I am not quite sure why I am writing this piece, except to do a bit of venting in a public forum. Nor am I sure that it will do the least bit of good. The purpose of this note is to describe the irresponsible behavior and reckless driving that I have witnessed on the upper Constellation Road in the past few weeks (January-February 2007).
For the record, I go up into the upper Constellation/Hassayampa area frequently. I take photos and leave footprints. I study the area’s mining history, watershed, gorgeous spring flowers, and I hike. The people that I associate with are responsible individuals who respect its history and magnificent, rugged beauty, not to mention the roads and trails that give them vital access into these areas.
As of this week I am the unhappy owner of nine chipped paint spots on the hood of my truck, 30 windshield dings and several damaged fins on my oil cooler – all due to a single dirt bike rider near Monte Cristo Mine. This “adult” rider, who evidently believed that Constellation Road was created for his exclusive use as a race track, passed my truck on the right side, accelerated at a very high rate, and threw rock debris onto the front of my truck, causing the damage mentioned above. If he had been content to wait a mere 30 seconds, I would have reached a pull-off spot where he could have safely passed. I later watched him leave a dust trail that was nearly a half mile long as he climbed the road southbound to the saddle between the Unida Mine Group and King Solomon Gulch. Imagine what that was doing to the road surface!
Within the past month alone I have encountered as many as twelve Quads at a time (yes, they were Snowbirds) driving on the wrong side of the road as they crested a hill, and I have narrowly missed three speeding Quads that were on the wrong side of the road coming around blind curves.
The way I look at it, Constellation Road was built to support miners and ranchers. Okay, the miners are no longer an important factor, but the point is, it isn’t my road. Today, ranchers in this area depend upon Constellation Road for their livelihood; hauling cattle, feed, and for access to Wickenburg to shop for their own essentials. Watch one of their ranching trucks on Constellation and you will see a driving behavior that epitomizes caution. You might consider asking the folks at JV Ranch and Williams Ranch what they have witnessed and experienced. My bet is that they have seen much worse than I have. How they tolerate it is anyone’s guess.
I would like to think that I show my respect to “their road” by driving with care. I have never driven Constellation, or any other dirt road or trail, in a manner that would tear it up. In any case, local residents will know that maintenance and grading of Constellation and Buckhorn Roads occurs quite infrequently. They have become rutted, washboard roads just in the last four weeks.
Slow down. Enjoy the view. Enjoy life. Soak up the history and grandeur of this area – safely and responsibly. Oh, and by the way, pack out your trash. Upper King Solomon Gulch is becoming a sanitary landfill.
If you insist on tearing up a beautiful piece of landscape, try driving at high speed repeatedly across your neighbor’s front yard. See how it plays with them.
If you positively insist on killing yourself while on a Quad or dirt bike, please find an empty desert wash or, perhaps, a mine shaft. Personally, I prefer the mine shaft. At least that way you won’t be surface littering.
Last 5 posts by Allan Hall
- Wickenburg Hospitality Comes in Many Forms - December 15th, 2010
- Calliandra Eriophylla is Native to the Wickenburg Area - December 9th, 2010
- Goodbye, Old Bridge - November 29th, 2010
- Abandoned Mines Part III: Preserving the "Whispering Ranch" Mine - March 25th, 2010
- Abandoned Mines Part II: Protective Closures - March 10th, 2010