Chemehuevi - Trampas Lagoon

Chemehuevi - Trampas Lagoon Backpack

January 15, 2016 



Six Desert Survivor members hiked this 35 mile backpack from Snaggle Tooth to the Colorado River using Trampas Wash and returning the same way. We attempted a new route from the mouth of Trampas Wash north to the Red Rock Falls Wash. Previous attempts had failed due to impassable steep ravines and slot canyons with dryfalls that are part of the Topock Gorge.

This time the plan was to move away from the river to avoid the difficult Topock Gorge terrain. We followed a route that was sketched out on a USGS topo map. This route was successful and will be used for a lollypop loop going in on Trampas Wash, crossing north on the new cross-country path, and returning in the Red Rock Wash. We did not have time to hike all the way to Red Rock Wash. However, since we could see that we had reached less steep terrain, it became clear that this would be a satisfactory route.

We saw cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits, several hawks including a mated pair of Red Tails, a few lizards, phainopepla, and several migrating birds. Clouds accumulated during the day, starting with a few scattered fluffy ones then increasing in volume and number. By mid-afternoon there were large dark-bottom cumulus clouds in the north; next we saw rain in the east over Arizona, and then a light mist fell for a while. There was abundant evidence of recent heavy rain in the flow patterns in the floor of the wash. As we approached the river the ground became saturated.Those who did not put up shelters were wet in the morning. The tarps and tents were wet inside and out. There had been a light mist during the night. Everything was dried out at lunch.

There is abundant evidence of over population by burros. There are burro trails and track ever where we went. The trail, tracks, dung, and contaminated water holes suggested an over-grazed livestock pasture. We saw a group of four burros with a young one near the mouth of Trampas Wash. We found three big horn skulls in washes; one was a nearly complete skeleton. Perhaps the burros are crowding out the big horn?

There was significant attrition from our group. Eddie fell ill to a stomach flu two days before the trip and Andy developed laryngitis on the drive to the trailhead and did no go on the backpack, and Lutz developed back pain on the first day but did not want to return to the trailhead; then he took a rest day and did not do the hike on the second day. He was supplied with ibuprofen by pooling the group’s supplies, which appeared to help; he was much better and still improving on the return hike.

On the drive home there were heavy clouds and some rain between Tehachapi and Bakersfield. Crossing from CA-99 to I-5 north of Bakersfield there was a light rain. I saw the usual nine red tails, one mated pair, and three nests near the tops of the power line poles.

Further north, with sun behind me, dramatic banks of clouds covered the sky ahead. On the east side of this cloud bank a short arc of a rainbow appeared; it did not increase in length but developed into the most intense color bands that I have ever seen. A faint double of this rainbow arc was visible briefly.