We had been to the Trigo Mountains one time before, but camping at our Midway Wells favorite place had made it a very long ride on the motorcycles. That had been in February of 1997, and it was cold and windy, and my buddy Larry’s engine wouldn’t start on his motorcycle. Low air temperatures of 40 - 68 degrees.
It was now May, 1997. Our route was State Route 78, heading North toward the townlet of Palo Verde. This time we watched for Marlowe Rd., or further up, Base Line Rd. From the auto club maps we could see that Base Line Rd made a slight jog and crossed the Colorado River on a bridge. If we got off at Marlowe Rd, we would have to backtrack South along the edge of the Colorado River bank until we reached another bridge that crossed the Colorado and into Arizona.
Soon, we had made the crossing and were driving on the Cibola Rd.. Here and there, trailers mounted on blocks, other houses and commercial buildings appeared along the edges of the road. Larry, in the lead, spotted a road that climbed up on a mesa providing a good view of the roads across the Colorado River in California, bringing outdoorsmen and women to Walters Camp, and Mitchell Camp on the river. Streamers of dust and dirt hung suspended in the air. On our side, looking East, we had a great view of some of Trigo Mountain.
We had arrived, 98 Degrees F, with 8% Humidity. It had been a long drive from San Diego.
Finally the sun went down and we were able to see the comet in the black velvet sky. Fantastic! Bed time (12:20 AM) rolled around and it was off to our individual campers to get a couple hours sleep.
The highlight of the next morning was when a 6 engine Bomber with high tail and black all over, flew over our camp site. The sky, however was starting to become overcast as a cloud deck moved toward us from the South. At 7:55 AM, it was 82 degrees and 29% Humidity. From our mesa we could smell the river.
Much to do- preparing the motorcycles, (both were running this time), tidy up and secure the camp, make sure the GPS (Ground Positioning System) receiver was brought along, cameras, maps, water bottles, day packs, everything needed. We left camp at 10:42 AM, 90 Degrees, and 24 miles later (and 101 F) we returned to camp at 3 PM. Still a very high humidity and a buttermilk sky. The heat was trapped and couldn’t radiate off.
Most of the explorations that day were in and around the base of the mountains and some attempt to reach the Hart Gold Mine by a way much closer to our camp. Working close to the mountain required us to make many sorties up each little wash until it ended, and then having to go back down again. We continued in this manner; working across the face of the Western slope. Not so many miles, but lots of exercise.
We retired to Larry’s flatbed motorcycle trailer which got us away from the hot ground air and gave us a better view. We agreed that we were a little out of shape for the day’s explorations.
NOA Weather in Yuma had said it would be hotter tomorrow. Supper was Dinty Moore Beef Stew on biscuits, salad, and wine. The hot and sticky weather sent us off to our campers at 9 PM (89 Degrees). Fortunately, I had an electric fan in my camper, and a nice new foam-block mattress on the bunk. This was living!!
Sunday. A check of my maximum/minimum thermometer gave us an overnight low of 70 Degrees. Saturday’s high was 106 Degrees. Awake at 6:39, I finally staggered out of my camper and put my breakfast of freeze-dried noodle cup, decaf coffee, and donut holes to feeding the inner man.
I noted the GPS readings from the first days’ explorations. Transfered to the map, it looked like we had only managed to get 1/3 of the way up the Hart Gold Mine road after finally finding it.
Larry decided to make a detailed road log in miles as well as keying it to the GPS readings for future use. I remained in camp, in the shade. The continuous heat was getting to me.
When Larry returned to camp, he unrolled the side awning on his camper, but it was still a hot 99 Degrees. No breeze. From our shady spot, we noted if there was a breeze around it couldn’t miss us. Larry broke out some ice-cold apples from his cooler, and that tasted like heaven! Our breezeless condition didn’t last long.
A 102 Degree hot wind was now blowing from the South. We decided to take the rest of the day off and just chat, look at the maps, and drink ice-cold cans of beer from the coolers.
There were some “open cut” mines pretty near us and we had looked them over. It seems the easiest way to mine. The ore appeared to be Manganese of a muddy-maroon color. They were small mines and looked easy to “work” when the spirit moved the owners.
Sorry to say, no Gold was found in our explorations. The Trigo Mountains, and further East, the Trigo Peaks are a real hodgepodge of minerals: Manganese, Gold, Silver, Calcite, Iron, Sulphides, Psilomelane, Pyrite, trace amounts of Lead, and Zinc, etc.
Despite the heat and the humidity, it was an interesting trip.. Even in this year of 2000, there is still much to see. The more traditional style of mines seem to be encountered closer to central Arizona and North to the La Paz district.
And so, we ended the active part of that trip with a nice dinner of creamed tuna on muffins.
Larry retired to bed shortly after supper, while I stayed out and enjoyed a star-filled sky, plus a comet quite a bit smaller. I too finally retired to my camper. The next day, Monday, we returned to San Diego.
On our way back from the Trigo Mountains, the road crosses another, and it is at that place, that someone long ago built a small cabin of wood planks. We saw it on our previous trip, but I was out of film. This time we stopped while I looked it over and took it’s picture.
The first time we saw it, it was whole, and tucked back in the brush by the road, This time, as you can see from the picture, a sizeable chunk had been removed. The next trip (after this one) the cabin was completely demolished. A viewer would be hard pressed to be sure it once was a cabin that had provided a miner or a miner and family with a cheery home, tucked in near an earth bank for protection from the desert winds.