Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Safari - Old Tin Mine Road

Greetings from the Hermit-writer.

This is going to be my last safari for the summer. About fried my brain. Doesn't help that I can't get on the mountain until my care-giver relief-pitcher arrives at 9:30. By the time I get out at 10:00 or's hotter than blazes.

June 11 I get a stay back home for a few weeks. Don't know if I'll fuss with carting my camera home for the respite. I might sleep a lot. As in, through the weekends.

So anyway...hope you aren't bored with rocks and cactus, but the relief is, last one for a while.

Leads to the scars of a real mine, worked before I was born.

Because I'm intrigued by geology and history, I look at this alluvial plain and stand in wonder at the flood waters, the contracting and expanding of the bedrock through temperature changes, and the millions of years it took to turn this into miles of stone the size of your head and smaller.

My history kicks in again...this poor desert willow has been dead a hundred years. Still stands tall against the weather. And some rude biker uses it to prove he knows how to change a flat. Very sad.

At mid-day it was hotter than snot out here, and I wasn't alone. (Just to show I"m not the only masochistic fool in Texas.)

This is near the far northern tip of the Franklin Mountains, before it peters into foot hills.

Someone forgot to haul out their trash.

Desert sentinels, eh?

I don't care how many times I look at these mountains, I always take a sigh. Especially, at sunsets. Friends from Colorado may give me a meh about my humble Franklin Mountains, but when you've lived in a state where the average elevation is 17ft. for 30 years, you go home and have a new appreciation for what always just sat there, when you were a kid.

El Paso is unique in Texas. The only major city with a mountain like this in its backyard. Rising from 3800ft in the plain to 7,192ft on North Franklin Peak. (tallest peak in TX...Guadalupe Peak, 8,751...fantastic terrain...out in the middle of no-man's land...was an ancient coral reef. Amazing!)

Some great hunters got plenty of holes in this baby to ensure it wasn't gettin' away.

Many of the same knuckleheads ensured this old water tank from an earlier century didn't escape, too.

Part of the old mine...involved in processing. I can't imagine the heavy metals saturating the gully below. Nothing much grows below still, after a century.

Just to prove again, I wasn't the only one out there in that heat. Dinosaur kin. Have far past proven they can handle climate change in a global sense.

I think the textures in the desert are awesome. (Not like my forests back home...but I enjoy the hike among it all.)

I crossed scores of grated shafts. Some welders got a good paycheck.

Remember that alluvial plain I went on about. Here's the 'headwater'.

Another old cowtank from a previous century...didn't get away from those brave hunters. (Amazing that just 200 years ago this area was a much wetter ecology, and supported thousands of head of cattle.)

And talking about acclimating. This is one tough little cactus, growing right out of the solid bedrock.

Off in the distance, between the Franklins in the US and the mountains in Mexico, the Rio Grande river basin. Thousands of years ago in the spring the entire plain, twenty miles across, would flood. This big blue marble sure has changed...just in our life time.

One of the old mine entrances.

I love the symbolism of the multiple sentries in this photo...the rangy cactus, lonely boulder, peaks in the distance.

Another flood plain, between the Franklins and the southern tip of the Sacramento mountains east of El Paso.

More of that alluvial're alluvial experts now, huh?

Cool...three peaks head to head, each made up of different strata of the earth...thus the different colors/minerals.

Another of the gaping holes left by mine operators a generation ago.

Standing on one scar, the leveled off campsite of long-dead minors...a couple root stems all remaining of old cottonwood trees brought here for the distance (hard to see just over the second stump) the remains of the mine itself

Maybe not as tall as your mountains in CO, without the trees, but sure a fine sight, and good exercise to hike.

See the half-mile long scar trailing up the mountain?

Want to go spelunking? Too's only ten foot deep...a former residence of miners way back.

Another of the openings to the mine.

I'll miss these long, open views when I get back to FL.

Have a great week. Safaris to the fall. 


  1. Summer? Really? Out with my dogs this morning I thought, hmm not really winter, but hardly spring either, and summer on the calendar (even if not in my life) is soon! I'm going to miss your safari jaunts, hopefully you'll find something for us. Cactus are tough for the most part, but bikers and just some people can be such jerks. I think your mountains are perfect, and you're so lucky to have grown up with them! Enjoy your week and sounds like you'll be needing your cooler (as my grandpa) always called it, smack in the center of Arizona heat!

  2. Hey Mac, Ya gotta be careful of all those water tanks. Maybe hunters are wondering if they ate all the cattle?

  3. I love trying to imagine the history both with humans and without the land had when I hike. Deserts are such studies of contrast-- what grows, blooms and thrives in a seemingly uninhabitable place. Thanks for sharing, Mac.

  4. Great pictures! I live in St. George, UT. I LOVE the desert!