Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The San Antonio Mine

Odometer 37347
Trip Meter 0

Tuesday 28, 2014

Joan and I have been hearing about an old mica mine in the hills near Ajo, and we were determined to see it for ourselves.  By 9:30 this morning we had loaded the car with our day pack which contains, survival gear, a first aid kit, our lunch for today, our binoculars, and some snacks, if we have to spend the night.  The mine is about 10 miles south and west of town, however you cannot drive all the way.  The last 2 plus miles the road is gated and it's foot traffic only as you enter the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (CPNWR)
The hike is an easy one following the old road in, which can now only be used by CPNWR vehicles and, of course, the Border Patrol.  We see one group of hikers leaving as we arrive, and we have the trail all to ourselves!
Soon the road is also the wash (dry steam bed), but the going is still very easy.   

A very substantial metal sign announces that we are getting close

A few minutes later we get our first glimpse of the mine.  The hill is covered by white quartz rock and is gleaming in the distance.
As we get closer- we see something that looks very out of place out here in the desert.

It's a house- one that looks like it was picked up from a residential neighborhood and plopped down in the middle of nowhere.  As we summited the ridge we had arrived.

The mine was literally  the back yard of the house.  I took some pictures in the house but I decided not to publish but one- they were pretty gross.  The rats and bats had shall we say "decorated" the floors and walls.
This little bat was hanging from the wires that had once held a ceiling light, and didn't mind posing for me.  The house had all the amenities in it's day- 2 bedroom, one bath, running water and electricity.

Back outside I zeroed in on a TD-6 dozer that was left when the mine shut down.

Amazingly It looked like a few new seals and hoses and some fresh diesel and it could be mining again- Kidding!
Joan and I had a great time imagining how all this stuff worked to separate the mica from the white quartz.  We think we recognized Todd Hoffman's trommel from the Gold Rush Show.

Hmm.  Jeff couldn't quit looking at the makeshift ladder- once a safetyguy, always a safetyguy.

We took several photos of the mica seams and the mica flakes on the ground, however they don't have the flash and fire in the photos that was there in real life.  The whole place looked like a diamond mine with the silver flash from all the mica glinting in the sun.

We found a shady spot in one of the mine cuts, to sit and have our gourmet lunch of ham sandwiches, apples, Cheezits and red licorice.  Mmmm!  

I looks like the mine must have been a family operation, we saw obvious signs of children who once played here as mom and dad eked out a living in the mine.
A little more exploring and we were ready to start the journey back to the car.

We found this interesting saguaro cactus on our way back to the gate and our car.  According to our phone GPS we'd walked nearly 6 miles- a beautiful day.

Yesterday Mark and I attended a meeting of the Ajo Samaritans, a group of concerned individuals who are working to eliminate the agonizing deaths that are occurring to the emigrants who choose to cross the border and trek through the Arizona deserts to the promise of freedom and the land of riches. The Samaritans were interested in hearing about the human remains we'd found last week.  The Samaritans look for migrant trails and leave supplies to help ensure no one will perish for lack of food and water.  They told Mark and me that the Cabeza Prieta and the Gunnery Range both specifically prohibit leaving any supplies on land administered by them, the BLM is more tolerant.   Samaritans has close ties to another group that calls them selves No Mas Muertes or No more Deaths.  That group has the backing of several churches and even supports a field hospital in the desert between Nogales and Tucson.  You can read more about them at:

The whole question of legality, morality can consume more than this blog, but we can all agree what we have isn't working very well.  We fortify the border for all but the most hazardous routes and we sit back and do little as 500 to 1000 human beings die of thirst, hunger, hypo- hyperthermia, and sheer exhaustion in the Sonoran desert each year. 

President Obama is calling for immigration reform this year- let's hope Congress is listening.

Your Traveling Friends

Joan and Jeff

No comments:

Post a Comment