No, this isn't the Gold Basin north of Kingman that's famous for its meteorites and gold nuggets. But stick around anyway, 'cause this small mining area near Midway Well is still interesting! Again, we used the Glamis area as our base camp. April is a great month to do this trip, as the whole desert seems to be in bloom. We drove north on Highway 78 to pick up BLM route M183 just south of Buzzards Peak. Here we turned east into Vinagre Wash for a little exploring before entering Gold Basin.
Vinagre Wash is quite sandy and the route is only passable in a four wheel drive vehicle. In addition to numerous varieties of cacti in bloom, we made a discovery! High on the west side of the wash there is an area of what appears to be petrified sea bed material along with petrified palm. Apparently much of this area was once seabed and later marsh. There is an identified outcrop of Paleozoic coral to the east of our hilltop find. It's near Midway Well and is described as containing examples of Chaetetes, or tabulate corals. They are described as being grey and white, which fits with the coloration of what we found. Of course we could be completely wrong, but we had lots of fun prowling around!
From there we worked back to Buzzards Peak and launched an assault on its summit. On the way up we found lots of interesting plants and got some great shots from near the top. Then it was back to Highway 78 for another two miles or so before once again turning east, this time into the Gold Basin area. Here we found some old shafts and tunnels and evidence of a primitive arrastre for processing ore. There are several quartz veins in the area and it looks as if gold was indeed the lure here. We continued further east to the end of the trail and found other prospect pits, some having rocks stained with copper minerals and containing quartz crystals.
You never know what you'll find in the desert, and as we returned to Highway 78 to start back to Glamis we encountered two bicycle riders that were about to finish their journey from Florida to San Diego! We stopped to chat and gave them some of our water and snacks. Their trek was a fund raiser for the seriously ill brother of one of the riders. Our last stop before returning to Glamis was to take BLM route M185, which corkscrews its way to the very top of Black Mountain. From this lofty perch amidst the radio antennas we had some spectacular views out across the surrounding desert.
After a sound sleep in our tent that night, we began the trek home. As we left the Glamis dunes we were treated to vistas of wildflowers stretching into the distance. What a great spot! Check it out for yourself by clicking on the photo link below.