A Hike Worth Its Weight in Gold

Way back in the 1880s and 1890s, a miner named Jacob Waltz was one of hundreds of men and women who hiked in the mountains of the American West, hoping to be one of the lucky few to find gold in them thar hills. As it turns out, high up in the Superstition Mountains of the Arizona territory, above the fairly new town of Phoenix, Jacob did, indeed, find gold. Lots of beautiful, pure gold. But dang him, he died in 1891 without ever telling anyone where he found the gold. Seriously, he couldn’t have told a single person? Not even a saloon owner or a lady of the night who could have been bought off by a sizable gold nugget or a bottle of rotgut whiskey?

Anyway, as a result of his keeping a secret like he worked for J. Edgar Hoover, every year people hike the Superstition Mountains, trying to locate Jacob’s lost mine and claim any remaining gold and make a fortune so that they, too, can run for president. Well, probably most of the hikers are only looking for beautiful scenery and clear mountain air.

Though I didn’t particularly want to find gold (or run for president), yesterday my friend Jan and I hiked up the Hieroglyphics Trail on Superstition Mountain. Stumbling upon a abandoned gold mine that had been overlooked for 130 years would have been a great bennie, but we didn’t count on it. We did, however, count on a beautiful day with spectacular scenery. WINNING!

Jan and her husband are avid hikers. In contrast, I haven’t hiked a step in probably four or five years. A series of non-serious but troublesome injuries has prevented my annual hike on some trail in Rocky Mountain Park. So I was a bit nervous to see how I would withstand a nearly three mile hike with a fair amount of elevation. I wasn’t even completely confident my feet would accept something as restricting as hiking boots, having worn primarily flip flops for my entire senior citizen adult life.

My feet happily cooperated, and I was satisfied to complete a hike up to the hieroglyphics that were left some 1,500 years ago by the Hohokam Indians to remind us a bit of their life so long ago.

Well, I’m exaggerating a bit. I did, in fact, make it to the end of the trail leading to the hieroglyphics. However, in order to get up close enough to see the Indian drawings clearly, I would have had to join the 22-year-old triatheletes who were clambering over rocks to get to the site, and THAT wasn’t going to happen. If you look very carefully, you can see the hieroglyphics. I’m pretty sure I see a dog…..

Most importantly, at least to me, we saw some spectacular scenery as we made our way up and back……

Best of all, while we did see a couple of scampering lizards, the rattlers and the gila monsters were absent, still taking their long, winter’s nap. I, for one, didn’t miss them.

I am now satisfied that hiking is back in my repertoir of activities, and plan on more still before we leave. And many more this summer with friends and grandkids.

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