Hiking Trip #26
Date: February 25, 2015
Goal: Hike Charleston Rd. to Fairbank Trail Head: while seeing Petroglyphs, Boston Mill Site and Lil Boquillas Ranch on the way.
Weather: Another fantastic day started out a little cool (44 Degrees) but like most days we hike it turned out GREAT. A few light wispy clouds and temperature rose to around 60 by the time we finished, very low humidity (remember it is high desert). Nice weather to hike!
Trail: Charleston Rd. to Fairbank Trail
Hiking Partner: Scott Weiss
Distance: Planned about 8 miles. Actual miles about 10 miles. Damn trail markers or LACK thereof! This is our longest hike to date but one of the easiest due to the terrain.
Start Elevation: 3,900 ft
End Elevation 4,100 ft
Elevation Change: 200 ft.
Accumulated Gain: about 200 ft.
Do It Again: Maybe after the summer monsoon to see change in vegetation.
Comments: The trail is fairly flat and very well marked with the exception of Boston Mill Site (more on that later). We started out on Charleston Rd. near Millville Mill site (see Charleston Millville Blog) then followed the scenic trail 3.5 miles to the Petroglyphs site.
Petroglyphs: These Petroglyphs were done between 300 AD and 1450 AD, and are really worth the hike, especially due to the relatively flat terrain. The local Indians did these Petroglyphs by scraping off the “Desert Varnish” from the rocks. The “Varnish” is the accumulation of deposits of minerals such as Iron Oxide and Manganese Oxide that form on the rocks in dry climates. By scraping these deposits off they expose the lighter rock underneath. What is amazing is these Petroglyphs are still very visible today. (See Pictures)
Boston Mill: Continuing on to Boston Mill site which is about 1.5 miles from the Petroglyphs. We were doing GREAT except there are NO markers (NONE, ZERO NADA) to show you how to get to the mill. We could see the mill up ahead, but stayed on the main trail about another ½ to ¾ of a mile looking for a side trail leading to the Mill. I am big on “Bushwhacking” but after our experience on Lutz Canyon Trail (still need to upload this hike) Scott is not too keen on following me on my bushwhacking endeavors. SO when all else fails you call the BLM (bureau of land management) even though the BLM is supposed to “manage” this area they tell you to call the Forestry Service. Thank God for cell phones!!! After our call to the Forestry Service (they tried to be helpful) we headed back the way we came and found a wash that headed in the right direction. Finally we arrived at THE Mill! Boston Mill was founded 1881 and supported the mines in Tombstone until the mines flooded, closing all the mines as well as the mills in the area. The Southern Pacific Rail Road supported the mill and the nearby town of Emery and supported the nearly 100 employees working at the mill. The only remains of the mine are a massive retaining wall still standing and a few foundations/walls still standing. There are no remains of the town that we could find. (See pictures)
Lil Boquillas Ranch: Since we had already traveled over the trail (both going and coming due to the lack of signage) we headed to the ranch by way of the abandoned rail road. Along the way we passed a huge rock (BAR>>>>Big Ass Rock) (see picture) in the middle of the road bed. Wonder what would have happened to a train if it had hit THAT??? Lil Boquillas Ranch means: “Saint John of the Little Springs and Walnut Trees” and was part of the Spanish land grants. One of its famous owner was William Randolph Hurst (cannot make this stuff up). Some of the land was sold for the towns of Fairbank/Emery and other developments. Once the mines and mills closed, the area died a quiet death. It is now part of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The ranch house and out buildings looks like they were abandoned yesterday although they have been vacant for years. We saw an old Glass Gas Pump that was in fairly good condition considering it has not been used for decades (See picture). Finishing up we preceded to the trail head at Fairbank. Along the way we past an active holding pen for cattle although we saw no cattle in our 10 mile hike??? (See picture). As with most of our hikes (well almost all) we headed to someplace to get something to eat and drink…off to Tombstone!!