Kofa Range Exploratory
By: Ron Jones
Wednesday night before Thanksgiving there was heavy rain in Los Angeles and this shrunk our Thanksgiving trip to 12 dedicated individuals. We met Thursday morning in dry weather about 8 miles south of Quartzsite, AZ at the posted Crystal Hill Road leading east into the Kofa Game Refuge. Good overnight camping is available several miles west of Highway 95 on an extension of the C.H. Road.
Our first goal was to drive into the Kofa Game Refuge on the MST&T Tower road. The highway entrance from 95 is marked by a small Game Refuge sign about 11 miles south of Quartzsite. Many roads in the Refuge are suitable for carefully driven passenger cars and certainly to any high clearance vehicle, like a VW van. We drove into the refuge about 9 miles toward Budweiser Spring and beneath skies which were clouding up quickly climbed a 3500ft highpoint nearby which gave us spectacular views of the north side of Signal Peak (aka Kofa Mtn). On our return to the cars we stretched awnings to shelter us from the wind and showers, and lit up Dave Lundstedt's propane space heater. Betsy prepared hot turkey soup to warm us and we proceeded to enjoy a couple of turkeys, stuffing with all the trimmings, several pumpkin pies and other satisfying goodies.
The next morning Maris, Anna and her niece Carol had to drive back to Needles to replace the fuel pump in their Toyota, three others decided to return to L.A., while Jerry & Nancy Keating and Jon & Betsy Lutz joined Leora and I on a class 3 backroad exploratory of the beautiful lava buttes and ribs of this part of the range in our VW vans. From here we drove south again on Highway 95 to the Stone Cabin and took the excellent dirt road leading east and north to the original King OF Arizona gold mine for which the area was named in the 1870's. We camped at the long-abandoned town site of Polaris just outside the North Star mine. Blustery weather came up again, we stretched the tarps, Maris, Anna and Carol returned and we ate more turkey and satisfying goodies.
Saturday Maris walked into the North Star mining area to liberate a few artifacts when he was met by the caretaker, brandishing Nancy, his loaded revolver, and accompanied by his 100-pound Shepherd-Collie mixed dog appropriately named "Mugger". Maris & Leora sweet-talked them into docility and he later told us the history of the area, about the old trail up Kofa Butte and the bachelor's life in the area. The weather was still unpredictable so we aborted our climb for the day. Jon & Betsy set off to San Diego County so Jon could climb Jacumba Mtn, his next-to-last on the DPS list while Maris, Anna, Leora & I visited the Blythe Geoglyphs and spent the night in the Valkass home in Joshua Tree. Later we learned that Jon didn't get Jacumba because his car slid off the dirt road approach and they had a 12-mile walk out to the service station instead.
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