Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Black R nr Maverick
This (right) is a photo of the gage for the Black River near Maverick in Arizona. I had this gage for the last year of its operation, but it was always an interesting day. It's on the US Forest Service land between the Apache Tribal Reservation (west) and New Mexico (east), southwest of Alpine, see map.
This gage was a 10-12 hour day to drive in, service and measure and drive out to Pinetop, depending on the weather, roads and river conditions. It was one you knew would be a long day when you started from Pinetop without any idea of how long it took and what you would encounter. It was at best a 3 hour drive one way and 4 hours at the worst. And when you got there you had to decide to park at the turnout off the USFS road and hike the 1+ mile to the gage or drive up the river channel (summer to fall only).
You started in Pinetop and drove to the Sunrise ski resort on the Apache Reservation and on to Hawley Lake where they have a fishing resort. If you didn't stop there you wouldn't see anyone again until you drove back. You keep driving south and east, eventually exiting the resevation onto USFS land to New Mexico. Then you come to the Black River bridge. There is a parking area just off the bridge.
After checking things, meaning the river stage was low and the river bed/bank was rocky and solid you could sometimes drop the truck into 4-wheel low and into first (granny) gear, and drive up the river channel, stopping when you run into the river about a hundred yards short of the gage, below. Notice the measuring cableway at the gage where you can see the equipment box on the walkway to the gage.
This is the end of the "road" to the gage, after driving a mile up the river channel. From there it's a walk, either with hip boots up the river to the gage and up the ladder or up the bank and over the rocks to the walkway.
Once you got to the gage, it took about two hours to completely service it where you computed the discharge to see if the rating was the same or not and a followup measurement was necessary, always another day along with the same amount of time. It's the norm of the work to make check measurements if the first one is off the rating and/or off the trend of the shift significantly.
After that you put it all away and took a few minutes to enjoy the place or explore a little bit since your day was done except for the 3-4 hour drive back to the motel and dinner at Pinetop. It was one of those gages that when you left you had a good day and wanted to do it again or you had a hard day and felt satisfied for your effort, and even then wanted to do it again.
But that was what you learned to enjoy, the time spent and the drive out. You had all the time in the world to just drive and see all the wonderful and beautiful terrain of eastern White Mountains. It was one gage I really hated to give up, as we lost funding for it. It made streamgaging worth your time and your life.