Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Upper Faulkner Box Canyon- Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument


the "slot"

Andrea and Nessie in the little "slot "section

Looking down into the box

     This hike was in another neat little box canyon not far from the others I've been exploring these past few weeks. While those were tributaries of Foster Canyon, this one is a tributary on the northwest end of Faulkner Canyon, a major arroyo system to the south of Foster that divides the Robledo Mountains from the Cedar Hills. It is upstream from  a more well known box on the Faulkner's southeast side,  and from the landmark Outlaw Rock. The canyon is accessible from its mouth by driving in on the Faulkner Canyon Road, however we began our hike from near a tank at the top end which we arrived at using that same ridgetop road I've been using to access the Foster tributary hikes. A very poor spur road( high clearance only- really) that heads south got us to  our trailhead.
 We walked downstream passing rusty cliffs and boulders with junipers emerging in the spaces and cracks. There were a few dry waterfalls to climb down or  walk around. Dropping down into  a brushy narrow section,  there were  hackberry trees as well.

 The canyon opened up for awhile  and became a sandy draw bordered with first welded ash deposits of  white and then strange looking brown,black and greenish volcanics that had seams of some kind of blue and green copper minerals, pods of quartz and occasional globs of agate. A large ash tree, which I'm hoping will still survive, lay on its side in the sand.

 Further downstream we came the narrowest part of the box. We climbed down an awkward little dry waterfall, and found ourselves in a slot of polished pink volcanic rock that had walls just over our heads. Above us was a second tier of the red cliffs. We followed the tight watercourse, climbing down a second dry waterfall, just  a short ways when it terminated at much higher pour-off that was quite sheer. A few big cliffs closed in just beyond the bottom of the falls. On one was graffiti in a garish shade of blue. Below, the spray paint can lay in the sand.  A kind of disappointing climax to our little journey, I wanted to at least pick up the can and any other trash that was down there, but there was no way to get down except to go back up, and then around and down.
 more of the mini "slot"

The  mini" slot"
 We did walk back to where we had seen a two track come in on the north side of the canyon. We used it to climb up the hill to get some views down into the box, which opened up considerably after the high dry waterfall. In the cliffs I spied a tiny, little pinhole arch. I also could  see vehicle tracks in the sandy bottom,which explains the  graffiti in this seemingly remote, hidden canyon. I believe the current generation of taggers( and perhaps the last few preceding them) for the most part  are too lazy to hike but a very short distance to do their pathetic deeds.
Looking down to the high waterfall

The lower canyon

 On the return we took an alternate canyon on the north side, quite by accident, so that our hike became a lollipop loop.  Unlike almost every hike I do out in the desert,there were footprints all along our way on this warm Super Bowl Sunday.  I know that the Ocotillo hikers visit here occasionally, and accessing this canyon from the road in  Faulkner Canyon is pretty quick, with only one truly rough section if my memory serves me correctly. Still,it is unlikely you will see anyone and if they're not carrying a can of spray paint, you'll probably have a lot in common.

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