This campground was definitely my favorite of the southern trek we took. Sadly, I am unsure if we will ever be able to return.
Beautiful shrubs and cacti shrouded the desert landscape as we pulled in to the campground leaving a trail of dust behind us. The sunlight filtered through the leaves gently illuminating crevices in the rock formations around our site. The kiddos sat on a rock to have some yogurt as Eemz leveled the camper and I scouted for snakes. The location was perfect.
We grabbed our cameras and ventured up the hiking trail that began behind our camper and headed up to see the view. The sun began to set in earnest, the billowing clouds took on a beautifully menacing appearance: dark and stormy, colorful, and awe inspiring…the wind swept in and pelted us with a few drops. The race began. We scrambled down the path as the storm increased in speed and challenged us to make it back in time. We had barely shut our door when the rains came. The cloud’s bark was worse than it’s bite, there was no thunder, but the refreshing rains made for a beautifully saturated landscape the next morning; so we took another hike. We saw mining lights, we thought were beautiful, in the distance…they don’t seem beautiful to me anymore.
We stayed for two nights and listened to the coyotes singing close by, we enjoyed two glorious sunsets. I loved every second of it.
As we left, we stopped at what looked like a group shelter. Tents and chairs left abandoned, coolers, water jugs, firewood…the scene was slightly eerie. We stopped and tentatively approached the site. I saw some literature on the table under a rock. What I found greatly disturbed me and I am still in angst over the situation.
Apparently, Oak Flat is a an ancient and sacred holy place to the Apache people. They have used the location, since before recorded history, as a site for their coming-of-age ceremonies (especially for girls), a place to pray, traditional acorn gatherings, and the property belongs to the public; or it used to.
In December 2014, the land title was sold/traded to an Australian-British mining company. This may be the first time in the nation’s history that a Native American sacred site has been sold to a foreign-owned company.
What will become of the land? The site will become a two-mile-wide, 1,000 foot deep pit. All for the earth to be mined for oar. The idea of this literally sickens me.
The empty, group site we saw was the remainder of the 300, mostly Apache occupants, who marched 44 miles down from their tribal headquarters to protest for three months. They were no longer there and I am unsure if they will return.
My hope is that others will become aware of what is happening to the Native cultures in America, as well as the gorgeous landscapes available to all. I am deeply saddened that we will not be able to visit that place again, except as a gaping, mining hole.
To find out more information, here are some links provided on the literature from the campsite. Please help protect Oak Flats. This land is too beautiful to be ripped apart for greedy financial gains.