Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Foster Basin- Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument

 Dark spot on the hill is the alcove

The weather seemed to be holding steady so I dashed out at lunchtime  on Sunday to get this little hike in before the wind really began to howl. My original plan was to hike the little box canyon that was  in between the two we used for  a loop hike a few weeks ago( see " Foster Canyon" in this blog).  And that's how things started out. I used the same dirt road that goes up on the ridge just south of Foster Canyon. This time I drove maybe mile farther and a short ways down a side road. I was hoping to drive all the way to the old impoundment we had crossed on that previous hike, but early  on the road conditions changed my mind.
 So off I went,  passing some old onyx prospects(  I'm pretty sure they were for onyx), that gave me a feeling of deja vu.  I remembered that  I have been out here  once before kicking around this old excavations. I got to the now in filled tank, and hopped down into  the arroyo and quickly went through a rocky little gate.

 I did some exploring among some boulders and cliffs that appeared immediately on the hillside to the west, including looking over the rim of the hill at a huge valley below, before going down into  the twisting and turning little canyon.

It was  a little more drab than the other two we'd explored, but still pretty nice. There was one little dry waterfall that could be walked around, and then quickly thereafter another higher one which could be climbed down very carefully. Right below was a dark little passage with a few hackberry trees.

 The canyon had the same "striped" or foliated rock with beds tilted almost vertically in places, I had seen in one of the others on a previous hike. It had the look and feel of a metamorphic gneiss, but I welcome the input of any geologists out there who are familiar with the area to set me straight.

 At the  mouth, I quickly turned to the smaller canyon right next door to the west. This one was more open and grassy and in a short ways it led back to a huge roughly circular basin, where many rills gathered in the grassy, treeless bowl to form two larger arroyos. It was  kind of like  a desert  cienega  or high country wet meadow, but without the agua or wet. I get tunnel vision sometimes looking at maps and Google Earth, focusing on one certain feature, in this case the canyon I went down, and  don't notice what lies around it, so this was all an unexpected delight.

 I explored in the huge red boulders that tumbled down from the rim and found one with a donut hole.  Climbing up to an  large alcove, I found a little stone "table " ( really just a flat rock placed on two other rocks)inside perhaps made by someone who camped out in there one night. There also seemed to be  a red pictograph on the back wall,but I wouldn't wager money on it. As I made my way back down  the slippery grus, I picked up a piece of gray chert, that was sharply broken that I feel certain had not weathered out  of  the volcanic rock all around me.

 Now, I made my way across the basin, inspecting more boulders as I climbed toward the front side of the cliffs I had explored on the beginning of my hike. Close to the top, I looked back down and thought what a beautiful, hidden place, perhaps even majestic in that small way that  I've come to appreciate and if you visit maybe you will too.


R. Sherman said...

Greetings from Missouri from a regular lurking visitor. I continue to enjoy your posts. My youngest son (age 16) are contemplating a trip out your way (generally) in March: Either Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains or Willcox, AZ and the Chiricahuas and Pelloncillos. If the latter, we'll probably do a day in the Floridas, though I'd like to bag Cooke's Peak, too.

Too much to see; too little time.

devon said...

Enjoy your trip. If you need any directions or suggestions let me know.

R. Sherman said...

Thanks. I've been poking around your archives for ideas. Have you hiked Bunk Robinson peak in the Pelloncillos? It's close to the AZ border in the bootheel and looks interesting.


devon said...

I've only driven through that southern portion of the Peloncillos once. Pretty area.The area north of I -10 has always looked interesting to me. I have more familiarity with the Chiricahuas,although I don't know what the area looks like since the severe fires a few years back. I've camped and hiked quite a bit in
SE Arizona so pick my brain if you like.

R. Sherman said...

We've done the Chiricahuas three times, as well as the Dragoon Mountain Divide Trail. Love it, love it, love it. A photo from a few years back.

(Sorry about the extra "L" in "Peloncillo.")


R. Sherman said...

Because I'm a narcissist, the brood in the Dragoon Mountains ten years ago.

Dave Lolkema said...

Hey Devon,

I really enjoy reading your posts. I am somewhat an amateur archaeologist myself and found your post about Rattlesnake Peak very fascinating. My friend and I did the hike out there on MLK day and found a few glyph panels out there as well as the mastodon rubbing rock. Next month I am going to try and find the red glyphs you had mentioned in your post about at Iron Hill/Robledo Cave. I was curious about the mention of a locked gate. Would that locked gate be past the public shooting range? I am somewhat familiar with Corralitos Road, but still need to do some more exploring. Would you be able to send me the driving route you took to get to the Robledo Cave area? Also wanted to ask if you have ever made it out to see the Sunman Petroglyph Site? It's in the Massacre Peak area and a neat place to check out if you have never been. I have connections with the BLM archaeologists who shared the sites location with me and can pass on the information to you. Please e-mail me back at dzrtxplorer@gmail.com when you have the chance. Take care.