Today we went and explored the full loop of the Sunflower mine area. This area has a lot of history. William Colcord, called the last survivor of the Pleasant Valley War, owned much of the land in this area. The Sunflower mine itself was a mercury mine and operated up into the 50's, but initial mining efforts started in the 1800's.
If one explores the many side trails tens of mine entrances are scattered along the entire trail.
The bridge you cross heading towards the Sunflower mine was actually once blown up by a group called the Viper Militia and later replaced by the Arizona Government. I spoke to a forest ranger along this trail once that cautioned me about possible Marijuana fields illegally being grown in this area. Apparently someone had been shot at for snooping around so be careful and don't go alone if you leave the trail.
Remember, if you do explore leave everything as you found it.
I'm guessing this was just a test whole because it goes no where.
This is the main processing complex for the mines. Much of it is still intact despite vandalism. The truck seen turned over below was once actually parked where I stand taking this picture before vandals put it over the edge. There are also pictures of the entire complex more intact from my previous trip reports or on one of the local Arizona Bronco clubs sites. In fact, in one picture a tractor used to sit right next to the mine where it was shut off in 1950's when the mine shut down, but it has since been stolen.
This chute connects down the the main complex pictured above. I can picture the overturned truck once dumping its load of ore down the top.
Faces in the rock.
The monsoon season has made the hills nice and green again.
Many people turn around at this point and return the way they came. If you proceed on the loop the toughest part of the trail is yet to come. Much of it is taking your time to weave around rocks. Nothing too bad, but at least a rear locker is suggested. (one truck on the trip today had no lockers and made it except for a steep uphill climb later)
The big red Tomato doesn't seem to go over the trail as much as through it. Its a heavy piece of machinery.
Although this shot does no justice as usual. This steep section was off camber causing a vehicle with no lockers or working traction control to spin tires and go nowhere. A nice tug from a friend is always helpful.
The LRT. The "little red truck." Looks can be deceiving. This is the equivalent of a "sleeper" in the offroad world. Tiny 29" tires, stock rims and just a generally stockish look lie to the eye. This truck is fully locked, skid plated, and chromolyed at the axles.
The reward is the top of the hill and cool breezes. About 2/3's done at this point.
Going downhill on a skinny shelf road is tougher than going uphill. Lots of trust in low gearing and brakes. Makes you wonder "When was the last time I checked the brakes, or even bled them....?"
A couple more mine entrances fully visible from the main trail.
This shows a "little" justice to how tippy this was. That extra 100lbs of roof rack, or that spare tire inside the truck instead of under it, all make a big difference right... now.
The Tomato is top heavy, but nice and WIDE! No problem!
Just as we pulled onto the maintained forest road the clouds rolled in and rain was impending.
When you live in Arizona and forget that rain is even a natural possibility there is nothing nicer than seeing this!!
Great day, great folks.
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