Sheep Gulch walkabout….

If you remember seeing that ribbon of green in the third-to-last photo, three posts back, this is what it looked like from the inside….a bit of an unusual micro-environment full of fantastic trees, shrubs, and grasses that appeared rather unexpectedly, smack-dab in the middle of the desert.

Sheep Gulch streambed 1

I don’t know the names of most of the larger trees, but there are mesquite and assorted palo-verde on the fringes.

Sheep Gulch streambed 2

I don’t know the origin of the name of the place, either, but if we were to follow the stream-bed forward, in the above photo, a couple/few miles, we would run into, or at least approach, the proximity of Sheep Gulch Spring…….that’s the way it looks on a map of the area, anyway.

Sheep Gulch streambed 3

Maybe it’s not a miner’s shack, maybe it belonged to a shepherd, I don’t know…it was just a guess…and quite possibly wrong, as there were none of the other signs indicating that a mine had been dug there….no slag or tailings pile…no water chute….

Sheep Gulch Miner's shack with shaft opening

I didn’t explore the little cave/shaft beneath the shack, either…it seemed rather imprudent at the time, given the poor lighting and the propensity for hidden and biting things to be lurking in such a place…okay, maybe not lurking, but certainly things that had tucked themselves away from the direct sun and would not have been welcoming of my curious bipedal disruption….

Sheep Gulch miner's shack closer view

And below is the shack in the context of its surroundings…quite a place to perch one’s self, if you ask me….

Sheep Gulch miner's shack in context

I kept walking upstream a little bit, as I was looking for a soft place to sit in the shade and recoup myself before heading back for the next 2.5 hours hiking to return to the truck.

Sheep Gulch streambed 4

After a quick snack, I headed back toward the main trail, the Black Canyon Trail going south again toward Bumble Bee Road.  Those are the Bradshaw Mountains in the background of the below photo, and a distinctly misshapen Saguaro in the upper right corner.  It looked something like a smashed finger…or perhaps the still-webbed fingers/hand of an embryonic life-form.

Sheep Gulch streambed 5

Lastly, this is the view looking east on the bridge that crosses the stream, and the exact place that has the moniker of Sheep Gulch on the map.  I know that some of those trees are cottonwoods, but, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure of the majority of the others.  At any rate, they seem to thrive in the stream-beds of this portion of the Sonora Desert…and they cast a beautiful shade during the near-noon portion of the day.

Sheep Gulch streambed with desert panorama


20 responses

  1. Great post Scott. I like the way you just barely notice the water in the first photo. Is that a desert willow of some kind in that photo? I bet if you google “Riparian trees Sonoran desert” you’ll get a good list of possibilities. The head-on shot of the shack is great, but I like that you showed it in context very much – that rock outcropping is surprising – but then I guess that’s what the mining was all about. The trees here are very beautiful, they really are. The last shot is nice too, the way it shows the lay of the land, and how the gulch fits into the greater landscape.

    August 1, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    • I had glanced at some photos on one or two sites before posting this, and then three or four since reading your comment, and I think my shortcoming at this point is that I didn’t capture any photos of the leaves and other identifying features to be able to go back and give them their names after confirming them…but there they are, anyway. 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words about the photos and the source recommendation, Lynn…all very much appreciated. 🙂

      August 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      • Ha! I’m always coming home and finding photos of new flowers or trees that leave out what I need for identification. And as you know, I love to be able to identify things…maybe because my father was a research chemist and had quite the scientific mind. But first, beauty, and there’s plenty of that here.

        August 8, 2015 at 7:44 pm

        • Yes, first beauty…. 🙂

          August 10, 2015 at 7:36 am

  2. Such an interesting landscape Scott! Thanks for sharing. I love the old shack!

    August 2, 2015 at 2:31 am

    • Yes, it is, Adrian…and you’re welcome…..I’m happy to share. 🙂

      August 6, 2015 at 9:41 pm

  3. What an inviting hike. Surprised there was still water in the gulch. I don’t blame you for staying clear of the cave/shaft. Any number of critters could have been in there cooling off. Love the shack, easy to imagine sitting on the bench in front, watching life unfold near a rare water source.

    August 2, 2015 at 4:05 am

    • This was certainly a nice diversion from the main trail…..

      August 6, 2015 at 9:42 pm

  4. You’re certainly changing my view of what I’ve always thought a desert was.
    Odd that there are no window and door openings on the shack.

    August 2, 2015 at 5:56 am

    • The window frame and door appear to be some kind of decoration, don’t they? The roof and back wall seemed to be missing or entirely collapsed from my vantage point, but I didn’t go behind or to either side to explore, so who knows what it truly might have been at some time.

      I’m guessing that there are probably as many kinds of deserts as there are forests, Allen, and this one happens to be touched with quite a range of diversity. I found this article when I had Googled “Riparian trees of the Sonoran Desert,” as Lynn had suggested above…some of the information is rather elementary in nature, but there is quite a bit of not-so elementary info, as well, that is particular to this region where I find myself…I think you might enjoy it:

      August 6, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      • Thanks Scott, that was interesting. River and stream banks are the places I go when I want to find something new or unusual. There are always plants growing along them that you don’t find anywhere else. It sounds like the same is true everywhere, even in deserts.

        August 7, 2015 at 4:46 am

        • I’ve noticed that about your little explorations, Allen…many of your posts contain images from those areas…and yes, it seems to be the same here in the desert…finding new and unusual things along the rivers and streams.

          September 19, 2015 at 11:27 am

  5. Liana

    this is just sooooooooooo

    August 3, 2015 at 9:20 am

    • Well, thank you, Liana. 🙂

      August 6, 2015 at 9:58 pm

  6. Looks like such a beautiful place to visit. Very calm and protected too.

    August 6, 2015 at 5:16 am

    • I enjoyed it very much, Shimon…and if I hadn’t had another couple of hours of walking to do before making it back to the truck (in the approaching ugly heat of the day), I would have enjoyed exploring much further than I did. That’s something for another day, though….when I will drive to this location and then go off on the adventure.

      August 6, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      • Right now we’re having a heat wave here, Scott. 36 degrees during the day, and 37 at night! But fortunately, I have the advantage of an air conditioner.

        August 6, 2015 at 10:29 pm

        • Oh, yes….the advantage of an air conditioner! I hope your heat wave doesn’t last too long…your pocket-book will begin to suffer from the high electric bill. 🙂

          August 6, 2015 at 10:50 pm

  7. LB

    Scott, you’ve taken us on such a lovely walk through the gulch! Of course, we didn’t have to deal with the heat and the labor, but i for one am grateful for the images and the commentary.

    August 7, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    • Well, thank you, very much, LB…and you’re most welcome. 🙂

      September 19, 2015 at 11:25 am

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