Thursday, February 26, 2009
LOST DUTCHMAN STATE PARK
Sometime in the 1970's I read a paperback about Jacob Waltz and his mysterious cache of gold. In the 1880s he would come into town, Apache Junction in Arizona, and spend gold nuggets like he had an unending supply. Speculators who followed him either got lost or turned up dead. On his deathbed he left a map of his "mine" to the lady who cared for him during his last illness; she spent the rest of her life trying to decipher the map with no success. The book I read focused on the many deaths in the area since then; men driving to the area with a map left to them, or given to them, or bought by them, all looking for the untold wealth of the lost mine and finding only death. Many of them losing their heads in the process. It was a spooky book that sent chills down my spine, and I decided to quit my job, find a map, and go look for the piles of gold nuggets laying on the desert floor within sight of Weaver's Needle.
I never went looking; I still have my head, but on our various sojourns to the desert we discovered this state park just north of Apache Junction. We've been there in summer, not too hot, and virtually deserted. You can hike around, but be sure and take plenty of water, and watch out for rattlesnakes. Unfortunately the city is closing in, and you can't find true darkness here anymore, but for the moment it's still wonderfully quiet and the solitude is palpable. Another of my favorite places.