Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bickel Camp in the Mojave Desert

The same weekend of Gem-O-Rama, we did some exploring of BLM land in the Mojave Desert. We stopped in at Bickel Camp. As told to me by the current Bickel Camp caretaker, the camp was claimed in 1934 by Walt Bickel and has been lived in continuously since then. The non-profit organization, The Friends of Last Chance Canyon, preserves Bickel Camp as a monument to Depression Era gold miners.

Walt Bickel suffered a stroke in 1987 and moved to a nursing home in nearby Ridgecrest. His camp was preserved the way he left it. He died in 1996.

The caretaker, Mark Aslin, lives alongside Walt Bickel's main camp in newer trailers with his special lady friend and two good dogs. The full time caretaker helps keep Bickel Camp in tact. A nearby camp that belonged to Burro Schmidt has been completely decimated by looters.

Mark Aslin grew up in the area and says he used to explore the hills and knew a lot of the old time prospectors.

Pudgy, one of the good dogs. Blind as a bat, sweet as candy.

Walt Bickel's main cabin.

The shade on the outdoor patio was rebuilt in 2006. I imagine how great it must be to sit there when the sun finally sets and watch the fantastic show.

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