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Monday, March 6, 2023

Doesn’t Everyone Want to be Rich? Adventure in the Mountains

Where did we go? What did we see? Read and find out!

[This adventure took place on 2/18/23, but I've fallen somewhat behind in posting, and the last adventure post (I just looked) was February 14. Sorry! There is another exciting overland adventure "in the can" that I'll try to post before the end of the week. If not then, first thing next week.]


My random reading – picking up books without a reading list or syllabus prepared ahead of time -- is good for finding all kinds of interesting information, and I never know when it may apply. For instance, lately at bedtime I’d been reading Anthony Trollope’s North America (reading this book for quite a long time, prolix writer that he was when not crafting fiction), and he kept mentioning “Dives” in passing, as if no one needed that explained. I did, though, so I did a little digging, and it turns out to be a reference to a “certain rich man,” unnamed in the New Testament, the one in the parable who refused to give poor hungry Lazarus so much as a crumb (Luke, 16: 19-31). Although the Bible does not give the rich man a name, readers over time found mistranslation of the Latin handy, and thus poems and songs (e.g., see here and here) came to be written about Lazarus and “Dives,” and as more time went by, “Dives” became a generic name for a rich man.


So when my hiking and dog-walking partner here in the ghost town proposed an expedition to the site of the old Dives Mine, only days after I’d learned the background of the name, the coincidence struck me forcibly. My friend had never heard of Dives as the name of the rich man in the parable, either, but I was sure that must be the reason behind the name of the mind: “They all wanted to get rich!” I exclaimed. “Well, of course!” was her response. She was too kind to add, "Duh!" But why else would anyone bother to open a mine?


Dos Cabezas as a mining town had a checkered history. The Dives Mine was first opened in 1877, but since it “reopened” between 1911and 1914, clearly it was not in continuous operation through all those decades, and 1942 saw it closed for good. Enormous rocks of white quartz are beautiful, but it was gold that the owners wanted, and the $60,000 worth of gold ore mined between 1882 and 1931 – five decades -- was not enough to make them rich. If you want to read more about mining in Dos Cabezas, see my 2015 blog post, which drew heavily for historical background from Phyllis de la Garza’s The Story of Dos Cabezas.

What to take --

Girls just wanna have fun.

The hike my friend planned for us would not be a deep exploration of mines, however. We visited some old mine structural ruins, but the real payoff was, as it so often is, just getting up into the mountains with our dogs.

dry stone wall

layers of depth

 Look carefully at the scene just above. Can you discern the two deep gullies we will have to negotiate to get to what is, as yet, the hidden site of the old mine? Down and up again, down and up again -- and then --

We approach the site

I don’t need signs or a fence to warn me to stay away from the entrance! But it’s good that the fence was there to keep our dogs out; we let them (as if we could have stopped them) explore water and mud instead. There were no cows there on the Saturday we hiked to the mine, but my friend says they love to gather there in summer, where there is always shade and cool water. No doubt!

Below is a kind of scene I love -- lichen on old ruins, drowsing in sun-dappled shadows.

What I hadn’t realized beforehand was that the mine site and ruins were only the preface to the real hike of the day. Somehow I neglected to photograph the old high road from below, but here is my friend on – does this look like a road to you? Once it really was....

Now look back down (below). Within that black oval is the mine site, where we were, with the trees and water, lichen-overgrown walls, and the old mine entrance guarded by the giant white quartz rock. 

Looking down on the mine site just visited.

And our road above the mine site is still climbing.

I keep looking back down and then up at the rocks ahead, trying to imagine reaching them.

Staggered themselves, staggering sight!

And yet there were buildings up here once!

This foreground rock formation was BLINDING white in the sun.

Ah, a tree! Lovely relief! 

(We have passed the tree now.)

Another mine entrance, this one not fenced off – a direction to discourage dogs from exploring. I breathe easier once we are past it. Bats? Bears? Or just a deadly fall straight down -- ???

We saw no bats or bears, but there were plenty of vegetable souls (pace Aristotle) all around us.

Look closely.

There it is on the ledge: a claret cup cactus.

Beautiful lichens dare the highest peaks.

Another brave old tree beyond the mine tailings. 

Lofty century plant overlooks distant valley.

Now we are bushwhacking. Puppies have youth's boundless energy!

Do I seem to be running low on words? Maybe because I am running out of breath. Legs are protesting, and thorns are mercilessly attacking hands and arms. My hiking partner, had she been with someone younger that day, would have gone farther and higher still, but I had reached my limit -- because, remember, as far as you go in one direction, you have to retrace that same distance returning, and the image below shows you how distant we were from our little ghost town. 

Dos Cabezas is inside the black oval. Beyond is the Sulphur Springs Valley and Dragoon Mountains on the valley's western perimeter.

Many years ago, my son complained aloud one day, “I’m tired of being poor!” The Artist told him, “We’re not poor. We’re just broke. We have a very rich life.” I often feel that way – rich without any kind of ultimate, worldly wealth. The cloud formations above the rocky spine of the mountains were beautiful. I didn’t need to strike gold or copper or encounter bats or bears. It was enough to hear a northern flicker laughing at us as we made our careful way back down what had long ago been a road. Even being exhausted, once back home, an afternoon spent reading and dozing on the couch, with sun coming through the blinds, felt luxurious

Dives? No, that's not me. Mine is another kind of rich life: life with a wet, muddy, stinky dog whose coat was so full of weedy prickers she needed an immediate (though very amateur) trimming job. Companionship and outdoor adventure. That's true wealth for me.

Come back soon for an expedition to another exciting, hidden-away corner of Cochise County, Arizona!


Anonymous said...

What a great adventure!

P. J. Grath said...

Another one coming soon!

Karen Casebeer said...

Wonderful pictures and story, Pamela. Those mines look scary, though.

P. J. Grath said...

The memes ARE scary, Karen!

P. J. Grath said...

Ha! Mines, not memes! Though sometimes the latter are scary, as well.