The Black Waterfalls!

I’ve been busy for the last year or so! I ended up getting a job (gasp!), working like crazy, then leaving that job for another job recently. All the while I’ve been thinking of prospecting, detecting the beach, or searching for a hidden treasure if I EVER found the time to pursue that stuff again. Well the time is near..

A couple months ago one of my prospecting buddies in Arizona told me about a ‘new’ place that he was considering running his metal detector. He had been there many years ago and remembered it in one of those flashes that you get right before you fall asleep, and stayed up late thinking about it. The main feature of this area are black waterfalls you have to traverse to get to the spot. He called me the next morning to tell me about his plans to explore the area, and theorized that it had not been ‘hit’ with any of the newer technology detectors. In fact, he was fairly certain that the place had not been prospected in over ten years! We laughed and joked about ‘cursed waterfalls’ and half rotten skeletons of all the prospectors who had attempted to get the gold in the past-but I knew the story was epic before it was even told. After all…black waterfalls!

Now it might seem funny, waterfalls in the desert? We prospect mostly in the Bradshaw Mountains of Arizona, so elevation changes are a constant thing. With that, you have areas of exposed bedrock, upheavals, and even folds in the rock from the long volcanic past the region is known for. As monsoon rains have come and gone over the years, sandy soil (overburden) has been washed away in the low areas-commonly called ‘washes’-and where the bedrock ends or drops, viola-a waterfall. Another aspect of this bedrock is that it is very geologically diverse. Along with the various metamorphic and other types of rock, you get lots of colors, which is one reason the desert is so beautiful! Literally you can be standing in an area of red rock and walk a few feet to white, black, or gray. It’s hard not to fill your pockets with small collections of neat colored rocks on every trip! What is unusual is that this place has black waterfalls, and yet is surrounded by completely different types of bedrock for about a quarter mile in each direction. Looking on Google Earth, you can see that this entire area is a geologic anomaly within the context of its surroundings. That oddity makes this place worth checking out!

In the ensuing weekends after remembering the place, my buddy has taken several short trips, each time coming back with gold! It’s a grueling hike with obstacles and steep terrain, plus the summer temps are high. Adding another factor is that it’s monsoon season in the Big Az, so the need to evacuate or find shelter could arise at any time! For that reason, pre-dawn rides to the area and hiking back out shortly after lunch have been the norm. There is one shade tree up there. One. The last insult to injury, and the most common theme of desert prospecting, you have to carry all your own water! Yes, there are plenty of waterfalls-but they’re DRY unless it’s raining!

My gear has been loaded and ready since I first heard of the black waterfalls. Life and job changes have made it an impossibility to even consider a trip till now! Coming up, a long weekend! Yes, it’s pretty short for a prospecting trip, but still long enough for me to get out there and see those black waterfalls and hopefully come back home with a pocketful of gold nuggets!

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