I was out exploring in the wild hinterlands of Utah a while back, a backcountry cabin caught my eye. There aren’t many other cabins (or mines) out here, so I definitely wanted to pay this one a visit.
Hidden a few miles into the monzogranite maze wilderness of the Joshua Tree National Park lies the “Born Again” Pictograph site. It isn’t an easy site to reach but this rock shelter was once a habitation site and is covered with faded pictographs. The rock outcrop even has a tunnel that was probably used for rites of passage rituals. It is an impressive find worth the effort to reach.
A few years back, we found this huge abandoned gold mill out in Nevada. It is similar in size and scope to the Atlanta Mill (now destroyed) that we visited some time ago. This mill was abandoned decades ago and has sat idle since. Vandals have ransacked some of the place but a surprising amount of equipment is still left.
Sometimes in the desert, you can find what you are looking for.
It was already dark by the time we started our drive out into the desert. The sky was completely overcast and the wind was howling. And after a few hours of driving on the highway, it started to rain. Light at first and then heavy and constant. We weren’t exactly looking forward to getting into camp late at night in a heavy rain. But that is what we did. And after more than an hour of driving down rocky dirt roads and navigating across sandy washes, we spotted a faint light off in the murky distance. Minutes later, we rolled into our friend’s camp. They had gotten there earlier in the day and were wisely already hunkered down in their tent. We buckled down in our truck for the night. Wind and rain rocked the truck for hours and made for a restless sleep.
My friend Micah and his family joined us for a fun little trip to the great Sonoran desert at the start of 2016. Winter is a great time to be in the southern deserts and this time we had our sights set on the Big Eye Mine which is down in the south end of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and the Castle Dome Mountains. The mine is reached by fifteen miles of 4wd roads.
Deep in the wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park is a site that I call the “Sky Cross” Pictographs. This is a rather large rock shelter with unusual red lines painted across a domed ceiling. The lines form arches across the ceiling and remind me of the night sky. There is even a small sun glyph on the eastern wall. I think a few of the other small designs could also be stellar constellations. Near the rear of the room, a small tunnel leads into another chamber with only a couple of very faint pictographs. This is Serrano and Cahuilla territory and I wonder if any other similar panels of broad bands of pictographs exist?
Last autumn, we hiked cross-country over a mountain to a seldom visited mine and cabin along a stream in central Nevada. It is a quiet and peaceful spot among the aspen trees.
The mine is caved-in but once consisted of an open stope with an adit leading deeper into the mountain. Some nice looking gold ore sits on the mine dump just outside the adit. Down below, there is a small mine camp with an empty cabin and outhouse. Ruins of what appear to be an older make-shift blacksmith shop stand nearby. I found some tin cans and broken wooden pieces of a bellows hidden in the sagebrush. All waiting patiently for some forgotten prospector to return.