Sunday, February 12, 2017

Coffee Pot Valley

Odometer 54446
Ajo, AZ

A recent desert trek took me out to CoffeePot Valley where Mark and I were scouting for another aircraft wreck site.  CoffeePot is east of Ajo out behind the Batamote Mountains.

Joan and I were out near here last year when Mark and I got stranded in the Suzuki when his shift bushing crumbled leaving the transmission in neutral- permanently, well semi-permanently,we got it fixed pretty quickly with a new piece from Low Range Off Road.
This time the Suzuki is working well and we are tracking down a report of an F-104 that crashed in this vicinity back in 1969

The distinctive rock crest is what gives this mountain its name- but I'm not seeing the coffeepot- maybe a whale?  but no, not a coffeepot of any kind I've seen.

Boulder Road
The road is very challenging, best accomplished with a good off-road machine.  The "road" is a single lane and goes from gravel, to mud, to rocks the size of a football, and the ruts and washouts just add to the fun.  Forward speed is regulated by how good your spine and internal organs are feeling that day.  Today we hit high speeds in the 25- 30mph range however the average was more like 4-5 mph. Low range 4 wheel drive makes it easier to crawl along with out fanning the clutch in, and out all the time.

The search area for this particular crash will be about a mile square, because the coordinates we have been given have degrees and minutes, but no seconds.  I believe they are kept vague for a reason, but not sure what the reason is- souvenir hunters maybe?
Our goal today is to scout the area and get more data that will help us come up with a good search pattern.

There is a high pressure gas line that follows this route.  The gas line was installed back in the early 20's to supply natural gas to the Ajo copper mine.  Most of the line is buried, but washes (arroyos) and solid rock ledges have forced the installers to leave some of the pipe exposed.
Gas line from Tucson to Ajo
Did I mention that there are wild burros out here too?  There is one in the middle ground of this picture checking me out.

Natural Gas Pumping Station

Out in Coffeepot Valley there is a fuel powered pump that runs all the time- keeping the line pressurized  enabling the gas to cover the 120 miles from Tucson and Ajo. (probably one of several)

The road to Coffeepot Well and Corral takes off from the mainline here and takes us north through the valley that lies to the west of  Coffeepot mountain.

The corral and the holding tank are still out here, but the wind pump has been taken down, so the only water in the troughs here is rain water.  This was one of many wind pumps that operated in this area in the late 1800's and early 1900's to support the cattle from the Childs Ranch.  This setup is much like the well and corral on the pipeline road at Burro Gap that I reported on in this blog a few years ago.  [You can read that blog in a pop-up window by clicking here (Burro Gap).]  Something I read at the Organ Pipe National Monument said that ranchers need to have water available about every 6 miles for their free range cattle, and that seems about right when I consider all the wells that were active in this area.  This is public land, but the rancher that controlled the water- "owned" the grazing.
No wreck found today- but we'll be back...

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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