28 February 2019

Telegraph Ridge

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

Click for map.

Morning brings much cooler weather and a lot more time to do a bit more hiking. I expect it to get hot again, "same as yesterday" always being the most likely true weather report, so load in a bit of extra water. And since I don't like to repeat things so much, I figure I'll go up along the ridge looking for the high point and come down on the trail across the canyon from the road. I expect the start for that is just to start up the trail toward the cross. Asking someone to be sure only elicits that it probably is, but someone on something, probably Alltrails, says the trail is rather faint. Well, ridges aren't hard to follow, although following them is often just half of the story. That is certainly true just across the river.

trail choices and a sign for a race in April
Back at the beginning with the sign advertising its challenge to come out and do laps to the top on April 8th. This time I'll go for the scrambly trail up to the left.

The trail is steeper than it looked to me and gets steeper. There are choices along the way. I'm not sure I make the right one, but I can keep my footing all the way up, so it works out. It looks devoid of life on these rocks, but there are bright little daisies the whole way. At the top, there is a lot of downhill. That includes in the direction of the ridge. I think I can see a few trails coming up to the saddle below, so there were probably a few choices that did not include the extra little peak.

trailhead parking below
Looking down on the parking. People in the morning seem to favor the area near the end of the road while people in the afternoon favor traveling the center road to the area beside the power lines.

turkey vulture
Just in case, a turkey vulture is on the job.

looking ahead along the ridge
A preview of what is to come. First down a bit, which is somewhat hidden, then up with some other downs. Other ridges are available.

27 February 2019

Telegraph Pass

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

Click for map.

I checked out the Pioneer Cemetery in Yuma in the morning and did a few chores, then arrived at the trailhead for Telegraph Pass in the early afternoon with my outdoor thermometer reading 83°F. Hum, is that something I want to do? Intel on the ground (that is, by asking random passers by from Oregon who had just hiked it) is that it's only about a mile of flat and then a mile of like 40% grade on paving. Oh, and there are Gila monsters. I've never seen Gila monsters! He walked it back to big lizards about so long with ringed tails. This I'm not less excited about. I've seen lizards about so long before. But it sounds easy enough for the afternoon. I do want to go ahead and get the geocaches along the way, which seem to generally be rated on the difficult side, so that'll give me some moments to sit and sign and take a breather in the steep portion. So onward, but with quite a lot of water.

starting toward Telegraph Pass
At the start of the trail to "Telegraph Pass". Trail goes up the wash, but there is a short option to go up a small peak to the left.

A sign at the starts tells me I could come out on April 6th to see how many times I can do Telegraph in a 24 hour period. No entry fee, no prizes, just bragging rights, and it's this hot a month before. I'm thinking nope as I follow the trail along the wash, finding out that the first two geocaches are a fair way up the side of the wash instead. So that slows me down a bit. Having coordinates substantially off from the location does, too. There's a section corner in the wash. I forgot to check for them, but it is easy enough I didn't have to.

alternate trail up alternate wash
An alternate trail heads up a different wash right past a section corner. The corner is the rock pile with a pipe sticking out of it.

There seem to be a lot of different ways up. With so many people, many who look like this is part of their regular routine, it is no surprise. I stick to what appears to be the main one, except for a few excursions.

Gila Mountains south of I-8
Looking south to the part of the Gila Mountains that are south of I-8.

22 February 2019


Yuma, Arizona area BLM

I noticed a pair of mysterious fences near the road while traveling back from one of my hikes. I stopped to read the sign of the nearest, which provided an explanation, and have returned today to actually see what they encompass.

geoglyph explanation
That most ephemeral and uncertain bit of ancient art: the geoglyph.

And past the sign, narrow and long within the fence boundaries, is the preserved geoglyph. I rather suspect that without the sign, the fence would have been cut by now. As advertised, there are lines where the rocks have been removed from the generally flat and rock strewn surface of the plain.

geoglyph end to end
The first geoglyph from end to end.

Pilot Knob

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

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Today I aim to add another Pilot Knob to my list. It just feels right to do. This one isn't very big, so shouldn't take very long, at least if I do it directly without any extras. It has a benchmark, but off on another peak to the west. There seems to be a bit of that going around. And then I may as well grab the geocaches. They look to be generally on a path going up to West Pilot (the benchmark), then Pilot Knob, then down again. I drive in directly and grab a bit of "parking" in a convenient spot between the road and a sign forbidding vehicles behind it. That leaves some flat desert with minor washes to cross between me and the peak. I gather the usual way to go would be to jog over to the east where there is a quarry and park there, but this looks at least as good to me and doesn't involve being in a quarry.

Pilot Knob and West Pilot
Pilot Knob and West Pilot. West Pilot (on the right) seems pretty big too.

I spot numerous trails up as I walk along. The other side of the road from where I am parked is a long term camping area where, for a fee of just $180, you can stay for up to 7 months. There's probably a few of them that walk the knob frequently and start walking it in different ways. I'm thinking it'll be too hot around here come spring and feel I've been here a while already. Today is sort of a cleanup of things I wanted to get to before taking off. Anyway, I pick a wash to go up and I have a couple trails, one on each side, to choose from too. I pick west. West is the best? It looks a little on the scrambly side of steep on the east.

faint trail winding up the west side of a wash
The trail may be faint, but it is easy to follow all the way up to the saddle.

town with population 2 and some long term visitors
Looking down on Felicity (pop 2, according to the sign) and the long term visitor camping. Behind them, left to right, Ogilby Hills, Pasadena Mountain, the high point of Cargo Muchacho, Pasadena Peak, and Stud Mountain. Just to the right is the center of the world (again, according to signs).

south to the border
Up at the saddle, there is a view to Mexico. The fat iron fence does a good job of demarcating the border here.

Algodones Dunes

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

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When I first looked southwest from a high point in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, it seemed that Mexico was somehow demarcated in a different color by nature. Of course the color line had to actually be something else and the border doesn't quite run right there. Turns out the something else is sand dunes. These aren't just any sand dunes either. The Algodones Dunes, also known as the Imperial Dunes, are famous on stage and screen. Well, maybe just screen. These dunes "played" Tatooine in Star Wars. And I thought I might see them on a weekday, but it is already Friday (morning) and they are an absolute mad house.

quad and bike and lots of tire tracks in sand
A quad and a bike take off across the sand over the well established tracks.

cars, campers, and toy haulers galore
The road in has frequent pit toilets and is lined with campers and toy haulers all presumably with permits.

The dunes have a low area that is a veritable highway of tracks to get out into it all and high areas where people play. The high areas can be fairly track free, but they have their developing roadways too. The noise of engines doesn't stop although it is possible to look out and see none of them simply because dunes do have a lot of texture. They are a little more solid than usual to walk on from rain yesterday, but that is drying quickly. A quick look around, but no more. I have another thing to do today.

dunes with higher and higher dunes behind
The dunes seem to rise ever higher. The overall structures are stable enough to map.

20 February 2019

Tumco and the Cargo Muchacho Mountains high point

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

Click for map. (Purple and orange lines.)

I am back for another try at the Tumco benchmark and the high point of the Cargo Muchacho Mountains. This time, there will be no wishy-washy moments where I think one bit of plan is as good as another and just go for the one that involves the climbing right in front of me. There will be self discipline and I will stick to the plan. Also, I have stacked the deck and chosen a route that I think will not include any temptation to leave the plan. I am going to follow the reach published for the Tumco benchmark, or at least my best interpretation of it, and then follow the ridge on up to the high point. The azimuth can happen in between if I am feeling it at the moment. The way down can be either back the way I came or over the top, again depending on how I feel. Okay, so there are choices in there, but they come when I have solid information about what will be the one I'll like best. This time I am starting at the parking for the self guided tour for the Tumco town site. The area has been blocked off to motor vehicle traffic, so this is the parking for everyone.

trail and sign at parking
Information sign at the start of the self guided tour of the Tumco town site.

The brochures are long gone, so interpreting the numbers on the iron signs is difficult. Maybe there is something that can be downloaded if one has signal. The first number comes up quickly. Near it, there seems to be a prospect, a well, and a trash heap of rusting metal. Further on, rocks mark out rectangle foundations of long gone buildings. A few stone walls stand that were once part of the mining development. A concrete foundation can be seen. The map marks some tanks up on the hillside, and sure enough they are there. Through the middle of it runs a fine sand that looks like it came off some process. A number looks to be ready to tell me about it, if only I had the brochure. There are also a few signs, one vandalized beyond readability, that allow learning even without.

standing walls near a pouring of odd sand
Standing walls remain from something. Beside it, the ground takes on odd configurations where the sand is quite fine.

stout timber pieces across dirt
The stout timber remains of a bridge along an old road to more ruins sits in front of an open pit.

foundation of iron pieces
Some sort of foundation or flooring structure of iron pieces.

18 February 2019

Cargo Muchacho Mountains - attempt

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

Click for map. (Green and blue lines for this one.)

After Stud Mountain, the other peak marked with a "1k" on its dot on the peakbagger map among the Cargo Muchacho Mountains is the unnamed high point. Well, surely I should visit the high point of this little range. For some reason, the surveyors have not seen fit to. They instead have placed a mark called Tumco (for the mine below) on the second highest point of the ridge a bit west of the peak. They placed their azimuth point on a peak even further west. That makes two more peaks I'd like to climb. The peakbaggers who have gone before (and offered any hint to their route) speak highly of popping over a pass with a mine high up it, then over a few more short passes on the far side before taking a wash up to the ridge between the high point and Tumco. The first fellow actually scrambled along the ridge first, possibly hitting the azimuth and traversing around the benchmark peak before climbing to the high point. My plan is to head to the high mine and see what prospector trails present themselves. Then probably over to skip the first few little peaks to try to climb to find the azimuth, on to the station, then to the high point. I have looked at those first few peaks from afar and they look less inviting than the rest. They look sharp and crumbly. I know you can't see crumbly from afar, but they are of a lighter rock that in other spots isn't so solid to climb. My first stop is the Hedges cemetery for a "sensible 2WD parking spot". Or maybe it is the Tumco cemetery as that is what the town was renamed in the latest iteration of mining.

Hedges cemetery
The Hedges (or Tumco) cemetery. According to entries in a local geocache listing, this was pretty much blank desert and someone has decided to heap rocks on it to simulate graves. I have never seen a cemetery with this look before.

From the cemetery, it is a matter of following easy roads around the hills toward the mine high up one wash. The roads have moved a little here and there, but seem to basically echo what is presented on the local 7.5' USGS map. The tunnels, shafts, and prospects on the way all seem to be there, too, with a few extras thrown in for good measure. There are still small scale mining attempts going on in the area.

going in that direction
The way to go is over thata way. The low spot just right of center is the pass and peaks right of it have a more jagged look before becoming more rounded and higher to the right (east).

I am passed by an ATV that must just be exploring, because it turns around before the road ends at the mine and heads back out again. My first look at the pass shows no visible trails across it. Disappointing, but closer up there may still be some. Anyway, the slope between the mine and the pass doesn't look too hard to cross.

a bit of mountain with a road a little way up in front of me
The wash and pass and first bit of peaks going toward Tumco and the high point. The road does not seem to get all that far up the mountain.

The ATV hadn't climbed much when it turned around. It looks like none of them have gone all the way up to the mine in a long time although many have gone a bit further than that one. The road becomes hard rock with a deep groove down the middle and there is no place to turn around at the top. Bits of mine buildings lie collapsed at the top. It looks like they may have roofed it with cut and flattened oil barrels. An old trail paces above the road, climbing faster, but also has washed out spots that would make it hard to follow. More trails climb from above the buildings to the shaft and prospect marked on the map. I still don't see anything climbing the pass.

general flow of old building materials down the wash
Bits and pieces of mine building in a slow flow down the wash.

15 February 2019

Pasadena Peak and Stud Mountain

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

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Two days ago was Pasadena Mountain, now on to Pasadena Peak. The peak is really just a warm up for the main bump of the day, Stud Mountain, but I have a feeling one had better get this peak before it gets flattened by mining concerns. This is one of two peaks in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains with 1000 foot prominence. The peakbagger web site helpfully marks their dots with a little "1k" to say, "This one sticks up a bit from its surroundings." I am using roads from the American Girl Wash for my approach to Pasadena Peak. They get me up the side pretty far, then I'll just have to wing it. To go up Stud Mountain, I am using a wash on the Pasadena Peak side, then will head down along a route people have posted on peakbagger using the north ridge back to a flat area that can drop into the top of American Girl Wash with only a few feet of climbing. I had actually wanted to start in the old town of Obregon, but for my car the road into the wash ends at a turn around. I actually park a short way back from the turn around and get started.

private property sign
I parked just before the private property sign. It warns of no maintenance, which is probably true, and dead end, which is definitely not. The BLM route designation sign just after it seems to contradict it slightly, too.

Over a hump, the road continues roughly in a single lane. It divides to follow in the wash or climb out the other side and I quickly allow myself to get distracted by a couple of nearby geocaches, so climb over a low hill in a third direction. One leaves me investigating a piece of rusting machinery left in a hole surrounded by rocks of interesting texture. The other is high up for a little bit of a view. It is just a little extra energy and time on what would have been just making my way on road up the wash.

flat desert with a road
American Girl Mine Road coming across the flat desert and then twisting in an unexpected direction to come up into the hills.

From up high on the hill, I can see a much better road passing to the south of it toward Obregon. My map marks the road up the wash as the better road with this one having a 4WD section in the middle. I guess I picked the wrong route into town. It looks easier to go that way from high on the hill, so I drop down to the south and walk it to where buildings are shown on the USGS map. They are gone. I'm faintly disappointed but not at all surprised. (When operations resumed in 1989, the town was documented and 5 graves were moved. It says this on a plaque the mining company put up on Ogilby Road just north of American Girl Mine Road, but I haven't read the plaque yet.) Now there is just the side of a huge open pit with a pool forming in the bottom.

heap of discarded rock with a striated heap behind it
The trash heap. When the rock is deemed useless, it has to go somewhere. I saw a little of this from up high on my way in, too.

top of an open pit
Pits to the north of me. This one is further from the old town site.

looking down over much of a huge open pit
Pits to the south of me. Getting a real good look into one open pit as four ATVs make their way through it. (Only one is currently visible.) This one comes up to the town site.

13 February 2019

Pasadena Mountain

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

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Now on to the main hike of the day: Pasadena Mountain. I know there's a trail up a lot of it because there's a geocache rather high up that claims to be the end of "the mystery trail". It doesn't say where the trail begins, though. I expect to try coming down it, but for up I'm trying a route I am calling "long and easy". How true that last bit is remains to be seen, but it looks to have a gentle climb. How wise it is to be using a "long" route when I only have a little over 4 hours to sunset also remains to be seen. A summary of "long and easy" is as follows: First I get myself to the north end of the mountain where even the USGS map, which seems reluctant to call anything around here a 4WD road says I better have that. From there, take a right into a large wash and just follow it up in a gentle climb until I've just slightly overshot the peak. Then turn left where there is a feeder wash that climbs steeply, but hopefully not too steeply, up to the ridge line above. Finally, head north again along the ridge to the high point. I drive about as far as seems wise in a small car without scouting ahead first and pull off into the flat desert to park. It is still about a mile from the north end of the mountain, but it's all easy road walking and I'll be coming out the south side so it hardly seems to matter.

Pasadena Mountain
The target: Pasadena Mountain. Still a long way off, but it'll get a lot closer quickly.

The road deteriorates quickly enough for me to be glad I took the parking I did. Once they start following the bottom of washes, they get rather unpredictable and parking is harder. This one passes by a few prospects, then gets down into a wash. There are more roads than I expect, but there seem to always be more around these desert areas. It is not very hard to follow the right one around. After the wash, a full blown mine and more prospects. Serving those is what the road is here for, after all. When the road turns to 4WD on the map, it makes a dramatic turn for the worse. And then starts getting creative where the old road has washed out.

open shaft with an attempt to roof it
Some things have been made safer than others. This open shaft does have a fence around it.

three tunnels dug into the side of the bank
Prospect tunnels dug right into the side of the wash.

The road does not go all the way to the entrance of the big wash I am aiming at, but there do seem to be a lot of attempts to have road get that far. It all gets to be a confusing mess and confusing to follow, so I leave it for a higher flat and there is an old prospector trail instead. This is not the least bit difficult to follow. This is even better than pony trails!

road turning
The road turns to climb up a wash to the north while other roads attempt to wander the wash to the east. The prospector trail follows the south side of the wash with careful climbs down and back up where washes come from the south.

Ogliby Hills

Yuma, Arizona area BLM

Click for map.

I thought I'd do something small before going on to something medium. I picked out a line during the drive up, but probably won't get to do it because I also picked out a couple geocaches to find. One is a multicache that I'm sort of hoping will just lead me along a route up. It seems like a sensible thing to do with a multicache to me, anyway. First, to grab a somewhat random parking spot. A 4WD vehicle can get closer, but there's not a lot of point.

Ogilby Hills
The appetizer. There's a bit of flat stuff between here and Ogilby Hills, but it isn't as long as it looks.

Pasadena Mountain
Pasadena Mountain will be the main course later.

So I head over toward the hills aiming at the first geocache which is a traditional one on a little outcrop that isn't part of my quickly and roughly plotted route at all, but I knew that would happen. Hiking to it is rough, but not hard. It's a spot overlooking the road, so of course I use it to look off somewhere else.

holes in the rocks and trail below them
Easy slopes to these hills. There even looks to be trail up it in many places.

08 February 2019

Palm Canyon

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

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At only half a mile of trail, it is a bit shorter than my usual, but California fan palms are something special. Almost all of them are in California, but there are a few in Arizona and all of those are in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, according to the literature at the trailhead. These are snuggled into cracks in a canyon in Signal Peak. Besides this canyon, there is a Four Palms Canyon to the north and Old Palm Canyon to the south, so there might be some more palms in the area. This is the one with the road to it and since it is a west facing canyon, I thought it might be best to get to it in the afternoon.

entering the wildlife refuge signs
Approaching the canyon. Signal Peak is an impressive piece of landscape and does happen to be one of those high prominence peaks I'd like to go up.

very vertical cliffs all around
The entry to the canyon at the end of the road has some quite impressive cliffs.

the rest of the area desert with little bumps
The rest of the area desert does not reach up quite so high.

Signs at the trailhead go into geology of the area, suspected history of palms, and a bit about the creation of the wildlife refuge for the protection of desert big horn sheep. They're the ones who make all the trails and used to make even more. There's people coming and going although it is hard to make it take a long time, so it must be a very popular place. I start down the trail where there is a brochure as well. I take one to read at the palms. Meanwhile, spires and cliffs reach up high around me.

06 February 2019

Ibex Benchmark attempt

Quartzsite, Arizona area BLM

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Today I am going after the Ibex benchmark. It is not on that impressive peak I was looking at yesterday, but should give me another look at it to perhaps help plot an approach. To get up that one, I have picked a wash on the west side which is a fair bit of flat stuff south of Plomosa Road. A lot of this flat stuff does not even look to require high clearance, but I'm trying not to take the car places it's really not supposed to go, so I have to walk it. So I better get moving.

hills with a road over them
A few hills to get past again, then out on the flats.

There are two roads heading off where I thought I wanted to park and two roads headed off where I did park, but they aren't the same roads, so I am promptly headed off in somewhat the wrong direction. There are just a lot more roads on the land than on my various maps. I seem to be getting closer to a geocache and it is only a quarter mile out of my way and I might as well get it now that I'm "close" to it, so there is even more extra hiking. But what can it matter? It is all flat stuff and I get to check out a spot that seems to get a bit more water than the surrounding area.

north of mountains
Coming in north of the mountain group. I need to be in the flats to the right, but I can explore a little to the left briefly.

It always takes a bit longer than expected, but I am soon striding along a wash, then across it, then actually on my target road and headed south. There are a couple more geocaches to find, but they're all close to the road. And I'm letting the section corners go, even the one that is only 600 feet off.

fun shapes in the rocks
I was a little closer to some of those bumps before, but now getting along south.

tiny arch at the top of cliffy area
On the one side, cliffs and interesting shapes and even a another small arch way up near the top.

Ecological Staircase to the Pygmy Forest

Jug Handle State Natural Preserve Click for map. I noticed an Earthcache that looked interesting as it asks for study of an area wi...