Monday, November 02, 2015

Hike to a Lime Kiln

At least that's what I think it is. I could be wrong. I don't think there's a lot of limestone out here, but there could be some, I suppose. Anyway, somebody told me about this and about where it is and I think they told me what it is but I can't find that conversation. I wish I could so I could let him know I finally made it out there and so he could confirm if it is a lime kiln.

So somebody told me about this thing and I searched for it on Google Earth and found a likely candidate and stuck a push pin in it and thought for a couple of years about how long a hike it would be to get out there. Then last Friday I decided I could reduce the hike by at least a couple of miles by wading across the Salt River instead of using the bridge. I did that once before on another hike. I wore sandals made for use in water that time. It was a little chancy going up the far bank in sandals, though, what with all the cacti and rattlers around. On Saturday morning I decide to go down to the river and see if it would be as easy to cross as I suspected.

There were only 2 horses in the area when I got to the river. The flow of water from Stewart Mountain dam is cut in October because the Salt River tubing season is over. All those rocks in the foreground would normally be under water but are exposed because the flow was dropped last week.

You can kind of tell where the water was in this photo.

I went to the place that was my first choice from crossing the river and decided that it was too wide. I didn't pay much attention to how deep it was but probably should have. I made my way over to my second choice but it took me a long time to get there because I kept stopping to take pictures of birds.

This is how birds fish.

These birds are cuter.

I don't normally take pictures of birds but I got a new lens a couple of months ago that enables me to zoom in enough to get decent pictures. That lens is not suitable for landscape photography, though, and that's the kind of photos I most like to take. So am I changing lenses while I'm out hiking? What, and get all that desert dust in my camera?!? No. I carry two cameras. I got a new camera in January and BTW it is the heaviest camera I have ever owned. I kept my old camera and put the new lens on it. The new lens, BTW, is the heaviest lens I have ever owned. So now I'm carrying 2 instruments for taking pictures and each one is heavy. Have you ever put two camera straps around your neck? Having two heavy cameras strapped to your neck can make hiking difficult for lots of reasons besides impeding breathing, though that is certainly one of the top reasons. Fortunately, I stumbled across a solution to carrying the cameras a few weeks ago. They are something called "capture clips" made by Peak Design. I put them on my backpack straps and hang the cameras there. It's a little awkward having two large heavy things on my chest but it beats being strangled.

Me with cameras attached, and a bonus Halloween decoration.

OK, so I'm looking at my second possible location for crossing the river and I think it looks a little deeper than I would like if I was to try crossing it with my hiking boots on. I've splashed through this river a few times with these boots and they do seem to be water proof, as advertised, so I decide to see if the water is too deep. I think it was about half an inch too deep. One of the most distressing feelings I know is that of water coming over the top of your shoe and down into your shoe. It's right down there with hitting your brakes and then realizing that you are on ice. It was only a few steps to get across, though, and it didn't get any deeper, so I kept going. When I got out of the water and up the other bank, it felt like the water had only seeped down to my heels and had not formed puddles in my boots. Puddles in boots is one of the few things that feels worse that water coming over the tops of your boots. I decided that since I was across, I might as well keep going.

The ground is unusually bare in this area. I think that may have something to do with the nature of the soil. There are no rocks in this soil. Every time I have come across soil without rocks in this desert, it has very few plants in it.

I got the feeling that few people visit this area these days. There were many dead trees that had not been chopped up for firewood. Also, there were few beer cans or shot gun shells.

I wandered slowly in the direction I thought I should go to get to the suspected kiln. I had a 4G signal out there and figured I could check Google Earth if I couldn't find it, but it would be more fun to wander around and see what I could see.

I felt like I should be getting close to the kiln so I decided to climb this small hill and see if I could spot it.

Almost at the hill ...

... when I look to my left and see this.

This matches descriptions of lime kilns that I've read.

At the same time that I got to the kiln, the Red Baron flew in and started doing aerial stunts. I used to see this plane frequently while hiking but haven't seem it much the past few years.

I hung out there for a while taking pictures of the kiln and of the Red Baron. I decided to climb the hill even though I had already found my destination. It was during this climb that I concluded that hiking in wet socks is a lot less fun than hiking in dry socks. The hill was actually the end of a ridge. There were cairns on the ridge and a very faint trail. I couldn't resist. I followed the trail for almost half a mile before I decided the sun was getting low enough that I should turn back.

Looking along the ridge.

As is common in this area, one of Sheriff Joe's fancy helicopters flew by. It was doing some wild maneuvers to follow the path of the river. Maybe the pilot was trying to impress the female you can see in the front seat. I wonder how many of these helicopters Maricopa County could have purchased for the cost of all of Sheriff Joe's lost lawsuits.

I don't think the trail goes anywhere but the desert is pretty.

Large rocks.

As I strolled along the top of the ridge, I thought about how I used to run through the shallow water at the beach in Texas. When your foot comes down, it pushes the water out, and you lift your foot up for the next step before the water rushes in to cover it. I wondered if I could use that technique to cross the river. It might be tricky running over a bunch of slippery boulders that you can't really see very well, though. I decided to try it and was quickly reminded of how, when one foot splashes down, the other leg gets drenched. At least I didn't get as much water in my boots. I need to find a better way to cross the river. Stilts?

Map of the hike.

Click below to see all of the pictures. I took over 200 but narrowed it down some.