Last Wednesdays ride took us far into Indian country. We explored several canyons but due to lack of time we were forced to leave some things unexplored such as a large mining area that we saw on a hill near the skeleton of an ancient automobile.
The mine can be seen in the upper right corner of the photo below
Our mission today was to check out the mine and explore more of the surrounding country.
The morning was cold and cloudy with an occasional shower.
We rendezvoused in front of Freda and Gene’s place at 9:00. The group consisted of Freda, Gene, Becky, Dennis, Cheryl, Dennis, Louise, Dick, Patti and I.
We followed Gene north from Quartzsite and after a short distance dropped into Tyson wash where we continued traveling north.
We stopped to take some pictures of this ancient Iron Wood Tree in the middle of the wash.
The rain increased as we traveled along but it was welcome as it kept the dust down.
Several miles up the wash we made a right turn, left the wash and followed a trail to the northeast.
At one point two mustangs crossed our path and galloped to the top of a ridge where they stopped to pose for pictures.
I speculated as to whether they were truly wild or possibly a couple of Indian ponies that had escaped their owners. But later we found much sign that convinced me that they were indeed wild beasts.
Eventually we came to the area of the mine we wanted to check out.
While we were studying our approach to the mine, Dick found a piece of what he suspected to be petrified Palm frond.
We decided on the route to the mine and proceeded toward it.
There were some vertical shafts in the area so we had to watch where we parked.
You can see the maw of one shaft in the lower left corner of the photo below and the lateral tunnel in the background.
The tunnel looked like it went into the mountain a ways so we grabbed camera’s and lights and entered the mine just as it began to rain hard.
The tunnel did indeed go a long way into the mountain.
One of the first things we noticed was the smell of bat urine and feces.
We followed the tunnel seeing several places where it was braced and some shoots
where the miners had sent material down from the tunnels above to ore cars waiting on the tracks below.
We followed the tunnel far into the mountain until the air became thick with the smell of the bats that were by now flying back and forth and bussing our heads.
At one point we could see through a hole in the ceiling where some rocks had fallen in the above tunnel and clogged the hole.
We also could see up into the upper layers through wooden structures that were holding things together.
Eventually we had explored as much of the tunnel as we felt safe doing and headed for the entrance and fresh air. Bat pee really stinks and the smell sticks with you for a while.
Back in the open again we drove off the mountain to continue our exploration of the surrounding country. We drove out a long ridge and came to an area that overlooked a beautiful canyon sort of like a miniature “grand canyon”.
This trail came to the top of the sand hill that we had stopped at for lunch on our last exploration of the area. We decided to turn around here explore some more on the east side of these mountains.
We drove down off the ridge and turned north again eventually finding another trail going west into a wash. We followed this wash over some beautiful but bumpy rocks
Again we came to a spot where we had turned around on the last trip because we felt that it would be to dangerous to try getting up it. The rock ledge didn’t look any better from this direction than it did from the other end.
The rain had finally let up and the sun was shining through a large sucker hole in the clouds so we decided that this would be a good place to have lunch.
After lunch we headed back along this wash back over the beautiful bumpy rocks
and eventually hit on a trail going north so we followed it until we came to another trail going west into a narrow canyon.
The canyon became narrower and narrower.
At one point we had to squeeze down through a very narrow gap in the rocks.
On the other side of the gap the trail began to widen until we exited into a large wash.
As Gene and I walked along in the wash we saw sign of several wild horses. It looked like this might be one of their hiding places as there were unshod hoof prints every where.
Further down the wash we came upon some hoodoos standing guard on either side of the canyon.
After looking around we headed back toward the narrow canyon. When we got there some of the others were there looking around.
We headed back into the notch. Here you can get an idea of how narrow it is.
The rocks in here are very interesting. Just behind me are some that look like slabs squeezed between sections of conglomerate rock.
As we climbed up through the notch someone noticed a large birds nets in a void in the rocks overhead.
After some speculation we decided that it was an owls nest as we found many small rodent bones lying around and some owl castings (clumps of hair and bone that owls expel after eating; kind of like a hair ball from a cat). After looking around for a while we found that there were several places where large birds had nested. This was because of the bird droppings that streaked down the rocks.
We also found these formations in crevasse's in the rocks. They look like some sort of mud dauber nests.
All in all this was a most interesting little canyon. Unfortunately I can’t show you all the pictures but here are a couple more.
We eventually tore ourselves away from this canyon and drove out of the mountains continuing our exploration.
We stopped at another mine and looked around for a while. From all the cinders lying about we decided that they had a smelter here at one time.
There was an almost vertical shaft here that appeared to be following a vain of copper ore down into the hillside.
You can see the bluish vain of Crysocolla in this picture which indicates the presence of copper.
After leaving this place we headed back toward the Tyson Wash and home.
Even though it rained for at least half of the day; when we were on our way home the jeeps were still kicking up dust. Talk about thirsty ground.
Oh, here is a couple of nice cloud pictures that Patti took during the day.