The guided group comes walking by our camp headed up to Horseshoe Mesa as we are packing. We have camped in identical places the last three nights, but this is first morning they have beaten us out of camp.
There are three different trails leading up to Horseshoe Mesa. This is by far the easiest of the three. When we are nearly to the top of the Mesa, we meet the guided group taking a break.
Keith and I continue to the top of the Mesa. The Park Service has closed Cave of the Domes due to concerns that it may be a source of some recent Hantavirus outbreaks. Subsequent analysis determined it was not the cause, so the Park Service reopened the cave, the only one in the Canyon you are allowed to enter.
Keith and I explore some inside the Cook's Cabin. The large steel pot in the second picture used to be in perfect condition and hanging inside the fireplace. Click here to see two pictures of original buildings on Horseshoe Mesa taken around 1903. All mining activities on the Mesa ceased in 1907 when copper prices fell drastically.
I show Keith where Pete Berry's 1892 claim marker is. It was upright my first few times down here, but had fallen over the next couple of trips. On a hike I did here last fall, I got one of the guys in our group to help me lift it up and restore it to its original position. Click here to see another Pete Berry claim marker I found on the southeast side of the Mesa during a hike I did here last year.
The Park Service used to let you walk right up to the Last Chance Mine, but they have now posted a radiation warning and keep out sign.
Although it doesn't show well in the two pictures below, this Juniper post has a lot of barbed wire and what looks like a wire gate wrapped around it. I wonder if this was the "toll booth" on Pete Berry's trail up to the rim.
When we are part-way to the rim, we meet Della, one of the more popular Park Rangers at the Canyon. She and Keith have talked several times on his recent hikes. It's easy to see how Horseshoe Mesa got its name with its distinctive horseshoe shape.
Pete Berry and Ralph Cameron went to great lengths in 1893 to "pave" their trail from Horseshoe Mesa to Grandview Point with stones. They needed this hard surface to accommodate their copper mining on the mesa and to provide an all-weather surface for the numerous mule teams carrying ore up to Grandview Point. Despite being unmaintained for over a century, many of the paved sections of the trail are still in excellent condition.
A few sections of the trail have had some extensive repairs with Juniper logs to more naturally blend in with the surroundings.
I trudge along a little more on the last few steep sections and finally get to the trailhead.
Keith and I load our stuff in my car and head toward the New Hance trailhead for his car. Keith heads for Phoenix and ultimately Tennessee and I start the long drive back to Oklahoma.
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