Posts Tagged ‘Mule Mountains’

When Larry went next door to borrow Al’s water jugs, they offered to take us to their favorite gold mine later in the day and show us where they got their incredibly beautiful rocks with lots of quartz veins in them. They said it was nearby, so there would be plenty of time for us to get water first.

So off we went to Blythe for the umpteenth time. By now we know exactly where the town park is with potable water and we have the drill down pat. Then back up the road to the fast food joint with wifi, where we also make a few phone calls while we have cell coverage, and head back home. The “drill” once again is a royal pain, but it gets four 48-pound jugs of water into the fresh water tank. As soon as our arms quit hurting and trembling, we’re good to go.

We pile into Al’s car and head back out on the Bradshaw Trail, just a quarter mile or so south of the campground. Eventually we can guess where we are headed…the only obvious mine on the south facing side of the Mule Mountains. Up and up a rough trail which Al has obviously driven more than once. Enthusiastically he proclaims this Roosevelt mine their favorite and one that is quite safe to enter.

I know what my standards are for old mines but I haven’t had reason to distrust Al yet. Turns out we have the same safety concerns. Like the only other gold mine we’ve ever entered, this one is blasted out of reasonably solid rock. (If it were solid, there would be no vein of anything in it!) There is no shoring to crumble if we bump into it, there is little or no rock debris on the floor, and there are two vertical shafts coming down from higher up the mountain which provide plenty of light and fresh air.

This mine was active until the 1940s, according to something I managed to find online, but the ore was low-grade and not likely to have any visible nuggets. But Al and Linda have a fair amount of equipment and are content to take back to camp a couple of buckets of likely looking rocks to crush, then pan out whatever small flakes of gold there may be.

If we ever come back to this part of the desert, I will have to do a lot of studying on rocks first to have any idea of what I’m looking at. Even here, where I expected to learn eagerly anything they were willing to teach me, I was more interested in two other things: the plants and the history. I can recognize many of the desert plants and came closer to confirming my suspicion that barrel cacti are more likely to thrive on hillsides which receive either early morning or late afternoon shade. Historically, I was looking for other mine shafts, roads, veins that look the same as here but weren’t mined, etc.

A third fascination comes to mind and I know exactly when it hit my consciousness. More than a decade ago, we were sitting on a beach in Florida with the sun setting behind us. We had watched plenty of sunsets into the ocean but this was our first time this way. Suddenly, just before the sun slipped over the horizon, the waves were turned to liquid gold and I heard a voice in my head “That’s what I meant by watching for the light”. The voice was that of a dear friend’s wife who had died recently. Barbara had been an artist and had tried to explain to me about light and color.

Since that day I have been fascinated with the play of light on whatever landscape is handy. This desert landscape, with its incredible textures and unobstructed views, comes to life in late afternoon as the sun and shadows play across its floor.

Being up on the side of a mountain with all that beauty in front of me was just too much for me to be able to focus on rocks. This is not to say anything disparaging about rocks. They are endlessly fascinating to many people and I’m sure they could become my next addiction if I lived near these deserts.


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