After taking this ride you will most likely have a much better understanding of, and empathy for, those patriots who participated in the Boston Tea Party. It did cause us no small amount of angst when we had traveled over 30 miles following "designated trail signs" all the way, over a historic trail which has been there since there was a Gold Butte, down a quarter-mile segment which a third of our rigs would not be able to make it back up, only to find… an absolutely inane post and cable blockade across the outlet, a wash! [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 23: Pierson Gap Loop Trail]
It is one of the less visited trails due to its length and distance down the butte; but, it is the single most scenic route of ANY on the Butte! No kidding… bar none! And photographs don't even come… well you get it.
Yes, I do understand the beauty of all the red rocks, monzogranitic inselburgs, forests, rock formations, mountain tops, mines, artifacts, oases and springs… over the entire "butte". But the Pierson Gap Loop (or what ever you can call it now) has all of that, all at once, plus the most breathtaking views of the Grand Cliffs of the Grand Canyon, Cottonwood Wash and Lake Mead that exist anywhere.
After staging at Whitney Junction we traveled down the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway to the ghost town. Then we took the trail out of the back of the site down through all the Monzogranitic rocks and Pleasant Valley before turning toward the (formerly) active Treasure Hawk mine.
What a shock to find heavy equipment there removing all the mine equipment. We did know that John Lear, owner, philanthropist and conservationist, had missed filing for his permit renewal by a few days and was "forced out" by the "powers" at the BLM.
[You know, if the people at the BLM were truly as "un-biased" as they are required by law (and claim) to be, you would think that at least SOME of their decisions would make sense! But, almost NONE of what we've seen them do in the past couple of years reveal anything except a relentless prejudice toward closing the entire Gold Butte completely to anything but "Sierra Clubbers and Fiends." No wonder half of the "testimonies" made at their recent town meetings decried the BLM "listening too much to special interests over local citizens!"]
Anyone who has actually gotten out of their bureaucratic chair long enough to visit the Lower Gold Butte area has seen 55 gallon drums, for trash, placed for miles around John's mine, including clear up at Gold Butte. What most people don't know is that it has been John, NOT THE BLM, who has kept the area cleaned up and the drums emptied all these years! Not any more — have you seen the trash accumulating in the few months since he's been gone?
New-comers might not remember that until John bought the mine, the whole loop around the area was plastered with abandoned junker cars and crap — which HE saw to it were systematically removed!
The reason we see bias in the BLMs decisions is that even after "whoever the anonymous THEY were" who made the decision to oust John, a substantial ground-swell of even BLM employees [and reportedly even Nancy Hall the lobbyist] proposed that John be allowed to leave the historic mining equipment to be turned into a mining museum.
Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.”
The mine house, could have well been the curators office/residence - or even an office for the BLM ranger who has to patrol the entire area! What on earth could possibly be a better decision than to set up for increased "patrol presence," especially at night when it's needed?
The equipment represented early days of mining and was still in working condition with the dates and place of origin cast into their surfaces. It represented, literally, a collection of historical significance to the early mining days of Gold Butte. And is most assuredly what William Garrett and Arthur Coleman (who are buried down there) would have wanted — and just possibly even "crazy Eddie."
BUT, "gee we would'nt want to do anything which would bring more people to the area or which might interfer with our main goal of closing the place off." It probably sounded too much like "work," so even that was turned down! There has been nothing revealed to any of us that even suggests this is anything but either crippling bureaucracy, incompetence or bias — you take your pick.
[Next post, the continued ride down probably the most scenic trail on the Butte – through Pierson Gap to Eureka.]