Chemehuevi Wilderness Backpack
BLM Monitoring
November 29, 2015



Bob Davis                                                                                                                                          December 12, 2015

While hiking in the Topock Gorge area along the Colorado River several times I said to myself when confronted with a difficult potential route obstruction, “I could do this”. Next I would ask, “But should I do it?” Fortunately, I came up with the correct answers and did not attempt anything unreasonable. This is a place to minimize risk. I was in a remote wilderness area, alone, and a brisk day and a half walk from the trailhead.
I was trying to find a way to lead a group from the mouth of Trampas Wash to Red Rock Falls along the west side of the Colorado River. I knew from the USGS topo map that this was a rugged area. I found an uneven granite base with a ragged and eroded volcanic red rock overlay that formed narrow ravines and soaring pinnacles. I came to several obstructions that were impassable or would require technical climbing gear. There were dry falls, deep hole in narrow ravines, and steep slopes with loose rock.
The Chemehuevi Wilderness is south of Needles bounded by I-40 on the north, US-95 on the west, Havasu Lake Road on the south, and Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, Chemehuevi Indian Reservation and the Topock Gorge of the Colorado River on the east. The mountain range is an arc that is 15 miles in length that faces eastward toward the Colorado River. Whale Mountain, at 2,774 feet, is at the north end of the range while Chemehuevi Peak, at 3,694 feet is at the southwest end. Contained within the arms of the arc is a large central valley with low rolling hills covered by dense stands of cholla, ocotillo, agave, and barrel cactus. The striking bright granite peaks contrast sharply with the rich green creosote and cactus-covered bajadas. A few miles from the Colorado River, the mountains change dramatically from light-colored granite to dark red and gray volcanic spires.
Red Rock Falls is labeled on the USGS map and is one of the three hikes listed for this wilderness by the BLM. It is near the mouth of Red Rock Wash, a major drainage that joins Trampas Wash half way across the wilderness. I want to plan a trip across the wilderness going east on Trampas Wash, north along the Colorado River, then back to Trampas Wash by Red Rock Wash.
There were a large variety of desert plants including many different examples of nurse plants. These are mature plants that become shelters from the fierce desert elements for young plants.
There were recent motorcycle and truck tracks in Trampas Wash.
There was abundant evidence of long occupation by a large population of burros. Near the river there were innumerable burro tracks going to every potential access to the river and on every passable ridge. Several times I saw a big black burro watching me from a ridge top. Both evenings near dusk I hard loud huffing of a burro. This sounded very close but on the second occasion I saw the black burro on a ridge that was not a few feet away as I had imagined. There were also several groups of burros including a group of five.

I saw desert cottontails and black-tailed rabbits. I could recognize Phainopepla in flight by their flycatcher shape and white wing patches.There were several paths of mouse tracks in fine gravel. The big game guzzler at Parrish Spring that has have abundant water for many years was dry.

There were three big loud black helicopters crossing overhead as I approached Chemehuevi Ridge to remind me that I was leaving a wilderness and returning to the real world.
Even though I did not get through to Red Rock Falls I did learn enough to plan future trips. There will be another trip to see if we can find a way further inland and another to approach this area by canoe.