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Old 03-07-2012, 05:46 PM   #76
No False Enthusiasm
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Saw your RR map of more than 100 years ago that had the location, Metz.

It was a water point for the old steam engines and was a cattle shipping point. A set of scales was built there to weigh outgoing cattle. We always call that place "Metz Scales".

When running cattle in Winkler County, we carried one cow per 100 acres. It was a tough life out there, especially for the cows.

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Old 03-07-2012, 07:05 PM   #77
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They have "cheap" franchise opportunities!
Indeed!

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NICE! VERY NICE!
Thanks! Glad you are enjoying it.

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What a great report Cannonshot! Thanks!

You know I've been through Texas a lot and I guess I never even saw it. In fact I did my primary flight training at Fort Wolters. I flew all over and buzzed the Brazos regularly, but none of it looked like the country around Ft. Davis!

When MotoGP comes to Austin, I'll ride there and take in the Big Bend country while I'm at it.

In 2010 I rode to Scottsdale from Beantown. I stopped off at Mineral Wells to find Fort Wolters was turned into an industrial park and a prison. The flight line was nothing but broken tarmac. Such a shame. Only a small memorial marked what it once was:

Thanks for the report and keep her coming!

-P
Thanks! Glad to have you along again! Neat that you got to check out an old station. Too many are gone now.

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...fun report bryan
Hi Jeff. The reporting isn't near as much fun as the ride.

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Fantastic Cannonshot. Don't miss the Guadalupe Mountains if so headed by there. > El Paso!

Embedded your CDT ride into my GPS and hope you'll let us steal your Big Bend ride too .

Now a noob question: how do you post/frame/size the topo maps with tracks so well?? You move them to 'Paint' then transfer to Smugmug or whatever before posting em' in ADV?

Thanks and cheers...
Thanks! I'll be cleaning up the GPS file as I work through the report and will post it for others to download and use for their own rides or ride planning just as I did with the Great Divide Ride.

The maps are screenshots that are edited with a photo editor. I like to post maps as we go so that people can better follow the ride and the story.



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Great report as usual CS. I was there in Feb. 2010. Magical place, kind of hard to describe for a Kentucky boy, but the place draws you. I'll be going back of course.
Thank you! I'm with you my friend. The region is a lot different from home and has a special attraction.

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Ive been looking forward to this RR.
Thanks Cannon!
Hi Frank! Big Bend looks a little different than Ontario?

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Originally Posted by No False Enthusiasm View Post
Saw your RR map of more than 100 years ago that had the location, Metz.

It was a water point for the old steam engines and was a cattle shipping point. A set of scales was built there to weigh outgoing cattle. We always call that place "Metz Scales".

When running cattle in Winkler County, we carried one cow per 100 acres. It was a tough life out there, especially for the cows.

NFE
It is hard for me to imagine ranching in the Big Bend region. It is a little different than our Wisconsin dairy farming operations.



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Old 03-07-2012, 09:53 PM   #78
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Relocating to a New Base Camp

Moved down to Big Bend Ranch State Park. Lots to take in along the way. Somewhere around a 130 mile run.




Remember that hydroponic tomato growing facility out in the middle of the desert? Too huge to get a picture to wrap around it.


What the heck?


To get the sunlight (which is why this thing is here in the first place) we need to keep the windows on the roof clean.


Lots of windows. I wonder how they hold up in a hail storm. A ranch house I visited had rebar supporting hardware cloth over the windows to protect them from hail.


Here is another grow facility just down the road.




After riding some ranch roads I tried to imagine what this wagon would be like on them. I don't know how many readers remember vehicles from this time, but this one had leaf springs in the front and although it was durable, it wasn't anywhere close to what we have engineered today.




Marfa hosts the Big Bend regional headquarters for the Border Patrol.


Within the region are a bunch of other substations like this local station also based in Marfa.


Some of the stuff in the motor pool.




Quite a few tow trucks.


Also in town are the remains of what once was Fort D.A. Russell (Camp Marfa). The place started out in 1911 as a supply post for the Army patrolling the border. In the 1930s the post housed artillery units. During WWII it was a training camp and was home to a chemical warfare battalion. German POWs from Rommel's Afrika Corps stayed here as well. It closed up in 1946. Appropriate climate for those Afrika Corps troops . . .

Some buildings have been nicely repurposed.


Others . . . not so much.








Some of the tracks run on pavement. Those tires really sing and this is the reason why.


I mean really sing.


There are border patrol inspection stations at various places along the highways coming from the border area. So, even though it might be easy to smuggle 25 lbs of something across the narrow Rio Grande, one would still have to get it through the depth of the patrolled area. I noticed cameras recording southbound vehicles as well. And of course, those talented detector dogs . . .


A routine inspection station like this one picked off Willie Nelson with a possession charge a few months ago. I think they got Snoop and Armie Hammer as well, along with thousands of others. I really don't think they are concentrating on looking for six ounces of weed, but once the door to the bus swings open and the smoke rolls out . . . "Hello Walls".


I went looking for the San Esteban lake and dam. Didn't work out.


Back in about 1910 someone decided to build a dam to support a development of irrigated land. The developer thought he could get 500-800 families to work small irrigated farms of 10-40 acres each using water from the impoundment. The development would have been in part on this land.


By about 1928 the lake was found to be filling in with silt which limited the capacity to irrigate. People pulled out and the whole thing kind of went to heck. Not much there today.


Nice dam though. Oh yeah, in 1824 indians massacred a company of Mexican soldiers in a canyon just upstream.


I ran into peccaries (javelinas) about every day.


They are kind of shy and tend to move away from you. Seems like sometimes they are a little less shy than others depending on the situation. These guys operate in a small herd. What is of interest to the dual sporter is that if you inadvertently run into a herd and it seems like you are after the young ones, the whole herd may go after you to protect the young'uns and drive you off.

They have a few notable teeth that are a couple of inches long. Just something to be aware of I guess.


They are omnivores. One of their favorite foods is prickly pear cactus. Any animal that eats prickly pear cactus (needles and all) is bad-ass enough for me.
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Old 03-08-2012, 08:16 AM   #79
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A new Cannonshot ride report!!! Subscribed!

I'm pretty new to dual-sport riding and am hoping to do some of your rides up in the UP this year and follow your Pony Express route this fall. I always enjoy reading your reports, the history is great as are the photos. Thanks for sharing!

I hope to meet you sometime at a Madison Meet & Greet to talk to you about that ride and your KLR (I have one also).
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:36 AM   #80
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Continuing toward BBRSP.





This luxury resort used to be Milt Faver's ranch. Milt used to run a store in Presidio during the course of which he learned from indians about some springs on some nearby land. He decided to go into the ranching business. He was very successful eventually having a herd of about 20,000 longhorns as well as sheep and goat operations. Faver provided beef (and peach brandy) to troops at Fort Davis. His ranch was used as a supply point for Army elments that were chasing indians around the region. This explains how Faver came to "borrow" an Army cannon to help defend his ranch. Faver was also a leader in the great Texas cattle drives. Some believe that he was the inspiration for the character Gil Faver on the Rawhide television series.


The problem for Faver was indian attacks by the apaches and commanches. To manage this problem, Faver built three private forts on his ranch. Each had gunports and thick walls.


Much of this has been restored into the Cibolo Creek Ranch. This is an aerial of the principal fort and ranch headquarters. Check out the link for pix of the facilities.




Faver did his share of defending the ranch. He had a fine armory to help support that effort. During one attack an indian got between the tin roof and the ceiling while trying to penetrate the defenses. A defender detected him and pinned him to the roof by sticking a sword through the ceiling. Must have been interesting times.


If you stop at the cemetery in Shafter, they have a display with some information about the ranch. As elegant as the place is and as fine as the facilities are (airstrip, etc) I was surprised to read some unflattering reviews when I was webbing around looking for more information about the place.


Ever wonder what one of those big power line cables looks like up close?




"Go ahead, touch it . . . I dare you!"




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Old 03-08-2012, 12:22 PM   #81
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Shafter

Shafter is a town and a ghost town from what once was a significant mine. More than 92% of the silver and 73% of the gold produced in Texas came from this mine. (32.6 M ounces of silver and 8,400 ounces of gold)


Not much there now.




Some freighter found rock that looked promising and showed it to Colonel Shafter at Fort Davis. Shafter had the rock assayed and pretty soon a small group of officers bought the land involved. They got a company with capital to develop it into a mining operation.


There turned out to be about 15 mines altogether in this region with more than a hundred miles of tunnels. Life was difficult for miners doing the pick and shovel routine underground for about ten hours a day. Air quality was poor and took out a lot of miners as well as explosions and people stepping into open shafts in the candle lit tunnels. Over time the company changed from a mercury process to a cyanide process which I'm sure proved to be healthful as well.


I think up to 300 workers were here and the town included a club house, hospital, and boarding house.




I think adobe needs to be plastered over or protected by wide awnings to keep it from deteriorating as a result of rain.


Even a little water produces some green.


The silver never ran out, but prices put the mine out of business back in the 1940s. Since we have improved and more efficient mining and smelting systems, this mine can be profitable again. The mine is back in business again. I wouldn't be surprised to see them process what was once waste rock as well.


They intend to take advantage of some of the previous work since using exisiting shafts (in part) is better than breaking new rock.


Someone thought about bringing the mine back into operation in the 1980s but the Hunt brothers stunt of trying to corner the silver market screwed that up.


It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.




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Old 03-08-2012, 03:15 PM   #82
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Continuing toward BBRSP - Presidio



Presido is a small town of about 4,000 on this side of the Rio Grande. Ojinaga is a town of about 20,000 on the other side. The gateway between the countries is part of a modern designated trade route called La Entrada al Pacifico. You will see highway signs with this route designation in the area.


The bridge in the middle is the border with border stations on both sides.




Nice looking street coming from the border.


Border station.


This town has something like a 43% poverty rate. Ojinaga, just across the river, seems like a thriving town by comparison. From speaking with a local, I guess there is a contingent of women who work in Presidio to support their deported husbands who now live in Ojinaga.


Nice looking church.


I found a good lunch at the deli counter of this grocery. Nice place.


Presidio has five cops. The border patrol station in Presido has 76 agents.


In fact, the border patrol wants to build a new Presidio station that is ten times larger than the existing one. They anticipate expanding to about 150 agents with 30 additional support staff. They would also get a surveillance equipment building, stables for horses, and a helipad.


By the way, I read in the paper where a Texas state trooper pulled a car over for a routine traffic violation the other day just west of Marfa (maybe by Little Reata?) and turned up 500 pounds of marihuana.



Although there are many fine people in Ojinaga and in this area, the fact remains that people have been smuggling (including heroin and marihuana) through there for over a hundred years. Pablo Acosta had a murderous grip on the trade in the area until he was killed. The organized crime and drug trade still goes on here, fueled by money from the US.


Officials have named the area (and Ojinaga) as part of a high intensity drug trafficking area that is in part enabled by corruption. This article describes allegations that the military command in Ojinaga was involved in bribes, corruption, people disappearing, executions and other issues. One book describes turboprops flying cocaine direct from Columbia to the tiny municipal airport at Ojinaga (the army guarded the airport). After an important drug figure was killed during an encounter with Ojinaga police, the entire Ojinaga police force fled to the US because two plane loads of assassions with automatic weapons and machetes were said to be coming to kill them. (The drug figure wasn't shot by the police, but instead was shot by another drug figure that had the government protected drug concession there who owed a lot of money for drugs he lost in seizures by US authorities. He killed the first drug figure to get out of paying the debt.)

Back during a revolution in Mexico, Ojinaga was a key battle site between Pancho Villa and Mexican federal forces.


Some of Villa's leaders.


There were actually several battles in Ojinaga but the most significant one was in January 1914 when Villa defeated the federals chasing them across the border into the US. I think Ojinaga had a population of about 3,000 at that time. Presidio was a tiny trading center with Shafter being of more significant size.


General Mercado was the federal commander. He had a lot of troops and good weapons but Villas night attack and smart tactics led to a federal defeat.


This whole revolution thing gets pretty involved with who was on what side when and for what. Lots of guns came from the US. During this battle, US forces lined up on the American side of the river to protect things there. Refugees had been flooding into Presidio from Ojinaga for quite a while.


US commanders keeping an eye on things.


Once the federal forces were defeated they marched to Marfa. No one was sure what to do with them so the US loaded them on trains and sent them to El Paso where they were kept behind wire until the revolution got sorted out.


Villa knew the importance of the press. He hired a film crew to document the battle and had embedded reporters from the US. Since the attack was in the dark, the film thing had to be reenacted during the day.


I read in Hallie Stilwell's book that at age 19 she took a teaching contract in Presidio when all this tension was going on and US troops had to occupy the border. She used to carry a pistol with her to go teach school in Presidio.
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Old 03-08-2012, 03:48 PM   #83
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A new Cannonshot ride report!!! Subscribed!

I'm pretty new to dual-sport riding and am hoping to do some of your rides up in the UP this year and follow your Pony Express route this fall. I always enjoy reading your reports, the history is great as are the photos. Thanks for sharing!

I hope to meet you sometime at a Madison Meet & Greet to talk to you about that ride and your KLR (I have one also).
Thanks for tuning in! Looking forward to meeting you sometime. Very happy to share some of my dual sport GPS paths with you.

I'm glad you enjoy the history that we get to explore as part of the ride. Makes for some interesting stops along the way.
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Old 03-08-2012, 08:11 PM   #84
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Fort Leaton

Continuing on toward BBRSP I make a stop at Fort Leaton. This is a state historic site. You can register to camp in BBRSP at this facility. Good idea to pick up a BBRSP recreation map here (nice big waterproof map of the 300,000 acre park with good info for DSers) since they were out of them at the park headquarters at Sauceda.


1847 Mexican War veteran Ben Leaton thought it might be a good idea to get in the trading business here after the war. In 1848 (the year Wisconsin became a state) Ben bought a structure here and went into business. Over time he fortified the place with heavy walls making it pretty defendable.




I think the local governments in Mexico were paying $200 each for the scalps of unfriendly indians. Ben was a bounty hunter for those scalps. He also traded guns and ammunition to the Apaches and Commanches for any stolen
cattle they brought him.


The Hays expedition tried to get through the Big Bend region and damn near didn't make it. They went without food for twelve days and ended up at Leaton's store for a week or so buying food and trying to recover.


After Leaton died in 1851, his widow married Ed Hall who ran a business from the fort. Hall became indebted to Leaton's former scalp hunting partner (Burgess) and when Hall defaulted on his debt in 1864, Burgess murdered him. Burgess took over the fort and was then murdered by Leaton's son in 1875. Nice place.


Courtyard.


Part of the living area.


Old store exhibit.


Cattle pens.


I think I bought a bike in this kind of shape once. Think we can get it running?
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:27 PM   #85
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Heading into BBRSP

Heading into BBRSP. It takes about an hour to run the 34 miles from Presidio to Sauceda (HQs) in Big Bend Ranch State Park.


A trickle of Alamito Creek running into what little there is of the Rio Grande near Presidio. The Rio Grande really chokes down to nothing in this area.


By international treaty, the water levels in the river are regulated and regularly measured.


I think I read that 95% of the river is diverted.


Before all the impoundments and diversions the lands along the river would flood and replenish making them excellent for agriculture.


Check out this watershed and then take consider what little water there is in the Rio Grande in this area.


Once you leave the pavement, it is still a long way to park headquarters.


But a scenic one. If it has been raining you may have to wait an hour or two for the washes to clear of water. They really surge. The road cuts through them.




Texas State Parks have a regulation that requires a DOT license. So here at BBR State PARK, dual sport motorcycles and four wheel drive DOT licensed vehicles are allowed to run the roads and primitive roads while ATVs and unlicensed OHM are not. The park staff seem pleased with the dual sport interest in the park. Very welcoming and helpful folks. When you check in you sign a briefing form regarding back country riding.


Don't take things lightly here. There aren't many visitors - especially in the remote areas.






Even the main road is a blast on a bike.




There is Wi-Fi at Sauceda.


Park headquarters. An old ranch.




The main ranch house is available as lodging. We'll take a tour later.


Park headquarters and store. Bring your own food or sign up for meals prepared at the park headquarters. Not much here.


There are many dual sporters that know about this park, the great riding, and the great facilities. Hopefully, after this report, a few more will know about the park and take advantage of this great opportunity. When I was out riding one day, a group of 22 dual sporters rode in and enjoyed a pre-arranged park prepared lunch meal. The park staff thought that was great.


Bunk house. 30 bunks with bedding (15 each side - males on one side, females on the other). Nice common area. Iffy marginal cell service for some. Showers/towels. Don't forget to bring extra fuel for your bike if you will be riding the back country.


They recently raised their prices. The bunkhouse is $35 a night.


Meals just went up $2 to $8, $10, and $12 - about the same as restaurant prices. Of course, the nearest alternative is an hour of rough road away (other than pack your own cooler). So basically all costs for park admission, lodging with bedding/showers/towel/Wi-Fi, breakfast and dinner is about $58/day. Very reasonable. The meals are great too.


I think most people skip lunch when they are on the trail, but the park will prepare a bag lunch if you want one. If you are late for the evening meal they will leave a meal for you to reheat in the microwave.


Roads to Nowhere primitive road guide.



Better version of the above map.

I'll report on some riding and routes in the park in a bit. (Including pix of King Kong and Suicide Hills.)

A "Cannon Shot" of sorts.
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:35 AM   #86
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Awesome info, history, and pics


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Old 03-09-2012, 01:02 PM   #87
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Ride in NW BBRSP

I had enough daylight left for a 90 mile loop up into the NW corner of the park. I drafted a track (green) for the ride. My plan was to validate it on the ground (red).


Aerial view of the NW area of primitive roads.


Headed out from the lodge.


There are a lot of water barriers and arroyo crossings on the main road that keep it interesting on a bike.


Green must mean water, although it may not be on the surface.




My guess is that this is a nice looking waterfall immediately after a rain storm.




A closer view of the primitive road piece. Green was draft, red was actual. I rode it counter clockwise.




The surfaces are mostly rock with some sand or granular rock at washes.




Heading toward those mountains.


You need to watch the erosion, some edges are mild, some aren't.


Some soft spots. Not too troubling.




Cottonwood trees along Alamito Creek. "Coincidentally" Alamito translates to cottonwood.


Railroad down there too.


A guy homesteaded along Alamito Creek near here back in 1874. He did well until he drowned in a water hole in 1903.


Dropping down into the arroyo.


I guess the homesteaders got along with the Apaches OK. In 1889 a lone rider stopped at their place and he was invited to dismount and rest. After a while the visitor left saying he had a long way to go. The woman of the house had made a lunch for the rider so when she saw he left she sent her grandson after the man to give him the lunch.


Later that evening the family was sitting out on their patio having cocktails and watching Lawrence Welk on the flat screen when the ranch was attacked by a group of bandits. Apparently there were some wild rumors around that the ranch owner had his fortune buried on the ranch.

The family ran into the house and one member was shot while trying to hold the door closed. The grandson that delivered the lunch to the visitor, who was now attacking with the other bandits, was shot through a window while crossing a room. Once the family was safe inside the house, the bandits split thinking there was a formidable force therein.
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Old 03-09-2012, 01:23 PM   #88
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Awesome info, history, and pics


Thanks! Glad you are enjoying it and hope the info proves helpful to you.
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Old 03-09-2012, 05:04 PM   #89
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Ride in NW BBRSP Continued

Across the tracks and into some foothills.


Easternmost track. Rugged and fun.




Nice views.


The rocks can roll around a little when you are braking on the downhills for some of the wash crossings.




For a bit this track kind of fades out a little in the creosote bushes. Have to look for it.


Most of the intersections are nicely marked.








This segment runs up a creek bed for a while. The bottom varies between hard rock and soft gravel. I wasn't seeing where the trail left the creek. I was seeing tracks in the creek and I did some bushwhacking next to the creek to look for where I thought the trail might be.


On one of my forays I stuck the 450 pound bike pretty damn good in the soft gravel. I noticed that even the front wheel would continue to sink until the bike had enough frame and swingarm components firmly on the bottom to hold it for a while.

Somewhere in there I might have casually commented (@#$%&!) that I was no longer interested in finding where the trail continued but instead thought it might be best to backtrack out of there.



Of course, there was still the small matter of unsticking the bike. I found that trying to tug and lift the rear end wasn't working too well since I must have just shook out one of the significant fasteners that had been holding the luggage rack on. So much for pulling on that.

I decided it was best to strip off my gear, drink some water, and sit down on the gravel bar and ponder some options. I surveyed materials in the area that I might use for some mechanical advantage.

Since the sun was setting, I figured it was time to get back at it as I didn't want to screw around with this extrication project in the dark.

I got on my hands and knees in the cool and refreshing water and dug out loose gravel until I got the rear end free enough to lay the bike over and drag it to something slightly firmer. I think I had a tow strap out for a while to pull in the places of best advantage. I started it up and rode to solid rock, got dressed, and headed out.



I had no doubt I could manage the situation even though I was solo. But I had taken the precautions of bringing a SPOT device, water, briefing a ranger, and leaving a map/route and tracking link under my wiper. I also had a very GPS competent friend, who had my draft tracks and riding schedule, keeping track of me on my SPOT tracker page. There were several bikers back at the lodge who probably could have assisted in the morning as well. And as I noticed while I was on my hands and knees in the creek digging out the bike, there was plenty of water nearby. I was also close enough to have been able to walk out to a road (following the GPS track) after it got dark and cooled off. As always, best to ride in a group of three or more. Although I didn't try it and never rely on it, this area may have produced a cell signal - or maybe not.

About three days later I ran into this gentleman, a fellow ADVer, and stopped and chatted with him. His group was going to ride the same area.






I told him about the trouble spot where the trail is hard to find coming out of the creek and suggested that he come in from the other direction. When I ran into him a couple of days later in the national park, I asked how they made out. He told me they did come in from the other direction and they still had a problem locating the trail near the creek. I think he said they came onto my tracks and rode them out.


Anyway, the ride out (after getting stuck) was nice and the riding induced breeze felt pretty good after messing around in the creek.


This old corral site is near a spring and is left over from the cattle days.


I jumped a bobcat out of this spring. I assume the cat had an ambush set up waiting for some prey to come in for a drink. Man can those cats move.




I had to remind myself not to brush against vegetation that leans over the trail. Back home we just blow right through it. On the desert most things are kind of prickly. I scraped one of these prickly things on my neck.


Looks like a nice place to hunt.


By this time I wasn't taking any crossing for granted. I moved out smartly when I crossed this one.




Eventually I got out to a good road and worked my way back toward Sauceda headquarters. I met some park staff coming out on their way home and stopped and chatted for a bit. It was dark by the time I got back.
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:12 PM   #90
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Yeah! Another CannonRide! I've been too busy lately to stay up to date with RRs. I check back in to find I've fallen behind another Cannonshot lesson by 6 pages.
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