Saturday, December 22, 2007

10.23.2007...Off Wheeling!

Hello everyone. Monica and I went 4 wheeling off road (do you think I've got that phrase right?) for the first time ever, this weekend. Friends of ours (Doug and Marlene) suggested we go off roading (they have a Jeep Liberty) and they said they had picked out a moderate trail in the Superstition Mountains (East of Phoenix) and we were happy to join them. Now, Monica and I have taken our car on dirt roads etc., but this was REALLY off road! And if this was a moderate trail, put my order in for a Sherman Tank next time. Naturally, we had a great time. The scenery was simply fantastic and I've had a very difficult time whittling down all the pictures I took to just a few. OK, just 14 then.

These first pictures were taken pretty early on in the trip and were beautiful. We had no idea that it would continue to get more and more rugged and remain just as pretty.

This area was sparsely populated, mostly by miners and those providing services to those miners. Mostly copper mines, I think. We were lucky to be traveling with Doug as his father was a geologist and he knows quite a bit about that kind of thing. He showed us how we could spot abandoned mines from great distances (not at all easy to spot even if you're just a few feet from them) by looking for the tailings around the mines entrance (the debris field produced by the miners as they removed the waste contents from the mine's interior.). I still can't get over how rugged and unspoiled the area is.

This is an abandoned stage coach depot. It probably won't be in existence at all in 10 years or so due to the roof collapsing and putting pressure on the front wall, plus the stucco covering the old adobe bricks has started to come off, exposing the mud bricks to the summer monsoons. We looked around the area and it was plain to see that this area was as remote then as it is today. Which begs the question, just where the heck were those people traveling to? Gotta try to look up the history of that depot.

Not too far off we began to see craggy and rough cliffs, with tinges of red and orange. Also, plenty of saguaro cacti. This one is just such a classic looking saguaro. Note the color of the sky. An amazing blue. The scenery soon became dominated by this type of rock.

Here's Dough and Marlene, just kind of relaxing, on our way up to Martinez's Cabin (which btw, was a good distance from where we had to finally leave the jeep and hike the rest of the way.). Doug attained the rank of "off road Deity Pilot", at least as far as I'm concerned.
I still can't get over some of the obstacles that Doug drove us through, over and around and thankfully not under.

Just a typical vista on the trail. These kind of views were everywhere and that's not an exaggeration.

OK, pull up a boulder, put the table cloth down, look up at the view and look down to eat lunch. Then look up again and chew, if you've managed to close your jaw which has dropped open from the view. This was very close to Martinez's cabin, which was our ultimate destination (but not the end of the adventure.). This is where we pulled the jeep as far off of the trail as possible (which wasn't very far, but good enough to allow the occasional ATV and odd dirt biker to get through.). After a lovely lunch, we hiked the rest of the way up to the cabin. The folks who picked this location to live (it was occupied until sometime in the 1950s) picked a great place, as it has a fresh water spring that has nurtured huge cotton wood trees and
many types of green fauna, not to mention drinking water for them. This area apparently served the miners needs, as one cave was actually used as a bordello. Well, that's what the book says!

Again, this view is directly adjacent to the remaining cabin.

So, this is what we came all this way to see? Here's Martinez's cabin, I think. There were several structures in varying states of decay, so I've picked this one out as THE cabin, mainly because I can. Despite the shabby state of affairs, boy was it worth coming out to see!! Even this cabin has a great view.

Just behind the cabins, the rocks seem to glow from within. Unbelievable colors and views, everywhere.

Remember the bordello cave I mentioned in the last post? Well, here it is. Marlene and I will await Doug's findings, thank you very much. This cave was very hard to spot. Even though we all looked for it on the hike into the cabin area, we only just spotted it on the hike out of the cabin area. Like I said, these caves and mines can be very hard to find. Anyone feel like looking for the "Lost Dutchman's Mine?" (Doug has, in a fashion, but that's another story.)

I included this shot for a number of reasons. First, I love the colors of the rocks. Simply amazing. Second, it gives you all a chance to see how narrow some of the trails are in these slot
canyons. Third, I can tell you that, whilst this picture was taken on our way out of the Superstition Mountains, this was most definitely not the route we had intended to take out.

So why did we take an entirely different and unplanned route out of the Superstition Mountains? Take a close look at the picture below. That's one of two very heavily modified off road trucks that broke at this spot on the trail into the cabins. Except that these monster trucks were going in the opposite direction from us. They were leaving the area (or trying to.) The white vehicle (which is dead in the water, so to speak) is being winched over a VERY LARGE obstacle which spanned the entire trail. It apparently was the event of the day as it attracted a crown of a dozen or so spectators (including us) who couldn't move past this point until they cleared the trucks out of the way. I think that this is one of the things that these off roaders like to boast about. How they broke their trucks and then how they saved themselves from certain catastrophe. They're very strange people! I want to be one of them!!

This should give you some idea as to the size of the obstacle that stopped these trucks dead in their path. Notice Doug far off to the right chatting with some of these off roaders? More on that in a moment.

All right then. Here's a picture of the vehicle that we were in (taken at a different spot on the trail of course.)

Not that our jeep was anything to sneeze at (as mentioned before, it negotiated obstacles that were just huge, with Deity Doug's deft direction.) But I think you get my drift. How could we negotiate that monster that had broken specially modified off road trucks in our completely stock Jeep? Leave that up to Doug, who sized up the situation and quickly said, "we can get down that thing." Sweat appeared on MY brow! Then Doug followed this statement with, "but we'll never get up that rock to come back." Oh great! But not to fear, Doug has a plan. He's talked to several other temporarily stranded people here (see above) and they all tell him of another way out, through Box Canyon. Not nearly as rough as this, they said. And although it did have its moments, they were right. It was a beautiful new trail for, us as serendipity strikes again.

And here we are, taking one last picture of the group, surrounded by the walls of the narrow slot canyon called Box Canyon......Boy, does this picture deserve a comic caption to explain why we're all leaning to the right! We four know why. Can you guess?

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