Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Desert

Either you get the desert or you don't. Many view the desert as a barren wasteland, devoid of life and beauty. Others view it as something to get through on their way to somewhere else or as a place where you can die if things go bad.

The desert, can be all of those things, but is much more. My desert, the one I visit, is a place of immense beauty. For me, it is mainly about the geology, the sky and the solitude. Throw in a little history and some engineering and it makes a wonderful place for me to visit and explore.

They key to successful desert exploring is to find a friend that shares your love of the desert. I am luck in that I have a buddy that views it pretty much the same way as I.

On day one of our trip, we saw exactly two other parties and spoke to only one of them. It was a very polite conversation, We assumed they were armed, they assumed we were. Amazing how that works.

Much like the mules that the miners used to explore this area, our jeeps were made for this environment. Although much of our travels could have been made in a normal pick-up truck, there were a few places which required the capabilities that only a high clearance, short wheelbase 4X4 have. I didn't get any pictures of the difficult sections, I was too busy.

Sky, geology and solitude.

History - This was once the home of Burro Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt lived in this area for most of his life. Word has it that he mined in the winter and spent some of his summers herding cattle at a ranch up north. Burro Schmidt is famous for digging a half mile long tunnel through the mountain in order to avoid some of the bad roads to and from his mine. He spent 38 years digging the tunnel, all by hand.

By the time the tunnel was completed, it was no longer needed. The ore played out, the tunnel turned into a folly.

It is still there, and is somewhat of a tourist attraction. The road to it is fairly good, a pick-up will suffice. After Mr. Schmidt passed, a woman named Toni moved in and watched the place for many years. After Toni passed on, the claim got tied up in litigation with the government and the camp was pretty much looted.

The desert can be cold at night, especially in December. Despite my extensive preparations, I never was really warm and didn't sleep well. It didn't matter, the experience was well worth the discomfort.


Next post: Day 2

Thanks for reading,
A refreshed Schmoe

1 comment:

  1. Looks like an amazing trip!!!!!!! You're making me want to explore the desert with you.... Although... I don't camp (unless it's in a hotel room) so maybe just day trips..