Calcite Mine

Date: March 11, 2017
Distance: 4.7 miles

I had gotten the first 4 of the 5 hikes of the Anza-Borrego 5 for 50 Challenge done pretty quickly, but life kept getting in the way of finishing it. I was watching the temperatures start to rise out in the desert, plus it was desert flower season, meaning the park would be more crowded.  My final hike was out to the Calcite Mine. I was able to drag Dave Myron along for this adventure. This was in another part of the park I had never explored, out east along the S-22. We pulled into small turnout, as I did not want to attempt driving on Calcite Road. 

We hiked along the road for about 2 miles, even with the early start, I could feel the heat. I had to take a short break in the shade to cool off. We explored the mine area. Just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, this mine was established to extract optical-grade calcite for gun sights, the only mine of its kind in the US. The mine was short-lived, but the deep cuts in the earth are clear evidence of the operation. Bits of calcite can be found scattered around.

We headed back down, we opted to take the slot canyon that parallels the jeep road. I had seen the junction for it when we were heading up to the mine and assumed we would be able to spot it along the way back. Well, we missed it. We continued following the wash that the slot canyon had opened up into. Instead of heading south, the route was now veering eastward. Dave and I debated our options. We could go full cross-country toward the cell tower, which we could see and was near the car, continue in the wash, hoping it would turn to the south and road (which we knew ran east-west), or retrace our route. 

This section of the wash is drivable, and when we had exited the canyon, a truck had pulled up and three hikers set off to explore it from the bottom. While Dave and I mulled our options, they were heading back out. I flagged them down and ask if they knew how much further to the road. They offered to give us a lift, so we hopped into the truck bed and motored out. It turns out, this wash heads east for quite a while. Off-roaders will know it as Truckhaven Wash. Glad we opted for the lift. They took us back to that car and with that, the challenge was over. I certainly was humbled by this hike, and would learn to improve my research and navigation skills for any future trips (oh, little did I know…). These challenges had been fun, I wonder what other hiking challenges might exist…say what is this “100 Peaks Challenge”?

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