Mines and Meandering

We knew that this was our last day at Hole-in-the-Wall, and we wanted to see just a bit more of the Preserve. One of the wide-spread features here is the large number of mines, and the old dirt roads/tracks that service them – – so we set out to see a few, namely the Columbia (off of Macedonia Road) and the Evening Star (off of Cima Road).

Our day was yet another potpourri of sights, rocky roads, gorgeous weather, and yes even a little adventure. The day was long, relaxing, scenic and even educational, and it begs for some elaboration. But words can pale, and rather than any attempt at narration, I’ll simply present today as an annotated slide show.

Here’s where we’ve spent the last eleven days. Barstow to the west, Las Vegas to the north, Needles southeast. Our base-camp is Hole-in-the-Wall, lower-right from center.DSC_0429

On the slope above camp, a gang of barrel cacti supervise operations. Howie is in the foreground camp site. I-40 is about 15 miles distant.DSC_0430

Our early-morning walk produces the usual smattering of cottontail rabbits.DSC_0438

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Barrel cacti are solemn, smooth, un-threatening – – but if you really intrude on their space, their two-inch-long quills are a hell of deterrent.

These are woody, stiff spikes with points sharper than hypodermic needles.

Keep your distance.

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Hawks are on patrol everywhere, and the furry rodent population scurries below them across the brushy plain of their dinner table.

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Old mine shafts are usually blocked, grated, or otherwise shut off to prevent injury or death to people and animals. This one was casually boarded up, easy to enter, and way too dangerous to do so.

It’s difficult to imagine how people made their living in this rugged terrain.

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Ralph perches on a gradual slope which leads down the the railroad tracks. A long freight train is crossing the valley below.

DSC_0457The “new” trash from late-era mining always looks much more shabby than the early efforts’ leavings. It’s all still trash, but the 1800’s stuff looks more like it belongs with the terrain.

DSC_0465Whenever a sand-wash crosses a railroad, there’s an underpass to permit natural drainage. Problem is, the underpass fills up with gravel and sand. Clearance can be an issue.

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Nope, it’s a no-go.

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Gotta dig the ruts a little deeper.

It needed about four inches deeper in each rut, for ten feet or so.

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Ah, that’s got it (about one or two inches of clearance). A miss is as good as a mile, they say.

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After many more miles of rocky road, the towering old structures at the Evening Star mine make it all worthwhile.

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It’s an imposing affair, sound on the bottom but unsafe to explore any further up.

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Another closed and covered mine shaft in the area, very large and deep.

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Back in camp for the evening – – the distant lights of Las Vegas out-do the feeble glitter of the few campers remaining at Hole-in-the-Wall.

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