Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chivatos Canyon,Plateau- Las Uvas Mountains Wilderness Study Area

This was a nice hike for an early spring morning. The grasses were greening up, the wildflowers were beginning to bloom and the junipers  looked bright and full. The destination of this hike is the plateau country of Uvas Mountains Wilderness Study Area and this walk has the distinct advantage of the use of  a  very old,little used road to get up there. Although it is cherry-stemmed out of the WSA,  this road to Chivatos Tank and beyond, is getting more than bit wild itself. I was glad I parked just off of off the through road( I'm never sure what to call it in these middle regions, either the Barksdale or the Corralitos Rd, E006 or D012), and elected to walk to Chivatos Tank. I'm not saying it can't be driven, but I enjoyed exploring the canyon itself , examining different sections on the way in and on the way back.
 The walk to the tank was pleasant with early season butterflies flitting  about and bird songs welcoming me. Although there was several bedrock areas, and a narrow slot-like pot hole stretch that held water in several places, I didn't see any grinding mortars, or petroglyphs.  I did find a vintage Pepsi can and other vintage trash.

The cliffs exposed the oxidized tuff and basalt caprock resting on layers of  pale conglomerate and volcanic ash.
 The tank was without water, a suprise given all the rain we've had this winter. Past the tank my trail/ road zig-zagged up the hillside. I rested under a juniper when it finally leveled off and I wondered if I will ever find another surviving piñon tree in the Uvas. Continuing on I hit the highpoint of the hike which is a shade over 6100 feet. Google Earth greatly enhances the continued viability of the route as a vehicle road . Grass and weeds are taking hold in the gravel tracks of the main northward branch.Two side roads that begin close to one another, on the plateau, one heading east and one heading west up onto  adjoining mesas are almost invisible at their starts in the high growth of last years grass and wildflower skeletons. They might be fun to explore on a second visit.
 Looking down  I saw  several nice pieces of the ubiquitous Uvas agate, including one glob that had  the nice pinkish-orange tint that is more prized than the more common shades of blue, gray and white.

 Where the road ended, there was still a little bit of rocky mesa left where I first descended and then walked up a little hill to the "land's end" point where there were views of lower peaks of the Uvas, the arroyos leading to the river and to the village of Hatch.

 Beyond, there was the Black Range of the Gila, the Caballo Mountains, the San Andres chain on the east and far to the north, the buttress of Victorio Peak of the San Mateo range.

 On my return walk, the sun emerged from the cloud cover that had mercifully kept the heat down. In spite of the rising temperatures, I couldn't resist the urge to explore the little box section of Chivatos Canyon just downstream from where I had parked. Although there were deep natural pools of water and this area is very close to places with petroglyphs, once again I found no rock art or grinding mortars.

 I walked backed out and to the car. I had been out about 4 hours and covered between 6 and 7 miles. The elevation gain was a little less than 1,000 feet

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