Sunday, May 31, 2015

Carrizo Gorge Wilderness Backpack - ABDSP

Gary and I spent the long 3 day Memorial Day weekend leisurely traversing the Carrizo Gorge Wilderness with no more of an agenda other than getting back to our trucks sometime by the end of the day Monday. Mr Tom was kind enough to drop us off at Jacumba on Sat morning and was going to hike with us for the day but the weather was kinda cold and blustery and I guess his jacuzzi and booze back home sounded better so it was just Gary and I.

Carrizo Gorge is one of those easy to get to wilderness areas that just never gets old and it has a long history with the railroad and the now famous Goat Canyon Trestle. The trestle seems to be growing exponentially in popularity and I suspect that will continue until the railway patrols pickup again. This particular trip we saw as many as 10 motorcycle adventurers in addition to all of the usual hikers and MTB'ers.

There is something about the Gorge that seems to beckon film photography and I always enjoy taking at least one older analog camera with me. The B/W photos here are from my Fuji GW690 6x9 medium format camera and the film is Fuji Acros 100 developed 1+2+100 in PMK Pyro @13 minutes. A few of the photos I took were an attempt to mirror photos found in the The Impossible Railroad book.

Carrizo Gorge with Sombrero Peak way off in the distance to the right
View of Carrizo Gorge Anza Borrrego Desert State Park from the Railroad Tracks

Following the tracks, some of the trestles are in good shape, others not so much
Carrizo Gorge Train Tracks near Tule Spring in Quad 19 USGS Maps

One particular set of railway cars that has been out on the tracks for several years now has been heavily vandalized.
Inside one of the railraw cars abandoned on the tracks. It has suffered quite a bit of vandalism over the years, When I first saw it there was no graffitti or broken windows.

On page 36 of The Impossible Railroad book there is a picture showing the Young & Crooks Camp 1 and all of the workers tents and the compressor plant equipment. This is the roughly the same photograph but the only thing you can still see are foundations of cement and many of the cleared areas that were built up with rocks to form a tiered foundation for the large tents they used
Young & Crooks Camp 1 in Carrizo Gorge. This view is looking straight down at the camp area and was me trying to capture the same image as on page 36 of the San Diego And Arizona Railway Impossible Railroad book

Gary at a few of the railroad camps
Gary at Railroad Camp near Indian Hill

This workers camp overlooks the gorge and has approx 5-6 built up tiers for large tents. Most of it is overgrown with cholla now though.
Gary standing on an overlook at tunnel 17

When building the Carrizo Gorge Railway sections the workers would build camp sites on the bypass roads for the tunnels. Some of the rock wall foundations are still visible and are quite elaborate

Here is another photo from The Impossible Railroad book
on page 40 showing tunnel 15 where they eventually gave up on that tunnel and built the tracks around it
Carrizo Gorge Tunnel 15a near Goat Canyon Trestle. This tunnel was abandoned after multiple collapses and the tracks were built around the side of the mountain. This view was me trying to capture the same image as on page 40 of the San Diego And Arizona Railway Impossible Railroad book

We found a huge horseshoe, looked more decorative than useful
We found a large horseshoe at one of the railroad camps, it looks decorative and not functional

This is one of the cooler tunnels out there
This is a cool tunnel built deep into a large boulder mountain

Gary heading into tunnel 16, this one has a history of fires and collapses which is evidenced by the tweak on the top. The inside supports you see in the other tunnels are missing which I am guessing is from the 1986 fire that burned it out
Gary walking towards tunnel 16

What would a trip thru the Gorge be without a photo of the Trestle
Goat Canyon Trestle in Carrizo Gorge

Eventually we found our way to the East Fork and the Carrizo Palms. There was some water and lots of wildlife tracks
One of the several palm groves in the East Fork of Carrizo Gorge

Unfortunately this poor gal was not able to make it to the water source. I was able to go out a few days later with a Fish & Game Biologist to perform a post-mortem and the cause of death was determined to be from disease
Dead Ewe we found in a remote canyon. Cause of death was most likely dieasese as evedince of horn and foot dieasese was present. The collar indicates she was about 13 years old.

Rock Art
Carrizo Gorge Pictographs

I did manage to get some digital shots as well, love the sunrise photos with a super zoom
Sunrise over the Coyote Mtns

The Goat Canyon Trestle has several "catwalks" built in to facilitate repairs and maintenance duties and there is also an elaborate fire supression system built into the trestle with many pipes and valves that lead up to the water tanker on the hillside above. This photo is looking straight thru the first catwalk and some of the water pipes are visible. I can't recommend walking these catwalks at all, they are sketchy at best
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Gary enjoying some of the water at Carrizo Palms
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Reptiles were out and about, we found 2 in the same spot with head injuries, pretty strange, anybody have any ideas? We were thinking hawks or such
2 dead snakes with their heads bitten into

Bloody head of one of the snakes

This guy was chilling in the shade of the tunnels
Snake in a dark tunnel

Railroad camp debris, re-purposing a shovel for something?
Curious hole cut out of a shovel

This is more my speed, a real fifth bottle of whisky
A real fifth of whisky

Anyways, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed...time to turn in.....
Sleep setup in the Gorge


Monday, February 23, 2015

The Impossible Railroad & Carrizo Gorge Solo Backpack

Spent a few days hiking and backpacking around Jacumba and Carrizo Gorge with an emphasis on trying to find some of the old railroad construction camps. Inspired by the book The Impossible Railroad I backpacked out into the Gorge battling the Tamarisk and ticks and found several of the camps, train wreckage, historic artifacts and even more interest in this fascinating story of a railway that was jinxed from the beginning. I encourage you to read this book if you want to learn more about the history and see many unpublished photos of the railroad as it progressed from 1919 to our present day fiasco it still is.

I will post some of my favorite photos of the trip here but you can see many more in my photo gallery here

The railroad tracks are completely blocked off as of 02-14-2015 at the De Anza resort. The old train cars that have been off to the side for years have been pulled up onto the tracks completely blocking access to railway vehicles. You can see in this picture that whatever large vehicle it took to move those rail cars have dented and smashed down the actual tracks. The picture is deceiving, it looks like the rail car is on the tracks normally but they are actually laid cross wise on the tracks, like a big tractor or such just dragged them up and onto the tracks at an angle.

Tracks are closed off near De Anza resort. Tracks are also looking pretty smashed up from whatever vehicle was used to move that rail car onto the tracks

Young & Crooks Camp 1 down in the gorge
Young & Crooks Camp 1

Most of the construction sites built up tiered foundations on the hillsides. They were very elaborate and quite impressive
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Debris from the construction camp

The May 1965 derailed Coors Beer trailer
Coors Beer Trailer that derailed in May 1965

The wheels wedged into a dry fall

I found several small rooms dug into the hillsides that must have served as offices or temporary shelters
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Or perhaps they were the supply rooms for the important stuff
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Plenty of beautiful blooms starting to happen now
Cleveland's Beardtongue,  Penstemon clevelandii

Fishhook Cactus

Most of the tunnel bypass roads were clear but some had landslide debris covering them or worse cholla land mines, this one I did not win, I took heavy casualties, even my hiking pole got several stuck on it!
Tunnel bypass

Here is a nice view down the gorge towards the Seven Sisters and in the foreground is the original tunnel 15
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A bit more old debris in some other construction sites
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About the only graffiti I wasn't discouraged to see

Total Mylar Balloons this trip - 5 (no pictures sorry..!)

More photos in my gallery here

Monday, November 17, 2014

Carrizo Gorge Backpack - ABDSP

Headed out for an overnight backpack trip with Tom in Carrizo Gorge. We parked at the end of the 4WD drive road and started out late in the day with about 30 minutes of daylight left. We managed to get to Goat Canyon in the dark where we setup camp. We poked around the next day for about 6 miles total into the gorge before we turned around and headed back.

Driving into Carrizo Gorge


Looking south thru the gorge, Goat Canyon is just ahead and to the left
Carrizo Gorge, Goat Canyon is ahead on the left

I call this the Mighty Groan but I think the actual BM is above this point a bit.
The Mighty Groan (sorta)

Breaking camp

I hardly recognized the Gorge this trip, the Tamarisk removal efforts have removed much of the thick brush.
Tamarisk cleared out of the Gorge

We found some wildlife...wasn't too wild at the time though...
Bighorn Sheep Ram

Here is the lower jaw bone
Bighorn Sheep lower jaw bone

Figured I would try the Macro mode on my new Fuji XE-1 so here is a close up of the jaw bone
Bighorn Sheep lower jaw bone

Upper jaw and macro shot
Bighorn Sheep upper jaw

Bighorn Sheep upper jaw

This next photo is what i think is the intestine/colon of the ram, you can see pellets inside. From what I understand, sheep, goats and such are very efficient in using every last drop of moisture in their bodies and they literally squeeze the moisture out of their feces so the pellets form inside the colon.
Bighorn Sheep intestine with feces inside

Bighorn Sheep intestine with feces inside

Tom with the Seven Sisters above
Tom and The Seven Sisters above

There are several rail cars over the side here, one is rusted just enough that it blends in with the natural desert terrain

Here are a couple close ups of the different rail cars

Rail cars

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Total Mylar Balloons this trip - 1 (Tom snagged it)