Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mineral Creek,2012-Gila National Forest

There are a few differences at Mineral Creek in the Black Range this year. For one thing, it has water, which is nice. Last year, there was only the tiniest of trickles when we visited in the spring. Since there was this good fortune, I decided to "find" the hidden waterfall that I've suspected was there for several years now. I found the bushwacking along the stream much easier this time since the creek side vegetation is still mostly bare . A few years ago I tried in September, and gave up, wishing I had machete( just kidding). The falls are awesome , close to 40 feet high I would guess, and I can only imagine how spectacular they would be in a year with a lot of snow or after a summer with really good rains. There may be some smaller ones directly above as well, but that will have to wait for another trip. There was a more foreboding difference as well on this trip. Along the creek they are several posts with pink ribbon and plastic film canisters attached. Inside the canisters are notices for mining claims for lode mines by the Genesis Gold Corporation from Salt Lake City,Utah. This area was never known for gold production( that would be the mines east of Hillsboro about fifteen miles away). It was almost exclusively silver mining, and after the crash of silver prices in the 1890's, has been all but forgotten by the mining world. It may be that any amount gold would pay, when prices are so high. This would be an absolute environmental disaster for this area. There just isn't enough water here to mine on a large scale. In addition, these claims are only about a mile from the Aldo Leopold Wilderness boundary. Mining along this riparian area would certainly impact the recreation values of the wilderness, as well as seriously disrupt wildlife who need this precious water source. It may amount to nothing. Or, it may be the beginning of a nightmare, and a fight.IMPORTANT UPDATE: This hike is within the Silver Fire burn area.

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