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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mazourka Canyon Exploration

After my recent trip to Papoose flats I wanted to explore Mazourka Canyon in more detail. In particular I wanted to find the way up to this tantalizing trail that clung so precariously to the mountain side.

It can be clearly viewed from highway 395 and the road eventually tops out close to 8,000 feet.  Starting into the canyon I tried out half a dozen different trails, some  quickly ending in dead ends. Others ran for quite a ways and just petered out as if no trail had ever existed, leaving me perched high above the desert.

Along the canyon are dozens of  mine shafts, each with the tantalizing remains of a story about the struggle for riches in a dry and remote desert canyon.

Part of the story at these sites is their dump of tin cans and other containers. You can sometimes find pieces of old glass bottles or even complete bottles when lucky.

The color helps to give an idea of the age because it was most likely clear glass when it was originally manufactured. Pure silica  by itself will produce clear glass but iron impurities can cause yellow color variations to appear within the glass. Different additives have been employed in glass to stabilize the color and prior to 1915, manganese was the additive most widely used. When the manganese is subjected to UV light it oxidizes and gives the glass a purple tinge.

Other sorts of natural color can also be found nearby!

One mine that I explored was the most amazing one of all with endless horizontal shafts. It will require a return trip to obtain proper photos of the heavily timbered vertical shafts. Some of these shafts had ladders that disappeared into bottomless crystal-clear pools of water.

On my second day I discovered the access point to the zig-zag road and spent quite a while traversing the countless miles of old mining road.  They led me to many interesting things, thousands of feet above the canyon.

As I drove I wondered about the people who had invested so much into building this road and ultimately what had led them to abandon their mighty efforts. There were countless vistas to enjoy on the way up, each one at higher and higher elevations
I finally came close to the main mining operation and saw a cabin tucked high up into a side canyon.

The interior was not in very good shape but featured an interesting ceiling with sewn canvas panels held up by narrow strips of wood.

The nearby mine appeared to have been extensively worked over to prevent entry by any humans. I am guessing that the main horizontal entrance was deliberately collapsed over these heavily barred galvinized culverts. 

There were many old vertical shafts that are most likely leading to this recently blocked horizontal shaft. All of them have been marked with these signs.

Lots of other interesting relics litter the area but the redneck morons cannot resist shooting at them and literally are destroying history.

I attempted to drive the road past the mine but was halted by large bolders and a landslide a little further up.

It might be a great hike to complete on another adventure! Thanks for joining me to this visit to a remote canyon that is highlighted with history from California's mining heydays.