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The Ghost Trail - Exploration and Adventure

The Ghost Trail
Posted July 1, 2007

Adventure On The Arizona-Mexico Border

Lone Writer was leaning back in a motel recliner occasionally looking away from his book to frown at the snowpacked landscape in Elkhart, Indiana. "I gotta find somewhere warmer," he groaned.

He turned the page of his book and the first paragraph seemed to jump off the page:"A little known backwoods road slithers along near the international border between Arizona and Mexico. Some call it the 'Ghost Trail.'"

The usual questions formed on his lips, but there was no answer in the book for the most important one: "Why do they call it the Ghost Trail?" He paused and looked back out the window. "I'll bet it's warm in Tucson right now."

For those of you who don't already know, Lone Writer also works as a contractor to transport motorhomes from the factory in Elkhart, Indiana, to dealers scattered throughout the country. With a few clicks of the mouse, he found one that needed to be delivered to Tucson.

With a few more clicks, he sent off an e-mail to Happy Jack in Wichita. "I'm going to Tucson to check out a ghost trail near the Mexican border. If you're interested, I'll see you there."

Another e-mail went to Rusty in Tucson. "Coming to your town. See you this weekend."

Three days later, Lone Writer, Happy Jack, and Rusty met for a casino buffet north of Tucson. Rusty has lived in Tucson for years and is part-owner of the Abrego Self Storage. He has explored just about every backroad within 100 miles of Tucson and had never heard of the Ghost Trail.

"It goes over the mountains between Nogales and the old border crossing called Nochiel," Lone Writer offered.

"Sounds like the Duquesne Road," Rusty answered. "Never heard it called the Ghost Trail though."

After dinner, the three gathered at an apartment in Abrego and went through maps of the area. Rusty would not be able to join the search due to other obligations, but he pointed out numerous trails in the area and suggested a loop that would take them through ghost towns and mining camps, then back to Nogales over the Duquesne Road.

Early Saturday morning, Lone Writer and Happy Jack took the exit off Interstate 19 for Elephant Head Road. They headed toward the Santa Rita Mountains and left the pavement with a turn onto Bull Springs Road. The surface was rocky with deep washouts at dry stream crossings. The road is lined with prickly pear cactus, desert ironwood trees, and a variety of other desert plants.

Lone Writer's rental car was pushing its limits long before they reached the sign stating "4WD recommended." The rental car was left parked at the sign and both travelers continued the trip in Happy Jack's modified Explorer. As it turned out, the most difficult obstacle along the route was the one where the rental car was parked. There were several steep descents and climbs through dry washes but nothing that challenged the Explorer.

Even so, the Explorer developed a transmission problem. It began popping out of Low gear on hillclimbs and became nearly impossible to get into Reverse. The two travelers joked about having to walk back to the rental car and whether or not either of them would make it before the vultures closed in. Fortunately, the Explorer continued to limp along without giving out entirely.

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