Thursday, March 8, 2012

Flordillo,Burbank, and Apache Gap Canyons- Caballo Mountains

Bat Cave
Natural Arch seen from Burbank Canyon
Near the top of Apache Gap Canyon
Another good hike in the Caballos is Apache Gap Canyon.We did this one a few years ago while camping at Caballo Lake State Park's Riverside Campground. The canyon is accessed by an unmaintained dirt roads on the southeast side of Caballo Lake. We ended up parking a few miles in before the arroyo gets thick with boulders. The road/trail initially takes off up on the hillside,but then returns to the canyon bottom.Finally it leaves the canyon again, staying on the north hillside all the way to ridgetop. We could see roads branching off to the north and the east. The views were great. Burbank Canyon was our first foray into hiking the canyons on the west side of the Caballos. Burbank is the wide,deep canyon that nearly splits the main ridge line. As it is, it visually divides it into the northern Timber Peak section and the southern Brushy Peak section. It is accessed by some good county roads on the east side of the lake, however the road in the canyon is not great. The beginning of the Burbank Canyon road may be on private property as well,so you may need to work around to it whether driving or hiking.There are some interesting sights along the way: some derelict heavy machinery that I can't believe someone bothered to drive up here, the words " Fuck the Gold" deeply etched in a stone perhaps by the same hopeful miner who abandoned his bulldozer, a natural arch high up on one of the arms branching out from Timber Peak,and I believe it was in this canyon where we saw an old wooden case of dynamite sitting mutely under a juniper tree. This is a long hike to get to the back of the canyon, where the terrain is gentle enough( but not that gentle) where if one had the energy and the desire, the top of the range could be hiked. Flordillo Canyon, and nearby Bat Cave Canyon are in between Burbank to the north and Apache Gap to the south.The large bat cave can be seen to the north near the top of this hike. Further back there is a large steel cable strung from somewhere high on the cliffs perhaps used by a miner to access a mine or transport ore. You may hear or read of Flordillo Canyon being referred to as Cable Canyon because of this.There are mines all over these mountains and folks still prospect for gold and other minerals(we met a prospector on our hike in Apache Gap). You may see stories of folks getting some warning shots fired at them for getting too close to someone's claim. These stories could be true or it could be some miner circulating the stories as a way of scaring off folks. We've never had any problems and the few people we've met have been friendly, but just as precaution remember some of the mines may have current claims,so,in addition to staying out of any mines because of the obvious dangers,leave anything that looks like a claim marker alone (stakes,cairns,fluorescent ribbon) and don't wander around an obviously staked out area. All of these hikes are on steep roads made for driving,not hiking( the one to Bat Cave is the worst), there is little shade except the occasional juniper. Water is scarce, except with winter snow, or maybe with the summer rains,but please don't hike here in the summer, not only is it dangerously hot,but you have better than average chance of getting struck by lightning,should one our monsoon thunderstorms roll in. Images are Bat Cave, arch(look closely) seen from Burbank Canyon, road near the top of Apache Gap.

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