After Thanksgiving Gary and I headed out to the Vallecito Valley area for a 3 day backpack trip. Original plans that included hiking over to Canebrake changed to just poking around the Sawtooth mountain range for 3 days. That meant my truck would sit all alone waiting for nobody over in Indian Valley. After deciding on a place to leave Gary's vehicle we started out cross country thru a mixed boundary of ABDSP, BLM, County and private lands. We had no set goals other than to hike, explore and camp out for 3 days, pretty simple. We each started with about 9 liters of water thinking we would find some more at a piped spring I knew about but if it was dry we wanted enough to get us back. Temps for the trip were low 80's during the day and low 50's at night with very little wind and an almost full moon each night, pretty darn good weather I think.
Not to far into our trip we ran across an old windmill setup
I guess the KendallVille name goes back a long time in America's Windmill history
Looks like the windmill pumped water over to a trough that had a sophisticated float shutoff valve assembly
This must be the towering metal base for the water collection
Here is a great view into Storm Canyon
Vallecito Valley has many water troughs left over from early cattle ranching days and we found several of them. Here is another dried up trough out in the middle of nowhere
Unfortunately Mylar Balloons do not seem to escape our remote wilderness trek
The Sawtooth Mountains at sunset
Are you a Yoni "believer"?
Gary and I had some plans but as we headed out they seemed to slowly fade and we ended up just drifting thru the valley and exploring the landscape and boulder outcrops as the sun slowly began to set. The moon was shining bright enough to allow us to hike during the early evening without lights so we took advantage of that moonlight and hiked several more miles under the moonlit desert skies until we reached a good place to camp near the base of the Laguna Mountains.
Here is our moonlit camp on day 1, this is a long 5 minute exposure. Beautiful weather and campsite
Early morning sunrise with Monument Peak towering in the background
Even though we both brought 9 liters of water for the trip we had counted on getting some water from an old piped spring out in the valley. I knew the last time I was there it had plenty of water and we were counting on it being wet this trip also. Turns out the pipe had a hole in it a few hundred yards up from the collection trough. The spigot was only dripping when we got there and the trough was only inches full, just enough to support pond scum life
Gary found the hole and with some old left over repair debris we found and an old beer can we managed to get it back flowing at full capacity.
Here is the hole pre-repair
Here is the hole post-repair
Now the water flow is good and we get a few liters of water to start the day with
Damn, boulders everywhere!!
Here is an old water trough that has dried up
And the valley seems to have miles of water lines that have dried up and broken over the years but have largely been forgotten by now
The tranquil day is coming to an end and we look for a place to camp out for the second night of our trip. The middle of the valley is as good of a place as any and Gary schools me on how to "rough" up a soft spot for the night. With the moon still bright we took a short hike up a small finger towards Moument Peak looking for a spring we did not find but it was like the first night, a very restful and enjoyable evening out in the wilderness. The coyotes serenaded us in the early morning hours.
On our 3rd day out we stumbled across what we called "chair cave", gotta love those old timers....
We decided a shade break was needed
Well since we were exploring we found a few cultural artifacts and some rock art along the way
A small arrowhead point
A metate fragment
And some historic artifacts, maybe this is a hand forged knife blade??
A Good 'ol boy horseshoe with square nails and all
Oh wait, almost forgot the most significant artifact
I guess even Dora Explores the Desert
Total Mylar Balloon Count - 11 (Not all pictured)
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Monday, December 3, 2012
I was fortunate enough to be invited to go tour Little Petroglyph Canyon (AKA Renegade Canyon) this last weekend. Little Petroglyph Canyon has the largest known concentration of petroglyphs in the western hemisphere and is located on the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Base. You can only visit this site with Navy approved guides and tour dates are limited to certain times of the year. You can find out more information about touring the site from the Maturango Museum website.
Recommended Reading about the Coso Range Petroglyphs
This was an amazing site with probably thousands of petroglyphs. Probably one of the most amazing parts of the petroglyphs is the obvious difference in dates of all the petroglyphs. You can clearly see many that have patina dating back thousands of years and some that apear to be probably only a few hundred years. Some dating techniques recently used suggest some of the petroglyphs are 14,000-16,000 years old!
In the 3-1/2 - 4 hours we spent in the canyon I took almost 1,000 photos, there were petroglyphs everywhere! I trimmed down the collection to mostly all unique photos and you can view them all here Little Petroglyph Canyon Photos
Here are a few of my favorites
Really,really old petroglyphs
I call this guy "Ziggy"
Bighorn Sheep Kill