Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vallecito Valley 3 Day Backpack Trip

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
Old Windmill blades

I guess the KendallVille name goes back a long time in America's Windmill history
Windmills have a long history in America and Kendallville Indiana was part of that history.

Looks like the windmill pumped water over to a trough that had a sophisticated float shutoff valve assembly
This trough collected water from the windmill operation
Inventive float valve was used to regulate water flow into the trough. Looks just like a modern toilet float valve

This must be the towering metal base for the water collection
This must have been the windmill water collection system that transfered the water to the trough

Here is a great view into Storm Canyon
Wide open Vallecito Valley

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
Old water trough that is now dry

Unfortunately Mylar Balloons do not seem to escape our remote wilderness trek
Fresh mylar balloon kill, no better way to say I love you

The Sawtooth Mountains at sunset
Heading down the wash  from a low saddle. What a great view of the Sawtooth Mtns.

Are you a Yoni "believer"?
Yoni..if you are a 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
Nightime view of our camp. Am almost full moon helped keep the exposure time down. Notice the airplane streak in the upper left corner.  ISO 100,f/4, 5 minute, 27 second exposure, focal 10 mm

Early morning sunrise with Monument Peak towering in the background
Early morning view of my campsite and the Laguna Observatory and Monument Peak

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
At night there were hundreds of these worm critters swimming in the water trough

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
Gary found a hole in the water pipe up stream

Here is the hole post-repair
Gary and I patched up the hole on the water pipe with some left over repair debris we found. An old rubber hose, some hose clamps and an old beer can

Now the water flow is good and we get a few liters of water to start the day with
Spring Water flowing good again after the repair

Damn, boulders everywhere!!
Wow...boulders everywhere..!

Here is an old water trough that has dried up
Dried up trough

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
Water pipe several miles down the canyon from the spring.

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....
Gary and I came upon this small shelter nesteld in some boulders, we called it Chair Cave

We decided a shade break was needed
Chair Cave with Gary (left) and I (right)

Well since we were exploring we found a few cultural artifacts and some rock art along the way

A small arrowhead point
Small arrowhead point

A metate fragment
Broken Metate


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And some historic artifacts, maybe this is a hand forged knife blade??
Old knife blade, maybe hand forged

A Good 'ol boy horseshoe with square nails and all
Old Horseshoe

Oh wait, almost forgot the most significant artifact
Mylar Ballons this trip. Apparently Dora also explores out here

I guess even Dora Explores the Desert

Total Mylar Balloon Count - 11 (Not all pictured)


  1. Where is Chair Cave?

    I am very jealous, I have never found an arrowhead anywhere.

    Borrego Springs

  2. Hey George, all the photos were from Vallecito Valley area. "Chair cave" was in a rock outcrop out in the valley, we just found it poking around.

  3. Dude - I miss the dessert - it was 27° here the other day - you would have loved it! ha ha ha - hope to see you on the next trip south!

    1. When you gonna be back?? Lots more trips planned, Would like to have you go..!