|Dark spot on the hill is the alcove|
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.