After my morning discard discoveries, I finish a good lunch. Now, it was time to travel up Signal Road, behind the hill and find the other mine my topo map said was behind there. What would I find back there?
I don’t know if it has been wetter here or if it is the oncoming spring, but the Ocotillo here seem to have a lot more blooms. I enjoy them walking up Signal Road to my Jeep Track turn off. Even the little bit of rain I have seen here must encourage them to bloom I imagine.
I go back up the Jeep Track, past the camp. Having seen markers previously pointing up the hill, I decide to go cross country. I spend a good half an hour climbing up and down (mostly up) among the rocks, looking at outcrops and little pits in the ground. Finally, I climb up and find a higher track, looking like it is close to my mine.
I see what is looks like a pit to start, but as I pass the brush I do see that a shallow shaft has been dug here. There does not look like there is much of interest, so I turn back down the road. The marker on the topo map seemed to mark this spot – but it’s not quite right. I decide to go down the high track – I have a feeling it will meet up with the road going to the lower mine I visited yesterday.
Walking down the road a little ways I see a second mine – this one going pretty much straight down. I can just see the bottom, perhaps fifteen feet down. It is fenced on the road side. I climb up the slope to take a picture with my day pack included for scale. You can see, these are not large mining operations, more exploratory in nature I suspect.
There are outcropping of the white rock around here, but also a few signs of the blue-green leaching I have seen at the mines. These are oxidation of copper. Likely, there is gold present, but not in high enough concentrations to be worth mining here. Thus all the exploration but no large scale mining. I walk along the road and head up, past a road I can see going down to the mine I visited yesterday. My topo map shows no further mines ahead, but I might as well climb to the top of the hill and and admire the view.
I walk to the top where the road does a loop back on itself. Looking to the east, I see some rock piles and go check them out. It turns out there is another mine up here. This one goes in at roughly a 45 degree angle – a little too steep to go down in. It looks a little deeper, I zoom in with my SLR trying to see if the flash will light up the back or if it goes on into the depths.
I see from looking at the picture I take that the shaft indeed does not go very far, at least the shaft is blocked not very far in. Not to mention, the mouse that living down there among the debris that has fallen down there. Yes, it would be wise to stay up here and leave the mouse in his deep big home.
As I start down, I admire the view on another lovely day in the desert. No storm today to chase me off the hill so I have time to take in the scenery of the hilly country around me. It’s a nice plod down the road so I can look at my surroundings more rather than having to watch every step. If you look carefully at the picture, you will see that there are recent tracks going up here – so it is not an area without visitors. I plod down the road past the mine I visited yesterday, resolving this time to follow the main access road to the mines back to signal road, rather than cutting off at the Jeep Track for a shorter route.
It truly is a lovely day, I am enjoying the hilly desert terrain with the rock outcroppings – they almost look man-made, but they are not. I am at a loss to explain how these piles came to be scattered about.
I am not surprised to find more junk discarded along the road, approaching what looks like the main camp for the area. The battery surprises me a little, this is perhaps five bucks in lead value for this beast. But then again, they couldn’t be bothered with a can either. Great taste in beer, poor taste in waste disposal by whomever was here.
Right by the camp is what looks like some former crude refining works from the mining. I’ve seen plastic pipes around telling me that there have been some more recent works – these are the first metal pipes I have run across. It would be interesting to find out what the processing was. Was there water being brought in by the pipe? I can tell little from the rock wall and metal bits remaining around the pit.
I come to a flat graded area that would have held a small camp at some time. Wandering around I spot something that concerns me a bit more. Of course, I have a bunch of rocks I have carried back to my RV from the previous day’s explorations, and a bunch of rocks from today, a no-no in someone’s mining claim. Not to mention, the road does show some evidence of recent travel, so this might be an active claim. I ponder this for a moment and then decide I’m keeping my rocks. Not like I’ve got anything obviously valuable anyways, and I’m not coming back to setup a mining operation. I must remember to check out the claim on the internet and see if this is still and active claim or not. To be safe, I promptly leave the camp and travel back the last hundred meters to Signal Road. Just play the dumb tourist should someone come around, which in this case is true – I had not seen any signs coming in “the back way”.
I snap another picture of the Saguaro I photographed yesterday looking up at the sky. This particular cacti is just growing in a great spot to photograph. But I keep walking along, still wondering if I might run into the claim owner from the area I’ve taken a few rocks from today!
As I approach my camp, I see I have a new neighbor. The previous flag bearing neighbor had struck his flag this morning, leaving me with the area all to myself. Oh well, they are off on the other side of the area, farther away than the picture makes it look.
These neighbors turn out to be even more quiet than the previous ones – I never even see them all evening. I enjoy the last light of the day, with the moon having come around again for another visit with Venus. It has been 28 days since I last photographed the same scene – how time flies. Having explored enough here, I resolved to try one last camping spot before having to leave the desert. It was going to be paid camping, but $14 including dumping fees pretty much made it free – dumping in these parts seems to run $15. There were springs near here, and something called “Hell’s Half Acre”, a day hike away – that sounded interesting…
I checked out the claim on https://thediggings.com/ it did turn out to be a lapsed claim, has not been renewed in the last two years. The road activity could have just been random explorers, or utility workers, since the road did go off to a substation and power lines past where I had been. So, my rocks are all legal!