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Finding gold in the Superstition Mountains

By on June 25, 2019 in Columnist with 0 Comments

By Joe Anderson

When I was 10 years old living in Mesa, Arizona, my dad would tell terrible tales of the Superstition Mountains and the fabled Lost Dutchman’s gold mine. 

My father was a wonderful storyteller and encourager. He would take me out to the desert peaks and talk about the bones that have been found along the trails. He talked about the curses the Indian witch doctors put on anyone who sought the precious treasure.

 From that time, I dreamed of finding the gold. Well, it finally happened, I found the riches of the Superstition Mountains.

In March, my wife and I ventured to Arizona to spend several days with Jan and Larry Lenssen, who are snow bird friends from our church who winter in the Arizona area. They have kept inviting us so we accepted their offer to visit them in the Superstition Sunrise RV Resort in Apache Junction. 

Working the way up the trail: ever closer to the Lost Dutchman’s mine?

Since I am a hiker, my friends thought an adventure hike in the Lost Dutchman’s State Park would fit the bill. The park is near Apache Junction in the Sonoran Desert, 40 miles east of Phoenix. Several trails lead from the park into the Superstition wilderness and surrounding Tonto National Forest.

I remember my father driving me out through Apache Junction on our way to go swimming in Lake Apache. At that time, it was just a junction; now it is a big city. As we drove up the trail I remember dreaming of someday hiking around the mountains in quest of the hidden treasure.

I could hardly contain my excitement. In fact, it came bubbling out to my friends as we parked the van at the Chola Day Use Area.

I told everyone about my father and the stories he shared. As I looked up at the mountains and ridges, I knew I was going to find the gold. All I had to do was look and concentrate on where it might be hidden. I was going to be rich beyond belief and share the gold with all my friends!

We decided to hike up the Treasure Loop trail to Jacob’s Crosscut trail, down the Siphon Trail and returning to the trailhead.

As we started hiking and stopped to rest in the shadow of a giant Saguaro, we saw the desert awakening from a long winter — coming to life with a cacophony of colors as the wildflowers and cacti were starting to bloom.

We had to be careful to stay on the steep twisting trail, watch out for snakes, and not get too close to the cholla cactus, which is said to have jumping thorns. There was cactus everywhere and a plethora of prickly pear.

We made it to the top of the trail where we were rewarded with a panoramic view of the majestic valley. We were still far below the summit but needed to return.  

On the way down, as I was intensely scanning nooks and folds in the hills, I heard my wife, Cyndi, warn: “There a snake!”  

She moved to the other side of the trail and pointed to a three-to four-foot rattlesnake with half a dozen buttons. Our two friends walked right past it. They were so lucky they did not get bitten.

We headed one direction and it another.

The whole time I was hunting for hiding places of the supposed gold mine. I was looking for the hidden clues behind each rock structure and cacti and reliving the stories my dad whispered to me. I guess they were just ghost stories to inspire my imagination, which they did.

Even though we only did a short 3.2-mile hike and covered a fraction of the mountains, I realized when I got back to the car I had discovered gold — it was in the wealth of friendship and adventure shared on the Superstition Mountains.

Joe Anderson is a retired English teacher and on-call public information officer with the Forest Service. He and Cyndi live in East Wenatchee.

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