With all the changes going on in the world right now, it’s been quite some time since we attended a media event. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I received the phone call from Kawasaki to attend a small media event in the Mojave Desert.
Fast forward to about a week later and it was that time. I rounded up my riding gear and packed it into my well-traveled OGIO bag, fresh with scars from falling out the back of a chase truck down in BAJA. I loaded up with my driver and made the quick ten-minute trip to the Indianapolis airport. When we arrived, I gave my driver a goodbye kiss and I was on my way to sunny California, just in time to get away from the unusual Spring snowfall the night prior.
Since I flew in a day early to be ready for the adventure ride in the morning, I had some time to kill. I made a few phone calls when I landed, fired off a text to my driver, aka my fiancée to let her know I got out to Cali alright and then I was off to get the rental car, a brand-spankin’ new Ford Bronco!
First stop, I met up with one of my mentors Bobby Klein, who is the CEO of Off the Grid Surplus, for a “bad” cup of coffee at Bad Coffee. It was the first time I have sat inside a coffee shop in about a year, so it was a nice change of pace to relax and enjoy good company.
We talked about some of the new things we both have going on including some new Off the Grid gear. They are wanting to get into the UTV market a bit more and he asked if I want to try out an Off the Grid jacket on the adventure ride with Kawasaki the next day. Of course, I took up the offer!
Once I wrapped up with Bobby, I headed over to one my favorite spots on the west coast, Huntington Beach. I was able to get a quick beach run before my two hour drive up to Palmdale, CA where I would stay for the night.
The next morning, I grabbed some hot hotel coffee from the front lobby and drove an hour and a half up to our staging spot at Ricardo Campground located in Cantil, CA. Kawasaki had breakfast waiting for us that was served up with a side of brand new 2021 Kawasaki Teryx S and Kawasaki Teryx 4 S models, which were ready to hit the trails after a quick product walk around.
New for 2021, Kawasaki released a new model of Teryx dubbed the Kawasaki Teryx S. It’s designed for those who want to take comfort and capability to the next level with new long-travel suspension, increased tread width, and longer wheelbase.
It features all-new FOX 2.0 LSC piggyback shocks that offer 10.7” of travel in front and 10” of travel in the rear. That is an increase of 2.7” in the front and 2” in the rear compared to the standard Teryx model, which is also still available for model year 2021.
Another upgrade in the suspension department, Kawasaki redesigned the front a-arms to an arched a-arm style which increases the ground clearance by 2” at max preload. With increased suspension travel and wider wheelbase, one can only expect a smoother ride which we would soon test.
Finally, it was time to hit the trail. I loaded up with snacks and a few bottles of water and hopped in the Fragment Camo Gray Kawasaki Teryx 4 S and we were off.
I could say I didn’t know what to expect, but I had an inkling that we would get into a good mix of terrain as well as some cool stops along the way– at least according to the brochure we flipped through during breakfast.
At the beginning of the trail, we wound our way through the deep sandy river washes and for a few miles until the terrain changed dramatically. All of a sudden, I felt as if we were driving on Mars! I knew then, this trail was going to put the Teryx 4 S to the test.
So many questions running through my mind while checking out the camp: How did someone build all this in the middle of nowhere? How did they get all the materials to build out here? Why this spot? Did Mr. Bickle eat all those cans of baked beans?
Some of those questions and more I would soon learn the answer to.
We arrived at our next destination, the Burro Schmidt Tunnel. As it would seem, to live out in the desert, it took an incredible amount of dedication and perseverance. And in William Henry “Burro” Schmidt’s case that and three decades of day-after-day hard labor to finish what he set out to do – which was to finish his tunnel.
Measuring just under a half-mile in distance, the tunnel was dug out mostly by hand and with the help of some explosives in the early 1900s. It is estimated that Schmidt moved 5,800 tons of material out of the tunnel by wheelbarrow and later a single rail car.
The purpose of the tunnel was to create a shortcut through the mountain to make it easier to bring in supplies for the nearby mining camps. When the tunnel was finished more than 30 years later, we can only imagine what Schmidt was thinking. Not to mention, what short four-letter words rang in the valley below hundreds of feet down as he broke through to the other side.
After admiring the astonishing life’s work of “Burro” Schmidt, we worked our way down the mountain, taking our shortcut to one of the mining operations that Burro’s tunnel may have been planning to supply back in the early 1900s.
Our final stop along the Last Chance Canyon Mine Tour was the Old Dutch Cleanser Mine. Operated from 1923 to 1947 the mine was primarily used to unearth white pumice deposits which is a mineral used for cleaning supplies. In the 24 years that the mine was in operation it is said that more than 120,000 tons of white pumice was mined with an incalculable tonnage of mineral still left after the mine closed when cheaper sources were found.
It’s hard to envision how long it would take to get out to these remote locations more than 100 years ago. Seeing all the grit and fortitude that is still on display after all these years, I feel lucky to live in the modern-day where we can get away in the comfort of a UTV.
The Kawasaki Teryx 4 S provided a great platform to get out and explore, especially in the nowadays of social distancing. It’s wider and longer wheelbase provided excellent handing out on the trail that anyone could enjoy. With a price difference of only $500 between the Teryx 4 and the Teryx 4 S, it’s clear that one could spend thousands of dollars on aftermarket a-arms and suspension to achieve the same ride that now comes straight from the factory.
The Last Chance Canyon not only served up a variety of terrain to put the Teryx 4 S to the test but it also graced us with its rich history of yesteryear that was nestled behind every corner.
Stay tuned for more adventure rides just like this in the near future!
Learn more about the 2021 Kawasaki Teryx 4 S and Teryx S at the links below:
SENIOR EDITOR / FOUNDER OF UTV MAG
Jeff has been in the off-road industry over half his life. First starting by riding with his friends on the weekends, to working in a powersports dealership, racing, and then eventually working for multiple publications and now founding his own industry publications including UTV MAG.com and WatercraftMAG.com. He also is the CEO of an omni-channel marketing comany LEA Development.