Friday, July 28, 2017

North Foster Box- Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument


 I have such a backlog of places I want to go in my head, I'm not always sure where exactly I'm going to hike, I just head out in a direction and see what comes to mind. On Wednesday morning, I ended up on the road ( after passing it once) that goes up on the ridge south of Foster Canyon. I took a little spur road that heads north and downhill, and parked just before the it crossed into Foster Canyon itself.
From there I began my wandering, first up the wash and then off to a red rock ridge on the north side. I looked over to some cliffs and formations  to the northeast,but decided my destination would be a little box canyon further west, that sits almost directly opposite the more well known box canyon we explored a year and a half year ago ( see " Foster Canyon" from January, 2016 in this blog).

 I stayed up high, climbing over a couple of weedy, green hills and then headed down to the open upper end of the canyon.  I walked downstream, clacking my hiking poles on rocks as I went to give the snakes something to rattle about ahead of the arrival of feet and legs.  Unlike the box across the way this one has cliffs and formations of dark gray, not red, rock. It is also much more narrow. Unfortunately, it is much shorter, but it was still the highlight of this outing.
 At one point I noticed an old wooden stake on a low cliff above me.  I thought "mining claim", but didn't investigate any closer.There were several shallow excavations in the cliffs that coincided with it. There were pods and veins of gray chert and white quartz nearby, which could have been the reason for the digging,but I don't know.

Further on the cliffs rose as the canyon deepened. Twisted trunks and roots of junipers wrapped around rocks and as the branches reached for the sun. I spied a couple of pinhole arches in rock towers on the canyon sides. A couple of dry waterfalls were easily descended, and it was wonderfully dark even as we approached the eleventh hour of the day.

 It was all over a bit too soon. Now, back out in the sun, as I looked down to the bright white ash conglomerate that looks like coarse concrete, I  realized it was going to be nothing but hot from now on. Still, I made  over to the full McCall Reservoir and the eccentric formations of bare rock, turned a sickly yellow by lichen growth, that surround it.

 I hiked back in the heat along the road, much to the consternation of three black cows, who seemed to  think I was after them. I admired the cliffs of red against the green summertime growth, a combination which never gets old, and noticed a larger arch I had not seen before. It was time to leave so I didn't investigate it fully, but I'll be back.

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