Hiking the washes

Majestic Saguaro

Breakfast at Mickey D’s was delicious as usual. The influx of Snowbirds caused us to actually have to wait to be seated, but as always they kept traffic moving.

I had my usual, biscuits and gravy with an egg, over easy, a side of bacon and a glass of OJ. Liz opted for pancakes, which she had a hard time finishing, the plates are so large. Total damages came to $17 and change.

It was a good way to start the day, before heading out to First Water Road for our hike. We had initially planned to hike the Massacre Grounds Trail, but the road in was all but impassable – the summer rains having created huge ruts and exposed boulder size rocks.

tracks in the desert
Tracks in the Desert

Changing plans, we parked in a wash near the Massacre Grounds, hoping to hike the wash to somewhere near the trail head. The trail had not been hiked by humans in quite a while – the only tracks we found were coyote, Javalina, and what looked like bear.

The path less traveled

The sand was so soft that it was difficult to be certain, but at five-inches wide with what appear to be claws, my best guess is black bear. The wash meandered and twisted and crossed back over the main road, petering out here and again, leading us eventually to the horse trailer parking area several miles into the forest.

Weaver's Needle
Weaver’s Needle off in the distance.

The view of the Superstitions from this vantage point was breathtaking, even with the haze. The solitude was nice – we ran into no other hikers, a benefit of taking the lesser known trails and non-trails.

We reached the crest of a hill, and there, off in the distance was Weaver’s Needle. It is said that the Lost Dutchman’s mine, if it exists, lies 2500 feet “in the shadow of the Needle”.

Reach for the sky

Oh, and just to be clear, the Dutchman was never lost – we know exactly where he is.  His body is six feet underground in a cemetery in Phoenix.  It is his mine that is lost.

As we hiked the wash, I spied a curious 3″ diameter PVC pipe sticking out of the ground, about three-feet tall. It was marked Molly-Marie, SW. It was capped, and I removed the cap and peaked inside, found nothing. Nearby, however, we found bleached bones where some carnivore had feasted.

Also along this wash was rich, black sand. They say that the black sand is a sign of gold deposits.Which brings me back to the PVC pipe. As we hiked further, we spotted yet another pipe. This one held the answer to our riddle.  There were two papers folded up inside the pipe, they were markers to a mine claim.

Desert Finds
Desert Treasures

We discovered camping areas, and a few hobo camps. The difference is that the camp areas are always clean, most of the hikers and campers follow good etiquette, packing out what they packed in. The hobo camps usually have a pile of tin cans and the remnants of bedding or old clothes.

Near one of the hobo camps I found a rusty pair of metal shears.

We hiked for an hour and a half, working off the calories we put on at Mickey D’s earlier, all in all a good trade-off. Next week we plan to hike the Massacre Grounds, and I should have plenty of background on that history.

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