For my second day here, I had resolved to check out the second mine on my map, having been chased out of the area by bad weather the previous day. But there was to be other strange discoveries this day as well.
I decide this morning to explore a little wash that runs north – south, just to the west of my camp. The afternoon hike would be back to the mine area, as I had plenty of time to hike back there. I started the morning crossing the road and walking up a small wash. Climbing out of that, I see my rig in the distance – it seems I’ve doubled back a ways following this wash. Oops. I head back in the wash and turn south down a tributary, following it out at its end and overland, turning west to meet the main wash that hugs the hill I intend to walk around to see the other mine.
I head down the main wash, following the cliff. I always find the layers interesting. You can see the layers with coarse gravel, where water had previously ran alternating with fine sand and silt, where mostly wind had deposited the layers. Now the wash has eroded down further and returns, eating away at the cliff bottom.
I pass the cliffs along my left and walk down the wash, intending to hit Signal road and proceed up to the mine area. As I approach some cliffs on the right, I see something ahead. It appears to be a camper, sitting askew in the wash. It reminded me of a family that got stuck in a flash flood in November ’19 near Phoenix. Two adults and seven children tried to cross in a large military style vehicle. They got swept away – three children died. You do want to heed those signs on roads that say do not cross the when flooded. No matter how bad ass your military vehicle may be, water can still pick it up and carry it away at which point only good luck will save you.
Approaching the camper, I see it is clearly abandoned. What is not so clear is how it got here. The road is downstream of where I am at, the roads upstream are a long ways away. The downstream road is close by. I would bet that someone drove a truck up the wash from that nearby road, got stuck, ditched the camper in order to get un-stuck, and never returned for their camper. Perhaps they just threw away a camper by discarding it in this wash. Who knows?
I notice a paper attached to the camper. It has clearly been there for a while, as I can no longer see any filled in details; probably washed out by the sun and what little rain falls here. I’m surprised the notice has even hung on this long. But I’m pretty confident no one is coming back for their property at this point. Free camper, anyone?
Approaching, I see the camper isn’t sealed to the elements anymore. A roof vent is missing. The back side shows more damage. Someone left the door ajar, how rude. Not to mention, it looks like an attempt was made to drive the truck out from the camper, but the camper then fell off its supports. Who knows if that happened right at the time, or later.
I pry the door open a little further and take a cautious look inside. I’m not expecting to find any dead bodies, but I am wary for the possibility that some animal has decided this would make a good home. There is a mess, but it is all looking man made. While a lot has been cannibalized from this camper, it could still be cleaned up and turned into something usable again. It is probably not worth the parts and time required to do so. It is also not worth the risk to step inside and see if there is anything salvageable. This camper has been here a long time, I’m not going to find anything I’d want to take back with me on a plane.
I keep going downstream, crossing Signal Road again. My intention is to climb up to my right a little ways down the road past the cliffs that currently block my way. That will take me back to my camp.
There is smaller strange vegetation in the desert too, like these wild neon – green lichens mixed with rust red ones. The color seems almost artificial, like paint, but I know it’s natural. I have seen a similar green in tree lichens. Perhaps the same biology is responsible for the green color here too?
Climbing out of the wash heading back, I spot something I am less surprised to see discarded in the desert: an old rusty car. It is just down from my camp, in the little gully I climbed up to get out of the wash. Rusted and shot to bits, there is not that much left of this old car.
I take a lot of pictures, hoping to identify it later. I’m feeling this is a 70s era AMC coupe of some sort, I can see the inline 6 cylinder engine, but no identifying markings are left to tell me right now what kind of car this is.
Traveling back to my rig, the car discovery does at least solve one mystery: the yellow scrap metal I could see from my camp – it is the hood of the old car! Back at camp, it is time for bit of a lunch break. Next, I’ll head up to see if I can find the other mine I see marked on my topo map!
I found this same camper looking at the aerial on Google Earth, from an image taken in October of 2016. Over three years it’s been parked here. It seems the BLM authorities don’t remove things in a hurry, if ever. The AMC? I was right about that, based on my best matching on the interwebs, this is a 1975-76 AMC Hornet Hatchback.!