Stuck at the Salton Sea

Could it possibly be? Yes, an Overland Journal staff vehicle stuck!

We were buried up to the axles in the dunes along the southwest coast of the Salton Sea in California.

We were fully equipped with an air compressor, a set of Trailhead deflators and a set of Staun deflators, three tire gauges and a full supply of “too lazy to air down”. Well, it serves me right and I was duly awarded with the pleasure of digging sand out with my hands for twenty minutes, I need to get one of those little folding shovels as a piece of my always-in-the-vehicle kit.

We had decided to not stop and air down at the beginning because we didn’t want to take the time to air back up later; this was just a quick detour from our highway route – good thinking. The unmaintained paved road quickly turned into sand where it had been reclaimed by the desert. Amy (my wife, co-driver and navigator extraordinaire) drove us all the way in over the dunes, at street pressure, with hardly a wheel spin. I’m not sure how I wound up in the driver’s seat on the way back out but It certainly didn’t get us far.

The goal of our little side trip was to see the Salton Sea up close. Driving from Phoenix Arizona to Oceanside California we had no intent of doing any exploration off of the paved road system, but I guess we inherently gravitate to the trail. Having never heard of the Salton Sea we just had to investigate after seeing it on the map.

Further research has informed me that the Salton Sea has an impressive and diverse history. Originally formed from the Colorado River, overflow into the Salton Basin area has created several lakes over thousands of years. The Salton Sea was formed in 1905 after irrigation canals from the Colorado River failed and the flood waters created what is now California’s largest inland body of water.

It has been home to several species of birds such as the American white pelican, a productive breeding ground for a variety of fish and a secret testing ground for the Atomic Bomb, using dummy bombs dropped from B-29s. Its shores have hosted several residential communities, a yacht club, and the famous “Slab City”. A well documented history can be found at the Salton Sea Authority website

It was the remnants of one of these developments that provided an anchor for our recovery. In the middle of the dunes with no trees and no sand anchor at hand we were thankful for the line of old evenly spaced telephone poles. Without them we would have had to keep digging or accept help from a very kind gentleman in a rock-buggy Jeep who admitted to really only wanting a picture of his Jeep recovering a Land Rover. Still, we appreciated the offer.

After an hour of playing in the sand and watching Daddy break a sweat our junior expedition leader Max gave the extraction his full approval, climbed into his seat, asked for a juice box and giggled!

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