Saturday, February 13, 2016

Backside of the River

I've paddled the lower Colorado River from Walter's Camp to Fisher's Landing nearly 10 times, but I've never seen this section of the river from the shore. There is a gravel road that runs north from near Fisher's Landing to the Imperial Wildlife Refuge and apparently continues all the way to the Cibola Refuge, but I didn't go that far.

There are several points of gravel/rock that extend out from the hills through the lowlands towards the river. I was hoping for river views, but for the most part you'd see pocket lakes.

Most of the backwaters had a lot of bird activity. I know they were birds because they had wings... but neither John West nor Helen Howard were along, so that's the best identification you're going to get from me.

Finally, at Smoke Tree Point, I got a fairly good view of the river looking upstream towards California's Picacho State Recreation Area. I'd been there a couple weeks prior on the 9th Annual Friends of Helen trip.

The road left the Wildlife Area and continued upriver through the Yuma Proving Ground. Maintenance was minimal and the road ran for miles through a gravel wash. The narrow road surface was hard enough, but I was sure glad I didn't meet anyone because it looked real soft to the sides

and there was clear indication that you didn't want to stray from the road!

I hadn't reduced my tire pressure from what I use when towing the trailer, so it was pretty slow going to avoid beating the truck too much. Not sure the curves ahead sign was really necessary - I was averaging about 10 mph because of the road.

The road left the Proving Ground and shortly thereafter I parked the truck near a rusty refrigerator, laced up the boots, and headed up a wash. The directions said you could drive up the wash to the pass in the hills, but ...

The road through the beginning of the was was very narrow - almost a slot. I'm thinking about turn-around space and not wanting to back down. Part way up the hill I found this spot where people had bridges a washout with a railroad tie. Further up, there were washouts that I wouldn't have been able to negotiate with my 2WD truck. Walking was the smart move!

There was supposed to be at least two mines and some rust about a mile back from the "main" road. Sure enough, found this Cat 40 with the blade nearby and the head and manifolds on the ground.

A bit further, I found the area that had clearly been the campsite for the mines. I was actually quite surprised as to how much the area had been cleaned up. In addition to the Cat, there was another set of smaller Cat tracks, and this small area around camp. No other significant equipment remained.

If you kept your eyes open, you could see where mining claim corners were marked. This one was the clearest of those I found.

The view from one of the mines was pretty nice. Couldn't see the river, but it wasn't too far away. I had to pay close attention to where I was walking. There were open vertical mine shafts all around the area!

On the way back to the truck, I noticed someone suffered a blow-out. I think that could have been very uncomfortable given the rocky road left to travel.

Once back to the truck, I wanted to continue north, but figured I'd pushed my luck enough with this solo jaunt so I headed back south. I didn't see any other traffic at all until I was back within the borders of the Wildlife Refuge where I saw three other cars at a trailhead and a ranger making his rounds.

All in all, a great day, and two challenging, lonely caches (and some easy ones) logged.

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