Friday, November 23, 2012

Odometer 25736 Trip 0 Ajo, AZ Friday, November 23, 2012 Black Friday! The words sound humorous to us in the Sonoran desert 120 miles from any big box store. We are still in Ajo, Arizona, and will be for several more days as we relax and enjoy this delightful little desert town. Yesterday (Thanksgiving day) I slipped out the door at 11 AM to take what I guessed would be a short hike up to the top of a rocky ridge above town where I could get some panoramic photos of the area and to see all the way to the bottom of the giant open pit mine that was the genesis of Ajo. Several years back an acquaintance living in the RV park had indicted where the “trail” to the peak of Camelback mountain (elev 2573’ or about 800 feet above the park).
I set off walking up the road hoping I would remember or recognize the starting point. About a mile up the road I decided I would try an unmarked trail heading in the general direction of the ridge. I should mention that there is a very substantial cross at the peak erected in honor of John Campbell Greenway a former General Manager of the mine who was beloved by all the townspeople. Greenway was recruited by the corporate owners to layout the town site, and make plans for the first large open pit copper mine in Arizona. The cross was erected shortly after Greenway’s death in 1926. I looked up and said to my self- How hard could it be if they took or built a 12 tall cross up there? My thought was that the trail would go to the ridge and follow the ridge up to the highest peak. Well, after scaling the ridge, I found that the trail went back down the other side to the mine. The mine is fenced off on the side facing town and there is no easy way to get up close- so I hiked back down and walked over to the edge of the pit and snapped some photos. I still wanted to get my panorama of the town and mine so I started up the ridge again in a slightly different spot thinking I would intercept the trail- wrong! At the top of the ridge there was no trail, and now I know how this spot got the nickname Camelback. The ridge undulates up and down 3 more times before I get to the prominence I wanted.
Did I mention the desert is full of spiny things that injure you if you get too close? The going was slow as I chose my footing carefully in the loose granity soil and rock. Somewhere along here I found I’d lost the lens cap for my Canon SLR! Okay- I’m cheap and I liked the original Canon cap- so off I went backtracking the precious progress already made, back down to the mine rim where I’d snapped the last photo. No joy- I didn’t find it on the way down or on the way back up again. Okay I thought- once I get to the cross I’ll be able to see the path down and it will be smooth sailing. I had told Joan I would be back in plenty of time to shower and get dressed for Thanksgiving dinner at the RV park club house at 3 PM. It was now 12:30 and I had two more prominences in this ridgeline, and since there was no trail, I may as well side-hill to the saddle of the last and tallest peak. To hasten what is already too long a story, I summited at the cross snapped my photos.
Here you can get an idea of the depth of the mine 750- 1000 feet deep
Here is the picture I wanted of Ajo (actually only part of it) showing the mine tailings in the background. The cross turns out to be cast in concrete and very substantial. I am very impressed, and wonder how it was made and erected here. I suspect a helicopter but not sure they could have afforded one in 1926. I love technology! I called Joan on the phone to have her come out in the street in front of the motorhome and wave at me. It is more than a little after 1 PM, and I told Joan I have found the trail and I’ll be coming down the front side of the ridge and would she meet me at the museum road in 20-30 minutes with the car. HA! No trail here either, what I thought was a path peters out into nothing, and it’s so steep, I’m zig-zaging to keep from falling. I stumble out to the road and connect up with Joan- glad for the half mile ride home so I can shower and change clothes and still get to dinner. I’m thinking I’ll pay for this in aching muscles tomorrow.
Here is a representation of my route.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joan and Jeff
    I am really enjoying your travels
    I especially appreciate your photos!