Headed down to the FR 73 / Copper Creek area with prescottstyle to followup on a previous adit discovery. Last time we had actually hiked down Copper Creek Rd., thus I attached the photoset and triplog to that description. This time, although we were nearby, we came in from the north, along FR 73, and so I’ve made this triplog independent of a description. What we found is so cool, I kinda want to keep it a secret. Or at least not make its location obvious. If anyone else wants to head out there, let me know: I would be happy to guide. (And maybe even explore deeper into the mine …)
There’s a lot of trails in the area, some more visible on sat view than the actual ground. While we could have gone direct to the mine, I wanted to do a bit of exploring, to see if we could find other adits, for future spelunking, before getting to the main event. We did find two other adits. The first did not seem dangerous, but was a bit of a tight squeeze for a man of my stature. (So to speak.) It made me think a crawling drone would be helpful, though I’m not sure how well such a thing would read signal how far into a mine, unless it was wire controlled. The second adit was just below today’s main event. It had a walk-in portal, with nasty, orange, water trickling out. The floor looked solid, if mucky. At Paul’s suggestion, I tested it with my hiking pole, which sunk in several feet. Guess we’ll be skipping that portal. Bummer. It looked promising.
Then we entered our previously briefly scanned portal. But, before doing so, we doused ourselves in bug spray to hopefully ward off the jillions of daddy longleg spiders in the tunnel. I had on my new Black Diamond headlamp, and was also carrying a mini-Maglite, which turned out to be brighter than the headlamp, though with a narrower beam.
From the moment we stepped in, until we left, it was one holy cow moment after another. Extensive azurite deposits of the deepest, most beautiful blue, laced with malachite, some yellow mineralization, and even tiny crystals. The deposits coated the rocks, and even formed solidified drips from the edges. I was blown away! It was the coolest experience so far of my hiking career. We checked all the side tunnels. The funniest artifact — indeed the only artifact — was some broken quart bottles of Mickey’s. Guess the 49ers poured a 40 for their dead donkeys. There was a wooden structure that looked like it might be an ore chute and, to me, it looked safe to go up to the side and look around, but I deferred to Paul’s concern, and so we skipped it. (I am big on staying safe by staying together.)
On our way back to AZ 87, we did a bit more exploring and bushwhacking, finding two dead deer, one a fawn. My only question was, Who Killed Bambi?
Distance: 5.81 mi.
AEG: 1,008 ft.
Time: 2h 51m