High Desert Small Atlas

Cajon Pass/Victor Valley Roads

Working copy – not all roads included

1 – Old Spanish Trail/Indian trail (1827)
2 – Cajon Pass (Lower) – Indian trail
3 – Lone Pine Canyon – Indian trail
4 – Sheep Creek – Indian trail
5 – Sanford Pass (c.1854-57)
6 – Fort Tejon – Indian trail
7 – to Mojave River – Indian trail
8 – to Daggett (c.1855)
9 – Lucerne/Cushenbury Lumber road
10 – Van Dusen/Holcomb Valley Road – (1862)
11 – Mojave Indian trail (c.1776, 1826)

The Legend of ‘Three-fingered’ Bob

A Mystery of the Mojave – Men on the Mesa:

‘Three-fingered’ Bob lay dying on the saloon floor in the mud and the blood and the beer. He was an old man for his time–34 years old to be exact. Quite old for a varmint and bank robber like him up here on the mesa.

They called him ‘Three-fingered’ Bob because, of course, his name was Bob. He liked that. He was playing cards one night and lost a bet. He lost his finger to a dull knife for a marker on his debt. Six days later he paid his debt and his finger was returned to him, but it was too late to reattach. Bob didn’t learn his lesson.

The next week he lost a finger on the other hand–another bet he couldn’t cover. He paid his gambling debt sooner this time, after only one day–but it was too late to sew the finger back on.

Within days it happened once more. Bob was now down to two fingers remaining on one hand and three on the other. Three fingers, on the one hand, wasn’t why they called him ‘Three-fingered’ Bob. He was called ‘Three-fingered’ Bob because he kept his three dried-up fingers in a little bag tied to his belt.

I never did find out what happened to ‘Three-fingered’ Bob, why he was dying, and why the mud and the blood and the beer were all over the floor. Because by the time I finished telling you his story he died and the coroner came and took his corpse away.

“What did kill ‘Three-fingered Bob?” you may ask. This, no one knows that I know of. In fact, we may never know as this is, . . . A Mystery of the Mojave ~

Now’s a Perfect Time to Hike to Mt. Wilson

Late winter through spring is a really good time to hike up to Mt. Wilson. Even as Chantry Flat in the Big Santa Anita Canyon continues to heal from the Bobcat Fire of 2020, don’t feel like there’s no good way up to Mt. Wilson. If you’ve never done it, hiking up the Old Mount Wilson Trail from scenic Sierra Madre, is not a bad way to go. The canyon you’ll travel through on your way up toward Manzanita Ridge is known as the Little Santa Anita Canyon. This is the original way up to “Wilson’s Peak”, named after Don Benito Wilson. The trail dates back to the 1860’s

A view of Mt. Baldy from Manzanita Ridge.

Manzanita Ridge, sections of it quite true to its’ name, makes up the watershed divide between the Winter Creek (to the north) and Little Santa Anita Canyon on the south. Following the ridge line up toward the Old Mount Wilson Toll Road, views out into the High Country of the San Gabriels abound. Once up on the Toll Road, you’ll continue to walk along refrigerator-sized boulders that have dropped off the near vertical slopes of Mt. Harvard.

Once you reach Martin’s Saddle, the site of a once popular trail resort of the late 19th Century, views out toward the west are to be had. You’re now contouring the slopes of Upper Eaton Canyon, a beautifully rugged wilderness in its’ own right. Looking out across the steep and deep tributary canyons, there is from left to right, Mt. Lowe, Mt. Markham (flat-topped) and San Gabriel Peak. When the air is clear, this scene is spectacular.

Boulders dot the old Toll Road along the slopes of Mt. Harvard.
Boulders accumulate on the Mt. Wilson Toll Road in the aftermath of winter storms.
A view across Upper Eaton Canyon

Once up at the top, I found a picnic bench in the open air pavilion and soaked in the sunlight for sometime before heading back down. The Pacific reflected back at me like an amber platter just to the north of the Palos Verdes peninsula. What a beautiful place to be hiking. what a beautiful place to be alive.

The Rat Trap

An old tale retold . . .

Rats will eat whatever rats eat because that is what rats were designed to do. Rats, regardless of what they eat all like and unanimously agree that they prefer cheese over any other rat food.

photos of ranches in the Mojave Desert

There was a hungry rat on a ranch peeking through a crack in the wall watching the rancher and his wife open a package. The ranch rat was hoping it was cheese in the package. “If not cheese,” he wondered, “what food might it contain?” He was aghast and horrified to discover that it was a rat trap. This confounded contraption could be the device of his demise.

Panicking the rat ran to the barnyard the rat hysterically shouting the warning;

“There’s a rat trap in the ranch house, a rat trap in the ranch house!”But no one seemed to care.

He ran to the chicken coop. The chicken, the largest one, clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Pfffttt . . . Excuse me, Mr. Rat, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it. I do not care. Please, step away.”

The rat then ran to the pigpen. Addressing the fat pig he said, “There’s a rat trap in the ranch house, a rat trap in the house!” “Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo Mr. Rat,” scolded the hog, “Toughen up. We all die someday. Be assured that you are in my thoughts and prayers.”

The rat turned to the cow and repeated his warning. She said, “Like wow, Mr. Rat, a rat trap. Excuse me, but isn’t that just your little problem? Please go away, your whining offends me.”

So the rat thought, “stupid cow, stupid, stupid cow,” and returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the rancher’s rat trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, very much like the sound of a rat trap trapping its prey. The rancher’s wife ran into the room to see what the trap caught. In the darkness, she didn’t see that it was a rattlesnake that had been caught. The snake was very angry. Very, very angry. The snake’s rattle was caught in the trap. The snake bit the farmer’s wife.

The rancher tried to suck the venom out of the bite. It didn’t work–She got worse. The rancher rushed his wife to the hospital. They couldn’t do anything for her. It had been too long since she was struck. She returned home with a fever.

Back then in the old days, everyone treated a fever with fresh chicken soup, and to do that you had to have a fresh chicken so the rancher took his hatchet to the chicken coop for the chicken soup’s main ingredient. It pretty much would have been a bloody frenzy but the rancher just took out the largest one and the survivors all moved up a notch in the pecking order. Dumb cluck.

The rancher’s wife’s condition continued to worsen. She was delirious and spoke in tongues. Her arms and legs were lashed to the bedposts. Friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. The rancher had to feed them.

The rancher went out and butchered the arrogant pig that told the rat, “boo-hoo-hoo-hoo.” The hog made a delicious pork chop dinner for all and tasty bacon for a breakfast with the last couple of eggs laid by the chicken.

The rancher’s wife did not get well. She was in great pain. The pain was excruciating. She had hallucinations. She died hard. Slowly.

Many people came to her funeral. There was wailing and moaning and crying and pulling hair and throwing dirt. Folks were hungry after all that mourning and stuff. So the rancher ordered the emotionally distant cow to be slaughtered and cooked for dinner and a barbecue the next day.

The meat was tender and well-streaked and marbled with fat in all the right places. Everyone was going on and on. “Melt in your mouth,” some had said.

The Moral is:

The next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a rat trap in the ranch house, the entire ranch is at risk.

Just Kidding:

This story has no moral. There are no winners here. No one is going to change. This has been pointless.

The rat lived through it all but died of food poisoning from a bad casserole left behind when the widowed rancher left the ranch with his new girlfriend . . .

The end.