Turtle Mountains, Coffin Spring
April 8-10, 2011

We started from Lisa Dawn tailhead on the trail that goes to Mohawk Spring. A small rock slide has filled Mohawk Spring with gravel. There is a continuous rock fall that wraps around the downhill side of the alcove and fills the bowl. The Mesquite tree at the spring is leafing out. There is probably water underground there.

We then went southwest to a branch of Homer Wash which we followed to Coffin Spring Pass and over to Coffin Springs. There was overflowing water at the spring, as there has been each time I have been there. The drywall above Coffin Spring is marked with black patina with white edges. We climbed up to the base of the dry fall. I suspect that water flows here when there is heavy rainfall.

We took the most direct route from Coffin Spring Wash to Geary Wash by going west in the north most of the three ravines. The best route is in the watercourse at first then move on the left bank and up to the pass.

From the pass we crossed a small ravine on the left and then went south about one half kilometer to a fairly level large area filled with many cacti. There were field of ocotillo, barrel and hedgehog with beaver tail, prickly pear, desert agave, and several different chollas. I named this grove Cactus Flat. We all thought this was an amazing place.

In other areas we also saw spiny star, Christmas and fishhook cacti. There were several stands of beargrass. We saw creosote bush in bloom, many smoke trees and palo verde. In Gary Wash there was a large grove of desert willow.

In bloom were five-needle fetid Marigold, Perry’s penstemon, Mojave yucca, banana yucca, chia, lupine, bladder sage, brittle brush, great desert poppy, ocotillo, hedgehog, desert agave, beavertail and prickly pear. We also saw parasitic dodder.

From Cactus Flat staying on a south-southeast course on a series of ridges and avoiding the difficult gullies easily leads to Gary Wash. We then went west in Gary Wash to the classic Desert Survival route between Gary Wash and Homer Wash. I have named this Mishap Pass since there are two adjacent passes with a peak between them that prevents seeing one pass from the other. Sequential Desert Survivor leaders have had difficulties navigating this pass even though they had been through here previously.

We then made a second crossing of Coffin Spring Pass. In the middle of the pass there was a lose slab of rock with an obviously fake petroglyph. We did not see this when we passed though here the previous day. I suspect someone was attempting an April fool joke a week late.

We saw several coveys of quail, a hawk, an owl, Turkey Vultures, humming birds and several flocks of small brown birds. We also saw carpenter ants, a single Red Velvet-ant, a giant desert scorpion, several spiders and several butterflies including a painted lady. We saw several kangaroo rats, an antelope squirrel desert cottontail rabbits and black-tailed jackrabbits with red ears in the sunlight. We found a round tailed horned lizard, a regal horned lizard and a side blotched Lizard as well as several other different lizards. We saw no living turtles. There was one old shell and another recent shell with the remains intact in the shell. And we found a single small speckled rattlesnake.

There was chalcedony quartz littering the ground most everywhere. We found isolated exposed beautiful examples of Mopah rose still attached to a layer of rock and one place where there were several veins of chalcedony quartz between rock layers. There were many rocks covered with colorful lichens. Many different colored rock covering the playas and in strata at various angles as well as isolated volcanic cones and huge conglomerate boulders making labyrinths in some of the steep ravines. There was evidence of recent geological activity in the recent filling of Mohawk Spring by a gravel slide and by a huge recent rock slide in the canyon on the west side on Coffin Spring Pass.

On our easy walk out we went by Brown’s Camp, The Lost Arch Inn and surrounding mine sites.