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Rainbow Valley Panels, AZ
mini location map2017-02-02
45 by photographer avatarFLYING_FLIVER
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Rainbow Valley Panels, AZ 
Rainbow Valley Panels, AZ
Hiking7.30 Miles 300 AEG
Hiking7.30 Miles   5 Hrs      2.65 mph
300 ft AEG   2 Hrs   15 Mns Break
 no routes
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
A few hikes ago, I located a benchmark in S Mtn. No big deal except the surveyors had put the disk in place, then assembled rocks in the shape of a cross, with the BM disk in the center. I found out later, that the ‘cross’ of rocks was there to help future surveyors in locating the BM disk, and possibly be a visual assist in aerial surveying. Each ‘arm’ of the cross was 20 Ft long and about 6 Ft wide. Surveyors call these crosses - “Panels”.
Well, this S Mtn ‘panel’ piqued my curiosity. I thought, “There must be more of these panels out there, especially on flat ground”. I was correct.

I used Google Earth and viewed Rainbow Valley, just west of the Estrella Mountains. (You can’t get any flatter than Rainbow Valley).
It took awhile, but I located (on GE) at least a dozen panels, some very obvious and some almost totally obscured due to age, the sun, and the shifting sands of Rainbow Valley.
I chose four different ‘panels’ and made up a hike, to locate the BMs and their panels. I had to position the car a couple times so as not to make this flat desert hike a 20 mile journey. That would be a little boring. I got the hike down to a little over 7 miles.

All the panels were the same dimensions as the S Mtn panel - Each ‘arm ’ was 20 Ft long and 6 Ft wide.

Of the four ‘panels’ (their BM disks were in excellent condition, by the way), one panel was made out of colorful pebbles, bordered with wood strips That panel contrasted perfectly with the light sand of Rainbow Valley. It was set in 1948 and is in great shape.

Another panel was actually made of poured, thick concrete, and you could tell that it was then painted black for contrast. Most of the black paint was gone, and the concrete, although still in the shape of a cross, was broken and cracked into many large pieces. That panel was set in 1960.

The two remaining panels (1948) were in pretty bad shape. Those panels were made out of a thin layer of, what looked like, blacktop material. The thinness of the blacktop material, and the Arizona sun and heat played a deteriorating number on those two panels. From the air (Google Earth) you could see the panels (barely). However, up close all you can see is a faint, but very distinct, outline of the panel, with just little bits of the blacktop material in view.

These panels are just artifacts now. Their use and significance are just footnotes in history, as the magic of GPS etc makes their existence obsolete.

The hike was fun and easy. I’m guessing my AEG was all of 300 Ft., over those 7 miles. Plus I had all kinds of room to maneuver around vegetation.
That’s in sharp contrast to what I usually get myself into.

Well, my ‘panel’ curiosity is satisfied, so that’s the end of panel exploring.
I do have another oddball, (and interesting to me) hike coming up soon concerning benchmarks.
OHHHH —— I’m sure all you ‘triplog readers’ are on the edge of your computer chair. HA !!
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Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
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