There's plans and then there's what actually happens.The plan was to check out the Battleax Mine.
Florence/Kelvin Road.We drove east on Florence/Kelvin Road. Along the way we passed this crested saguaro. They are a rare mutation and don't get arms they just develop a crest on top.
Last year while we were here they were working on Florence/Kelvin. Now it is paved for about fifteen miles out of 30+ miles. The pavement goes all the way to The Boulders which is where Cochran Road turnes off and goes to the river.
Road Side Attractions.
At around the 25 mile marker you can see the Ray Open Pit Copper Mine to the east on Highway 177.
We stopped to take a picture of some poppies along the road.
Near Highway 177 we crossed the Gila River. It looks like there is a good amount of water in the river and it is moving pretty fast.
A Short ride On 177We turned north on 177 passing the Ray Mine.
On the Trail.A couple of miles north we came to Battleax Road and turned left onto it. A few hundred yards up the road we stopped at the staging area to air down the tires.
Once the tires were aired down we continued out the road.
After a mile or so we came to where there is a turnoff that goes through Walnut Canyon.
A Locked Gate.We continued straight toward the mine. We passed a corral with several cows in it.
A little further down the road we came to a locked gate.
So much for our plan to visit the Battleax Mine.
We turned around and headed back to the turnoff to Walnut Canyon and took that road.
We had to stop to open a portagee gate.
We drove through Walnut Canyon watching the surrounding cliffs to see if we could find any Big Horn Sheep but didn't see any this time. Last year there were several sheep high on the cliffs.
We drove through the canyon and then climbed the mountain on a rough, steep trail. Around a curve we saw two Javalinas (wild pigs). They were to quick to get a picture of them. At the summit the trail splits. The last time we were here we took the left fork. This is the way the Arizona Back Roads book says to go to make the loop down to the river and back up on the right fork. This time we took the right fork thinking we would do the loop in the opposite direction.
We passed a hunters camp. It is hard to believe that they actually pulled that pop up trailer in here. I guess those trailers are tougher than you would think.
A Side Trip and Lunch.Near the bottom of the canyon we took a small trail to the left just to see where it went. It climbed steeply up the mountain.
About half way up we found a flat spot where we decided to stop for lunch.
Our First Snake.After lunch we drove back down off the mountain and continued to try and go around the loop.
We came to a split in the trail and followed the trail to the right. Just a few yards past the split we saw our first snake of the season. It was a large Goffer Snake. It waited for us to go by before crossing the road.
The Wrong Trail.A little farther down the trail I realized that we had taken the wrong fork but instead of turning around we decided to see where this trail would take us.
It doesn't really matter where we go as long as we can find our way back at the end of the day.
We followed this trail enjoying the views.
This rock formation from a distance looks like it might be a layer of basalt. I am not a geologist so it may not be but it is interesting none the less.
An Attempt to Get to the River.To our left we could see the river and a railroad track in the valley below.
At another 'Y' in the trail we took the left fork and followed it into the river valley. We wandered around on a very narrow sandy trail with brush and trees scraping along the side of the jeep. Eventually we came to a col-d-sac but never got to the river. We turned around and went back up the trail and took the other fork.
Time to Turn Around.We were driving along and at a very tight curve we met up with a couple jeeps coming the other way. We were able to get far enough off the trail so they could pass.
We stopped to talk with these folks and found out that the trail we were on would eventually go to the Coke Ovens and Box Canyon but it was pretty far. We also found out that the Coke Ovens were no longer accessible. They are on private land and have been fenced off. Also the river was not crossable at this time as the channel was very deep on the north side and the river was running very fast there.
As it was getting late in the day we decided to turn around and follow these guys back the way we had come.
Driving back along the trail we got to see the mountains from the opposite direction and got some nice pictures.
Okay, that is the last picture of this ride. We got back to the staging area around 4:00. We aired up and shot the breeze with the folks in the other jeeps for a while. We said our good byes and headed for home.
It wasn't the trip we had planned but it was a lot of fun and we saw some new country.