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An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #30 on: January 03, 2019, 01:23:04 PM »
Deriving immense pleasure from your trip report!  Thanks for including interesting specifics about your gear.  I'm glad you are recovering from your illness.  I did not realize just how serious it was. 

I hope to get out again sometime.  I drove out to El Paso after Christmas, but couldn't spare a day or even half day to hike.  The weather was extremely variable.  Driving back on New Year's Day we stopped in Van Horn for breakfast.  I had to empty and repack the car to get at a bottle of motor oil and I can't remember ever having been as cold.  It was only 29 degrees, but humid and windy.  I shuddered to think of being in the backcountry.  A person could die in that.

Anyway, your report is my solace until I can get out again, Lord willing.  Sorry I've nothing to add content-wise, but it wouldn't be right to withhold my thanks and praise for your superb account.
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2019, 03:03:39 PM »
Linda Spring is an excellent find. I had planned to make it out to the park over the holidays but the shutdown along with a nasty cold pretty much ended those plans. I had two potential routes, one very similar to what Mule Ears did and the other was a Chimney's route like you are doing. I would have come up that wash to Red Ass spring as well! 

Great report and photos!

Great minds....

Thanks for the kudos, Robert. I heard from ME that you were feeling poorly. Hope you bounce back fully. It would have been a hoot to run into you out there. Maybe next time...


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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #32 on: January 03, 2019, 03:06:45 PM »
Deriving immense pleasure from your trip report!  Thanks for including interesting specifics about your gear.  I'm glad you are recovering from your illness.  I did not realize just how serious it was. 

I hope to get out again sometime.  I drove out to El Paso after Christmas, but couldn't spare a day or even half day to hike.  The weather was extremely variable.  Driving back on New Year's Day we stopped in Van Horn for breakfast.  I had to empty and repack the car to get at a bottle of motor oil and I can't remember ever having been as cold.  It was only 29 degrees, but humid and windy.  I shuddered to think of being in the backcountry.  A person could die in that.

Anyway, your report is my solace until I can get out again, Lord willing.  Sorry I've nothing to add content-wise, but it wouldn't be right to withhold my thanks and praise for your superb account.

Thanks BP56!

My equipment manifest was crucial on this trip. I wasn’t even sure I could carry a pack. Needed to pare everything to the essentials.

It was actually quite nice while I was out there. Nothing like the 13 degree morning I spent in the snow in Ernst Basin last year. Now, that one hurt.


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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #33 on: January 03, 2019, 06:27:39 PM »
Ripping good yarn as usual, House, and glad you were able to get out there. Those wide open washes and badlands around Black Mesa look wonderful.

Dumb question but why is there no Uno Spring?
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 06:37:33 PM by DesertRatShorty »
I roamed and rambled, and I foller'ed my footsteps
   To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
   And all around me a voice was a'sounding
   This land was made for you and me

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #34 on: January 03, 2019, 06:56:28 PM »
Dumb question but why is there no Uno Spring?

Man, if I had a dollar....

I think only Juan Cuatro Lados, he of the Springs Survey, knows the answer to that question.

Good to see you back on the board, DRS. We’ve missed you!



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Offline congahead

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #35 on: January 04, 2019, 07:46:28 AM »
Glad to see you had the fortitude to finish what I kinda started last year!  Man, I remember trying to fight my way through that thick brush to the springs; your account echoes my experience.  I’ve learned that finding water in the Bend is only half the battle - accessing it and gathering it is the other half.

Really enjoying your report. I need to finish mine from my October and November trips, although it won’t be nearly as entertaining as yours. 
"The animals here will generally try to avoid you, but the plants will hurt you every chance they get."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #36 on: January 04, 2019, 11:45:33 AM »
Glad to see you had the fortitude to finish what I kinda started last year!  Man, I remember trying to fight my way through that thick brush to the springs; your account echoes my experience.  I’ve learned that finding water in the Bend is only half the battle - accessing it and gathering it is the other half.

It gets worse. The terrain between Red Ass and South is brutal. The trip that you and your wife took last year was uppermost in my mind the entire time I was out there. But I had completely forgotten you'd planned on hitting Wright Pool; I only remembered North and South Springs.  I just re-read your trip report and it wasn't until just now that I realized you and I planned essentially the exact same itinerary, but in opposite directions. I think had you traveled the circuit in the same direction as me, you'd have made it.  Also, your reported experience was exactly the reason I started my hike with a climb to the top of Point 3125: I wanted to inspect the meatgrinder before I entered it, see if there was a sneaky way through it.  There are a few tricks, but nevertheless, crossing some parts of that desert is a lesson in "no pain, no gain".
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2019, 11:48:20 AM »
DAY 3



Do not try this at home by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

I awoke shortly after sunrise and my shelter was still standing. More or less. One of the entrance flaps had come unstaked in the middle of the night and through the stalks of my bunchgrass pillow I could see a calm blue sky. The inside of my little home was perfectly dry: it must have stopped raining before the stake came loose. Perhaps I could have seen the Geminids, after all. Water under the bridge: Time to move on. I wiggled out of my bag and then out of my shelter. Everything outside was soaked, but the day was beautiful. The front had blown through. Time for breakfast. I extracted my pack from beneath the pitifully sagging tent and pulled out all the necessaries. A mandarin orange to wake up my mouth, and GU gel with caffeine to wake up my brain. Bean burrito for breakfast. I filled my cookpot and fired up my stove, then went about laying things out to dry. It would take awhile: the sun wouldn’t hit the inside of this canyon for at least an hour. With time to kill, I pulled out my flute and prepared to play. I was looking forward to this one: the wall of this small box canyon should create a nice echo effect. But, oddly, it didn’t, and I don’t have any idea why. Still, it was nice to welcome the arrival of sunlight inside this little canyon with my flute song. Water steamy and boiling now, I rehydrated the spicy beans and enjoyed a hot burrito, sitting on flat boulder in a beautiful, though chilly, canyon. This little box canyon was just as delightful as I remembered it from yesterday. But….I had places to go. I had to get out of here soon. The question was, how? I thought back on my walk in here and I couldn’t remember any convenient exit points. There were a couple of nearby arroyos, but they looked steep, treacherously filled with loose boulders of that same red rock, and they all took me in wide diversions away from the wash up which I wanted to walk, The quickest, most efficient solution was to climb my way up one of the sheer twenty-foot walls right on either side of the waterfall at the head of the box canyon: the walls I was staring at right then.  I was a little stiff, and my balance still wasn’t a hundred percent, but I thought I could do it without too much difficulty.


Around 10am, I gathered up my not-quite-dry gear, packed everything back into my pack, stowed my trekking poles in its side pockets, adjusted my clothing layers for agility rather than warmth, slipped on my leather gloves, shouldered my pack and approached the rock. The first ten feet were easy - even with my pack on my back - putting me atop a ten-inch wide shelf of broken rock from which the canyon rim was tantalizingly close to my upstretched hands. But it turned out the shelf was made of unstable rock and I nearly lost my footing while trying to reach a handhold just below the rim. I had to descend a bit, work my way left and up another crack to a slightly smaller shelf even nearer the rim, which now was only a foot below my outstretched hands. I considered trying to take off my pack and tossing it up over the rim but that seemed a tricky move up here on this tiny shelf. I looked around. A sapling was growing from the rim just to my left. I leaped and grabbed a knob on the lip of the rim with one hand and the tree with the other, jammed my foot into a crack, and lifted myself with a heavy grunt up over the rim and onto a smooth flat sandy wash.


Whereas the box canyon had been shady and calm, up here on top at desert level, the sun was shining bright and the winds were brutal.

Up top VIDEO by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

I blinked in the sunlight and surveyed the flat terrain up here. A couple of small boulders sat buried in the sand a few feet away, interspersed with desert grasses dressed in winter golds and bronze, and partially surrounded by a tiny pool of water with a trickling outflow that fed the waterfall. THIS must be Linda’s Spring. Hard to say for sure, because now that I was safely up top and could snoop around, I found several more pools upwash. No shortage of water out here this year.



The REAL Linda Spring by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Draining to the pour-off by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

I walked to the edge of the rim and took a last look down into the beautiful little box canyon.



Looking down into the canyon from the pour-off by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Box Canyon panorama VIDEO by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Then I turned around and headed northeast into the unknown. Interestingly, I forgot to pull out my trekking poles from where I'd stashed them for the climb up the wall. A minute later, I remembered them, started to take off my pack, and then thought, "Maybe not. Maybe we'll just see how well I do without them." And you know, in this relatively flat terrain, I did just fine. Even better than fine. It reminded me of my younger days, backpacking in the 1970's and 1980's, before anyone used poles. It felt good to be loose and free again, swinging my arms unencumbered. I felt more alive, even younger. It's a little thing, but some of you older backpackers probably know what I mean. The poles stayed in my pack for most of the rest of the trip.


Upwash, the sandy gravel was covered in animal tracks, beyond that a moonscape of clay hills and crumbling rock. The wash continued to bend sharply leftward in a long sweeping curve until it suddenly narrowed into a canyon maybe thirty feet wide, bounded on both sides by walls of the same red rock as the box canyon.



Tracks above Linda Spring by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Moonscape VIDEO by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Heading into another canyon by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Rock walls closing in by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Soon, the sandy, gravelly wash bottom was replaced by pure bedrock as the canyon undulated in a series of “s” curves filled with all
manner of pools and little tinajas, anywhere from a few inches to as much as a foot deep.



Bedrock by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Getting narrow by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Getting narrower by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Narrowest by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Nope finally down to three feet wide byHouse Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Eventually the bedrock bottom of the canyon showcased a deep erosional cut, several yards long, no more than two or three feet wide and six or eight or ten deep, the bottom of which was completely filled with milky water, and in year-round shade - possibly a perennially reliable little tinaja.  I could stand above it with my legs spread wide, each foot on an opposite rim. With great imagination, I dubbed this stretch “The Narrows”. 

It was beautiful and I loved the small-scale charm of it. Look, I admire big sweeping awesome vistas as much as the next guy but I often find that my favorite landscapes are smaller, more human-scaled and a little mysterious. The kinds of places I would have liked to play in as a kid.

After a little less than half a mile, the bedrock canyon began to open up again into the wide desert, but I hadn’t even gone another half a mile when the bedrock peeked through the gravels again, holding wide deep pools of water. I tested the depth one of the larger ones by throwing a big rock into it. Easily a foot deep and maybe closer to two.



Opening up again by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Little Tinaja by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Little Tinaja VIDEO by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Soon after, I came to a point where the wash split and then split again, conveniently sign-posted by a huge boulder with a split down the middle, just in case I wasn’t paying close enough attention.



Split Rock says look out for split washes by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

And I most certainly had to pay close attention to the terrain and to my maps to make sure I chose the right wash to walk up.  Somewhere ahead – a short distance if I chose correctly – was my next target, the Wright Pool, another of the water features added in the 1995 survey. My data placed it not quite a quarter mile up a subsidiary wash to the left of the main channel draining Red Ass Spring.  The washes were now a mixture of bedrock bottoms, sedimentary banks, and open desert beyond.



On the way to Wright Pool by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Getting close by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

I reached a small pouroff emptying into the wash in which I was hiking. According to my maps, this was the wash up which Wright Pool was located. I dropped my pack and climbed up a small wall of bedrock, beside an obvious (but dry) pouroff, and headed up the steep drainage.



In search of Wright Pool by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Maybe above this pouroff by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Almost immediately the bedrock disappeared and the wash became sandy and choked with thorny plants and copious amounts of Mountain Lion scat.



Wright Pool Wash by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Mountain Lion scat in wash by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr



Should have been my first clue by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Minutes later I reached the point where, according to my maps and to GAIA, the Wright Pool should have been, but I found nothing whatsoever, not even a likely clump of vegetation, just the same seemingly random distribution of flesh-ripping plants.  Another bust from the 1995 survey.  I didn’t even bother to get out my flute.

Nobody here but us scats VIDEO by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Back at the main wash, I headed northeast again, dejectedly climbing uphill through increasingly fractured bedrock…


Approaching by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

…only to be stymied 300 or 400 yards later by a huge bedrock dam, anywhere from four to ten feet high, stretched across the trail from hill to hill, in front of which was……….A HUGE TINAJA.



Holy Schmokes by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

The REAL Wright Pool VIDEO by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Again, I used tossed rocks to test the depth, and to me it sounded at least two feet deep, maybe more. And there was evidence in its surroundings that it could be as much as two feet deeper in extremely wet periods. It should be noted that this was a southwest-facing tinaja with little or no shade, so it might be susceptible to total evaporation in hotter, drier periods, but this major feature HAD to be Wright Pool, six hundred feet south (as the crow flies) of the location shown on my maps. Again, evidence that the datum used in the 1995 survey may not have been the same as that used in the earlier spring surveys.


Wright Pool from above by House Made of
Dawn
, on Flickr


Wright Pool, looking downstream by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr


Wright Pool outflow by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

I had to rock climb my way above the tinaja, and just above the pouroff was what surely looked like an old cairn, again more evidence that this was a known water source. Here I stopped, pulled my flute, and played a joyful little meditation of a couple minutes’ length.


Cairn above tinaja by House Made of Dawn, on Flickr

Shortly upwash, the bedrock dwindled away again, to be replaced by gravelly, then sandy, then clayey washes and banks, covered in abundant grasses and occasional cacti. I was once again ascending into the open desert and this time it looked like it would last all the way to Red Ass Spring. 

To be continued...
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 11:03:56 AM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline badknees

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #38 on: January 04, 2019, 12:17:18 PM »
Quote
but this major feature HAD to be Wright Pool, six hundred feet south (as the crow flies) of the location shown on my maps. Again, evidence that the datum used in the 1995 survey may not have been the same as that used in the earlier spring surveys.

My data shows Wright Pool to be at N29.22187° W103.49623°

This correlates exactly with my topo and visually spot on with Google Earth.

What coordinates are you using?

Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

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Offline mule ears

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2019, 01:51:32 PM »
Quote
but this major feature HAD to be Wright Pool, six hundred feet south (as the crow flies) of the location shown on my maps. Again, evidence that the datum used in the 1995 survey may not have been the same as that used in the earlier spring surveys.

My data shows Wright Pool to be at N29.22187° W103.49623°

This correlates exactly with my topo and visually spot on with Google Earth.

What coordinates are you using?

The data from the New Mexico State study puts it north of there like HMoD had.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2019, 02:18:45 PM »
Quote
but this major feature HAD to be Wright Pool, six hundred feet south (as the crow flies) of the location shown on my maps. Again, evidence that the datum used in the 1995 survey may not have been the same as that used in the earlier spring surveys.

My data shows Wright Pool to be at N29.22187° W103.49623°

This correlates exactly with my topo and visually spot on with Google Earth.

What coordinates are you using?

Eeeek. I know enough to never argue with a master mapper.  Both of the map links you included show Wright Pool exactly where I found it. So in that respect, you are right. ME's also correct that my data came from the UNM study. But, and this is a big but, I transferred all water source locations into GAIA by hand (don't ask, it's just me, the old dog), and - like a game of telephone - there may have been some corruption in the data along the way. Still, I'm pretty sure the UNM study put the location of Wright Pool up that red herring wash.

But here's a question I'm dying to know the answer to, BK......where does your map show Dos Spring to be?  That one might help us figure out what's going on here.
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Offline badknees

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #41 on: January 04, 2019, 02:22:46 PM »
Quote
but this major feature HAD to be Wright Pool, six hundred feet south (as the crow flies) of the location shown on my maps. Again, evidence that the datum used in the 1995 survey may not have been the same as that used in the earlier spring surveys.

My data shows Wright Pool to be at N29.22187° W103.49623°

This correlates exactly with my topo and visually spot on with Google Earth.

What coordinates are you using?

Eeeek. I know enough to never argue with a master mapper.  Both of the map links you included show Wright Pool exactly where I found it. So in that respect, you are right. ME's also correct that my data came from the UNM study. But, and this is a big but, I transferred all water source locations into GAIA by hand (don't ask, it's just me, the old dog), and - like a game of telephone - there may have been some corruption in the data along the way. Still, I'm pretty sure the UNM study put the location of Wright Pool up that red herring wash.

But here's a question I'm dying to know the answer to, BK......where does your map show Dos Spring to be?  That one might help us figure out what's going on here.

Dos Spring

N29.20275° W103.49460°
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Online Flash

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2019, 02:27:49 PM »
I don't have access to my notes at the moment, but I recall the UNM data required a datum transformation to make it compatible with the default datum used in most GPS units and Google Earth. Not doing so could account for discrepancies on the order of several hundred feet or more.

==> Sent from Flash's phone

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Offline mule ears

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #43 on: January 04, 2019, 02:51:10 PM »
I don't have access to my notes at the moment, but I recall the UNM data required a datum transformation to make it compatible with the default datum used in most GPS units and Google Earth. Not doing so could account for discrepancies on the order of several hundred feet or more.

==> Sent from Flash's phone

The NMSU study is using UTM Coordinates, NAD83, Zone 13

The NMSU coordinates for Dos spring are 29.2040 and 103.4958 about the same sort of deviation from the Wright Pool coordinates.  BK where did your list of coordinates come from?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 03:49:13 PM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline badknees

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Re: An Unexpected Journey: To The Chimneys and Beyond
« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2019, 03:15:34 PM »
I don't have access to my notes at the moment, but I recall the UNM data required a datum transformation to make it compatible with the default datum used in most GPS units and Google Earth. Not doing so could account for discrepancies on the order of several hundred feet or more.

==> Sent from Flash's phone

Most GPS Units default to WGS84. The NMU data for Wright Pool was in NAD83....However that does not account for the discrepancy. WGS84 intends to track the center of mass of the Earth, the NAD83 datum intends to track the movement of the North American plate. Two datums that were identical back in the 1980s have diverged to a point where now there are about 3-4 feet of difference between the two. The NMU data came from 1995.

Most historical USGS topographic maps used NAD27 as a reference system. The  latitude and longitude location in a NAD27 datum differs from that same benchmark in NAD83 or WGS84.

The UNM data is clearly incorrect by about 250 yards.....However I'm going to have to do a little research to figure out what my data source was for that particular water feature. Obviously it wasn't the UNM data. Hmmmmm...
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

 


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