Scouting Kofa NWR in the winter time (DUW)

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Scouting Kofa NWR in the winter time (DUW)

Postby croteseeker » Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:35 pm

Yesterday, my friend, Chris, took my brother and I out to scout a new area for the spring and summer seasons. We checked out a few locales within this range, and Ben and I got to see a couple cool new spots that Chris has herped with much success in the past. Sadly, I had to pawn my new rig for extra Christmas money (our economy is in the toilet) so all I had was my old Kodak point and shoot. Given that the lens is still smudged in the center, the photos came out less than stellar. But, given that these new possibilities are simply amazing, and numerous (so many that I didn't even take the time to edit any of the photos) I thought I'd share them with you.

I'll start right where we did. We decided to take a peek into Palm Canyon, to see the terrain and hopefully catch a glimpse of some Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep. On approaching the Kofas, you are greeted by this:

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You can see where the road ends and the hiking begins. These cliffs rise straight up out of the ground, with no surrounding foothills. Truly awe-inspiring, in person. As you reach the trailhead, the view only gets better.

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We hiked in, surrounded by cliffs that soared to well in excess of 200m, usually closer to 300.

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There were lots of little hidey-holes everywhere we looked.

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As we neared the canyon's namesake flora, we were treated to an amazing view...



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as well as the world's most unnecessary sign. :lol:

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Having seen the elephant, so to speak, we headed back down. On the way out, I saw something rather odd. The Saguaro cactus in this area are sparsely distributed. These however were in such stark contrast that they caught my eye. I had to investigate.

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Not one, but five saguaros, wrapped around a palo verde. Looking closer, we noticed something underneath.

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Jim Poodle and Benji. Makes it easy to find the graves, I guess, but these cactus are way too old to be there for that reason. Probably a hundred years for some of them. The reason why still escapes me.

After making some humorous commentary about how these must be the worst dog owners ever (killing off two dogs in the same year) we were off to see some mines. The first one was a long way into the mountains. Took us two hours to drive about 24 Kilometers. After that was a nice uphill climb. The reward, though, was well worth it.

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It was an old mining camp littered with debris. Truly, a herper's paradise. I don't know where to start with these next photos, so I'll start with the buildings and other available cover in the area.

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I'm assuming this was once the showering house:

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Given the quality of the road, as well as the hike in, I imagine that much of their equipment was built on site.

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A crappy photo, I know, but it gives a pretty good overview.

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As I said, this place was littered with debris.

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It is fairly common, in Arizona, for old cabins in the remote wilderness to be open for for camping, on a first come, first served basis. This one was no different. Anyone can stay here, although the accommodations are less than luxurious. Two rooms. A living quarters...

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and a kombuis.

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No, the sink and the stove don't work. :lol: But, as is customary, there were some souvenirs and unneeded supplies left by the previous visitors.

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I, personally, got a kick out of the cigarette cases in that first shot. The only supplies amounted to a beer and a cigarette. My kind of supplies. No matches, though, so bring a light. :lol:

On leaving the cabin, we signed the registry, as is the custom.

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While flipping through the old entries (looking for other herpers, to be honest) I got a kick out of the third and fourth entries on this page:

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We were running out of light, so we decided to head back down and check some other mines on our way out.

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No luck, there, but we did get to see some wild burros on the way out. I've never seen them South of the Navajo Nation.

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Thus ended another great day out with my brother and my friend. Hope you guys enjoyed. :smt006



P.S. I'll post more in the spring, but in the meantime, I can't wait to see more of the stuff you guys are finding in the Southern hemisphere. You guys help me beat the winter-time blues. :lol:
" a squat, scaly worm with, 'don't touch,' on one end and, 'that's why,' on the other."

-Thomas Palmer
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Re: Scouting Kofa NWR in the winter time (DUW)

Postby croteseeker » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:22 pm

My girlfriend just looked at my post and pointed something out. Apparently, the last two pictures do not correctly identify the only asses of this trip.

Reading that, "grave," marker again, it would appear that Jim Poodle was not actually a poodle. Guess our colorful comments were not as appropriate as we thought. I'm sorry for your losses, Poodle family.
" a squat, scaly worm with, 'don't touch,' on one end and, 'that's why,' on the other."

-Thomas Palmer
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Re: Scouting Kofa NWR in the winter time (DUW)

Postby Bushviper » Tue Dec 25, 2012 3:11 pm

Interesting place. Are the mines safe to go herping in? How come there was nothing around even under the pieces of tin roofing lying around. Surely the lizards cannot all be gone for winter?
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Re: Scouting Kofa NWR in the winter time (DUW)

Postby dobby7 » Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:32 pm

I wouldnt go anywhere near that place!! Horror movies of the past still haunt me :oops:
If you cant beat them, join them. If you cant join them, shoot them.
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Re: Scouting Kofa NWR in the winter time (DUW)

Postby croteseeker » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:55 pm

The mines can really go either way, Bushviper. These ones were in hard rock with a round or vaulted type of ceiling. I absolutely will not go into the ones that are square cut with timber supports. Too risky. The cave-in activity is a good indicator, too. If you see large piles of rubble on the floor, you can be pretty certain of where that rock came from. I usually stay at the entrance and wait for confirmation of herp activity before I go in, anyway. My last head injury (about five years ago) left me spending the next three weeks learning how to walk again (or even raise my eyes above floor level) for the next three weeks. I still can't stand having anything heavy over the top of me, so I try not to torture myself unnecessarily.

Some of them are serious mazes, too, with shafts, side tunnels, and undercuts, so it pays to be careful. Some guys are much more reckless, though. I've had guys try to talk me into mines that I could shine a light in and see a different cave-in every 3 or 4 meters. Times like that, I just have to say, "You guys are stupid if you think you're getting me in there. I'll stay right here, so someone can go for help when you get killed." :lol:

On the herp subject, it is true that you can often flip in the winter time. Some crotes can even be found in front of hibernacula sunning on the rocks. On this day, it was only 13C in that canyon. I've been out on similar days where the rocks shot a temp in excess of 38C, and seen plenty, but that's usually higher up on a mountain, on a Southwestern slope, where it gets sun during the hottest part of the day. I was actually surprised we didn't find any crotes in the mines, since it was warmer (about 20C) inside, but it appears that they only use them in the late summer, to escape the heat. (You can literally fry an egg on some of our rocks, during the summer.) We did see one herp on this trip, though, on a Southwestern slope we hiked on our way in. I just didn't really think it special enough to make a field herping post for this one, common lizard.

Uta stansburiana

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I see your point, Dobby. We call them, "ghost towns," with only a mild amount of jest. Some do so with none at all. There is a definite, "creepy factor," to some of these old, desolate places. I try not to worry about stuff like that, though. There's a violent history to nearly every place that I herp. A lot of murder and otherwise agonizing death has taken place in this state, so I feel that, if there is such a thing as ghosts, Arizona leaves little opportunity to escape their reach.

The range that I herp the most, the Superstition Mountains, has claimed 8 lives this year, alone. That's not counting car accidents or the people who drowned in one of the four large lakes and one major river that can be found there. Those mountains kill at least a half dozen people every year, on average. They also contain Apache burial grounds and the sites of a few massacres, one of which claimed over a hundred lives. So you see, if I were to let myself succumb to the creepiness of these places, I wouldn't get much herping done. :lol:
" a squat, scaly worm with, 'don't touch,' on one end and, 'that's why,' on the other."

-Thomas Palmer
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