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Smoketree Canyon area Messages in this topic - RSS

ziphius
ziphius
Posts: 891


3/11/2013
ziphius
ziphius
Posts: 891
Nice one-night backpack into the Smoketree Canyon area this weekend with my buddy Dan. A clockwise loop:



Things seen, but not photographed: a breeding pair of prairie falcons at a sheer cliff site, a short-eared owl flushed during a daytime walk, a desert iguana that scampered away too quickly.

Started out with a drive through Cuyamaca with snow still falling Sat. morning:



The view north up Smoketree Wash:



Desert poppy I think:



Smoketree canyon:



Dan and bighorn sheep. Only saw two, but saw them high on the ridge without ever hearing them. They were as still as could be, but their shapes stood out for some reason. Only one remained in sight by the time I raised my camera:



View south after gaining a little elevation:



The terrain was rocky and canyon-gouged, so any flat spots without rocks were a rarity. Dan wanted the miraculous flat spot photographed:



An idea of the terrain, heading north, generally towards Pyramid Peak, but we didn't make it that far:



The "brains" of the trip (Dan, you can be the 'brawn'), with Salton Sea and peak 2697 in the background:



Gorgeous views to the NE:



Peak 2697, below which we would eventually set camp. I spied a suitable camping spot through binos just to the right of this photo, a 1300 ft 'skip' down a ridgeline, following sheep trails.



Camp One (and the only camp!):



Views from Camp One:




Morning views from camp:





The next morning, there was some jagged terrain to cross if we wanted to complete this loop. I looked at it and said 'ugh'. But it turned out to be quite enjoyable, with a modicum of adventure:



How to get down into one of the canyons that drain to the south that would bring us back to S-22 was the challenge:



We had a couple (ok, maybe a few) of false incursions toward the canyon bottom. Eventually, we chose a natural drainage to follow and hoped it wouldn't end at a 20 ft dry fall. After you, Dan!



We put a little bit of work in to descend into the bigger canyons, but nothing dangerous:



We had to remove packs in other tight places to get under boulders that had blocked our progress:



Found a natural arch in the sandstone, something I had not seen in AB before:





From the other side:



The walking was easy in the canyon bottom for the most part:



I was sitting, having lunch when Dan said, hey, look at THAT. I looked up and saw this:



Then I looked closer:



Dan always notices stuff that I miss, he's a good hiking partner to have. Dan immediately dismissed this as modern and I sort of did too. But now I'm wondering.....there was no modern graffiti in the immediate vicinity and this was pretty faint, whaddya think? :



More modern petroglyphs:



We eventually came to where the canyon met S-22 and I knew there was going to be an erosion control pipe going under the road, but I didn't think we would be able to walk through it:





The south side of the pipe at S-22 and the beginning of a jaunt partly on and off S22 back to Smoketree Wash:



Nice trip to a part of AB that I had never seen before. I think a future trip would involve bringing more than 6 liters of water and making it all the way to Pyramid Peak, making the clockwise loop a bit bigger and exiting somewhere closer to Calcite Mine. Thanks Dan for driving and suggesting the trip. - Jim
edited by ziphius on 3/11/2013
edited by ziphius on 3/11/2013

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