Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gila Coke Ovens Loop Day 2


The next day (read Day 1 here if you missed it), we woke up to beautiful lighting on Area 52. We packed up our gear, left it behind and went up into Area 52 for a quick out-n-back.
The classic toilet bowl line!
Mandatory hike-a-bike
Arizona is a special place!

Area 52 is a fun place, best left to big bikes and little gear. We played around for about an hour before venturing on toward our camp (we had left our gear at the camping spot) and then, to the Gila River. 

We crossed a low-flowing Gila and started to find a new route to Box Canyon instead of using the canal work-around (same one we used last year, 2014 during the Gila River Ramble). Having mapped out the route ahead of time via Topofusion, I had assumed the best route was a jeep road that connects with the railroad.

I was right about the railroad, I just screwed up on the location of the jeep road. We had to bushwack a little ways to get to the railroad.
Crawl-a-bike?


We road a little to the tunnel where we suited up with lights and raced through. If you have ever seen this train go by along the river, you would not be as nervous. I was a little nervous at first, but it turned out to be a quick ride out of the tunnel.


A little bumpy at times, but worth the scenery

We explored one small jeep road only to find a dead end. The route to Box Canyon Rd was the big was you cross before that road takes a sharp turn north (GPX file will be posted on Day 3). 

Box Canyon to Martinez, the classic west side route in this area



Ride. Rest. Snack. Repeat....that is what we did the rest of the day. I assume you have seen this area before. The only new part we added were the Coke Ovens (shown below). Enjoy the pictures until then.



Where's Waldo?

We did a big loop over to the Coke Ovens. Well worth it if you have not seen them. The ovens were built in 1882 to make mesquite into charcoal to be used my the nearby smelting towns. Given the large amount of mesquite in the area, the 5 ovens were built by the Pinal Consolidating Mining Company. Charcoal burns longer and hotter than mesquite; while the term "Coke Ovens" is a bit of a misnomer. They should have been called "Charcoal Kilns."

In 1971, the 72 feet high and 30 feet wide kilns were going to be modified into cottages. When you go into the kilns, you can see this modification, such as the concrete floors and door frames. The process was never completed, but is sounds like a genius idea for bikepacking huts!
that the five charcoal kilns were built around 1882 along the Gila River by the Pinal Consolidated Mining Company to turn mesquite into charcoal to be used in the ore smelting process. Charcoal burns hotter and longer than the mesquite wood from which it was derived. Smelters preferred coke, which is derived from coal, because it would burn even hotter and longer than charcoal. The abundance of mesquite in this Gila Valley location was exploited by the mining company in an attempt to obtain economic advantage. It should be pointed out that "Coke Ovens" is a complete misnomer and "Charcoal Kilns" would be most accurate to describe these bee hive structures.

Read more at: http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=830
Copyright © 2016 hikearizona.com
the five charcoal kilns were built around 1882 along the Gila River by the Pinal Consolidated Mining Company to turn mesquite into charcoal to be used in the ore smelting process. Charcoal burns hotter and longer than the mesquite wood from which it was derived. Smelters preferred coke, which is derived from coal, because it would burn even hotter and longer than charcoal. The abundance of mesquite in this Gila Valley location was exploited by the mining company in an attempt to obtain economic advantage. It should be pointed out that "Coke Ovens" is a complete misnomer and "Charcoal Kilns" would be most accurate to describe these bee hive structures.

Read more at: http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=830
Copyright © 2016 hikearizona.com
the five charcoal kilns were built around 1882 along the Gila River by the Pinal Consolidated Mining Company to turn mesquite into charcoal to be used in the ore smelting process. Charcoal burns hotter and longer than the mesquite wood from which it was derived. Smelters preferred coke, which is derived from coal, because it would burn even hotter and longer than charcoal. The abundance of mesquite in this Gila Valley location was exploited by the mining company in an attempt to obtain economic advantage. It should be pointed out that "Coke Ovens" is a complete misnomer and "Charcoal Kilns" would be most accurate to describe these bee hive structures.

Read more at: http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=830
Copyright © 2016 hikearizona.com

No Gila Ramble is complete without a little bit of randomness. Down by the river, we stopped and watched two 4x4ers get stuck, only to almost flip their truck over. Apparently, we were in the way because we also got yelled at too by one of them.

I love this place....


We peddled from the Gila back to the road and beyond to our camping spot that evening.


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Gila Coke Ovens Loop Day 1

The Gila River Ramble has slowly become a classic for bikepackers in the southwest during fall, winter and spring. This popularity might stem from its ease (AZ Trail and roads are very, very rideable), perhaps it could also be from the options (Martinez, Box, Area 52, Ripsey, White Canyon, etc.). Whatever the reason, it is an incredible place that I try to visit frequently.

Max, Nancy, Jeff and I rode out late Friday night to explore some new routes in the area, offering even more options for anyone that wants to ride in this area.

Of course, Max is still messing with his gear when we leave.


First HAB in the first 30 minutes!

Area 52

We got to our camping spot at the base of Area 52 with quite an assortment of fine foods and beverages. We opted to camp near (not on) Area 52 because of the camp fire that we wanted that evening. We chatted for several hours under a beautiful moonlit background of Area 52.

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