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Kofa NWP - Jan '10

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From Castle Dome we left for The Big Eye Mine, taking an easy rated trail 15 miles to the southwest. Colorful craggy mountains appear at every turn; the scenery is amazing out there.




As we passed near the Copper Cup Mine we found some deep shafts, a few graves and this tunnel. (photo by Phil)




Suddenly I could hear a clunking sound coming from our rig. I tried to pinpoint it’s origin by holding my head out the window as we traveled, but I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the bed or from underneath. Then it got loud and distinct enough to cause George to stop and try to find it, which he did immediately. One of our new Rock Krawler Control Arms had backed itself out of the front bushing cap and was making contact with the mounting bracket. How did he instinctively go right to it you ask? Because, being the curious cat that he is, George decided to take apart one of the spherical-joint ends when he first got the arms, so he could see how they work. The problem was he hadn’t reapplied Loc-Tite when he put it back together, so the arm worked its way loose.







The spherical-joint end was being held by the control-arm bracket and wasn’t going anywhere, but he couldn’t get the threads of the arm started in the bolt. For now he wrapped it in cloth to get us to camp, and when we got there he was able to drive some wedges between the bolt and the bracket stabilizing it enough to get the threads started and then tight. Oh, and yes, Loc-Tite has already been reapplied.


Now we were glad we hadn’t set up a base camp that we had to get back to! We camped at the trailhead to the Big Eye Mine, which clearly used to be a road but is gated off now. (photo by Phil)








In the morning Kris, George and I hiked to a well kept cabin and then onto the mine. The mine shaft is easily accessible and there are still tracks, some piping and various machinery and equipment there. I only went in as far as the 1st major branching of the tunnels before I became afraid to go on. Kris and George went on while I made my way back to the entrance. They went further in until they both realized their breathing seemed labored, and then they came back out too. The Big Eye is an awesome mine to visit, lots of cool stuff still there and the tunnel goes quite a way back with a number of branches!

















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The road to the Big Eye is the same way in and out, so we back-tracked to Castle Dome, back out to Hwy. 95, and then north to King Road. Charles Wells’ Guide to Arizona Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails lists a road about 2 miles east and to the right, that goes to an Indian Cave and some water tanks. The road and the tanks are easy to find, unlike the Indian Cave. We drove to the end of the road and then walked a path to the tanks.








Then we asked some hikers we saw if they knew where the Indian Cave is, and they showed us how to get there. It’s not really a cave per se, but more like an alcove in the rock. But it’s easy to get to, and pretty cool, really. The floor is covered with lots of holes created by corn-grinding.




There was a large group of hikers hanging out for the day near the Indian Cave. They had started at I-10 and hiked several days already, exploring mines and encountering wildlife along the way. They were relaxing for a couple days where we saw them, and then were to continue their journey through McPherson Pass and beyond. The ranger district had delivered a water-tank trailer for their use while they recuperated. And then a Sheriff Deputy paid us a visit while we ate lunch, which we thought was unusual, but he explained this is his beat, and he cruises around on dirt roads all day stopping here and there to visit.


From the Indian Cave we traveled back to Hwy. 95 and then north again to Palm Canyon Road. This is the main entrance to the Kofa NWP, and offers spectacular scenery as you approach Signal Peak and Palm Canyon. About halfway up the road there is a Kofa Information Kiosk, which is where the trail to Kofa Queen Canyon, our destination for the night, intersects the main road.





We got to Kofa Queen Canyon late in the afternoon, and set up camp at Skull Rock as shadows overtook sunlight.




There’s a fireplace just inside the mouth of Skull Rock, so we made our fire there and hung out inside the skull enjoying the warmth, all the while joking about how someday Skull Rock is certain to fall forward, as evidenced by rocks stacked near the mouth to shore it up.







(Picture by Phil)




Kristoffer decided to go home after supper, and after sending him off we realized just how smoky it was inside the skull, so we relocated the fire. Breathing a lot easier, but a lot colder too, I made my way to the sleeping bag. (picture by Phil)




Just as George came to bed the rain started; softly at first, just a tap, tap, tap on the camper-shell, but faster and steadier accompanied by gusts of wind soon after. George and I both considered poor Phil in his tent nearby, and I said a silent prayer for our safety; I was afraid we’d wake up in a river. It rained off and on all night, and it turned out that Phil slept in his Jeep, taking advantage of breaks in the rain to pack his stuff. George and I sprang from the camper at the first break in the rain after sunup, and unbelievable as it sounds, we were out of there within 30 minutes.




It turned out to be an awesome sight-seeing trip. I'm glad everyone in the group was flexible as to camping and the order in which we did things, because it really flowed well the way we did it. Thanks for singing Happy Birthday to me; you guys make a heck of a chorus!


So next time I'm thinking Dripping Springs, Hoo Doo Wash and ???




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nice write up! looks like a cool place to visit!

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Thanx for another fine report D...;)

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