Saturday, April 7, 2012

Offroad: Black Warrior Mine

It's a rare opportunity when Gordon will offer to give up his new pup's "sidekick-seat" to someone, so when it happens you take him up on it. He, dad and I wanted to take a "quick" ride somewhere shortly after Christmas and we ended up heading north up the good ol' highway 91 from Beaver Dam Arizona.

Gordon had ridden the area above Lytle Ranch Road a few weeks before with Hugh and wanted to show us the general area where they went. With plenty of time and no real plans, we stopped at the mouth of the canyon to see the caves that always looked interesting enough to wonder about but not enough to have stopped.

This time we stopped and found… pretty much nothing much. They must have been something at some time but it's probably anyone's guess as to what, this late in the game.

After riding up to where they trailered before, we found that it had become too muddy and bumpy for the trailer this time; so, decided to find another trail. One thing we saw different this year was the new signage for the "Joshua Tree" loop trail (or something or other). We know that the Utah BLM, for want of anything productive to keep them busy, closed off a whole section of Beaver Dam trails over last summer.

The new "Wilderness" is a desert section adjacent to Beaver Dam Wash which is largely sand, sage and Joshua Trees and contains the Mormon Pioneer Wagon Trail running over to Mormon Well. The rub is that it's a tiny corner piece of Utah completely isolated from the rest of the actual state. Out of site, out of mind: "so why shouldn't we close it off? It's not 'really' meaningful to us - only those Nevada and Arizona people ever use it."

You can see it in the photo, the small desert section at the top. Even if we could understand that the area was in "imminent danger" and needed to be closed off (which it most definitely was not) – they closed off the wash!! Arizona has it open below the Utah debacle and Nevada has it open above! When I was in Arkansas for awhile, the natives had a local colloquialism for something like this: "he's too dumb to live."

There is a fairly used trail which we've always called the "study area trail" due to the many "desert study area" signs all over the mountainside. It runs up a canyon and along the other side of the mountain from US-91 then exits back to US-91 up by Gunlock. Now, it seems, that they've made it 'official' and given it a name of sorts – even though it escapes me at the moment.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Google Earth Trail FileOffroading Home: 04-Black Warrior Mine.]

We stopped at pretty much the first little side-road that looked like it had some promising trails to ride and staged there. The trail ran south to an intersection of small dirt trails and we began exploring.

Most of the trails were short and petered out as the mountain got steep or a cliff opened up. They were on a mountain and there was cedar/pinon so enjoyable.

The one that we took to the east went through an open gate and made a dogleg up the mountain. It looked like there was some kind of a mine up there so Gordon was instantly attracted to it. However, a large boulder blocked the trail and we weren't able to do any walking in, so it needed to go onto our ever-growing bucket list of things to re-do.

Back down at the main intersection we met the people who belonged to a car that we had seen before. A man and his granddaughter had just come down from hiking to the very place we had been and told us a bit about the Black Warrior Mine.

He said that he often hikes with his grand-kids and found this mine the night previous on the internet. He told us that it had appeared in the national newspapers of the time under the heading: "Magnificent Find." Apparently, in the course of digging the miners had broken into a massive cave with huge crystals on the ceiling and floor.

They had decided that they would make it a day and hike to it. They even brought a roll of string so they could go in the cave and find their way out if needed; but, they didn't bring a flashlight! So, they couldn't tell us whether there indeed was a cavern and/or any crystals left. My guess, knowing miners and entrepreneurs, is "No." But, it's still on our bucket list.

Learn A Little More

We've talked about this before: I'm not sure that ya'll can remember the people that I do from that far back. But, whether you remember Victor Borge or not, the music and comedy are timeless so really should suit your fancy.

The Best of Victor Borge - part 1


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