Friday, November 28, 2014

Rockhouse Canyon / Buck Ridge / Jackass Flat 4 Day Backpack - ABDSP

Gary led us on another great 4 day backpack trip that was a big loop thru Rockhouse Canyon, into Alder Canyon and over Buck Ridge and then finishing up by crossing Jackass Flat which led us back to our vehicles waiting at the end of Rockhouse Canyon. The road going into Rockhouse past the Butler Junction is the worst I have ever seen it, the first rock ramp is completely washed away and it just gets worse form there.

My new little Toyota was able to navigate it without trouble but the other Toyota in our group needed to stop every few hundred yards to find a route thru the rocky mess.
Still trying to go as light weight as possible I purchased a brand new backpack, a Granite Gear Torso Blaze Ac 60. It weighs in at 2lb 14oz and has a 60 liter capacity with a 35lb carry capacity. It easily handled my 4 days worth of stuff and I broke it in the first day with no problems whatsoever, I totally recommend this pack.

Here is the pack and my gear waiting to get stuffed in

Here it is in action on the 4th day

The night skies were perfect for watching the stars, we saw many shooting stars as well as the Andromeda Galaxy up near the Milky Way. I took my new Fuji XE-1 and and a new Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens and I was able to get some decent photos but I still need more practice. Here are a few of the better ones. The Borrego Sky Art photo was inspired by Ian over at, thanks Ian!

These next photo is actually a panorama stitched together from several photos, you can see the Andromeda Galaxy at about 1'oclock in it.

 One of the springs we fixed up a couple years was still in good order, just a few minutes of clearing it out and we had nice clear running water again, I was pretty happy to see it was holding up so well.

Some early morning sunrise colors on the Creosote and Tom's tent

You don't see these too often, mortars that have worn all the way thru

Heading up towards the Cottonwoods we saw some tracks I am still not able to identify and then later deer

The sunrise colors were beautiful this trip, here is an early morning view from the Cottonwoods looking south towards Alder Canyon and Buck Ridge

Gary watches after many of the trees in Rockhouse and this baby Cottonwood is one of them

After we jumped into Alder Canyon we climbed up Buck Ridge and got an incredible view of Jackass Flat and Borrego Springs with Coyote Mountain in the distance

This is a group photo of everyone coming down the ridge into Jackass Flat

Sunrise from Jackass Flat

I finished up the trip by staying one more night out near Henderson Canyon and took a few more photos of the Sky Art during the night and at sunrise
Total Mylar Balloons This Trip - 26!

You can see more photos of this trip in my photo gallery here

Monday, November 17, 2014

Carrizo Gorge Backpack - ABDSP

Headed out for an overnight backpack trip with Tom in Carrizo Gorge. We parked at the end of the 4WD drive road and started out late in the day with about 30 minutes of daylight left. We managed to get to Goat Canyon in the dark where we setup camp. We poked around the next day for about 6 miles total into the gorge before we turned around and headed back.

Driving into Carrizo Gorge


Looking south thru the gorge, Goat Canyon is just ahead and to the left
Carrizo Gorge, Goat Canyon is ahead on the left

I call this the Mighty Groan but I think the actual BM is above this point a bit.
The Mighty Groan (sorta)

Breaking camp

I hardly recognized the Gorge this trip, the Tamarisk removal efforts have removed much of the thick brush.
Tamarisk cleared out of the Gorge

We found some wildlife...wasn't too wild at the time though...
Bighorn Sheep Ram

Here is the lower jaw bone
Bighorn Sheep lower jaw bone

Figured I would try the Macro mode on my new Fuji XE-1 so here is a close up of the jaw bone
Bighorn Sheep lower jaw bone

Upper jaw and macro shot
Bighorn Sheep upper jaw

Bighorn Sheep upper jaw

This next photo is what i think is the intestine/colon of the ram, you can see pellets inside. From what I understand, sheep, goats and such are very efficient in using every last drop of moisture in their bodies and they literally squeeze the moisture out of their feces so the pellets form inside the colon.
Bighorn Sheep intestine with feces inside

Bighorn Sheep intestine with feces inside

Tom with the Seven Sisters above
Tom and The Seven Sisters above

There are several rail cars over the side here, one is rusted just enough that it blends in with the natural desert terrain

Here are a couple close ups of the different rail cars

Rail cars

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Total Mylar Balloons this trip - 1 (Tom snagged it)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rockhouse Canyon in Carrizo Gorge Backpack

Veterans Day solo backpack trip out to Rockhouse Canyon in Carrizo Gorge. Was supposed to go with Tom but he couldn't make it. Took the new Fuji XE-1 camera, I still don't feel in command of it yet, especially with the night and star photos. The camera works quite differently then my Sony DSLR cameras. Biggest problem I noticed was it seems to focus past infinity but of course I couldn't tell until I got home and looked at the pictures. Good trip, found the palm oasis and stopped by the pictograph site. The old ranchers shack is still standing.

Remnants of the old road into the canyon before the park put the bollards up
Heading into Rockhouse Canyon at dusk

I got in late at night and started looking for a place to put my sleeping gear down and found this guy
Spotted this tarantula at night while looking for a place to put my sleep gear down for the night

Not proud of any of these star shots, I need to dial in the new camera and it's settings
Milky Way

Orions Belt

Orions Belt

This is the moon rising, great orange glow

Here is a photo of the ranchers shack from an April 1947 Desert Magazine article and below is one I took on this trip. Much of the ocotillo still stands but one in particular right behind the shack is now gone.
Cattlemans shack in Rockhouse Canyon in Carrizo Gorge from an April 1947 Desert Magazine article

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And some random shots inside the shack
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Nice place to punch bottle caps into

View out the window into rockhouse canyon

So now for the real agenda of the trip....follow the water pipe from the trough up the mountainside and see where it goes

Along the way I found a Sky Blazer, lot 61 Oct 2010(?)

Expired Oct 1961

Those damn ranchers were tough, that pipe went up 1,000+ feet to a palm oasis up on the ridge
Palm Oasis 1,000' up the ridge

I lost the pipe in several places and it is now since broken apart but I could find sections all the way up to the palm grove
Palm Oasis

Palm Oasis

Awesome views of Carrizo Gorge and the desert floor up at the palm grove
Looking down into Rockhouse and Carrizo Gorge form the Palm Oasis

Some artifacts along the way
Broken large arrow point

Figured I would stop and check out the pictographs while I was out that way
Carrizo Gorge Pictographs

Carrizo Gorge Pictographs

Carrizo Gorge Pictographs

Carrizo Gorge Pictographs

Carrizo Gorge Pictographs

Total Mylar Balloon count this trip - 3 (sorry, no picture)