Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Very Goldilocks Ride

All ATV rides are good rides- so long as you start and finish safe and sound. But I've noticed that sometimes I have some "drathers" while I'm out there. Yes. Drathers. As in, I drather go a bit slower. I drather go a bit faster. I drather it was a bit less technical. I drather it were more technical and challenging. I drather have dressed warmer, or I drather I wasn't so hot. I drather stop and take a photo. I drather stop now for the day. I drather keep right on riding. Or I drather stop for a minute and "see a man about a race horse."

So as drathers go, this ride was truly the Goldilocks ride: Not too fast. Not too slow. Not too tough. Not too soft. Not too hot. Not too cold. Nope. This ride was JUSSSSSST right! And not just because the conditions of the ride were so great- they were- but even more because we were able to incorporate so many excellent points of interest along the way.

The ride from the campground - I think it was probably 5 or 6 miles to start out - climaxed in a downhill thrill that was pretty challenging and involed a long and steep downhill run over large and loose boulders. This served as a perfect warm up, and the loop that we would eventually make during our tour essentially began and ended at this point.

First we ventured up and to the dead end of a canyon wash that was amazingly scenic. We did just a bit of hiking up the "dry waterfall" that essentially creates a point beyond which it would not be possible to ride. There were plenty of signs that prospectors had worked on both large and small scales in the canyon, both recently and going back quite a period of time. There are areas that have been mined all over the hills here near Quartzsite and that is part of the thrill of exploring the area. As the ad says: exploring with friends that have been there and done that? Priceless!

It wasn't too much longer before we stopped off to visit the Welcome Center. This is not a stop for maps and brochures; it is the term for a place of endearment where an old stone cabin stands among the ruins of the old Apache Mine, which is also a new claim posted by the GPAA. A sign posted at the so-called Welcome Center is posted below. People leave all kinds of intriguing items at the Center, so it's always worth a visit to see what's new.

Then a challenging section of the trip designed to transport us over the mountain to Dripping Springs. At the bottom of a vast canyon valley, a tiny spring created a riparian buffer zone, where we found a lot of bird life, tiny ground squirrels (who were clearly disposed to share our lunch) and some beautiful flowers we had not come across previously. It was one of the prettiest spots I think I have ever come across out in the desert- and that's saying something!

Next we found a geocache at a desert pet cemetery called "They Were Loved." Lynn and Don, our official geocachers, logged the find for later downloading, removed the selected item from the treasure trove and replaced it with a contribution of their own. At least that is my understanding of the process.

A bit later we raced down a BIG wash, playing in the deep and loose gravel and sand until we came to a limestone outcropping that had some petroglyphs and an in-rock equivalent of what we know from Honduras and Native American sites as "piedras." In Honduras, more specifically "piedra de mais" or stone used to grind corn grain." We have only ever seen them as a stone roller and a stone plate or bowl- but these piedras, clearly used for the same purpose, had been long-time ground right into the massive body of rock beside the wash. How hard someone must have worked to process the grains that caused such deep impressions in the rock...and also in my mind now that I have seen them.

Our final stop along our route was below the giant "Q." The Q is painted on the mountain top that overlooks Quartzsite. You would see it clearly from any plane flying over...and you would see it plainly driving by town on the highway, or even while walking around town. What you would not see from those locales, that we did see, was the remnants of the old Quartzsite mine that stands just below the Q. As we didn't know the original name of the mine, I think I'll just refer to it as the Q mine. It was most impressive, looming large over the town that stands composed of tents and RV's and bringing the desert back to life as though for the next round of the gold rush.

From here, it was about 15 miles as the crow flies back to our Brenda home base. Ride, Goldilocks, ride!

No comments: