BajaNomad

2015 Nomad 'Hike for Walter Henderson's Rock-Pile' (Lost Diaz Grave Mystery)

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David K - 4-12-2015 at 12:47 AM

Harald shows me some stuff he found along the Pole Line Road and gave me two insulators, including the one with wires attached I photographed in the Pole Line Road thread.




Karl is packing up.


Harald is packing up.


Looking south, up Arroyo Grande


Auf wiedersehen amigos!

The three of us remaining drive south 0.6 mile to Arroyo D, and find it is wide and smooth enough to drive in a ways.


TMW and Frigatebird follow me as we are able to drive quite a ways into Arroyo D!


But we have to walk at some point!


White crystal sheeting (fossil salt/ halite?) on the surface of these boulders.


Not a canyon to be in during an earthquake!


CAVE!!!






Frigatebird volunteers to check for wildlife!


All clear!


About 20 feet long to the left.




Looking out from inside.


We go as far as we can, but it gets steep real soon.


I climb to the top of the first ridge. Photos looking around...





Back down in the canyon bottom...


Boulder dropped on a tree during a recent quake perhaps?


Heading back out...


Giant Ant Found!






Talking with TMW back at the trucks.


Selfie in Arroyo D

One more big surprise, coming up!

Maps of Arroyo D Hike:




A surprise in Arroyo B!

David K - 4-12-2015 at 09:39 AM

Arroyo B (2 miles north of A, 2.6 miles north of D) was my original planned hike route up from Arroyo Grande. On Google Earth, it seemed to have the most potential.

However, a week before our trip, PaulW hiked into the mid section or inner valley of Arroyo B from the north, and when he tried to walk out to Arroyo Grande in it, he came upon a 20' dry waterfall and found no way around it. Paul climbed up the south side of the B canyon and down into Arroyo Grande to return to his vehicle.

On our way home from Arroyo D, Tom wanted to see how he missed getting a photo of Arroyo B when he and XR Phil explored Arroyo Grande a few months earlier. I also wanted to see the end of the arroyo at Arroyo Grande... just because... it is there!


Driving north down Arroyo Grande.


The Arroyo B junction is wide at Arroyo Grande, but a row of shrubs hides the side wash, except for a small break in the brush on the north side. A large beach/ bench of sand is behind the brushline.


Looking up Arroyo B toward's PaulW's waterfall. I turn around and walk back out...


What is a GIANT tree log doing in this part of the desert? Is there a hidden forest up Arroyo B? These are desert hills, hardly able to support such massive growth!


I shout over the brush to Tom and Joe (by the trucks in Arroyo Grande) that they need to see this.




For scale!


Arroyo B and A, and potential Henderson hike routes

Baja is full of surprises and new discoveries. I welcome ideas on this tree species.


The desert trees are in bloom as we drive north in Arroyo Grande.




Pole Line Road at Arroyo Grande.




Passing the south well, heading for the north well and caretakers house.



We continue down Arroyo Grande, pass the Pole Line Road junction (7.5 miles from Arroyo B, 9.5 from Arroyo A, 10.1 from Arroyo D) and continue north for 5.3 miles to the huge water well pump complex that serves the gold mines about 40 miles north of San Felipe, along Hwy. 5.




A final look south from where we came.

At the wells, we make a right (east) turn and take the graded road along the water pipe and power lines. 4.4 miles from the wells we cross the CODE race course (the pipe briefly goes underground here, for the road south to pass over it). 6.5 miles from the wells, the road to Hwy. 5 turns left (north) as the power lines continue east. New activity in this valley has a branch waterline going north just before the turn.






At the CODE race course crossing. (SCORE as well)


Looking north on the race road.


The salt flats and north end of the Gulf of California, as we near Hwy. 5.

At 12.5 miles from the wells, 17.8 from the Pole Line Road at Arroyo Grande, 25.3 miles from Arroyo B, we reach Highway 5 between Km. 106 and 107, about a half mile south of the La Ventana rest stop/ store (former Pemex station).

The rest of the trip report notes I have say it was 46 miles to the La Puerta Pemex station (a U-Turn was needed because the highway is divided, and the station is on the southbound side).

La Puerta to La Rumorosa toll booth was 59 miles, and it was 96 miles to the Tecate U.S. Border. The border wait and entry process was just 10 minutes on Tuesday afternoon (5:44-5:54)

CONCLUSSION:

BAJA ROCKS! Good fun four wheeling with other Nomads and friends of Ken Cooke. Great to try and find history anywhere in Baja! On this Easter weekend, we traveled a road built in the defense of California during World War II and the telephone poles along it. Then we hiked and climbed to try and find a grave-like pile of rocks seen in the 1930's by Walter Henderson and written about by Choral Pepper and Bruce Barber in their books as they hoped to find the rock pile. The January 8, 1541 grave of Melchior Diaz, of the Coronado Expedition into the land that would be the United States, remains lost. Melchior Diaz was the first Spanish man to enter into California by land, but finding his grave on the west side of the Gulf of California would positively confirm that.

4x4abc - 4-12-2015 at 09:49 AM

great job, David!

Mexitron - 4-12-2015 at 09:51 AM

Looks like you had a great time David---thanks for all the great pics and report. My first thought about the tree was a mesquite, though ironwoods and palo verdes can get massive under the right conditions...

David K - 4-12-2015 at 09:58 AM

Quote: Originally posted by 4x4abc  
great job, David!


Thank you Harald... Here is a photo you took of me, Tom and Joe on the north side of Arroyo A, going around the dam gorge...



David K - 4-12-2015 at 09:59 AM

Quote: Originally posted by Mexitron  
Looks like you had a great time David---thanks for all the great pics and report. My first thought about the tree was a mesquite, though ironwoods and palo verdes can get massive under the right conditions...


Yes, I did, you are welcome... thanks for your ideas on the tree log too.:light:

güéribo - 4-12-2015 at 12:06 PM

Great report...thanks for all the details and the photos.

BornFisher - 4-12-2015 at 01:27 PM

Great report---- felt like a treasure hunt, what a mystery!!! I think it will take a plane to search and locate the rock pile if it is still there. Thanks for the report and pics, great work!

TMW - 4-12-2015 at 02:13 PM

Excellent report DK, the pictures and narrative was great. One of the things I found interesting was we or at least I never saw a snake. One of Hendersons fears in not disturbing the rock pile was the deadly red rattler than comes out in April. Believe me when walking near bushes and over rocks I had that in mind.

David K - 4-12-2015 at 02:33 PM

Yes, I have only seen snakes (90% rattlers) in the month of April... and not a one on this trip.

The other amazing point is not one tire failure/ rock puncture during the run. Specially with my el chepo Pep Boys tires... which I am shopping for replacements for now (sidewall leak from before the trip) and at just 22,000 miles on them.

Frigatebird - 4-12-2015 at 02:44 PM

Nice work David. Just as I remember it, except I thought you snapped a photo of the mountain lion when I evicted it from the cave? :D

David K - 4-12-2015 at 02:48 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Frigatebird  
Nice work David. Just as I remember it, except I thought you snapped a photo of the mountain lion when I evicted it from the cave? :D


The older I get, the slower I get... sorry I missed that photo shot!!! ;)

David K - 4-28-2015 at 11:20 AM

I hope that someone out there is inspired to join me in solving the rock-pile location mystery. Keep on following your dreams to make discoveries and have adventures in Baja California and the North American deserts!

Fatboy - 7-14-2015 at 09:40 PM

Interesting....read about it originally in Desert Magazine years ago.... The line Choral said to draw in the article is pretty close to what works out with all the new info.... Odd that she 'left out' some details.

Based on what I see I believe you are looking too far north....I will post my reasoning in the next couple of days...

Thanks for posting the letter because it does give additional clues.

PaulW - 7-15-2015 at 06:22 AM

As always. Another hike is planned. After late Oct. I will be back in SF and would like someone to join me. Figure out a date and I will make myself available. David can summarize what the priority would be for a first try. Any route is acceptable for me. Trip could be anything from a day trip from SF to several days camping in AG?
What say you all.
Paul
PS. same kind of trip to repeat the 3 summits trip. PW

ehall - 7-15-2015 at 07:23 AM

Interested if the timing works out.

KaceyJ - 7-15-2015 at 07:47 AM

DK, to me , because of the knots / nodes / morphology the tree looks to be a Cottonwood or Sycamore which may seem out of place but I'd bet there is a stand at a higher / wetter location upstream

David K - 7-15-2015 at 08:11 AM

Quote: Originally posted by KaceyJ  
DK, to me , because of the knots / nodes / morphology the tree looks to be a Cottonwood or Sycamore which may seem out of place but I'd bet there is a stand at a higher / wetter location upstream


Thank you Kacey!

PaulW - 7-15-2015 at 12:07 PM

David can you resurrect an overview showing the A, B, C locations in the AG wash?
I know we saw it back when with coordinates at one time.
Thanks

Fatboy - 7-15-2015 at 02:03 PM

DK....What was your criteria for the current search site? How did you narrow it to the current area?

BajaGeoff - 7-15-2015 at 04:39 PM

DK and I have already been talking about putting another search mission together. We have some additional resources to bring to the table that will help...updates to follow as we make some progress on the planning!

David K - 7-15-2015 at 04:42 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Fatboy  
DK....What was your criteria for the current search site? How did you narrow it to the current area?


Did you read the letter earlier in this thread? The following map points out places in the letter...

Based on the rock pile's discoverer, Walter Henderson... as told to Choral Pepper in 1967 (and she turned into a mystery story in her book and magazine articles):



As you can read Walters letter, I shared publically here on Baja Nomad for all to enjoy and help figure out where the rock pile was...

Mentioned and pointed out, on the 1962 Lower Ca Guidebook Map 3: Remember, there was no Hwy. 5 back then, the old road to San Felipe may have been close, however.
*La Ventana
*Road running west from just north of El Chinero, about 20 miles south of La Ventana.
* Take off about 5 miles below road north of El Chinero
* RED ARROW: Parked at Base of hills
* Arroyo Grande
* Base of Cerro Borrego

[Edited on 7-15-2015 by David K]

Fatboy - 7-15-2015 at 05:00 PM

Do I have your general search area marked correctly?


Overview.jpg - 130kB

David K - 7-15-2015 at 05:02 PM

Quote: Originally posted by PaulW  
David can you resurrect an overview showing the A, B, C locations in the AG wash?
I know we saw it back when with coordinates at one time.
Thanks


Hi Paul, Arroyo C was dismissed before this year's discussion, but it is at or close to where you parked your truck and hiked into Arroyo B's middle valley from (ie. the top right of this map that shows Arroyos B, A, and D from top to bottom):


David K - 7-15-2015 at 05:05 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Fatboy  
Do I have your general search area marked correctly?




Your pin 'current search area' is approx. where Arroyo B meets Arroyo Grande.

I appreciate your interest in helping us find the rock pile!

Did you read the Baja Bound article last month?: http://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/searching...

Fatboy - 7-15-2015 at 05:34 PM

Same story...reading it now...but am unsure where the comments such as these ....

They reached the top of the Sierra Pinta range and then went steeply down the west side, into Arroyo Grande. Around noon, roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the distance down from the divide

and this.....

They made camp that night in Arroyo Grande, and returned the next day to the Model A by traveling up Arroyo Grande to the base of Borrego Mountain and then back east to the car

The camping part - no problem - but the rest?

Are these based on other letters or notes or by a careful reading of the letters you posted?

David K - 7-15-2015 at 10:09 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Fatboy  
Same story...reading it now...but am unsure where the comments such as these ....

They reached the top of the Sierra Pinta range and then went steeply down the west side, into Arroyo Grande. Around noon, roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the distance down from the divide

and this.....

They made camp that night in Arroyo Grande, and returned the next day to the Model A by traveling up Arroyo Grande to the base of Borrego Mountain and then back east to the car

The camping part - no problem - but the rest?

Are these based on other letters or notes or by a careful reading of the letters you posted?


The entire letter and the additional direction page is posted in this thread. I did so in hopes others will find clues I may have missed.

I posted my best guess after reading the letter for the past 12 years multiple times. I would like (as would have Choral) to find the rock pile in my lifetime. I think it would be more successful to involve my Nomad friends. It was with thier (your) help I could visit the rock walls that Choral saw in 1966, and she later believed was a Jesuit proposed mission site... but could not find it again.

Thank you for your interest!

Beginning at the Model A

PaulW - 8-19-2015 at 02:36 PM

We now know Henderson parked his Model A near 4 corners then walked west. Then my hypothesis is the easy walking would be one of the two drainages looking west. The one leading NW ends quickly after heading N. Lots of choices for sure.
The other one is Arroyo Arrajal which leads pretty much the same way but then turns SW. But there is another drainage that heads NW then W toward the heart of Arroyo Grande.
So my next project will be two fold.
1) Climb to the top of Arrajal and have a look. Who knows if I will make any conclusions from the top? I will tell you all about the results later. For now the preliminary plan is to start at the Slate Mine and take the NE leading ridge. My link about Slate is http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=72246#pid8855...
Note the error in the label of the arroyo

2) Drive as far as I can up the fork off the race track that leads NW Junction is at ~31 26.7, 115 15.9. Then walk around toward AG to have a look see.
So I will tell you the dates later and invite your participation.




David K - 8-19-2015 at 03:00 PM

Wonderful!

Use the hint that Walter gave us, that he was seeking a way to the Sierra las Palmitas and Tinajas, for the rumored blue palms. He knew they were too far south, but that was the only route they found from the San Felipe road to the base of the small mountains, east of the Sierra Juarez.

That is why I guessed he would have hiked northwest to the divide and not straight west from the Model A. He came back a different route, from the base of Cerro Borrego, so that I think Arroyo Arrajal was on or parallel to his return route back from Arroyo Grande?

Obviously we will not know any of this for sure until the rock pile is discovered! I wish you luck! I do have a planned return expedition, perhaps after the heat of September?

BajaGeoff - 8-20-2015 at 10:54 AM

Excellent Paul!

Keep us posted. I would love to be a part of the next trip out there and I know David would too.


PaulW - 8-20-2015 at 12:39 PM

Do you think from 4 corners the arroyo north of Arrajal should be the first choice?
========

Quote: Originally posted by David K  
Wonderful!

Use the hint that Walter gave us, that he was seeking a way to the Sierra las Palmitas and Tinajas, for the rumored blue palms. He knew they were too far south, but that was the only route they found from the San Felipe road to the base of the small mountains, east of the Sierra Juarez.

That is why I guessed he would have hiked northwest to the divide and not straight west from the Model A. He came back a different route, from the base of Cerro Borrego, so that I think Arroyo Arrajal was on or parallel to his return route back from Arroyo Grande?

Obviously we will not know any of this for sure until the rock pile is discovered! I wish you luck! I do have a planned return expedition, perhaps after the heat of September?

David K - 8-20-2015 at 01:06 PM

Quote: Originally posted by PaulW  
Do you think from 4 corners the arroyo north of Arrajal should be the first choice?
========

Quote: Originally posted by David K  
Wonderful!

Use the hint that Walter gave us, that he was seeking a way to the Sierra las Palmitas and Tinajas, for the rumored blue palms. He knew they were too far south, but that was the only route they found from the San Felipe road to the base of the small mountains, east of the Sierra Juarez.

That is why I guessed he would have hiked northwest to the divide and not straight west from the Model A. He came back a different route, from the base of Cerro Borrego, so that I think Arroyo Arrajal was on or parallel to his return route back from Arroyo Grande?

Obviously we will not know any of this for sure until the rock pile is discovered! I wish you luck! I do have a planned return expedition, perhaps after the heat of September?


Yes.

PaulW - 8-20-2015 at 04:09 PM

Quote: Originally posted by David K  

Use the hint that Walter gave us, that he was seeking a way to the Sierra las Palmitas and Tinajas, for the rumored blue palms. He knew they were too far south, but that was the only route they found from the San Felipe road to the base of the small mountains, east of the Sierra Juarez.
That is why I guessed he would have hiked northwest to the divide and not straight west from the Model A. He came back a different route, from the base of Cerro Borrego, so that I think Arroyo Arrajal was on or parallel to his return route back from Arroyo Grande?
========
Quote: Originally posted by PaulW  
Do you think from 4 corners the arroyo north of Arrajal should be the first choice?
========
Quote: Originally posted by David K  

Yes.

========
I understand your suggestion and will do both. That northerly one quickly merges with the off shoot NW from Race but does not look as drive-able. I want to drive for a quick look before the hiking begins.
So the dilemma is when ‘does one head west’? My guess would be 31 28-29’?
PS, Other readers need to remember Henderson’s C. Borrego is the present day C. Arrajal? On the new maps C Borrego is closer to Hwy 3. Another easy hike to get the views south to see Diablo and Lugana Diablo

David K - 8-20-2015 at 04:56 PM

Yes, Henderson's Cerro Borrego is the topo map's Cerro Arrajal. On other old maps it was called 'Sharp Peak', as well.

kevin_in_idaho - 3-21-2017 at 04:07 PM

I googled Walter Henderson and trying to figure out who he was, etc. I see by one of your posts you are looking for a grave site?

This is pretty cool to see how your thought process is going! It'd be cool to find it.

[Edited on 3-21-2017 by kevin_in_idaho]

David K - 3-21-2017 at 05:02 PM

Quote: Originally posted by kevin_in_idaho  
I googled Walter Henderson and trying to figure out who he was, etc. I see by one of your posts you are looking for a grave site?

This is pretty cool to see how your thought process is going! It'd be cool to find it.

[Edited on 3-21-2017 by kevin_in_idaho]


Read this: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/searchin...

kevin_in_idaho - 3-21-2017 at 08:21 PM

Quote: Originally posted by David K  
Quote: Originally posted by kevin_in_idaho  
I googled Walter Henderson and trying to figure out who he was, etc. I see by one of your posts you are looking for a grave site?

This is pretty cool to see how your thought process is going! It'd be cool to find it.

[Edited on 3-21-2017 by kevin_in_idaho]


Read this: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/searchin...


I wish I lived closer as I'd love to help out; can you imagine when you find it how cool that will be!?

fishbuck - 5-12-2017 at 01:41 AM

That is truely amazing.

fishbuck - 5-12-2017 at 09:37 PM

I mean the logistics of this is mind boggling. The resupply effort that Diaz was assigned to. Who planned this all out? Someone in Spain?

[Edited on 5-13-2017 by fishbuck]

David K - 5-13-2017 at 05:01 PM

Read about the Coronado expedition (1540-41) seeking the golden cities of Cibola. Alarcon and Melchior Diaz were part of that expedition... only the Colorado River did not get them close enough to the main party to resupply them.

Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_V%C3%A1zquez_de_Coro...

Who's in charge here?

John M - 5-13-2017 at 05:03 PM

Charles V - of Spain appointed Antonia De Mendoza as Viceroy. One of his early priorities was exploration. Having heard of the fabulous Seven Cities of Cibola Mendoza organized an expedition to take a look assigning Francisco Vazquez de Coronado the task - as it worked out, Coronado was unable to fulfill his assignment. Mendoza had more success establishing educational institutions. Mendoza succeeded in many of his responsibilities.

I didn't really know this stuff but a quick search on-line gives such great details. Staying with the thread, Melchor Diaz was involved in supplying Coronado.

John M

David K - 7-18-2018 at 02:11 PM

Quote: Originally posted by John M  
Charles V - of Spain appointed Antonia De Mendoza as Viceroy. One of his early priorities was exploration. Having heard of the fabulous Seven Cities of Cibola Mendoza organized an expedition to take a look assigning Francisco Vazquez de Coronado the task - as it worked out, Coronado was unable to fulfill his assignment. Mendoza had more success establishing educational institutions. Mendoza succeeded in many of his responsibilities.

I didn't really know this stuff but a quick search on-line gives such great details. Staying with the thread, Melchor Diaz was involved in supplying Coronado.

John M


Quite correct... Diaz reached the Colorado Delta (by land) soon after Hernando de Alarcón sailed there, canoed up the Coronado and back, and left. This freed-up Melchior Diaz to explore California as they realized they could not reach the Coronado Expedition with the supplies they carried. Melchior Diaz was the first Spaniard to travel to California, by land. Without finding his grave in California, that honor is not affirmed.

In my chapter 'California Discovered' (pages 3-5), I list all the expeditions of the 1500s.

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