Clipper Peak - Chuckwalla Guzzler

April 8, 2013


The purpose of this half-day hike immediately following a Chemehuevi backpack trip was to find and evaluate Chuckwalla Spring and to monitor the area. The first two photographs are maps of this trip. The first is for an overview; the second is an enlarged view of the Chuckwalla Spring area. This spring and Rattler Spring are shown on USGS 7.5’ maps in adjacent ravines. On previous trips and on this trip no evidence of Rattler Spring was found. The only water related finding was Newberry Tank at the confluence of the two ravines. A black water hose went from the tank uphill toward Chuckwalla Spring.

On the trailhead road a pallid winged grasshopper landed on the hood of my car and stayed there for the rest of the drive.*  Near the mines there are a series of terraced rock walls on the east slope of the ravine.* I initially thought these may be man made with a connection to the nearby mines but now I think that these are natural and probably water sculpted formations. As the jeep road reaches the mine tunnel there is a similar rock formation in the foreground and an obvious mine tailing just below the mine tunnel entrance* In the next photo the tunnel is obvious and the  cover over a mineshaft is up hill and just above a rock wall.

From there I traversed cross-country west to be able to get to Chuckwalla Spring from above for optimal views of the site. On the way there were many plants in bloom. The intense magenta flower of the beavertail cactus punctuate the brown and grey background slopes.* The desert trumpet flower is seen in a magnified view.* A lone mariposa lily was just opening*. The calicos had impressive magenta blooms. In a shallow ravine there was a long pile of rocks* similar to the rock walls seen earlier. Just below this formation there is an exposed tilted layers of grey and light yellow sedimentary rock partly covered by crumbling burnt red rock.* From there looking north down the Chuckwalla ravine no riparian site was apparent.*

A few feet above the spring there is a small cleared, level area with a central hollow pile of rocks that contains a well rusted metal can, possibly a claim marker.* The spring is a disturbed square hole with concrete and rock walls that has a few inches of still water.* Just below the spring there are rusted metal pipe, a screen the would fit the top of the spring, several finished wood boards,* and wood framed corrugated metal that would make a cover for the spring. A small metal pipe comes out of the spring a few feet down slope and end about ten inches above the sandy ground.* There is a drop of water every twenty seconds from where honeybees coating the end of the pipe. There was a swarm of hundreds of bees in the air and on the soaked sand. A photo captures a classic water drop splash that is that shape of a roulette wheel in a shallow puddle of clear water surrounded by bees.*

Nearby there is a seven by twenty inch animal hole in a dirt bank that could be currently in use.* Below the spring there are scattered sections of rusted metal pipe and the continuation of a black water pipe The next  photos follow the black pipe down the slope for a half a mile to Newberry Tank.* I saw no evidence there ever was a Rattler Spring. At Chuckwalla Spring the combination of very old rusted pipe and more recent black pipe suggest possible sequential uses of the spring. The different pipes may have been different phases of providing water to the local mines. Newberry Tank may have been used as a big game guzzler.

* Photos  can be selected by a single click of the thumbnails. Large photos can be enlarged to full size by a single click. Advance through the photo using the right arrow.