Posts Tagged ‘escape from Phoenix’

I checked out the video Stay alive! a guide to survival in mountainous areas from my local library.

Random comments after watching:

  • According to the host, Preston Westmoreland, if you have ever heard the idea that you could add whiskey to water to clean the water than that is not true.  Ummmmm, I have never heard that, in fact if one googles adding whiskey to water what one discovers is that most feel this is a waste of good whiskey.
  • The video visits with Peter Bigfoot, which is awesome because I really like that guy.  Bigfoot covers the edible plants of the desert.

July is the best time to eat Saguaro fruit.

  • Peter also eats the hedgehog, he mentions it is better with salt,  hey that’s what I saidThe hedgehog cactus might be a quarter of its size in summer.
  • Some plants are poisonous for some of the year and then not poisonous for other parts of the year.  Great.
  • 90% of prickly pear plants are poisonous, yikes, only eat the fruit, that was the next plant I was going to try so I am glad I watched the video first.
  • Mesquite is the “mother tree” of the desert.  He does not elaborate on why it is the mother tree.
  • To clean water use 2 drops bleach per quart.
  • If one ever needs to make a fire to signal for help while stranded in the desert, the black tubing in your engine makes for good black smoke.
  • Thank god tube socks are out of fashion.

Part of the Complete Survivor Class from Ancient Pathways was a brief introduction to tracking.  We practiced tracking humans and then looked at animal tracks as we came across them.  Just like everything else in the class the key to this skill is practice. 

I liked how our instructor, Tony Nester, set up the tracking exercises.  Both of these exercises could be done in the backyard, and I am debating doing it some Saturday at the Firehouse in beautiful downtown Phoenix.

The first exercise we did was block off a small patch of desert, walk across the patch and then inspect our footprints.  Notice how the edges look, study what a fresh print looks like, and then return multiple times over the next couple of days and see how the print ages.

The second exercise was to track Tony for about 20 paces.  Tony had us turn around, then walked for a while and when done told us to turn around.  We tried to figure out where he had stepped.   We marked the heel print of each step with a popsicle stick so we could mark our progress.

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Once you have figured out a few steps, mark with a stick how long the normal stride of the person is. Then you can use as a guide as you come across the harder to read prints.

Get all up in the print, look at it from multiple angles. Don’t assume you will be able to read the print from several feet away.  Try to think through if the person is walking, limping, stumbling, running or anything else.

Below: Studying the print.

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To become a good (or even half-decent) tracker one would need to practice this a lot. I was reminded of the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell which is about “rapid cognition” or the ability to know something in the blink of the eye. Instinct, it turns out, comes from doing something over and over until you know something so well you process it without having to actually “think” about it. Tracking would be a great example of this.

The flip side of knowing how to track is knowing how to not be tracked. The most useful tip we covered for how to (hopefully) fool someone tracking you is to use the human inclination for open spaces. Our eyes and feet are drawn to them.  If you are trying to fool someone, look for  a stretch of desert that was narrow because of the brush and then opens up walk through the open part. Stop, then walk backwards stepping on your own prints and break off carefully through an obscured part of desert. When walking backwards you take smaller strides so when walking through the false path the first time take smaller strides so it will be easier to walk backwards later.

When Tony pulled this trick on us, he fooled up completely. He said this would not fool an expert tracker. But how many expert trackers are out there?  My hope is that one rises to the challenge of one’s nemesis.

Below: Trying to decipher a print.
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Up North, where there is winter, only the strong surivie.  In Michigan, a cat can have about one litter a year.  Here in Phoenix they can have three.  So Phoenix has a feral cat problem, much larger than cities outside of the sunbelt.  Lets assume that a feral cat living on wits alone is like living in the apocalypse.  The fact they can have three litters a year versus one provides further evidence that Phoenix is not that bad a place to be after the Apocalypse.

A report on what the Pueblo Ruins look like has already been commented on in a previous post.  This post is more about getting to the ruins and comments on the surrounding area.

The ruins I went to 7 years ago were NOT Pueblo Canyon, they were the appropriately named Devil’s Chasm Ruins.  The two sets of ruins are relatively close to each other (I would need to consult a topo map to determine how far, but the drive to the head of each trail is 2.9 miles apart.)  Devil’s Chasm is a much more difficult, even though a shorter hike.

We met a Park Ranger in the ruins and spoke with him for a while.  He mentioned another set of ruins called Cold Spring Ruins, which is his favorite, but according to the Ranger they are hard to find and many people don’t find them.   The fact that there are separate awesome places for a post-apocalypse desert bunker so close to together emphasizes how the area is a decent place to start rebuilding.

The drive in is around 24 miles down a dirt road off of HWY188 (the road between Globe and Roosevelt Lake).   On the dirt road you cross a river three times.  The fact there is such easy water to find in the area is awesome.  You pass (I think) two ranches and multiple cow pens.  I would assume the family’s that live in these two ranches are a hearty bunch.

Below: Crossing a river on the drive in.
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Despite the fact you cross the river three times I think my Honda civic could make it the first 20.5 miles.  However, I am not sure what the parking would be like.  The last 4 miles on most definitely needs 4WD, even better if you have high-clearance.    Here is the link to what I thought were the best directions to Pueblo Canyon.

If it turns nasty when society crumbles upon itself, one might want to get away from the falling trappings of civilization.  As discussed in an earlier post, I know of a ruin outside of town that I suspected would fit the bill.  However, as I hadn’t been in there in 7 years I needed to make a scouting trip.

Mike and I went this weekend.  Here is the preliminary report.

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Pueblo Canyon Report.

A sign along the 29 mile dirt ride in gives a description on the ruins. It states at one point “why they chose to utilize this challenging environmental zone is not yet fully understood.” Well, it seems pretty damn obvious to me. The ruins have a good, reliable (if not always year round) water source and is easy to defend.

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Mike and I counted 11 springs near the ruin, in addition to that waterfall that would be a perfect cold shower.

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The ruins would be easy to protect, especially if one had modern weaponry. The only real approach to the ruins is along a winding path on the opposite side of the canyon’s sliver. The trail snakes along the bottom of a tall rock wall on your left and an immediate drop-off to your right. With only one real way in, the approach works as the perfect shooting gallery. Not only that but one could easily drop dead trees upon the invading hordes from the ridge above.

Below: View from the ruins of the only approach.

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Below: View of the ruins from the approach. The ruins lay below the darkest band in the cliffs. They hide among the shadows and the dark rock.

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If one had/could produce enough food and the waterfall was running, it would be easy to sustain life for 300 to 400 people among the ruins. Assuming one would not mind damaging/altering the ruins once we only care about basic survival. In the meantime, if you visit, remember they are fragile and old. They stand as a record for times forgotten. Don’t harm them.

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Below: Second story door jam.

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The ruins consist of 4 buildings. Each building is a series of adjoring rooms. Each room could sleep around 6. Some buildings were 3 stories tall, some were 3 rooms deep. The walls are starting to lean, which means they might not last much longer, and many walls have already fallen. However, much of the raw material needed to build a permanent shelter is already there. Large logs for the roof and flat large stones for the walls lay scattered about. One would only need to learn how to make the mud adobe. It would take many hours of hard labor, just to clean the collapsed ceilings off the floors, but it could be done. Again, bring food. One might get hungry.

Below: Old school Adobe.
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Below: Collapsed roof.

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Below: Broken Wall
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Below: Despite the sharp cliffs one is living on, I don’t think it would be difficult to raise crops here. I was amazed by how green the canyon the ruins are in. Ferns, I saw ferns! Ferns, for those who don’t know, ferns are a rare treat in the desert.

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Below: Door Jam.
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 When I first moved in AZ 8 years ago I did a lot of hiking.  I stumbled across a hiking group that made was made up of a bunch of retired people and me.  Despite the fact I was looking more to meet some ladies my own age I kept going back because they took me to some pretty amazing places.
One of those places was a set of native American Ruins in Pueblo Canyon near Globe, AZ.  It is not an easy place to get to.  It is about 2 hour drive time from Phoenix on paved roads plus 2 hour drive time down a 4Wheeldirt road, and finally a 6 mile hike with a whole lot of bushwhacking to get through.  The exact directions are possible to find on the internet, but I am not sure if I want to link to them.  The ruins are amazing, but they are fragile.  I vaguely recall there being two springs there.
Below: Shot taken in the ruins, the ceiling was still intact in multiple places.
If the apocalypse hits my first choice is to stay hunkered down in my own house/compound.    FEMA and others recommend that you have an escape route planned and mapped out for emergencies that make you leave your home base.  Preferably your destination should be family or friends that live about 1.5 or 2 hours drive time away.  Unfortunately for me, my Mom and Dad are in North Carolina, my brother is in NYC, and all my friends in Arizona live in Phoenix.  However, I know a place in an old boarding town of Miami, AZ where I don’t think they would refuse me.
But if the giant-life turd hits the fan hard enough and it’s a good idea to escape all of uncivilization, I am heading to the ruins in Pueblo Canyon.  I figure I won’t be the only person heading there.  I would hope the only people who would know about this very hard to find place would be like-minded individuals.
I am trying to organize a mock-exodus/scouting mission over the April 30th weekend, but I need to find somebody willing to go with high clearance.

These wonderful shots of abandoned buildings in Detroit got me thinking. While Detroit died the Sun-belt bloomed. Maybe it is our time in Phoenix?

Some idiots who count money for a living think my town is the unhappiest place to be in America.  Well, frak them.

Maybe I am just being defensive.   When National Geographic depicted their version of the end they gave Phoenix central billing.  

Phoenix gets a rough rap.  (Everyone brings up the water issue.  Me, I hope the tropics move north.)

When I manage to put my own baggage aside I can admit that the largest piece of concrete in the SouthWest might have problems when the grid fails and things go to shit-fan fast. Our greatest advantage is that everyone expects us to fail.  The rats will run out of the sinking ship fast, and therefore hopefully the idiots will consider us collateral damage and leave us alone.  This is fine by me.

AZ-SouthSide has got more than one might thing going for it at the end of the rat race. To name a few: Ancient canals, plump cactus, stockpiles of guns at Apache Junction, multiple stripmalls, along with good places to hide and wait near the drying remains of Roosevelt lake.   Plus no tsunamis, major earthquakes, floods, 0r tornadoes.