Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Dusty Drive to the Cinnabar Mine

The sun rose to clear skies this morning, so I passed on the sunrise photo. Soon, I was out for my morning walk. Same as yesterday, it was warm and I peeled off my sweatshirt in the first mile. I had to make good time, because we were meeting a group today to 4 wheel to the Cinnabar Mine.

The group today was led by Jim, one of the Quartzsite area BLM rangers. We had a sizeable group: 3 jeeps, 4 side by sides, and one quad. I grabbed my usual spot at the tail end, which was pretty dusty place to ride when the breeze did not blow right. Not a problem, because I stopped often enough for pictures that we fell behind out of the dust.

Looking southwest, the Trigo Mtns.

And, standing tall to our west is the south end of the Dome Rock Mountains. We will be driving around the southern end of the Dome Rock Mtns on our way to the mine. Along the route, we will cross through the north end of the Yuma Proving Grounds.

It was not long before we drove through the first wash, complete with palo verde tree branches. Desert pin-striping, part of the fun?

Some of the group observed military drones flying around, but we missed the action. Oh well, there was plenty to see. And, plenty to scrape through. Here, is a view as we enter the training grounds.

Barb spotted a raptor nest up in this saguaro. The birds chose a spot with nice views, here around the south end of the Dome Rock Mountain range. The morning sun lights up the chocolate color of the rock. A few minutes later, another interesting saguaro which looks ready to host a nest.

In the next narrow wash, we pass some blooming flowers. We think this is a Hummingbird Bush, justicia californica.

Then down into the Palo Verde and Mesquite trees for another scrape. For the most part, I was able to steer around a lot of the scrapes.

The trail crew stopped for a break. Here we learned our trail leader had a transmission linkage issue and was unable to shift in/out of drive. He had to head back to town to get his shifter fixed. Since a few of us had been on this trail before, we forged on following memory (and the gps).

We soon reached the Ehrenberg Wash. The trial got quite a bit rougher as we headed north up the dead end wash.

The road ends up the wash at our planned destination, the Cinnabar Mine. This mine produced mercury sulfide ore, which was then heated in ovens. The mercury boiled off as a vapor from the ore, and was piped into a cooling tower made of stone. Inside, the stone was fashioned so the condensed mercury would drip into catch pans. This mine operated for 35 years, up until around 1927.

The ovens, mostly buried at this point.

The cooling tower, seen standing next to the ovens.

And, a view of the tower and the group parked below the ovens.

After poking around and having lunch, we backtracked down the wash and resumed our westbound track through south end of the Dome Rock Mountains. There were several more rough wash crossings as we headed west. The 4 wheeling on this road is not technically difficult, but it is a long and sometimes, very rough ride.

Once we emerged from the last wash, we headed north along the west side of the Dome Rock Mountains.

The group split up when we approached Interstate 10. The UTV riders headed back using the offroad trail that parallels the interstate. We stopped to air up our tires and prepare to drive back on pavement.

Once aired up to highway tire pressures, we headed home at highway speed using I-10. We arrived back in time to relax with a cold beverage before dinner.

Tomorrow, we will be taking care of some domestic chores and then maybe head out to the rock/gem show area.

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