Tuesday, January 21, 2014

desert ops

Odometer  37747
Trip meter  0

Thursday Jan 23, 2014

Over the last several weeks I (Jeff) has been taking hikes out in the desert around Ajo.  There are three public entities that manage most of the area around here.  The BMGR (Barry Goldwater Gunnery Range) I have spoken about in earlier posts, the Cabeza Prietta Wildlife Refuge, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

A couple weeks ago I found this vertical mine shaft in the hills south of town.  Probably would not have found it but for the bright white warning signs that were visible for hundreds of feet.  

Later in the week Joan and I drove about 6 miles south on Ajo Well Road to see the place where the mining company drilled the water wells that served the mine and still serve the town. These wells tap into an aquifer that delivered up to 13 million gallons of water daily in the hey day of the mining.  

The first well was hand dug 3'9" by 4'6" at the rate of 4-1/2 feet a day.  The finished depth of the well was 645 feet.  In the 8 decades that these wells have been producing, there has been no significant drop in the water level.

Near the wells is the municipal airport that serves Ajo.  The Airport used to be the Ajo Gunnery Base back in the 40's and was one of many near here used to train fighter pilots.

Today the airport is rather under used...  here is a photo of the ramp office.

Today (Thursday) Jeff and his fellow desert trekker Mark Lankford, drove out towards Charlie Bell Gap on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (CPNWR) looking for the remains of an AT-6 Texan aircraft that went down in the early 40's while towing an aerial target.  We set out to search an area that was 1.5 miles north of the road.  No off-roading in the CPNWR meant that we would hike in to the search area.  Today we walked a total of 6 miles in our search grid and while we did not turn up any aricraft, we did make one unsettling discovery.

Mark found this human skull about 2 miles away from the road.

We found much of the skeletal remains within a small search area.  It appears that animals have scattered the remains.  Mark was surprised, but he found that his cell phone had a weak signal,  and he used it to place a call to the CBNWR and report the find. During our search of the area we turned up a belt buckle, an atheletic shoe and a sweatshirt.  In a huge stoke of luck I found a Mexican voter registration card in a rocky area about 100 feet away.  We can't know positively that the card belongs to these remains but if it does the individual was a Mexican male between 20 and 24 years old.  I will not give any more information on this blog, because we don't want the familia to find out about their loved one this way.  Mark has turned over the information to the US authorities and will deliver the Voter card when the offices open tomorrow morning.

According to an Article published in the New York Times on May 20, 2013 by Fernanda Santos and Rebekah Zemansky, the remains of 465 humans were found in the desert last year.  One problem is that identity cards that illegals carry with them are many times conterfeit documents used to allow them to move through Mexico.

Paste this link into your browser to see the whole article.

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