The trip home is usually one filled with stressful thoughts of work, responsibilities of the real world and longing for the places you just left. This drive home was different because although we felt those things, we knew we had one last day of adventure!
We popped into the Mojave to have lunch. We didn’t want to set foot in a gas station or restaurant and loose our connection with dirt.
Something about seeing a bush make these lines in the sand from days or weeks of wind is oddly comforting. It reminds you that whether you go visit nature or not, it’s doing it’s thing. It doesn’t need any help and it’s not waiting for you.
We hit the super slab and high tailed it back into AZ. Although we’d had a great trip and would miss our friends we were longing to be remote. It’s a strange thing to say after “overlanding” in Death Valley, I know. For us, seeing 20 or 30 other trucks passing us as we explore makes us feel like we’re in a busy place. We needed a night to decompress in a truly remote spot.
We exited the highway in the nothing town of Yucca, AZ, home to the Chrysler Proving Grounds. (What the hell do they prove there anyway? Not much from the looks of a PT Cruiser)
It goes from boring desert near the highway to beautiful and lush desert just a few miles towards the Hualapai mountains.
There is a lot of mining history in these hills.
After driving along feverishly trying to find a side trail we found a promising one. Fairly good size brush meant no one had visited for months. Off of that road we found an even lesser used road. Something clicked at that moment. This was enough. This finally, was complete and lonesome solitude. I had found it, at least for a night.
There were some ranching remains of a feed tank and even an old corral with a fire pit. Certainly not a place NO MAN had ever been, but one that had been forgotten. Perfect.
Time to cook some Carne Asada! I’d been carrying it the entire trip, but the group meals were so large we’d never used it.
It was a great night of relaxing... well, we were so tired we actually passed out by 9PM... Adventuring takes it out of you.
The next morning I wanted to use our final day to take some seldom used roads that aren’t on most maps. See, the thing is, I’d mapped these mountains about 7 years ago so I had a faint memory of what roads went where. Since I didn’t do the entire mountains by myself there were areas I didn’t know of course.
Step 1, check out this road we camped on to see where it went.
A mine. A copper one to be exact.
To you or I this might look like a BIG mine, but after hours of searching the best we could find was a couple mentions of it in mining records of the late 1800s into the 1940s. It seems to have been worked even into the 60s. It was just too small of an effort to report on whereas there are several other mines just a few miles away that have entire books written about them.
The explosives shed looked stout!
I’m not sure what it is, but it’s oddly beautiful and ornate.
These locks have seen better days.
Behind those not so secure locks is the lower shaft.
A bit of a trucks leaf springs and rear end.
These ore cart tracks travel over to the top of the ore shoot. This would have been impressive to see work back in it’s prime. Men moving all over like ants to extract as much of the green gold as they can.
I’ve seen boards like this before in mines. I think it’s a chart to keep a record of either “loads of ore” or “Which miners are underground” at any given time.
There was a small slot in this wall. A timecard slot? Outgoing mail? Not sure, but it’s interesting to see that even in remote mining operations you still have the basic rules and bureaucracy of an office.
Water, all mines operate on water. Finding a steady source for use or conversely pumping out the mine so it doesn’t flood. It’s either an asset or a huge challenge. These pipes were strung all over the mountain.
I don’t bet any of the men working hard up here had much time to pause and remark on how beautiful this area of Arizona is, but we sure did.
These rich looking rocks of copper ore were all over the tailing pile. You could feel the substantially greater weight of these VS the normal rocks nearby.
Time to hit the road and start making our way towards the small town of Wikieup!
This site is more heavily written about for the discovery of a new mineral named after the mine’s name. Antlerite! This is Antler Mine.
The head frame was impressive as was the mine shaft sinking down a couple thousand feet. Yikes. I got chills just taking this shot.
The ground is littered with core samples.
The tailings are so immense it gives you a good visual of just how deep the main shaft must go.
Back on the road we went. Now in low range. Plodding our way towards the mountains that would get us home.
I’m always glad to wake up a rattlesnake while in my truck. It’s while standing next to them I have far less appreciation.
Ascending we went. I recognized our trail. It’d been a long time, but if you read my mapping the southwest posts you might recognize some of the area ahead. The difference being we weren’t in snow and on motorcycles. “Hmm, now that road was wide enough for a big ol landcruiser, right...? right..... maybe”
It’s not often you feel a connection with a plastic sign, but when you’re the one who installed it, you do. :-)