We’re spending two nights dry camping outside of Wickenburg to give us some time to explore the area. The town’s status rose in our eyes when we discovered a Starbucks! It is inside a Safeway Market but provides full service and has a small seating area. So this morning we made a visit there and enjoyed a coffee while reading the morning paper.
We then headed north to do some exploring in the Jeep. Pam has been reading a blog called the Bayfield Bunch that described an old mining area at the foothills of the Weaver Mountains where there are a number of the rare Crested Saguaro. Oh, the excitement! OK, just one of us was excited, and since it was Valentine’s Day a visit to the site would be her gift. So we drove up highway 89 about ten miles to the small town of Congress. About four miles further we passed the frog on the left side of the highway (yes, the frog).
Just past “the frog” we turned right onto a dirt road. After about four miles, we came to the “for sale” sign described by the Bayfield Bunch and turned left.
This new road narrowed to one lane and went past a homeless man who apparently lives in his car. We’re not sure what is in all the pails, but he seemed quite happy and gave us an enthusiastic wave each time we passed him.
With the poor economy and the high price of gold, this area now has a large number of people living in tents and trailers while they search for gold. One of the tents is shown below.
We continued up the road, which became increasingly rough, until we came to a locked gate.
After parking the Jeep, we continued a few yards up the path to an abandoned mining area. Some of the equipment is left where it was parked when the mines closed.
There are a number of small mine openings in the area. The openings have barbed wire in front of them with a sign.
Since the sign was written in a strange language and was difficult to understand, we ignored it and went around the wire to get a closer look.
This mine was a shaft going straight down about 25 feet.
On the other side of the area there was another mine, this one going horizontally into the hillside.
Again, the sign was in a strange language, so we went in a very (very) short distance to check it out. Bet very few of the miners working here had claustrophobia!
Disclaimer: If you don’t care about Crested Saguaros, this blog is over for you.
After exploring the mines, we began our search for the Crested Saguaro. We have described these cacti in a previous blog (click here) and so you know one of us has earned the coveted title “Crested Saguaro Spotter” so we knew our hunt would be successful. And within minutes, one was spotted.
Across the road another was spotted.
The Bayfield Bunch had a picture of a really large Crested, but after searching for quite a while we just couldn’t locate it. So we drove back to the main road and spent some time visiting some other sites. But after Pam took another look at the Bayfield blog, we decided that we needed to drive back up to the mine area and have another look. In their picture it appeared to be so big we couldn’t understand how we could miss it. After another search of the area we still could not find the elusive cactus, so we sadly started to return back to the main road. Then we came to another trail to the right as described by Bayfield, and decided to ride back to check it out. Our efforts were rewarded when we spied the cactus at the end of this trail.
Satisfied that we had seen all the Saguaro we came to see (two others were not included), we headed back to the main road to continue our exploration.
More on that in our next blog . . .