The morning broke with fire in the sky. This is certainly one of the upsides of nomadic life. If I spend too much time indoors, I gradually approach a nocturnal sleeping schedule. On the road, we often rise in anticipation of the sun.
But after reveling in the brilliant rays of first light, it is time for us to talk schedules and make a decision. It is Saturday. We have already agreed to meet friends in Tuscon on Sunday night. We had planned to spend last night in Kofa, and we could still do that tonight. But we had already planned to spend tonight in the Superstition Mountains. The truth is, for us, different is almost always better—even if the end result isn’t as good as what it could have been if we had stayed with our tried and true haunts. We would rather learn something new by stretching our limits. So, the Superstition Mountains it is.
Camping in the Superstition Mountains
The drive is only three hours. We arrive at the campground by noon. But noon is not early enough on a Saturday in a popular campground such as the Lost Dutchman State Park’s campground. We had dreamed of camping in wilderness. Instead, we settle for overflow camping in a parking lot. From the approach, we discover that the mountains have a photogenic side. That is not the side that the untamed wilderness happens to be. It is the side facing the Lost Dutchman State Park campground. Parking lot or no, we have an awesome view of the Superstition Mountains.
Yet, I’m not interested in a long distance relationship with the mountains. It’s time to get up close and personal with a little hiking.
Hiking in the Superstition Mountains
The Superstition Mountains are an amazing formation of cliffs and spires that would be a draw in their own right. But what really puts them on the map is a legend that enough people continue to believe to be true that the occasional prospector still dies in these mountains in search of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.
The Dutchman in question was a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz. On his deathbed, he confided the location of an amazing gold mine to his care giver. To go along with this story, he had a box of impressively high grade ore. Skeptics posit that the lost gold mine was actually a ruse to conceal the true origins of the gold: a past employer that Waltz had been stealing from. Or possibly, the entire confession was a fabrication on the part of his care giver who, from then on, sold copies of the map to eager (gullible) prospectors.
Yet others continue to search for the gold. Warnings around the ranger station urge visitors to be careful. More than one modern prospector has gotten lost and died in the mountains.
We weren’t expecting to find the mine, so ours was a relatively short hike.
Cooking in the Superstition Mountains
We hadn’t had lunch, and only breakfast shakes in the morning. So we were ready for an early dinner. I already had the porterhouse steak, green beans, and root vegetables remaining from last night’s aborted dinner. Tonight, we feasted.