Monday, April 15, 2013

Conkling Cave ( " Conkling's Cave," " Conkling Cavern")



This was my third attempt at finding the elusive Conkling Cave. I didn't. I went to where my Alltopo software and  Google Earth said it should be( I believe they've relied on the same source whatever that may be). In fact when I looked at my GPS data afterward,  I apparently walked over it- a couple of times. I never really saw anything, and I certainly didn't step over  a large hole in the ground without noticing. I was looking for any sign of human disturbance that excavation, and repeated trips to the entrance would have surely made, but saw none. I was so optimistic this time, although things got off to a weird start.
       There's a sub-division out where the turn-off to for the Bishop Cap Road used to be, and a sign announces that the Bishop Cap Rd. is now a dead end. I drove around this little neighborhood in the middle of nowhere several times before deciding to take the power line access road in the hope that it would lead to a road that would bring me to where I wanted to be.  I ended up a little over a half mile from my Conkling Cave waypoint for starting my hike. There is another road that will bring one to within a 1/4 mile or so,but it's behind a fence now.
    Anyway,  I took off walking and was soon stumbling up the steep ridge( it was the one 2 ridges east of and parallel to Bishop Cap, or 2 1/2 if you count the truncated ridge immediately east of Bishop Cap). Any hike off road or trail in the Bishop Cap area requires jeans,boots, a denim or canvas jacket, and work gloves no matter what the weather. Not only is there cactus, catclaw, octotillo,lechugilla, and spanish dagger to contend,but the first time I fell and cut my hand open, I was reminded of why gloves are so essential. The limestone rock here is as sharp as knife. Well, I walked all over that ridge,but to tell the truth when  you're up there everything looks the same and the photo I had as reference( from UTEP's quaternary fossil site index) didn't reveal much. I  came within 13 feet on my hand held GPS which is about as accurate as the thing is going to get, but still saw nothing. I found a man- made wooden post that had toppled from it's  cairn and  a couple of other cairns as well. Most likely all of these were for mining claims, not to indicate the location of the cave.
         I gave up and decided to try my alternate theory, which ran as follows: the topo map was wrong, and my recent experience at Las Uvas Spring bolstered this idea, and the cave was actually on the parallel ridge immediately to the west of the one I was on. I had seen some vague paths there years ago which had given birth to this theory,but had never tested it out. At first I followed some orange ribbons that marked the way at along the base of the ridge,hoping for no good reason that they were leading the way to the cave. They didn't.The "paths" on better inspection were an illusion- mere changes in the rock and soil type. I then proceeded to walk all over that ridge too,  until, exhausted, I plopped down ate my lunch near the top. I looked over at Bishop Cap  proper, and remembered that the written accounts of the location of cave say it is on the east side of Bishop Cap,not a parallel ridge to the east of Bishop Cap, but perhaps on the east side of Bishop Cap itself. This is my new theory.
     The UTEP photo with some higher peaks in the upper left hand  corner may lend strength to this idea. Although I'm willing to test the initial one with  a few willing extra sets of eyes. My alternate, I've discarded. I know  this  must all seem a little ridiculous to someone who knows exactly where it is. I also  wonder what  I would do  if I found it. It goes straight down and one would need a ladder or a climbing rope to enter. It has also occurred to me that it has been backfilled,  concealed or even capped and that I may have indeed walked very close to it without knowing. Most people who know me, would probably tell you I'm good at finding these type of obscure places with very little  to go on. This one is beginning to stick in my craw little.

8 comments:

Eric said...

We need to find this

Donna said...

I live in Southern NM. I've been to many of the places in your photographs and not. I have to thank you for your blog site and sharing your beautiful photograpy. The photos take me back to those places I've been and let's me see the places I've not been and likely will not get to see. I never get tired of the visual pleasure of your great photos. Your blog is as good as any and even better than any pictorial travel magazine. I have mixed emotions though. I hate to think of the general populace to discover our secret treasures.

devon said...

Thank you for your kind words.

JcK said...

A friend and I went in search of this cave today. Once on the opening, according to my topos, we spent about two hours searching the side of that mountain for it with no luck. It seems no matter how many different ways I search online for it I turn up empty handed. Every site I find has those same coordinates on it. Even USGS. If you ever find it I would love some guidance so I can find it myself, and will attempt to remember to do the same for you if I ever find it in the future.

devon said...

One commenter has told that it is not where the maps indicate,but on one of the ridges further east and firmly on military land. He wouldn't say more than that.

Trebor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trebor said...

Hahaha...I could have written the exact same story. Except I parked on other side of the mntn and hiked over and down then all over that ridge. Have you discovered it yet?

devon said...

I have not.