My wife’s away for a second week, so my regular mine exploring buddy Prescottstyle (Paul) suggested we hike up Finch Wash in Copper Basin, just southwest of Prescott. The video of the first time we hunted for minerals in Copper Basin is my fourth most popular video, with over 15,000 hits. 😳
I was up really, really early to get down to Rosie McCaffrey’s Irish Pub, with the Bobby Murdoch Phoenix CSC, to catch Celtic’s League Cup match against Hibernian at 4:15 a.m. The match was only available on Celtic TV, which again failed in new & unexpected ways, forcing us to resort to an illegal stream after 20 minutes of stress & swearing. Someone explain why I pay £20 per month for utter 💩?
Thanx to Moussa Dembele, we pulled out a 4-2 win despite not being at our best. ☘
Afterwards, I hit I-17 to Prescott. Driving west on AZ-69 through Mayer, I was surprised I could see no damage from the Goodwin Fire that burned for three weeks in June & July. The moonscape post-fire photos must have been further west, near Big Bug Mesa.
After picking up Paul, we headed west on Copper Basin Rd. Despite being dirt most of the way, and quite twisty, it was a mellow drive even a car could make.
Paul is the mineral & mining guy; I’m the maps & planning guy. So, I did some research on the topographic map and satellite view, and put together a decent day mileage-wise that included lots of things to check out in Finch Wash.
We couldn’t park where I expected, as it was blocked off, so instead we parked at the white corral, which has plenty of space, no sharp objects in the dirt, and has a row of bushes to hide your car from the minimal passing traffic. Check out the drive video, below.
The exploration starts off by heading east on Copper Basin Rd. for a few feet, before it splits left onto an old jeep trail. The trail is so old, it is washed out to a depth of several feet on one side, and on the other is worn only by many cattle. There is an unsigned, easily-crossed, barb wire fence. (Though I somehow managed to gig a knuckle anyway.) Just past the fence is the Finch Windmill, which is working like a charm, but not pumping much water. The tank was mostly dead bees. 🐝
After the Finch Windmill, turn left onto a better jeep trail, FR 58. In 100 yds., there is a locked, but unsigned and easily crossed, metal tube gate. Just past the gate, on the left, is an apparently abandoned travel trailer, set up for camping. There’s no claim signs about, so I’m not sure what the deal is. We avoided it anyway. I don’t like getting shotgunned by people that like to live in the boonies.
The Flower Gold Mine is only a half mile into the hike. It consists of a metal tank, a metal headframe in great condition, a locked & trashed shack, and a fenced off, still open vertical shaft of unknown depth. The headframe is separate from the shaft. There is a whazzit? to the side, which Paul & I failed to check out. (“Whazzit?” is what I refer to as interesting objects I spot on satellite view, but cannot determine what they are.)
A mile into the hike, there is a side trail to the east, which leads to the Silver Gulch Lode. We found nothing.
FR 9407J is on the other side of Hill 5691 from the Silver Gulch Lode. FR 9407J connects back to Copper Basin Rd., a mile south. There’s another Whazzit? down that way.
1.5 miles into the hike is an old mining camp. All that’s left is a foundation, a corral too small for cattle (sheep?), and the first of many, many vent caps.
The next two miles, FR 58 pitches up, but nothing too strenuous.
As FR 58 starts to climb, on the left, you will see an obvious tailings pile. At the bottom, there is an adit that was too small for my fat ass to crawl into. (And I’ve been into some tight spaces, such as Webber Mine.) I peered inside, and it looks like it may open up a little bit, but it would be a very sketchy entry.
The shaft at the top of the tailings pile is collapsed and filled in, but there are some bits of old lumber and cables about. There’s a great view from the tailings pile back down Finch Wash, out past Kirkland to the entire Weaver Mountains range, including the distinct flat top of Antelope Peak, Yarnell Hill and Weaver Peak.
Three miles into the hike, there is a bit of a dip in FR 58. There is a very old work trail to the right, a more obvious jeep trail to the left, and a shack just ahead.
100 yds. up the old work trail is a collapsed inclined shaft. There’s no artifacts, but the rocks have, let us say, a certain feminine quality about them. 😉
The more obvious jeep trail to the left appears to lead to same place as staying on FR 58, so stay on FR 58.
The shack is falling apart, but at one time, by mining camp standards, it was the lap of luxury. It had a thick cement foundation, brick walls, a metal fireplace, and — I shit you not — Dutch doors. I hate to see nice places like that which have fallen on hard times. 😕
While checking out the shack, I managed to step on a nail. Right through the sole of my hiking shoe. Ouch! I pulled it out, but did not take off my shoe. We were almost at the far end of our hike, so if I was skewered like it felt, continuing would not make the situation any worse. At the very least, no blood was squirting out of my shoe. I was still in the fight.
A couple hundred yards past the former mansion, at the foot of West Spruce Mountain, FR 58 splits. The right split deadends; go left.
At the top of a short, steep, climb is this mine exploration’s final feature, and the highlight of the hike: A large open adit. So large, you can almost walk straight into it. Unnamed on the topo, or mindat.org, I’ll call it Finch Wash Mine.
Finch Wash Mine had a small pile of the usual mine junk outside, but surprisingly for such a large adit, no tailings pile whatsoever. Whatever the miners hauled out, must have been rich with valuable minerals. (Most likely silver, plus it’s usual Arizona cohorts, gold, copper, lead and zinc.)
There is a small machine outside the adit, which we at first thought was a ventilation pump, then thought might be a separator, but ultimately couldn’t figure out for sure. Check it out the mine exploration video, below, and let me know in the comments if you know what it is.
Upon entering Finch Wash Mine, I realized I had left my flashlights at home. As weak ass as my flashlights’ beams are, it would have been better than what I ended up doing: Using my camera to flash my way down the adit. Literally, I’d take a flash photo, review it, walk 20 ft. forward, then repeat.
The adit was several arm lengths wide and at least eight ft. tall. Despite the rock being solid, there was extensive timbering, including boarded walls, of pine harvested off the adjacent Sierra Prieta. Being a carpenter, Paul was quite impressed by the wood work.
Finch Wash Mine had very little collapse. Indeed, it was almost scraped clean. The only artifacts it contained were a metal folding chair, some wires, a couple of surgical masks. The wires were unshielded, and obviously not meant to carry current. The surgical masks would be no defense against noxious gases. So, no idea what the wires or masks were for.
A couple hundred feet into Finch Wash Mine, the adit narrows and begins angling downwards. It may be possible to continue, but we elected to turn around. It would be worth a return with decent lighting.
It was a quick jaunt back to the white corral. We drove Copper Basin Rd. to Skull Valley, then Iron Springs Rd., past Granite Mountain, back into Prescott. Because I had stepped on the nail, I thought I might need to make a trip to the emergency room for a tetanus shot, but upon taking off my shoe, I discovered the nail had not even broken skin, let alone impaled my foot. Add that to my list of dodged bullets. 📝
After changing into half decent clothes, we walked three miles into downtown Prescott. Rosa’s Pizzeria had a line out the door, so we headed across Gurley Street to Casa Alvarez, which had delicious chips & salsa (red & green). I had chile colorado & dos Negra Modelo. 👍
After dinner it was Whiskey Row …
Directions: From Wickenburg, head northwest on US-93 for 5.8 miles. Split right onto AZ-89 north for 31 miles, through Yarnell & Peeples Valley. Turn left onto Kirkland Valley Rd. for 4.4 miles to the restaurant. Turn right onto Iron Springs Rd. for 6.7 miles. Just before the railroad tracks in Skull Valley, turn right onto Copper Basin Rd. for 4.7 miles to the white corral. From Prescott, head west on Copper Basin Rd. for 12 miles to the white corral.
GPS File: Finch_Wash_Mine_Exploration
Distance: 8.32 mi.
AEG: 1,557 ft.
Time: 4h 08m