Thursday, June 16, 2011

Doing chores.

Today marks my 20th day on the road. Since I was very near St George i headed to the local Laundromat since I was running out of underwear to turn inside-out. (I kid, I SWEAR ;) After packing the fresh clothes up I called up Stacey and headed to his place once again. Stacey informed me that the the spare he had promised me was not a 32" it was actually a 33"........way to big for my rig. In a gesture of kindness rarely seen he told me to head to the tire shop down the street and pick up one and he would pay the bill! I was absolutely blown away by his kindness towards a traveler that he had never met until I showed up on his doorstep. The tire shop hooked me up with a spanking new spare! I felt a bit bad about the price so I pitched in $50. I was happy to once again be wandering the back country with the safety of a full size spare. THANKS AGAIN STACEY! You are truly a great person and a friend!

I gave my host a trilobite, a geode and some bits of wonderstone as a small token of my appreciation for everything he had done for me. We said our goodbyes and I headed out.

I made a quick stop at the grocery store and stocked up on food and ice and headed towards the gates of Zion National Park. Since it was late in the afternoon I was not at all surprised to find the camping spots in the park full. I headed into Springville and got a tent site at a local RV park. I talked with my neighbors for awhile and shared my adventure and pictures with them. (Thanks for sharing your dinner and entertaining my ramblings Mary and Chaylee) It was getting late and I wanted to get an early start to eliminate hiking in the heat of the day. I said goodnight to my neighbors and turned in for the night.

Unmarked graves and hunting for the devils lair.

I woke up this morning sweating and thirsty. I had slept through my alarm and the tent was baking in the morning sun. I wandered to the cabana and readied myself lazily for the day. Lacking the drive to do much I sat to type for a few minutes when Stacey came and offered me brunch. I was hungry so I didn't decline the gracious offer. After we ate brunch we broke out a laptop and fired up Google Earth. Stacey gave me some directions on some neat places to visit and even showed me a parcel that he owns outside of town and told me I could spend as many nights there as I wanted. We pulled a few rough coordinates from the computer and I made a mental note of the route and headed out. Next stop: Silver Reef Ghost town.

An old ore chute in the area.

Not much remains of the town besides some closed mines and the foundations of homes. However it is still home to two graveyards, one catholic, one protestant. Most of the graves in the cemeteries no longer bear the names of those buried here. (Much like many of the nearly forgotten pioneer cemeteries I have visited so far) Most of the grave sites here are just marked with these little bits of concrete and steel or simply just a steel stake.

Some of the better preserved graves in this cemetery.

Then it was across the trail to the Catholic Cemetery.

Much like their neighbors, graves of unknown people abound. There are a few well preserved stones scattered throughout.

Looking down a mineshaft.

Most of the mines in the area have been covered with cement and rebar to prevent people and animals from falling in. Its a bit unnerving but you can walk across the mesh right over the shaft. The rebar is thick and supported by thick I-beams, so it should support the weight. I hiked to half a dozen of them and they have all been blocked off or received a similar rebar grate.

There were the stone remains of many old buildings in the area. Since visiting Silver Reef was a spur of the moment destination I don't know much about the history of the area. However my host StaceyE use to own the land here. He told me that in the late 1870's the mines in Pioche (visited yesterday) began to play out and many of the miners disassembled their homes and moved here. It would require a tremendous effort to move a building so far back in those days. But in the deserts of the southwest trees suitable for building are scarce.

The deserts near here are prime habitat for desert tortoises. Some of the nearby subdivisions are required to put up short fences to keep them in their native habitat. The fences look quite strange as they are only a foot or so high, since this is all that is needed. I passed several signs telling me to watch for them on the trail, I was not lucky enough to see one on my trip here. I motored my way towards another property that my host currently owns. He informed me that essentially the only way to explore it was in the sandy washes that criss cross the land. Since I had permission from the land owner I had a blast exploring the twisty sandy washes and rock formations.

I did manage to get the Jeep temporally stuck twice. The sand was deep and I was lazy and didn't air down the tires...... coming into a corner a bit hot may or may not have been a factor also.

A Jeep in its natural habitat: redrock. I then made an attempt to find the Devils Hole, I hiked around for awhile but was not having too great of luck. Stacey called me right as I was hunting for it. I described where I was and was told I was in the right place. I was most likely walking right around it.  I was getting tired from the days activities so I made camp nearby. I was sure I would probably find it easy in the morning when I wasn't so tired. I never did find it.......guess I was too dumb.