Friday, May 31, 2013

Indian/Cougar/Sheep Canyons - ABDSP

For the Memorial Day weekend Gary and I went exploring some of the canyons in Collins Valley, specifically Indian, Cougar and Sheep Canyons. Because we were uncertain of reliable water sources in the area we decided to car camp and do day hikes instead of backpacking.

On the drive out I was able to locate a couple of the Sky Art sculptures I somehow missed when visiting the Farmers sculptures in the past...they are right in the middle of the field between the Farmers and other sculptures to the west

The Scorpion
Sky Art

The Grasshopper
Sky Art

Driving past the orchards and entering Coyote Canyon we passed thru the water crossings and got to the bypass road. I thought this was the beginning of the rough road
Beginning of the bypass road

But not is the real bypass..AKA Boulder Alley. My stock 4WD Dodge Diesel Crew Cab Truck made it up and down without too much difficulty, just used 4WD Low and let it crawl thru it all. I will say that at about 6pm in May the sun was just right to blind us the whole way up, it was very hard to see where wheel placement should be.
The bypass road AKA Boulder Alley. My stock Dodge Diesel 4WD Crew Cab Full size bed truck made it up and down with little trouble

We were pretty low impact car campers this trip, we slept in our trucks and did not make camp fires so all we needed was a place to park our vehicles for the weekend. In the morning we set out to do a loop hike up the South Fork of Sheep Canyon and then cross over the saddle to Sheep Canyon proper and wind our way back down to the trucks near the campground. While this was probably less than 7 miles total it took us more than 10 hours to complete. The canyons are rugged and vegetation choked since fires have burned thru them and everything is growing back.

This is a nice waterfall in the South Fork of Sheep Canyon. It was semi dry like most of the falls we saw but that is expected this time of year and during the spring months you would probably see lots of flowing water.
Waterfall in the South Fork of Sheep Canyon

When you are down at the Sheep Canyon campground you can see these palms way up the South Fork
Palms in the South Fork of Sheep Canyon

Sheep Canyon lived up to it's name, we saw several older Rams getting water and relaxing in the sun. I am still amazed at how well camouflaged they are. These guys were across the canyon and my new (to me) 500mm lens turned out to be just perfect
Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Rams

Bighorn Rams

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram

I remembered movie mode on the camera, here is of one of the BHS doing a back scratch and munching some food

Up at the saddle looking back down the South Fork of Sheep Canyon. You can see Dawns, Rabbit and Villager Peaks from here as well as Lower Willows
Looking down the south fork of Sheep Canyon. Dawns, Rabbit and Villager Peak are visible in the distance as well as Lower Willows

Gary up at the saddle
Gary at the saddle between Sheep and South Sheep Canyons

Baja Collared Lizard
Baja Collared Lizard

Heading down the saddle between the South Fork and main Sheep Canyons
Gary heading down the saddle towards Sheep Canyon

The main Sheep Canyon is just as rough and vegetation choked as the South Fork
Sheep Canyon and a tributary heading north'ish

Down in the bottom of Sheep Canyon following the wash
Sheep Canyon

The Lindsay book has a photo of this waterfall with lots of water. It was semi dry for us but I can imagine it being very nice during wet months
Large Waterfall in Sheep Canyon

Still snake season...hi baby...
Hi Baby...

Back at the trucks we get a nice view of the Santa Rosa Mountains at sunset. From Sheep Canyon Campground you can see Dawns and Rabbit Peak, maybe not much of a real view but it holds a special place in my thoughts
From Sheep Canyon Campground you can see Dawns and Rabbit Peak, maybe not much of a real view but it holds a special place in my thoughts.

The next day we headed up Indian Canyon with a first stop at Cougar Canyon. Cougar is just as rough and full of overgrowth as Sheep Canyon. There was little water down in the lower areas but up near the large fall and psychedelic eye we found pools of water.

There are lots of the beetles crawling the boulders
Desert Beetle

Here is Gary in the upper reaches of the canyon in the dense vegetation
Vegetation choked Cougar Canyon

The "psychedelic eye"
Psychedelic eye in Cougar Canyon

Gary remembers it being much more colorful years ago so I did a DStretch on it but it still is not the same
DStretch version of the Psychedelic eye in Cougar Canyon

The large waterfall Schad describes in his book is now covered with so much vegetation you can hardly see the falls. We struggled with getting back in there to even see it. Floods have broken down trees over the years and have grown a canopy covering the area. This was the best shot I could get of the waterfall
Large Water Fall in the upper reaches of Cougar Canyon

After a long siesta under the cottonwoods and sycamores we left Cougar Cyn and headed up towards Deering Canyon. This is the old tin mine tunnel shaft on the topo maps. It is now just a packrat collection hole
Old Tin Mine Tunnel

Some Mule Deer near Deering Canyon, they were getting some water before we disturbed them
Mule deer in Deerng Canyon

The was a group of butterflies playing in the flowers off in the distance and my 500mm lens was good enough to get these photos
Monarch Butterflies
Monarch Butterflies

Cougar tracks were present all the way up to Bennis Bowl and The Valley of the Thousand Springs. This is just one in the sandy wash we followed

Valley of the Thousand Springs
Valley of the Thousand Springs

Long distance photo of a Granite Spiny Lizard with the 500mm lens
Granite Spiny Lizard

Heading south out of Indian Canyon on the thin bench that provides an easy trail thru the canyon
Heading down Indian Canyon near Bennis Bowl

Here is a panorama view of the same bench looking south'ish into Indian Canyon on the left and Valley of the Thousand Springs/Bennis Bowl canyon on the right
Panorama of Indian Canyon on the left and Valley of the Thousand Springs on the right

After another long siesta under some shady palms we headed back to the trucks with another very long day behind us. The next morning we drove out and explored Lower Willows and the palms. Nothing to spectacular, but interesting. After negotiating the bypass road downhill we stopped and I looked over and spotted what looked like graffiti on a boulder

DStretched version
DStretch version of Graffiti

One last stop on the trip was at Culp Valley. We hiked over some ridge lines to get a good look at Hellhole Canyon. There is supposed to be a great waterfall up in there....another trip
Hellhole Canyon

I was not able to get any good star photos but managed a semi sober moon photo at early am hours....
Almost a full moon at Sheep Canyon

Also found a petroglyph panel along the way

Total Mylar Balloons this Trip - 9 (not all shown)
Total Mylar Balloons this trip 9 (not all shown)

1 comment:

  1. Great trip! I just love that area. One of these days I gotta hike through that saddle between both Sheep Canyons.