Sunday, May 16, 2010

Near White Canyon

I planned a little better this time. I had food and lots of water in my backpack. I left the house early enough that I would have plenty of time to explore. Some unexpected things spoiled my plans, though. The first little problem was a boulder. Well, first some background. The last part of the road to White canyon is actually a stream bed. It seems to flow constantly with water from springs. That flowing water continually re-shapes the "road". OK, so I'm driving down this road along a stretch that hasn't been a problem before and come to a rocky spot. I must not have been paying attention because I didn't see the boulder to the right side of the road until I got out to see why the truck wouldn't move, and what had made that scrunching sound. I couldn't move forward or back. I had to slide the boulder out and roll it out of the way.

The boulder on the left got stuck under the truck.

There are fences in the area and at one point there's a gate across the road. I vaguely remember having a little trouble on the other side of that gate the last time I left White Canyon. This time it looked like it would be very difficult to make it back so I decided to not go any further. I parked the truck near where I had gotten stuck earlier. Now I'm going to have to walk quite a bit further than I had planned just to get to White Canyon.

The (now broken) gate is in the background. This rocky spot doesn't look bad in the picture, but the placements and angles make it a good truck trap.

After I had been walking and enjoying the scenery for a little while, I realized I had left my hat in the truck. It was early afternoon. Without a hat, I'd get fried. I didn't want to go back to the truck to get it, which clued me in to the fact that I'd worn my legs out moving the boulder. Since I was standing in front of another attractive canyon, I decided to explore up there a little.

Second choice canyon.

Progress up the canyon was very slow, partly because I was tired and partly because there was no escaping the sun. I kept trying to go on, though, because it looked interesting up ahead. I was eventually stopped by a thick clump of plants. There was no way around them in the narrow canyon and my forearms were itchy from pushing past similar plants. Time to turn around before I get into a regrettable situation.

There were lots of lizards in the canyon. Most scrambled out of sight before I could get a picture. A couple of them posed for me, though. They had both lost and regrown their tails. Somebody did a study of lizards that lose their tails and determined that the only factor that affects how easily they shed their tails is the presence of poisonous snakes in their habitat. If there are no poisonous snakes, the tails do not detach easily.

Note the regrown tail.

I think this tail is still regrowing.

When I got back to the spot I didn't want to drive over, I noticed something I hadn't seen before. There was a broken lug nut cover there. Somebody had had trouble getting out. They were frustrated because they couldn't go forward and backed up quickly to take another shot at it. I know this because of the pieces of broken tail light on the steep embankment. I bet there was a lot of cussing.

Since I was done hiking earlier than planned, I decided to go south on 177 and get some pictures of the Ray mine, which is a large open pit copper mine. I was taking pictures from the highway and finally noticed that there is a visitor viewing area (open daily from 7 am to 2 pm). The visitor area offers an excellent view, if you like looking at huge holes in the ground.

A view of the mine.

It's difficult to grasp the scale of the mine. There are dump trucks moving all over the place and the tendency is to use them for scale, but these are not normal dump trucks. Their tires are about 10 feet in diameter.

There are dump trucks and a train in this picture. At first I wondered why the train was so small, but that's a normal sized train.

The rig on top is drilling holes for dynamite to loosen the rock.

A normal size pickup near one of the dump trucks. You'll probably have to go to the web album and zoom in to see the pickup, though.

The only sound I heard at the mine was the machinery. It wasn't very loud, though, because everything is so far away. Click below to see all of the pictures.


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