We weren’t planning to go rock and arrowhead hunting in Arizona. My wife and I just liked that hotspring in the desert. It was agood place to escape the Michigan winter for a while.
By: Steve Gillman
Then we met Felix, an old Mayan Indian living in an old RV. After sharing meals and campfires for a week, he took us into the desert to show us ancient metates (grain-grinding stones) and arrowheads. We also found hundreds of beautiful rocks of every type, including Apache Tears, Fire Agate, and various quartzes.
Irina, a nineteen-year-old “rainbow kid,” who had been living in her van for months, rode with Felix in his old pickup. We took our van. We spent two hours at the first stop. The recent rain had made the rocks and artifacts stand out, washing them clean. We were mostly just rock collecting.
Irina and my wife Ana found odd pieces that may have been arrowheads. We found old pottery pieces too, and Felix came back with half of a pot painted with an intricate design. It was probably hundreds of years old. Felix had been in the desert for years, and kept seeing things we missed.
Pony Express Ruins
At our second stop, Felix showed us ruins of an old Pony Express station. Unmarked and forgotten, the grass-and-mud-block walls were still partially standing. I realized we still hadn’t seen a single other car. There are some isolated areas in Arizona, and this is one of them. We started arrowhead hunting around the ruins, because Felix insisted the building would have been fired upon by arrows.
Up the hill behind the ruins, Felix showed us rocks with six-inch wide holes a foot deep or more, and perfectly round. They were filled with water – their purpose, according to Felix. We like water with fewer bugs, but he and Irina drank the water collected in them. It was a peaceful spot, overlooking the valley below.
Arrowhead Hunting Success
Over the hill, we had some luck searching for rocks and arrowheads, but not like Felix. We saw hundreds of pieces of pottery, but all very plain looking. He found pottery that had beautiful designs on it, and metates. He found a tiny clear quartz arrowhead, perfectly made, that had probably been used to hunt small birds two hundred years earlier.
Each of us wandered a bit. Ana and I made it back to the van first, and when Irina and Felix returned, we cooked beans with instant rice on our camp stove. After the meal, we said goodbyes, and traded addresses. They went back to the hotsprings, while we headed the other way with bags of rocks, an antelope antler, and two broken arrowheads.
For interesting rocks, go out after a rain and you can see Fire-agate and Apache Teardrops laying on the sand. For the best rock collecting, visit the designated rockhound areas in southeastern Arizona. As for arrowhead hunting, and ancient pottery, enjoy yourself, but it may be illegal to keep any artifacts now. The BLM office in Safford can give you directions and more information.
Steve Gillman hit the road at sixteen, and traveled the United States and Mexico alone at 17. Now 40, he travels with his wife Ana, whom he met in Ecuador. Read more stories, tips and travel information at: http://www.EverythingAboutTravel.com