Our group arrives on the western flank of the Dragoon Mountains to hike the Slavin Gulch trail to an abandoned mine. With me were hike organizer Lorna, Bill B and Katherine. A combination of very fit and very fun company.
This was my first time doing the trail and only my second visit to the Dragoons. The recent rain has transformed the landscape and almost our entire hike would parallel a ravine that had a good flow of water.
The trail actually follows a road that had been blasted from the granite so copper and zinc could be brought down from the Abril mine.. Other than a few places, the trail is easy to follow.
Several times we would check the ravine, looking for pools where, on our return, we could take a break. We also marveled at a pattern found on some house sized boulders. We couldn't guess as to how the unusual pattern was formed.
We were headed for a notch in a canyon wall where the canyon narrowed and the granite soared above us. Bill was setting a murderous pace and so every time I paused to take a picture, I had to run to catch up. While the gang was checking out another possible pool stop.....
....I kept going so I could get ahead and have the luxury of not taking a rushed image. I heard my name being called and after walking back to the group, discovered Bill had stumbled at a creek crossing, instinctively reached out, grabbing a handful of Bear Grass. The razor edged grass left a deep cut in a finger. Observing the blood loss, I said it appeared he might bleed out, ha, ha. Bill wanted nothing to do with turning around so wrapped the finger with a paper towel and we......
....climbed higher. The climbing portion of the trail is about 2.75 miles with an average grade of 9% so not steep but steep enough.
There were many examples of balancing boulders and as usual, you wonder how it is possible they maintain their perch. Note the one, upper right in the above image.
We passed the remains of an old building just before the trail levels and we start paralleling a ridge above us.
The views to the southwest are great. At about the 3.75 miles we....
......don't actually reach the mine but the remains of a wooden chute down which the ore would have tumbled. As we refueled, I poked around a little and discovered what appeared to be a way to the ridge but our plans did not include this additional climb. Later, I read a couple of hike reports and confirmed this was a way to reach the ridge where there is a forest road and the mine opening along the way up. We began our descent.
Bill was in front, reached down to remove the stalk from I think a Century Plant and in so doing, surprised a black tail rattlesnake that was laying beneath it. After getting over the shock of the discovery which yes, was accompanied by the distinct buzzing, there ensued a discussion about the strike radius of a snake. I had read a rattlesnake could strike about 1/2 of its body length but I was overruled by my 3 hiking buddies who insisted the snake could launch itself and strike at a much greater distance. One of our group, who shall remain nameless, insisted she had seen video of a rattlesnake even standing on its tail! Each of us then sprinted past the snake which was about 5' away and shoulder high after slithering up an embankment. Later, I read I was correct, 1/3 to 1/2 of its body length.
Flowering plants were in abundance as we continued our descent. It really was like walking in an arboretum of flowering plants. We found a large pool.....
....descended to its edge where I was happy to sit in the shade and take pics. Lorna and Bill removed their shoes and socks and waded in, eventually reaching a spot where the water was chin high. Once the refreshing break ended, we resumed our hike, finishing with 7.5 miles and 1700' of climbing. Fun and beautiful day for sure.