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Hayfield Springs and the Joy of Discovery Messages in this topic - RSS

RobertMarcos
RobertMarcos
Posts: 23


1/31/2017
RobertMarcos
RobertMarcos
Posts: 23
Last year I got a tip about possible Native American petroglyphs located just east of the Hinds pumping station of the Colorado River Aqueduct Project. As I studied Google Earth I chose a canyon adjacent to Hayfield Spring. Hayfield Spring is on BLM land just outside the southern border of Joshua Tree National Monument. It's five miles east of the Hinds pumping station.

Starting in Indio, I drove 31 miles east on the I-10 to Chiriaco Summit - home of the General Patton Museum. I got gas and a large coffee then returned to the I-10 east. I drove another 9 miles to Red Cloud road. I exited then circled around to the right under the freeway, then parked my little car and unloaded my bike. Truck owners can drive across the old railroad tracks and enter a dirt access road that curves north then east. Drive 2-1/2 miles then park off the road, (this road is used by trucks maintaining the aqueduct but it's basically open to use). You should not approach the Hinds Pumping station which is surrounded by "No Trespassing" signs, nor swim in the aqueduct itself, (although it's very refreshing).

The combination of the scenic drive, the caffeine from the large coffee, the mountain bike ride, and the two mile hike to the mouth of the canyon forged a deep and memorable sense of adventure. The weather was warm but tolerable. Here in the desert if the weather is tolerable you're already happy, regardless of the outcome of your hike.

At noon I parked my little car and took off on my bike. I had my heavy Canon 60D, lunch, and water in my small backpack. I ditched my bike about 20 minutes later and hiked across one of the “land bridges” that pass over the aqueduct about once every quarter-mile. Then I encountered a 15-foot high dike - designed to protect the aqueduct by redirecting the occasional flash flood. They dikes are visible on Google Earth as a series of intersecting quarter-mile long berms.

North of the berms the wilderness begins. Burrows from desert tortoises are everywhere so you have to watch your step. I walked past a light-gray colored snake that was soaking up some rays. And there are the ubiquitous coyote tracks. But upon approaching the mouth of the canyon I was struck by the smell of death. I had an immediate adrenaline reaction and I stopped in my tracks. I did a slow 360 and saw a good sized branch which I picked up and carried for defense, then I sought the source of the stink. About a minute later I found the corpse of a full-grown bighorn sheep. It was in the middle of a hundred prints, all of which appeared to be coyotes. I did not see any mountain lion tracks but I held onto my big stick anyway.

It’s a times like these that you regret being out in the middle of nowhere by yourself. But the fact that the majority of the bighorn had already been eaten, and the lack of lion tracks helped me to relax a bit and begin my CSI investigation. The sheep had no radio collar, and was not tagged. The dried grass from its belly were lying nearby. But everything else had been eaten.
I continued into the canyon. It was marvelous to scale the huge boulders and get out of the heat. I quickly identified some ancient trails and followed them a half-mile deeper into the canyon. I was watching very closely for any physical evidence of the ancient habitants - arrowheads, pottery, or petroglyphs. Not a single thing. And yet there were a dozen flat, circular areas where you fully expected to find something, plus there were trails that led to these places. The absolute lack of native American items reminded me of areas that had been "swept" by archaeologists. They're left sterile.

I exited the canyon an hour later, somewhere depressed. I stuck to the western edge of the canyon’s mouth and climbed up out of the sandy wash. Then BAM! There facing me was a classic symbol carved into a boulder - a vertical chain of linked diamonds - a rattlesnake, which the Indians used to indicate the entrance to the “underworld”. Generally these symbols exist on rocks near a large crack or at the entrance to a cave.

The next day I called the state biologist at Joshua Tree and reported the dead bighorn. She politely referred me to the BLM. They took all my information and asked me to email my photos to them, which I did. The day after that a friend called me and offered me $200 for the bighorn’s horns. I declined.











edited by RobertMarcos on 1/31/2017
edited by dsefcik on 1/31/2017
edited by RobertMarcos on 2/1/2017

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ziphius
ziphius
Posts: 627


1/31/2017
ziphius
ziphius
Posts: 627
Nice finds and adventure. I'd consider deleting the exact location of the petroglyphs in this thread, as there are plenty of cases of people attempting (unsuccessfully and successfully) to steal / remove petroglyphs from the wild. Revealing their location also increases the risk of defacement. Plus, part of the adventure for you was not knowing whether or not you would actually find the petroglyphs - now, they are a Google map pushpin location for the whole world to see. Good job not accepting an offer of $$ for the ram horns. It's illegal to sell them and they are better left in place for the next adventurer to stumble across 40 years from now. That's a very nice petroglyph chain. - Jim
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dsefcik
dsefcik
Administrator
Posts: 1969


1/31/2017
dsefcik
dsefcik
Administrator
Posts: 1969
Please no posting of precise locations of rock art, thank you.

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rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 331


2/1/2017
rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 331
Neat adventure and great story telling. Btw your camera takes great pics! That is a nice petroglyph find for sure. There are a bunch ancient trails from all over that area leading to and from Corn springs which is close by. It was a major water stop for the Native American traveler back in time. Unfortunately earthquakes turn on and off the spring. It was flowing in the 1960's according to an old timer in Desert Hot springs but went dry after a earthquake. I went to the Red Cloud mine years ago. It is a neat area out there for sure and outside J.T. so you can 4WD on the many jeep trails. Some of the area have boulders like J.T. but even as good or better IMHO.
Cheers!
edited by rockhopper on 2/1/2017
edited by rockhopper on 2/1/2017
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tekewin
tekewin
Posts: 29


2/9/2017
tekewin
tekewin
Posts: 29
Really cool bighorn find! Looks fresh. I would have been looking around for big cats, too. I'm glad you found a petroglyph for your efforts. Thanks for sharing your photos.
edited by tekewin on 2/9/2017
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