03 January 2019

Cave Spring and roadside lava caves

Mojave National Preserve

Click for map.

I noticed there was a spring marked on the electronic map not more than a mile from my campsite and decided to see what it may hold. Probably the cows know about it and it is just a mess. Certainly man knows about it, it's on the map. Probably it has been piped for the cows. Zooming closer, a name appears. "Cave Spring" probably means it's another mine that hit water. Anyway, I resolve to stride out across the desert and see it, then wander back along the ridge it is nearly on and see the road side caves on the way back.

near edge of Wild Horse Mesa
The spring is supposed to be on this close ridge of Wild Horse Mesa. It is around a couple corners from here.

Setting off, there is very quickly a cow path going my way. I follow it across the desert edging around the side of the ridge, until it gets lost in an area of cow sitting about. I just go on for I am not quite ready for sitting about. Cow paths develop under me again as I climb over a low rock ridge using a break in the rocks. Up on a far wall, there seems to be a spot where the rocks have been dug like for a mine. Maybe that is my destination.

large bones including leg and back
Cows live here and they die here.

more of the edge of the mesa
The spring should be in the right hand canyon. There is something that looks like diggings ahead.

Or maybe it's up by the cattle. As I get a little further around the hill, they are visible on the hill. Not much green and therefore spring is visible. I pass hoses washed down from people piping the spring with things that are far too weak for the environment. For a bit, there seems to be a road sized hole between the otherwise lush (for desert plants) cactuses.

old bulldozer path probably
A fat line without cactuses and cows marking a spring.

Cows are probably not ordinarily a good indication of the location of a spring, but they are loitering around just up the hill from it in this case. It is not an old mine. It is an overhung bit of ash. The hard bit of ash both holds strong to make the overhang and pushes the water to the surface to make the spring. It could be a pretty cool spot to visit except for the stink of the blanket of cow leavings in the area below the overhang. The spring is piped and although it only drips over the overhang, it is enough to keep a big trough with water.

overhung ash, dribbles, and pool
A piece of the spring with a pool below the ash overhang and a bit mucked by cattle.

ash above the spring is also white and carvable
There seems no difference to layers of ash above the spring except that they do not form such large ledges.

back and over the spring
Back the way I came from above the spring.

I can only guess as to why the spring area once needed a telephone pole or the purposes of various other pieces of construction. The cattle stand between me and the ridge, but I can go around them and they will probably move off as I do anyway. Onward and upward to go downward!

cattle moving off
There go the cattle, including a surprisingly young looking calf. (Lifting its tail to do what cows do quite a lot of.)

hills popping up from the flats
A little higher, a little more view of the desert.

spring from above
Looking over the spring from above. I do not think my eye would catch the hints that there is water there.

Movement along the ridge is fairly easy, I just have to follow the right twisting down. For a moment, I don't, but I can see the pullout for parking for the little caves off the end of the other snaking ridge line and can quickly correct it. Meanwhile, nice views. There really are some odd rocks around here. One layer of lava has cooled in a way that puts me in mind of acorn storage by woodpeckers. Every time I see it out of the corner of my eye, I am sure there is an acorn in most the holes.

Hackberry Peak and two others in front of it
A bit of view. The high peak is Hackberry Peak and there are two other mountains in front of it.

many holed lava rock, but not very sharp
So many holes! This is not sharp to touch but is brittle.

The going gets a little harder as I find myself at the top of the caves. Viscosity changes, cooling gradients, I wonder what caused these to form. There are not overly large, but many are big enough to go inside.

looking down on the boring bits
As the going gets tough, looking down on parking and the little road to a camp site.

many caves in a row
The top group of caves. A few of these are big enough to easily sit inside.

more caves
It looks like waves of lava (or a flowing ash?) were breaking and froze, except it does not form much tube.

many many caves
Looking up along the ridge line full of caves.

One cave aligned with the road looks like it was cut into by the road builders and looks like it might have a fault running through it. The caves do not extend to the far side of the road. I cross and follow the dirt road back to my campsite.

colors in the sky
The sun is setting once again.

©2019 Valerie Norton
Written 8 January 2019

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