Carey's Castle Backpack


By: Evelyn Chadwell, Ron Jones


The "early birds" met a the Chiriaco Summit Cafe for breakfast. One person who ordered "just water" to drink discovered that he had been charged $0.65. When he questioned the waitress she had no problem taking it off the bill but stated that since most people order coffee she automatically put it on. After breakfast we met the group in front of the Patron Museum and then caravaned to the next exit, Hayfield Road. We parked near the water canal tunnel and began the backpack trip up the canyon into a southeast section of Joshua Tree National Monument.

We arrived in the general area of Carey's Castle in the early afternoon. We dropped our packs and began exploring. We found "the castle". After lunch we set out to find the "Welcome Stranger Mme", a short walk from the castle. The mine is a vertical mine shaft. One participant spotted a bird's nest with three white eggs in it on a small ledge below the entrance. After finding the mine we continued to explore the area. Near the end of the afternoon we came upon "the cave". This must have been Carey's secret cache. Its not too difficult to find the castle but finding "the cave" is a matter of luck. There is a register in "the castle" but no evidence that the cave has been visited. We spent a Lot of time at the cave reading the remains of many magazines from 1938 to 1940. Carey liked detective stories, general news, and had and interest in French. Among the magazines was part of a French dictionary. He must have spend his leisure hours at "the cave" since the remains of and canvas cot were at the entrance.

During our exploration it became apparent that Carey was not the first to inhabit the unusual rock formation under which he built his castle. A grinding hole was discover in a rock adjacent to the castle. In addition pictographs, more apparent the following morning, were found on the ceiling of the castle. There appeared to be several petroglyphs on the outer surface of the castle walls. We discovered numerous pottery shards throughout the area as well as several metates.

We went back to "the castle" where we set up camp and had a gourmet pot-luck including frog legs, liver pate, chocolate pudding, and hot apple pie. Dinner was followed by "target practice" to test the accuracy of the participant's ability to hit a rusty tin can artifact perched on a boulder with a stone, followed by a spirited game of "moonlight basketball", throwing a stone accurately into a coffee cup by moonlight.

Sunday morning was spent doing further exploration before returning to the cars. Throughout the weekend we enjoyed fantastic weather. Two members of the group shared their knowledge of wildflowers, plants and cactus which made the trip even more enjoyable.

The participants who joined me on my first provisional lead included Leora Jones, Ron Grau, Bruce Trotter, Dennis Fuller, Linda McDermott and James McDermott. Thanks to Ron Jones for assisting.

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