Kris Eggle was 28.
Monthly Archives: March 2011
I was up at 7, at the trailhead by 8, hot and shirtless at 9. Life in the desert. The Victoria Mine hike is 4.5 miles, and the buzzards were out. Although, not for me. There was a lot of Border Patrol helicopter activity off to the southeast, circling an area, widening out into ever larger circles. The helicopter would fly off and the buzzards would fly back in, only to be scared off again when the copters returned. I never did find out what all the circling was about.
As hot as it was, it was still a great hike. The trail meandered among the cactus, through washes, and over hills out to the old mine ruins. The shafts are still there, most have been covered with welded steel grating that allows for the bats to leave their habitat, but keep people from entering.
The drive down to Organ Pipe was well worth it. It’s a beautiful area, and like all spots along the border, there were very few people camped out. Of the 208 campsites, maybe 25 were in use, which suited me just fine, but it doesn’t offer a lot of help to the budget. Up near Lake Havasu, the sites did have quite a few more people.
I was sitting there in the evening, the lantern was off, and I was enjoying a Guinness that a fellow traveler had given me north of Yuma. The stars were out, and one could see the Milky Way flow across the sky. Then… an eerie silence overcame the desert… and out of no where… my phone beeped from the truck. I had an email. I’m in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, a stone throw from the Mexican Border, and I get a damn email. As nice as contact is, sometimes you just have to turn everything off.
The pics were nice Sam, thanks.
I took the Old ’66 down Route 66 to Oatman. Much of the “Mother Road” has been butchered by the interstates, but this is a section well worthy of the nostalgia. It’s a great section of road ( I refrained from posting another picture of my viewpoint over the spare tire ) with the road twisting & turning, following the contours of the Earth into the Black Mountains. I had a blast.
Oatman lies in some incredibly beautiful country. The desert was greening up and the Black Mountains are an area that I need to come back to explore again. Oatman is an old mining town that had enough in 1939 to draw Carole Lombard & Clark Gable for their honeymoon, but today the wild burros are the stars. They wander about town, looking cute so that you’ll buy a bag of “Burro Food” for $1.
A pair greeted me right away, one Mother Burro & one Baby Burro. The youngster ran right up to me. At first I thought it just wanted a handout, but quickly realized that it was seeking protection from a small, screaming girl who wanted desperately to “ride the pony”. I scratched the burro behind its ear and scared the girl away with a scowl.
I wandered through town, got acquainted with the other local burros, and checked out the phenominal work done by some of the local artists. There were also the typical tourists shops, which I avoided except for buying three postcards. The townfolk were all extremely friendly, the tourists were all over the place, and I spotted two young burros with a sticker placed on their foreheads with the words: STOP Please Do Not Feed Me Anymore
I stopped to sit on a bench to write out my cards. After finishing the first, I noticed that same little girl harrassing my favorite burro. This time she was trying to punch the cute little guy in the nose! When Ma Burro placed herself in between child & burrito, the child went around Mama. At this point, I cringed… the girl went behind Ma Burro and I thought she was a goner. I guess burros do a bluff kick just like grizzlys do a bluff charge, because the little girl kept her head attached. I’m looking around for the parents, and see that the father has noticed my grimace. He tells me that “she’s fine”, and I tell him “If you’re looking to sue the town, I’ll testify against you.” At this point the father grabs his little angel and wanders away saying something under his breath that I did not quite make out.
When I had feasted on all things Oatman, I walked back down to The Rover, and heard running behind me. It was my favorite, little burro at a trot, followed by Ma Burro at a walk. The burrito stopped at the truck’s left wing. It must have known that I had one last carrot.
I saw four cars on the road in an hour. The fourth car was a Porsche 911 GT2. I know this, because the car sat right off my bumper as the passenger hung out the window with a very expensive camera pointed at me and my truck. The car pulled away slowly, with the passenger shooting pictures, but once he was done and he pulled himself back into the passenger seat… that car was gone.
I caved in and did the tour of the ranch. Phenominal. It really is. The story of Death Valley Scotty, the Johnsons, and the building of a $2 million castle in Death Valley in the 1920’s is quite the tale. What struck me was the detail that was put into the structure. I could have easily spent all day looking at the craftmanship, if Patrick the Ranger Guide would have allowed it. Alas… he did not.
I would have loved to drive Titus Canyon in The Rover, but the old road washed out back in ’04, and the Park Service has it closed to vehicles. They have no interest in seeing it open again. Luckily, they haven’t old us yet that we can’t hike it, so I wandered through the canyon on foot instead.
I didn’t see as much country, but I did feel the heat radiate off of the canyon walls as the sun set.
I didn’t have to walk too far in the sand to get away from people, but I kept walking anyway just to make sure. When I stopped, I noticed that I was in a sea of sand. A living, moving, body of sand. The wind was still blowing gale force, but I wasn’t getting pelted today. Yet millions of grains of sand were flowing over the dunes by hugging their contours. If I had been barefoot, maybe I would have felt them against my ankles… but the sand only flowed around my boots and ventured off across the dunes.
I made it back to camp as the clouds blew in, obscuring the snowcapped peaks. I flipped open the tent, sitting below it to keep out of the weather. I had planned on a hike through a canyon nearby, but I could see the rain falling on the other side of the valley, so I started to write a letter instead.
Soon the gusts were swirling and dust covered the sheet of paper. I kept writing until the dust became a white ball on the tip of my pen. When the rain drops started to mix with the dust, I moved the chair into the rear of The Rover to watch the desert storm.
I continued to write, and the rain continued to fall. I mixed a cocktail, ate some cheese & crackers, and played some BB King. Some people off in the distance worked on putting up a large dome tent with a nylon screen roof. They call that a skylight, and they always leak. Twenty minutes later, and the tent was barely upright and the rain fly had yet to be deployed. Hopefully, they had cots to sleep on.
BB King morphed into John Prine, and it was time to cook dinner. Which I did from my chair in the truck. The campground host came to check on my credentials, and John Prine had become Miles Davis. The words continued to flow, so I wrote as the rain continued to fall in the desert.