Sunday, July 21, 2013

A hot one on the Carrizo, 07/19/13

Some of you may have looked over my recent output and wondered "Where's the other Stillman? The one who hikes?". Believe me, I'm just waiting for rain (somewhat impatiently, I might add). I've got a helluva line-up planned for the fall/winter, and if I can accomplish just some of it you'll have been invited to some interesting and seldom seen country. In other words, when rain come the Stillman go. In the mean time I have (obviously) been spending a lot of time on rock art. What I would like to point out is that getting to these sites often takes more than a little effort, so rest assured I'm not just idling the summer by. Today for instance, I logged about 8 miles on foot in 103 degree heat. That's a bit like work.

My agenda for the day was to see another rock art site, an old ranch, and a couple spring sites. The old ranches of the Carrizo are fascinating places that really put you in the past and as for spring sites, some few have rock art, most do not. Sometimes the curious mind just has to go have a look see. Even if there's no rock art (likely), you may find a pretty place or something else that makes the looking worth the doing. At the minimum it becomes one less curiosity to be satisfied.

Today's rock art site is in a far corner of the Carrizo and required a good deal of cross-country rambling to find. Man, it was hot on the Plain. The air was still, without a breath of wind. Heat shimmers blurred the horizon and the sun cast Soda Lake in a stark glare of blinding white. El Sol beat down in a weird, almost heavy way, desaturating the sky with raw UV. By the time I located the alcove and it's impressive collection of rock art I was drenched head to toe in a dripping bath of my own salts (Sounds sexy, don't it? Not.). I was as grateful for the the alcove's cool shade as I'm sure the folks who painted these pretty pieces were. As with all things Carrizo, this site is pretty remarkable. After a cool down I got to work.

 As I said previously, the ranches of the Carrizo are well worth the time if rusting, falling down old things interest you. Traver Ranch, KCL Ranch, Saucito and others offer a stark look at the difficulties that the independent folks of that time would have lived with daily in order scratch out a living on the Plain. In this case, I found my way over to the Cochora Ranch site on the Elkhorn side of the Plain. This site started out with a natural spring which was developed further with a mill driven water well. A couple hundred yard away are several well shafts indicating the increasing demand for ground water as the area dried up. One old and battered wind mill still stands, rusting in peace. A small shed holds the next and final step in attempting to keep this ranch alive, a diesel engine driven jack pump. It appears that the ranch died a slow and parched death, and today the desert is reclaiming it's own.

Cochora Ranch

Diesel powered pump jack.

Evidence of life and death the Plain can be found with little effort.
I did quite a bit of driving around the Carrizo, criss-crossing the Plain a few times on old trails leading I knew not where. I ended up roving through a couple canyons, hiking into Lawson Spring and Padrones Spring. In this part of the Carrizo the hilly foothills of the Caliente Range descend to the valley floor, eroding into colorful badlands and washes. There is a collision of two or more types of rock at Padrones and if I knew anything about geology I could tell you more about that. 

Was a good day. Can't wait for things to cool down though. Stand fast, this too shall pass.

Padrones Spring
Link: Native American Art, My Perspective


  1. "Rest assured I'm not just idling the summer by"
    David, I completely concur with that; many of these sites involve off-trail hiking which is difficult, at times unpleasant, and more demanding than on trail. However, the rewards of discovering these sites exceed the punishment for those who partake.

  2. It's wonderful to see someone else so fascinated by the CP. I'm a self proclaimed Carrizo junkie myself. I can't get enough of this area. Great pics. Nice addition to your blog.

  3. Thanks M, and to McKenzie, I'm just warming up to the degree of exploratory potential waiting for me on the Carrizo. Thanks for thinking likewise. ~DS