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Helmet Rock Loop
Goldfield Mountains
November 11, 2017
by Ted Tenny
Ted’s   GPS Map 
Tamar’s    GPS Map 
Trailblazers at Helmet Rock.
Tamar, Lance, Wayne, Joe, K.G., Carol, Tom, Dana, Lil, Andy, Quy, Ted

A dozen daring Trailblazers set out from Willow Springs Trailhead at 8:45 on a morning that was nice and cool. We followed the road for a while, then I decided to take the historic bushwhack route from the road on up to Prevention Gap, and from there over to Helmet Rock. The bushwhack to Prevention Gap was rougher than I remembered. Some game trails helped.

Three gold mines are not far from Gonzales Needle. [photo by Quy]
The mine road has been converted to a trail. [photo by Joe]
Is anybody home?
I took a likin’ to the lichens.
Christmas cactus. [photo by Quy]
Side canyon is also a hiking route. [photo by Joe]
Bushwhacking up to Prevention Gap. [photo by Joe]
At Prevention Gap, a rancher’s fence and a new horse trail. [photo by Joe]
Bushwhacking over to Helmet Rock.

Helmet Rock has some of the most spectacular rock formations in the Goldfields, or anywhere! We took group pictures, then made our way down to the horse trail that parallels a stream. The trail is marked with cairns here and there.

By then, the day had gotten warmer than it should be this time of year. After discussing the situation with Andy, we decided to skip Wishbone Junction this time and just finish the hike the way it had been scouted by four of us. An easy bushwhack ensued, taking us up to a rock formation from which we could see a horse trail. It’s a good way down to Forest Road 12.

Helmet Rock (foreground) and the Golden Dome (background).
Andy, on the precipice. [photo by Tom]
Lil, with Lance in the background. [photo by Tom]
Wayne, climbing the rocks. [photo by Joe]
Yes, Helmet Rock can be climbed. [photo by Joe]
We found a horse trail going the right way.
Small stuff is scenery, too.
creek creek
Slickrock along the creek. [photos by Tom]
Becky’s monolith is a different color from the surrounding rocks. [photo by Quy]
Hmmm, this looks like a trail to me. [photo by Joe]
Volcanic colors of the Goldfields. [photo by Quy]
Horse trail leads down to the Forest Service road. [photo by Quy]
Saguaro points to the Razorback, from the horse trail.

I appointed Andy as deputy leader, because he’s been here before.

Hikers get spread out on the trail. So it was that there were three groups of us on the horse trails. The trails fork and braid, but I was there to give directions.

Then one of our hikers told me she wasn’t feeling well, and wanted to stop and rest. Good idea. But then she stopped again, and didn’t get up and go on. After some discussion we decided to leave two of us with the stricken hiker, while Andy would lead everyone else back to Willow Springs Trailhead. Joe and I stayed behind.

Special thanks to Andy for serving as deputy leader!

Lance finds a balloon. [photo by Joe]

Jim Buyens has provided an excellent Emergency Procedure which includes “Ask everyone in the group to turn on their cell phones and check for a signal. If even one person has one bar, use it to call 911.” We all checked. The only one who could get a 911 call out was me.

I called, then lost the connection. This happened several times, but finally I was able to give them all the information they needed. Then the three of us all decided to lie down in the shade, and wait. And wait. And wait.

Eventually we heard motor traffic. The sound got louder. It was three Jeeps from the Sheriff’s Office, coming our way. We walked to the Jeeps, then saw a helicopter coming. The sheriff’s deputies were there first, so they took us back to Willow Springs Trailhead.

What a hair-raising ride! Daredevil drivers on exceedingly rough roads. “Wouldn’t try this in an ordinary sedan,” I told John, my driver. But they got us back to the trailhead by 3:30.

Yes, they got back to Willow Springs Trailhead. [photo by Joe]
Alan. [photo by Joe]
Alan’s Jeep. [photo by Joe]
Deputy Bradshaw. [photo by Joe]
John. [photo by Joe]
Rick [photo by Joe]

Pvt. Charles R. Goff, 1918
Becky Johnson found the monolith on a previous hike, then I scouted the route with Becky, Andy, and Bill on February 9. Many new horse trails have been built in the eastern Goldfields. Some of them are just where they ought to be, but there’s no trail to the Helmet Rock overlook. So we bushwhacked there, as before.

November 11 is Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. An uncle of mine was a veteran of that war, drafted in 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson needed railroaders to run the locomotives he had sent to France. Charles R. Goff, 1891-1975, was working for the Frisco Railroad in Springfield, Missouri, when he was drafted.

→   More pictures, by Quy

Supplemental Report
by Tamar Gottfried

Three of us set off at a quicker pace after a break, trying to reach the trailhead before the temperature climbed further and before the water we had packed ran out. Without Ted’s knowledge and expertise, we had to use GPS tracking and guesswork to decide which path to take when the trails split.

We actually made the wrong choice at a couple crossroads and then noted that we were east of where we should have been. Faced with either following our “wrong” path to Highway 88 and walking back along it, or asking for a ride, or bushwhacking across the unknown, we bushwhacked. Even though we could see the cars at one point from a high vantage, we still had a bunch of climbs/ravines to cross to get to them. We followed a wash for a while, then came out and eventually walked along the road a tiny bit to avoid going in the last ravine. We were at the trailhead by 1:45.


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updated November 12, 2017