Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Last Minute Overnighter - Burro Creek/Bonanza Wash Mining Ruins, Alamo Lake and Maggie Slot Canyon

Lewis & Clark squeezing through Maggie Slot Canyon
The itch to get out and camp is real!  Paul and I were both feeling it.  It's been a rough month, and we have limited time ahead of us for outings, so we've decided to make the most of the last couple weeks before I have surgery to get out, explore, and just play in general!  Unlike our normal pre-planning, Paul and I decided - pretty much the night before, to head up and check out some mining "stuff" we had seen on Google Earth, then go camp on the north side of Alamo Lake.  
Burro Creek - With Water!
Anyone that knows us knows we plan.  Plan, plan, plan.  In fact, the motto of our team (also known as the Dirt Road Duo) is Research, Map, Explore.  So deciding on Friday that we want to go camping the next day, and then deciding on a place and route Friday evening is completely outside our normal.  And then, to be even more different - I let Paul do ALL the planning.  I didn't load the routes in to GaiaGPS to check for other stuff - I was busy with life and Paul planned this amazing weekend - right down to the packing up on Friday after we decided yes, we would go camping.  He did an absolutely amazing job - and we had a fabulous weekend!
Nothing, AZ
Paul looking out the old convenience store in Nothing, AZ
We started our morning out with a get together for a memorial cactus planting for our friend Mike "Duner" Schuette at South Mountain.  This part WAS planned.  For quite some time.  The memorial was touching - Connie came down and brought Mike's mom.  Mike's daughters were there.  It was a beautiful morning, and even the park ranger said that he was amazed at the outpouring of love for Mike...Paul and I left the planting with warm memories of Mike, and again, positive thoughts of friendships formed through commonality with our FJ Cruisers.  

As we headed up the 93 towards Nothing, AZ (our first turn off), I sang my heart out to the radio.  One of the things I love about Paul is our mutual love of the same kinds of music - specifically - his tolerance for bluegrass.  It's not even tolerance - he loves it!  I was raised on bluegrass music, and to this day I adore the sounds of an unamplified banjo, fiddle, or mandolin.  I love the sometimes mournful wails of love gone wrong lyrics (that high lonesome sound!) - I love the old religious mountain music - I love the fun lyrics about moonshine and life.  And we almost always end up listening to bluegrass music on our outings.  
Bobbi Jo at Burro Creek
As we arrived in Nothing, AZ, which has one old, dilapidated building, we stopped to investigate and prepare to off road for a bit.  We decided NOT to air down as we would be coming back down this road and getting back on the 93 to go up to Signal.  Nothing, AZ has, at it's highest population, had 4 people living there.  There was a gas station and a small convenience store - all of which was abandoned by 2005.  The best part of Nothing, AZ, is the town motto, which used to be on the town sign - "Town of Nothing, Arizona - Founded 1977 Elevation 3269 ft - The staunch citizens of Nothing are full of Hope, Faith, and Believe in the work ethic.  Thru the years these dedicated people had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing."  Good old Nothing, AZ.  All that is left is the sign and the old store, which is quickly falling down... 
We head into the Grayback Mountains from Nothing, AZ north towards Burro Creek.  To the east of us is Bagdad - a huge mining complex.  This area of Arizona, like others, is full of old and new mines and claims.  We follow our route on GaiaGPS very carefully - on a trail that is not much more than a trail.  At times, it seems a bit narrow for a truck.  And then we pop down into the Bonanza Wash and realize that there is another trail in - more like a well graded road.  Leave it up to me and Paul to take the hard line!  As we get closer to Burro Creek where the mining remains are, we start navigating boulders and bigger rocks.  But we make it.  And I start with the "I see things!!!"  We park at the creek.  And Burro Creek is flowing - a lot!  The water is very clear, and we can see the bottom - at the deepest it appears to be about 6 foot deep - but there's water!  In a creek!  In Arizona!  It's like a small miracle.  Ha.  😀
Old mining building at Burro Creek/Bonanza Wash
Old Mining Building at Burro Creek/Bonanza Wash
Overlooking Bonanza Wash from the cabin - Lewis & Clark in the lower right
We park Lewis & Clark and decide to hike up to the large building and mining ruins overlooking Bonanza Wash.  The old building was well built - Paul indicated that the concrete foundations and workings were very professionally formed, and only the wood is rotting away at this time.  Lots of very thick window glass lying around, and the front cover of some sort of engine or generator is lying on the ground.  We then hike further up to what appears to be the mill workings, which were outstanding and worth the hike.  The front cover that we had seen by the large building belonged to a generator up at the mill site.  The insides had been pulled and stripped of the copper - a common site nowadays.  No indication of where any actual mine might be, but there are two large concrete tanks which clearly flowed down to the mill workings.  There is then piping that was laid down towards Burro Creek.  And once we were up at what appeared to be the mill workings, we could see a cabin on the hill on the other side of Bonanza Wash.  The view was spectacular - we could see Burro Creek both directions and again, water in the river was just outstanding!
Mill workings
Generator, minus the copper and door
Generator Door

From the Mill site overlooking Burro Creek
As we slowly moseyed back down to the truck and up the other side of the wash, an absolutely beautiful dilapidated cabin came to view.  This cabin was once something special - a gorgeous stone fireplace, a stone entry way that looked to have possibly been a screened outdoor room at one time, and green painted trim.  I absolutely fell in love with this little cabin.  The view was amazing - it was overlooking Burro Creek and the mountains and was one of the prettiest settings for a cabin I've ever experienced!  I wonder if a woman lived was so lovely and homey that I would suspect that more than a wizened old miner had lived there...
Cabin overlooking Burro Creek and Bonanza Wash
Beautiful stone fireplace in the cabin
After relaxing for a few moments in the shade of this beautiful hideaway, we started back down the trail, got into the Lewis & Clark, and headed out.  The easy road.  Not the hard one.  We arrived back in Nothing, AZ in short order, but we were both really tired and decided to stop and make some coffee with our JetBoil.  And yes, I had coffee.  With lots of sugar and creamer.  But Paul had purchased some new coffee - Death Wish Coffee - the "World's Strongest Coffee."  It wasn't terrible - but then Paul would tell you that I had a dash of coffee with my cream and sugar...but it was definitely full of caffeine.  Within 30 minutes I was bouncing off the walls of the truck and ready for more fun!  We headed northbound on the 93 up to Signal road, where we turned in, aired down, and started our long trek to the north banks of Alamo Lake.  
The Cabin from the  porch
The trek in was uneventful - and we just took took Alamo Rd in to the 15, then followed that to a gorgeous little area by the lake.  There were trees all over in the edges of the lake with lots of ducks.  We set up camp with our brand new 2P Marmot Crane tent and the awesome Exped MegaMat Duo 10 sleeping pad - which was like sleeping on a cloud!  We had bagged dinners and made a fire and watched the sun set and the cows mill around on the ridge above us.  We decided to watch a movie for a bit as I was still hyped up from the coffee.  We settled in to the truck and started to watch the oddest film - so odd we didn't even finish it.  The wind was whipping all around us, and the whole area became creepy as the full moon rose and we could see a cow standing on the ridge in the distance just watching us.  I decided it was time for bed!
Camp Dinner
The 2P Marmot Crane tent was definitely cozy, but left no room for anything but the Exped Mat, our blankets, pillows and ourselves.  It would be a great little tent for one person, but, well, Paul and I aren't tiny people, so I think in the future we will go back to the 6P Marmot tent.  But the Exped Mat - that was worth every single penny!
Sunrise from the tent
The next morning we woke up and stoked the fire.  We made coffee and tea in the JetBoil and made our bagged meals again, and packed up camp to head out to explore a bit before the 3 hour trek home.  As we made our way out of the valley we were camping in, we decided to head up to Huffman, an odd encampment with tons of buildings - many old.  But it appeared occupied and there were some no trespassing signs on some of the roads (but not all), so we did not venture in.  We also explored Love's Camp - which consisted of several rock lined pathways and numerous foundations.  I've yet to find any history of Huffman or Love's Camp. 
Dragon head in the flames...

Alamo Lake from Camp
Alamo Lake from Love's Camp
We then decided to head over to the proper north entrance to Alamo Lake - which was disappointing - it was much prettier where we camped, and then we went to Maggie Slot Canyon.  As we exited the road into the wash and the redrock canyon enveloped us, the stunning beauty of the desert was once again obvious - tall redrocks on either side, some snug squeezes, a beautiful hike down a side slot canyon, and an awesome squeeze through with the Lewis & Clark (as shown half way through the video).  

Maggie Slot Canyon
Me and Paul in the side slot canyon

Lewis and Clark with her flat tire...and the Hi-Lift Jack
After Maggie Slot Canyon, there wasn't much to do except head home - so head home we did.  But not before we had a flat tire and I learned how to use the Hi-Lift Jack!  But it was a beautiful and relaxing weekend - and a much needed escape from the stresses of life.  And HUGE thanks to Paul for all the planning - it was just what I needed!  💙
Me and Paul at the Cabin

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