Bronco Nation Travel Logs: Bronco Knoll

Bronc96

Rank VI

Champion I

Jul 11, 2020
1,137
2,812
2,964
Greenville, SC, USA
First Name
Chris
Last Name
Henderson
Member #

1283

I had someone elsewhere question my need to "mark [my] territory" with this cairn. I put so much thought into my response, that I wanted to share it here with all y'all as well:

I respect your opinion. I do love the outdoors, and I strongly adhere to leave no trace principles. While not an excuse to purposely destroy the land, it should be understood that Johnson Valley OHV Area is not exactly an untouched pristine wilderness. It's an open vehicle area containing dozens of mines and prospects, and criss-crossed with thousands of roads, trails, and tracks.

While I generally agree with your perspective in most cases, and I'd hate to see mounds of rocks or other markers dotting the landscape every hundred yards, there are some important locations and routes that deserve a memorial or waymarker. Already there are man-made survey monuments (usually either chiseled stone or capped metal pipe, often with rock mounds next to them) every half-mile on a 1 mile by 1 mile grid covering the vast majority of the Western US that define land ownership of private lands and the management agency boundaries of public lands, including throughout Johnson Valley. The only exceptions I know of are Spanish Land Grants that pre-existed the Public Lands Survey System, some wilderness areas, and some tribal lands (and some as-yet unsurveyed land in Alaska). Many of the monuments date back to the late 1800s. If you look around, you may see some of them there. The USGS Topo Maps show those 1 mile by 1 mile squares (known as sections), usually as red lines, and the sidelines of each one of those squares is (or at one time was) marked on the ground at the corners and midpoints (hint: if you see a '+' mark on the map, the monument was recovered by USGS surveyors in the course of their cadastral work). Where public and or private ownership boundaries follow divisions of those sections into 1/4 sections, or 1/16 sections (what your grandfather might have called the "back forty"), or even smaller divisions, there is usually a marker. There is probably a survey monument at the corners of the land your home sits on. Other monuments not on the grid lines have been installed at various locations for other uses as well, such as mining claims, benchmarks, triangulation stations (those are shown on the USGS maps as triangles), reference monuments, witness monuments, bearing trees (those are really cool to find) and a host of others. In fact there is a triangulation station about a mile and a half Northwest of Bronco Knoll that I intend to search for next time I'm out there.

If the Bureau of Land Management objects to this cairn, then I will remove it. Otherwise, I believe this spot is of significant importance to the off-roading community and merits a respectful monument. I believe this cairn to be an appropriate way to preserve Bronco history and create a challenging and rewarding destination for off-road enthusiasts.

(Also, I just happen to earn a living by marking my and your territory.)

As a side note, Johnson Valley is negatively impacted by litter. I hauled away a garbage bag full of trash that I picked up around my campsite, and I challenge every other member of this forum to do the same whenever they get a chance to enjoy our public lands.
Well said my friend. (y)
 

Rhiostatic

Rank V

Supporter I

Dec 21, 2020
106
335
1,605
Phoenixville, PA
First Name
Erik
Last Name
Johnson
Member #

2185

I had someone elsewhere question my need to "mark [my] territory" with this cairn. I put so much thought into my response, that I wanted to share it here with all y'all as well:

I respect your opinion. I do love the outdoors, and I strongly adhere to leave no trace principles. While not an excuse to purposely destroy the land, it should be understood that Johnson Valley OHV Area is not exactly an untouched pristine wilderness. It's an open vehicle area containing dozens of mines and prospects, and criss-crossed with thousands of roads, trails, and tracks.

While I generally agree with your perspective in most cases, and I'd hate to see mounds of rocks or other markers dotting the landscape every hundred yards, there are some important locations and routes that deserve a memorial or waymarker. Already there are man-made survey monuments (usually either chiseled stone or capped metal pipe, often with rock mounds next to them) every half-mile on a 1 mile by 1 mile grid covering the vast majority of the Western US that define land ownership of private lands and the management agency boundaries of public lands, including throughout Johnson Valley. The only exceptions I know of are Spanish Land Grants that pre-existed the Public Lands Survey System, some wilderness areas, and some tribal lands (and some as-yet unsurveyed land in Alaska). Many of the monuments date back to the late 1800s. If you look around, you may see some of them there. The USGS Topo Maps show those 1 mile by 1 mile squares (known as sections), usually as red lines, and the sidelines of each one of those squares is (or at one time was) marked on the ground at the corners and midpoints (hint: if you see a '+' mark on the map, the monument was recovered by USGS surveyors in the course of their cadastral work). Where public and or private ownership boundaries follow divisions of those sections into 1/4 sections, or 1/16 sections (what your grandfather might have called the "back forty"), or even smaller divisions, there is usually a marker. There is probably a survey monument at the corners of the land your home sits on. Other monuments not on the grid lines have been installed at various locations for other uses as well, such as mining claims, benchmarks, triangulation stations (those are shown on the USGS maps as triangles), reference monuments, witness monuments, bearing trees (those are really cool to find) and a host of others. In fact there is a triangulation station about a mile and a half Northwest of Bronco Knoll that I intend to search for next time I'm out there.

If the Bureau of Land Management objects to this cairn, then I will remove it. Otherwise, I believe this spot is of significant importance to the off-roading community and merits a respectful monument. I believe this cairn to be an appropriate way to preserve Bronco history and create a challenging and rewarding destination for off-road enthusiasts.

(Also, I just happen to earn a living by marking my and your territory.)

As a side note, Johnson Valley is negatively impacted by litter. I hauled away a garbage bag full of trash that I picked up around my campsite, and I challenge every other member of this forum to do the same whenever they get a chance to enjoy our public lands.
I did not read the thread you mention, however, some people love to argue and others are just flat out jealous of not being first. I would not put any more thought to this as your argument is sound in my opinion. IF the BLM asks you to take it down well whatever it was fun while it lasted. I still think that cairn should get bigger with rocks from around the country brought by the Bronco family of off-roaders visiting The Knoll (unless its ecologically unsound). Said rocks I think should have the GPS coordinates from the visitors area.
 

Slownstddy

Rank VI

Champion I

Oct 7, 2020
553
1,158
2,964
Riddleton, TN, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Taylor
Member #

1508

I did not read the thread you mention, however, some people love to argue and others are just flat out jealous of not being first. I would not put any more thought to this as your argument is sound in my opinion. IF the BLM asks you to take it down well whatever it was fun while it lasted. I still think that cairn should get bigger with rocks from around the country brought by the Bronco family of off-roaders visiting The Knoll (unless its ecologically unsound). Said rocks I think should have the GPS coordinates from the visitors area.
I think this is a great Idea. That would be really cool to look up the location someone else feels we can all benefit from seeing. Great suggestion and I'll second it.
 

srick76

Rank V

Supporter III

Jun 11, 2020
202
488
2,104
Butler, NJ, USA
Member #

1169

Thanks @David for writing up the article. That was great! I've got a little bit more to share about this adventure:

I was accompanied on this trip by my wife and our 16 year old son. We tent camped in an area known as Lucerne Valley Camp, near Cougar Buttes. Desert camping in December/January is no joke, and we would have suffered a great deal without the help of a tent heater. This is a popular destination on weekends and holidays, and this being both there were at least 1000 RVs/trailers within a mile of us. Still, we were lucky enough to find a relatively secluded alcove between some sandstone hills a couple hundred yards from anyone else. Many of our neighbors apparently invested a lot of money in fireworks to celebrate the new year. Here's a brief sample:
That was around 7:30pm on New Year's Eve. It went on for hours.

Our campsite was about 5 miles West-SouthWest of Bronco Knoll. The morning of January 1st we packed some water and snacks and started heading across the desert, avoiding any main roads, sticking instead to narrow tracks through the wilderness. We eventually made our way to Transmission Line Road, just South of Bronco Knoll, and began our climb up the South face of the hill.
This slope (Route #1 on the maps below) proved to be impassable for us, given the steepness of the slope (a 300-400 foot stretch of 35% + grades), loose rocks, and the fact that I had kept highway pressure in the tires (this was done as a precautionary measure; since we had no companion vehicles, I wanted to make sure we didn't get into any place that we couldn't get out of, and airing down would be our emergency escape plan).
View attachment 7077
View attachment 7078

I had planned an alternate route (#2) for our descent, so instead we went around to the East side of the hill and ascended that way. This trail was a little less steep (max 30%), but there were a few small rock ledges to be negotiated. On one of the ledges I took a hard hit on the passenger side tube step bumper (aka nerf bar). I didn't have a lot of confidence in the tube step's ability to take any punishment from the rocks, so I was pleasantly surprised when it held firm with just a surface scratch:
View attachment 7075

Here's our final ascent to the ridge, coming from the North on Route #2:

After that it was a simple traverse across the Ridge Trail to the peak of Bronco Knoll:

After reaching the top we zeroed in on the coordinates, took a look around at the amazing views, and erected the cairn.
View attachment 7076

Since we had ascended Route #2, I wanted to try going down Route #3 for variety, but this trail also proved to be more difficult than expected due to one narrow rocky section that looked more suitable for an atv than a full-size Bronco. It may be possible to negotiate this obstacle, or find another way around, but I wasn't comfortable attempting it alone, so we turned around and headed back the way we had come. The rest of the day was a relatively mild trip along some old mining roads, and then back to town for gas and provisions (someone forgot to pack the bread for the sandwiches :cautious:).

The next morning we took a quick detour to go see the rather underwhelming "Skull Rock of Johnson Valley":
View attachment 7079
Next we cruised across the open desert in search of some more challenging terrain. At times we were following nothing more than motorcycles tracks through the sand and brush, and at other times narrow trails through canyons and over small hills. We eventually made our way to the "Shaft Canyon" and "Cross-Mountain Route" trails near the end of Green Rock Mine Road. I knew that Shaft Canyon was much to difficult to attempt, but I hoped to be able to take the more moderate Cross-Mountain Route over the pass and on to the Rock Pile area (another popular camping spot). Despite some very steep hills, ravines, and loose rocks, we made good progress most of the way through the trail. About 1/2 mile into the 1.5 mile trail, I encountered a very difficult obstacle: an S turn up a short, very steep climb with large jagged rocks at the top. With my small stock tires, sway bar connected, and no lift, I had trouble negotiating the rocks and found myself teetering on two wheels a couple of times. I came down hard on the driver side tube step, which turned out to be less sturdy than the one on the passenger side. Apparently some rust had begun eating it away from the inside, and it collapsed like tinfoil, and cracked at the rear mount. Here are some pictures of the damage (don't worry, the rocker panel already had that rusty hole):
View attachment 7080
View attachment 7081
View attachment 7082
Despite all that, I was able to make it over the rock and another 1/2 mile up the trail. At that point we paused to watch an atv rider coming down another extremely steep (35%-40% for +/-700 feet) rocky slope. When the atv took a tumble, we decided it was time for us to turn around and head back the way we had come. Unfortunately, the same rock that had laid waste to my tube step was not done with me. On the descent, it snagged the corner of the rear bumper, nearly wrenching it from the frame.
Here's the result:
View attachment 7083
View attachment 7084
Now I've got a bit of work to do to straighten that out (and trim it) before heading back to Johnson Valley for the King of the Hammers in a few weeks.

Despite a little minor damage, the Bronco ran extremely well and held it's own. We had a wonderful time, and can't wait to go back!

"Now you know ... the rest of the story. Good Day!"
"the bumper! the bumper! the bumper!" said wife..This was by far one of the best things I've read on the Nation or 6G. Thank you for posting. Great to read something positive and just a good wheeling story instead of complaining about missed deadlines.
 

TorgSurv

Rank VI
Moderator

Champion II

Jul 13, 2020
814
2,424
3,501
Moab, Ut
First Name
Blake
Last Name
Torgersen
Member #

185

"the bumper! the bumper! the bumper!"
We've replayed that so many times after we got home! Hilarious!! Hard to tell from the video, but at that point I was nose down, teetering on two wheels, with no way to back up, and just had to go for it. I was way more worried about the body leaning to the right and putting a giant boulder shaped dent in the passenger door. I was lucky to escape without body damage.