We spent all of February at Oak Flat Campground, just east of Superior. We certainly did not plan to stay so long, but it is a nice campground and Ra was able to get some work done. We were there so long we started to feel like squatters and were waiting for the ranger to kick us out. That never happened and we weren't the only long-timers. We've been doing much more car camping than planned, but it's OK. After all, we are still enjoying the outdoors and it gave us chance to get to know this controversial area.
Oak Flat and the surrounding area are being threatened by mining activity. The land was given away to foreign companies who will strip the land, leaving behind massive amounts of toxic waste and taking profits overseas. This area is very popular with climbers, travelers, and other outdoor enthusiasts in addition to being culturally significant to several Apache tribes. The area was protected, but some legislation was sneakily added that overrode that protection. Here's a video summarizing the issue: Protect Oak Flat
While we understand the need for mining (we like indoor plumbing after all), it's maddening that foreign mining companies have more influence on Arizona's elected officials than does the outdoor industry, which brings twice as much money to the state than mining. Also, if the area is to be mined, aren't there any American mining companies?
During our stay there was a pow-wow and protest that lasted a whole weekend. Although it got really crowded, it was interesting to watch some of the ceremony and learn more about what's going on. Of course, the people watching was fabulous! The most memorable outfit we saw was a dude wearing a jacket and a couple flaps of leather, one covering his nether regions in front, one in back. It wasn't warm out. The rest of us around the fire were wearing a few layers and hats. Nice enough guy - he said he was from Montana and attended a survival class in Phoenix.
We did do some hiking, but mostly it was a relaxing time. Ra worked alot and I made alot of paracord dog leashes and listened to podcasts when not busy will all my other camp chores. Mostly our 'hikes' consisted of walking up the hill to try to find cell service. In this era of being constantly connected, being disconnected definitely takes some getting used to! We would drive into Globe every 5 or 6 days to resupply and take advantage of free wifi in various restaurants to try to catch up on e-mails and what not.
This is a popular campground. Many travelers just stop for a night as they are passing through. Others, like us, stay awhile. The place fills up on the weekends with what we called 'The Weekenders' - scout troupes and climbers and jeep clubs. We met alot of interesting folks and it was a pleasure talking to people and learning about their adventures and checking out their set-ups and gear.
It will be a shame to lose the area to mining. If that ultimately is what happens, we're glad for time we were able to spend there. For all our buddies in Phoenix, I highly recommend it for a quick weekend hiking and camping getaway.