Not too long after crossing into Arizona I started seeing off the highway what would have been the old Highway 93 long ago. What was cool what that there was access to this road and seemingly other tracks that went up into the hills. Some had signs saying the roads were part of a recreational area, so I started thinking, “We should take the Jeep on them there roads.”
At one point I saw a sign saying something about a mine being not far away, and with that I couldn’t take it any more. We pulled over and it became time for Jeepin’.
We drove along a rocky road and across washes that probably get pretty wet from time to time and eventually we came to the mine.
It didn’t look like much as we approached, there weren’t many tailings piled up, least not much to my untrained eye. There was a metal gate preventing access, but it was neat to peer into nonetheless.
Up the hill from the mine entrance was a large boulder with a chain link fence around it. I wondered why that was set up, so curiosity led me to climb the rocky hillside and check it out.
Inside the fence was a kind of carved out bit, which at first glance didn’t seem to do anything special. But I walked around the fence and saw a hole that appeared to go down into a passageway. What intrigued me was I saw light on the wall through the hole, and that light was clearly not coming through the hole I was trying to peer down.
This second, higher entrance was only guarded by a small chain link fence, so entering would be easy. I stood there for a few minutes before I was tempted to go in. It was terrifying. What if it caved in? Would it cave in? This hole has been here for how many decades and it is still here, so why would it fall today? And look, there’s a beer can just down a little ways, so other people have obviously explored successfully.
So I decided if I walked with my feet along the edges of the tunnel and stepped on solid surfaces I wouldn’t make any noise and so I would be less likely to trigger a fatal cave-in. I took a step, then another, I could barely breathe I was so nervous.
Look at this picture and also this picture. See that wire rope? It isn’t very long, one end rests against the fence support and the other ends among the rocks on the tunnel floor. Just past the end of that cable is where it happened.
There were enough rocks on the ground that my plan for stepping only on solid ground didn’t work. I stepped on the rocks and I felt them shift and crackle under my weight when suddenly a sound came from the area beneath my feet. I thought it sounded like the hiss of air escaping a pressurized hose. It freaked me out and leaped back to the entrance.
My heart was in my throat. What was that sound? A booby trap? Seriously, I had the thought that it could be a booby trap or warning system of some kind. I’m dumb. Then I realized it was probably a rattlesnake.
Quite exciting! And I realize I’m quite lucky. I climbed back down the hill and the three of us got back in the Jeep and drove back to the waiting RV.