Walking Along a Nice Creek in the Desert

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,560
May 24-25, 2019

My friend Dan and I went on an overnighter near an area I had visited last year. I had never seen anything written anywhere about any part of this route, other than our starting point. Doing a full, completely unknown route was a first for me, and I loved it. We didn't see anyone except for at our starting point, but we did have a unique experience up a side canyon that likely involved another person. More on that later.

I'm being intentionally vague here for obvious reasons. That said, I'm sure that anyone somewhat familiar with our starting point could figure out where we went from the photos.

We got started in the late morning. The weather was pretty cloudy for most of the day, with a small shower passing through from time to time.

Lake was looking nice despite the clouds.
IMG_20190524_114125 (2).jpg


IMG_20190524_114134 (2).jpg


We climbed up above the lake and began descending off the ridge. The trail was rough. Lots of big volcanic rocks.
IMG_20190524_114635.jpg


As we got farther along, we began to see more desert features.
IMG_20190524_114832.jpg


Also more volcanic rock. And absolutely massive cairns. For how few people this area sees, it was surprising to see such big cairns. I guess with generally circular rocks that big, it's hard to make a small cairn.
IMG_20190524_115459.jpg


A few old ranching roads run through the area. Made walking easier in many places.
IMG_20190524_122855.jpg


We got to a really big, steep descent on the road. I don't think anyone had taken a vehicle down it in a while, and it looked like some rocks and debris had slid in one spot and made it pretty much impassable now.
IMG_20190524_124309.jpg


IMG_20190524_124431.jpg


We got to the bottom of the steep slope and finally reached the creek.
IMG_20190524_130155.jpg


Big, pretty walls, and plenty of pretty pines, including ponderosa, my favorite.
IMG_20190524_130329.jpg


There were some nice little falls along the way.
IMG_20190524_130507.jpg


IMG_20190524_130834.jpg


That's me.
IMG_20190524_130846.jpg


The path we walked sometimes came right next to the creek, sometimes not. I'd get excited every time I saw it. I have a thing for flowing water in the desert. And flowing water in general.
IMG_20190524_131256.jpg


IMG_20190524_132413.jpg


We crossed the creek to explore a tributary that, from Google Maps, appeared to flow nearly year-round.
IMG_20190524_133625.jpg


IMG_20190524_133631.jpg


The tributary proved to be very nice. Our plan was to camp up this canyon, and then we would find a way up and over to another drainage, then back to the main creek to do a lollipop loop.
IMG_20190524_135509.jpg


There was lots of petrified wood along the entire route.
IMG_20190524_135645.jpg


IMG_20190524_135707.jpg


We got a ways up the canyon, and we began hearing a strange sound echoing around. It was very faint at first, and it grew louder the farther up the canyon we went. It went on incessantly for what seemed like forever. We thought it sounded like several barking dogs at first. We were baffled. The canyon showed no signs of any human having been there for a long time. No footprints on the game trail we were following. We were 10-15 miles as the crow flies from the nearest settlement; no chance we were hearing someone's dogs in their backyard. Maybe it was a few coyotes who had ganged up on something and treed it? Probably not, because the barking wasn't shrill like coyotes are. So we wondered if maybe it was the wind blowing through a rock formation or something (we were really grasping at straws at that point). It was difficult to tell because of how echoey the canyon was, and after listening to it for so long, you start to lose a sense of what you're listening to. Hard to explain. Regardless of what it was, we were spooked. Here's a video I shot to capture the sound. What do you think?


Well, we decided that whatever it was, we didn't want to spend the night anywhere near it because we wouldn't be able to sleep if it continued on like it had been. It had gone on without stopping since we had first noticed it faintly, maybe 10-20 minutes. On top of that, making our way out of this canyon was looking impractical, and from what had seen on the way in, it was going to be a brutal bushwhack to get back to the main trail and complete the lollipop. So we began heading back down the canyon.

After about 3 minutes of making our way out, we stopped and heard what we thought sounded like a human voice yelling. What it was saying was indistinguishable, but after that, the noise we had been hearing stopped. So we concluded that what we were hearing was maybe a pack of hunting dogs, and they stopped when their owner gave some command. They had to have come down from the head of the canyon. The likelihood of that encounter seemed so minimal to us. To get to that canyon from up high, it would have been a long, rough drive on bad roads, in an area that I figure few people would venture to to hunt. Also I didn't think much hunting goes on anywhere in late May, but maybe they were after coyotes or something. I don't have the slightest clue. Not something I am even remotely familiar with. Maybe it's a secret spot with the locals.

Anyway, we still made our way out, favoring a known, easy exit in the morning over a definitely very difficult, likely impossible climb out and then back down the to main creek.

The rain kept falling off and on.
IMG_20190524_145708.jpg


IMG_20190524_150126.jpg


We got back to the main creek.
IMG_20190524_153315.jpg


We found plenty of evidence of past enterprises in the canyon. Lots of old metal. Cans, a bed frame, springs, pipes, etc. The most interesting find was this old can that appears to be a Budweiser can, likely from the 1950s. I was surprised any of the label was still legible.
IMG_20190524_154921.jpg

IMG_20190524_154926.jpg


We found a good spot and set up camp. I took a lot of pictures of this feature.
IMG_20190524_163904.jpg


IMG_20190524_163910.jpg


IMG_20190524_164120.jpg


The rain kept coming and going, and we were holding out hope for colorful clouds at sunset. We didn't really get much, but the lighting on the rocks was great the entire time.
IMG_20190524_200016.jpg


And then it was also great in the morning.
IMG_20190525_060740.jpg


The hike out was quick. We had noticed this waterfall the previous day but failed to get a good picture of it. It was a bit difficult to get to, and we were trying to get back quickly, so I only got these shots of it.
IMG_20190525_064747.jpg


IMG_20190525_064837.jpg


Have I mentioned I like ponderosas? I'll confess that I always sniff them when given the chance because their sap smells like vanilla.
IMG_20190525_064909.jpg


It was a very steep, rocky climb back up out of the canyon.
IMG_20190525_070927.jpg


This part was fun. We just followed these trail markers through a big open field with sage brush, sand, and slickrock.
IMG_20190525_075816.jpg


Great views again.
IMG_20190525_080738.jpg


Almost back.
IMG_20190525_081412.jpg


It was a great trip! Now I'm ready to be done studying for the bar exam so I can get out more often without guilt.
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,560
Well that looks pleasant. :) I'd bet hounds. I've run into them in odd places just out training.
Yeah, by hunting dogs, I did mean hounds. Glad to know we're not insane. I thought I was going insane for a bit, listening to them non-stop and trying to figure out what was going on without a visual!

Edit: and this maaay be a different creek than what you're insinuating :p
 
Last edited:

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
931
I'm sure that anyone somewhat familiar with our starting point could figure out where we went from the photos.
It's a little funny how many giveaways there are. I love how characteristic different parts of the desert look!!
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,560
It's a little funny how many giveaways there are. I love how characteristic different parts of the desert look!!
Haha yes! I didn't realize it until I put the first few photos into the report.

Before I was very into hiking and backpacking down there, I used to think all sandstone and red rock type stuff looked just about the same. Definitely was wrong on that one.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
931
Yeah, by hunting dogs, I did mean hounds. Glad to know we're not insane. I thought I was going insane for a bit, listening to them non-stop and trying to figure out what was going on without a visual!
Noises out in the wilderness can be weird, more than once I've thought I was hearing a gaggle of loud teenagers and of course it was coyotes.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,560
Noises out in the wilderness can be weird, more than once I've thought I was hearing a gaggle of loud teenagers and of course it was coyotes.
For me, thinking that we were out there all alone is what made it more bewildering and difficult to figure out. Guess I just need to remember Occam's razor next time, since it was probably what we first thought all along.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
931
For me, thinking that we were out there all alone is what made it more bewildering and difficult to figure out. Guess I just need to remember Occam's razor next time, since it was probably what we first thought all along.
it's super easy to get wigged out, especially when alone, or at night, or whatever. on my last backpacking trip we used what was apparently a well-used campsite and we got sort of swarmed with mice during the night and I swear the one that crawled across me felt as big as a possum. my buddy literally screamed a little, and my other buddy had one get stuck in his pack and then it freaked out and made a bunch of noise. so of course we're all sitting there at 3am laughing at each other, but you can imagine in different circumstances stuff is less funny.

one time I had a cow lick my tent at 4am and I woke up super disoriented and it took some time to figure everything out for sure.
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Rockskipper

No ETA
.
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
2,329
Great report, and yes, very distinctive country. Beautiful shots. I vote hound-doggies on a chase.

I woke one night to large strange forms nearby standing in an ominous circle making really loud slurping noises. I was pretty wigged out until I realized it was cattle eating the salty ashes in my campfire ring.
 

Titans

Member
.
Joined
Aug 18, 2018
Messages
513
Great TR @Jackson ! I didn't know that Ponderosa smells like vanilla, I will look for one the next time we get out there.
The guilt.... yah, it was always there, I just had a flashback, remember it well. You know what is so great when it's all completed? Suddenly you have every single evening and week-end off. All that free time and you even start getting a paycheck :).
@regehr - that was a very funny story about the mice and the cow.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,560
The guilt.... yah, it was always there, I just had a flashback, remember it well. You know what is so great when it's all completed? Suddenly you have every single evening and week-end off. All that free time and you even start getting a paycheck :).
Oh have you taken the bar exam/are you an attorney??

I work part-time at a law firm right now as a law clerk. Can't wait to make a real paycheck!
 

John Morrow

Member
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
225
Was your lollipop loop going to be "dry" by any chance, Jackson? I route measured your side canyon to be six (trailless?) miles long. Just supports my thought that I don't want to believe: "people are everywhere" no matter how far out I think I am! Seems like the hounds and owner wanted to be far from anyone as well...
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,560
Was your lollipop loop going to be "dry" by any chance, Jackson? I route measured your side canyon to be six (trailless?) miles long. Just supports my thought that I don't want to believe: "people are everywhere" no matter how far out I think I am! Seems like the hounds and owner wanted to be far from anyone as well...
Haha yes. Very Dry.
 

Titans

Member
.
Joined
Aug 18, 2018
Messages
513
Oh have you taken the bar exam/are you an attorney??

I work part-time at a law firm right now as a law clerk. Can't wait to make a real paycheck!
Chemical Engineering, Master of Science. The initial pay check, all the time off, it was such a thrill after studying and feeling guilt if I took just a little time off.
 

Miya

Because I am able.
.
Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Messages
846
Definitely a mystery to me where you are! Haha
Thanks for the share!
I listened to the video and thought 'dogs'! Then I told myself "Really listen, don't assume to know what it is. What does it sound like...?"
Listening, listening "Seal!" Haha so yeah, gonna stick with a dog. But it could really sound like something from a horror movie too haha
 

Rockskipper

No ETA
.
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
2,329
Be careful, high-country seals are a very dangerous thing. They can mimic dogs.
 
Last edited:

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top