March 13, 2017, Oak Flat, AZ-
The young couple were a bit taken aback, as I returned to the campsite, where my tent was set up. They hushed their small, annoyed dog, as I explained I had been at the campsite for a while and had gone to town for dinner. As they were car-camping, and the campground is free, we were all fine with each other’s presence. Besides, after some banter, I left them alone, and was content to watch the stars and think loving thoughts. The campground reflected those back.
Before all this, as there were about 45 minutes until sundown, I took a stroll along an easy trail that led south and west from the campground. A free spirit, whose own goal was explore all the National Forests west of the Mississippi, had pointed me in the direction of a spring, which he said was a good two hours’ hike from here. I took the stone path out of the campground and shortly found remnants of another of General Stoneman’s outposts.
Rhyolite and obsidian abound, in this part of Arizona, as you will see further in “Devils Canyon” (I prefer the name, Queen Creek Gorge, but to each their own.)
Stone walls were built to last, in the 1870’s.
I like to pay respects at memorials to the local departed, wherever I go. This cross honours the wife of an Oak Flat native.
The campground is of further interest to me, because there is a controversy over just how extensively a planned underground copper mine will be allowed to run, underneath this immediate area. There are concerns about depleting the water table and about creating a giant sinkhole, under the current campground. There is some debate, even among Native Americans, as to the sacredness of the site to the Apache Nation. Several protesters have set up a camp, within the campground, featuring traditional Apache dwellings, called wikieup. The environmental and archaeological concerns are valid, as is the need for work, among the residents of Superior and outlying areas. I would probably favour a scaled back mining enterprise, with careful attention to the water table and to honouring any burial sites that may be found.