Sunday, February 3, 2019

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Sunday: (02/03) We prepared to roll and headed off to Fortuna for some grocery shopping before headed East on Hwy 8. We stopped in Gila Bend for lunch. We then caught Hwy 85 South into Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. We settled into our new campsite. We had rain from Gila bend and at the park. We attended a ranger talk at 1400 and then relaxed at home the rest of the day. We learned that the park is much more open now. Last time we were here the Southern portion of the park was closed. This time we should b able to do the Puerto Blanka Road drive. Granola for breakfast. Ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Broccoli beef for dinner.

Our campsite at Organ Pipe NM.

Monday: (02/04) I made pancakes and Lou made bacon for breakfast. We then made sandwiches for lunch and hit the road for a tour. We drove the Puerto Blanco Road, a 41 mile loop through a beautiful portion of the park. We hiked up to Dripping Springs along the way as well as stopping many times to greet cacti. We reached the border with Mexico, and took another short hike around the pond at Quitobaquito Spring. Nice spring fed pond with pupfish and turtles. About 15 miles of the drive was next to the barrier fence along the border. Last time here, 5-6 years ago when I visited Quitobaquito, it was a guided hike with armed guards. Nice that the park and border are back to normal, even without s fence now. We stopped in Lukeville for gas before heading home. Lou fixed tacos for dinner.






A turtle at Quitobaquito lake.
The fence on thee Mexican border. Seems to work just fine.

Tuesday: (02/05) Granola with a banana and a sausage, a hikers breakfast. Lou dropped me off on Puerto Blanco Rd at the Red Tanks trailhead. I hiked past several mines after visiting the Red Tanks. Not very big tanks and little water. First mine was the Baker mine, just a tunnel and shaft. The tunnel was open and a fool could enter.  This fool didn’t. The desert on the way there had singing birds and good looking cacti. After that mine, the trail went up and over the mountain. On the other side was the Milton Mine, it was an open pit mine. There were several other unnamed tiny mines along the way as well. On the way into the Senita Basin there was a gorgeous cactus forest which even included some senita cactus. There are only about 150 of that cacti in the US, all here in Organ Pipe NM. The rest are in the Mexican Sonoran desert. My final mine was the Victoria Mine. It was the biggest mine.  It was a little over three miles more to get back to the campground, a 13 mile hike in all. That was plenty of hike. Lou made BBQ ribs with baked potato and a green salad for dinner.
 Many of the cacti are labeled like on the right.

 About half of the trail was on old mine roads. A saguaro cactus skeleton on the right.

Most organ pipe cacti seem to only branch from the base. ome do like the above and branch and look like balloon art.

 A nice rat nest on the right.
Several old mines along he trail.


 Most of the mines seemed to just go down. This one was a walk in.
 These water tanks with a blue flag flying over them were scattered along the roads in the park to help save lives. On the right above is a disposal site by one of the mines. All the cans were opened by a church key with a triangular opening. Seems like only liquids were needed?


 These rock buildings seemed to be the norm. The park service has upgraded the mine shafts with corrugated plastic pipe. The shafts are not just closed because the bats use the old mine shafts.
On the right is the old water tank above the cabin at this mine. Inside the cabin ruins was a bathtub. Seems like a couple of baths might use up a years supply of water.

Wednesday: (02/06) PBJ toast for breakfast. We headed out the 21 mile Ajo Mountain Road this morning. It’s a one way road through more cactus forest. And up into the mountains. As soon as we couldn’t go back, I noticed I didn’t have my phone. So no pictures by me today. We hiked out the Arch Canyon trail. Lou and Dawn hiked out the flat section. I attempted to get to the top. I stopped about 100 feet down form the ridge because the trail became too overgrown for me in my short pants. Of course, no pictures. After this drive we drove down to the border and drove the Camino de Dos Republicas which headed East a couple of miles from Highway 85. We also drove out to Senita Basin which i hiked past yesterday so that Lou and Dawn could see some of the interesting cacti there. Lunch was ham and cheese sandwiches. Lou made salmon soup for dinner.

Thursday: (02/07) Granola for breakfast. We pulled out from camp by 1000. We drove up to Ajo and started East on Highway 86. We stopped shortly at a casino. Lou and Dawn lost their dollars and I had a second breakfast. We continued on to Sells. Az and stopped for a walk. While there we picked up an indian fry bread taco which Dawn and I shared. And then on to Tucson. Along the way we remembered we forgot to dump our RV holding tanks. Not worth a 30 mile return trip but did necesitate a stop at an RV park in Tucson, at a $20 fee, before parking at the BLM site off highway 86 at San Joaquin  Road. (GPS: 32.156610, -111.115531). We setup our camp then head off into heavy traffic to find a AAA club office where Lou picked up guidebooks and maps. Then we were off to dinner at the U-Like Chinese buffet. Really good. After dinner we located the Apple store where Dawn has an appointment tomorrow morning to have her phone looked at. It was fun finding our campsite after it got dark.

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