Alpine Mine Hike

Wednesday Sprocket and I set off looking for some adventure. We started off hiking up the Weehawken Trail just outside of Ouray. The trail switchbacks pretty much straight up a hill and just doesn’t stop. Our goal was to get to the Alpine Mine remains.

Weehawken Trail

It was such an absolutely beautiful day. We weren’t in much of a hurry and it was pretty great to be up in the mountains with this guy:

Sprocket

Weehawken Trail

Mountain views

San Juan Mountains

The mine itself was a bit of a letdown but we decided to not stop there and work our way up to the ridge above the mine. I’ll admit to thinking “Just one more highpoint” more than once as we worked our way along. I had to finally give up when I reached a slope that I wasn’t comfortable leading Sprocket down alone.

Alpine Mine

San Juan Mountains

Ouray, Colorado

Beth

Here’s the view from the furthest point we made up the ridge line, not too shabby:

Ridges

San Juan Mountains

Sprocket

Pulaski Tunnel Hike

Trailhead

Yesterday I told you all a little bit about the Big Burn of 1910 (I just found this Forest Service website with tons more info). One of the heros of the Big Burn was Ed Pulaski. Pulaski was a ranger for the young US Forest Service when the fires broke out in August of 1910. He was in charge of a crew of about 150 firefighters on the divide between the Coeur D’Alene River and the St. Joe River.

When the fire cut off Pulaski and a group of about 40 men, Pulaski decided the only feasible option for escape was to flee for Wallace. It became evident that Pulaski and his crew were going to be cut off before they were going to make it to Wallace. Using his knowledge of the area he lead his crew to a mine shaft where they huddled under blankets wet in the creek and waited out the firestorm. Four of the men died during the night but Pulaski’s thinking (and his threats to shoot any man who tried to leave) saved the lives of 42 of his crew members.

Pulaski Tunnel Reconstruction

On Wednesday, F, Ezra, and I decided to hike the trail to the Pulaski Tunnel. In 2010, the tunnel entrance was restored to appear as it did following the fires. The Tunnel overlook (the trail doesn’t go to the mine entrance) is two miles from the trailhead with about 800′ feet of elevation gain. We hiked up stopping at all the interpretive signs and on the way back down mixed some huckleberry eating and some running.

I’m glad we finally hiked the trail since we’ve been talking about doing it since we moved here. While it was a nice short hike in the trees on a warm day, I’ve read most of the history on the interpretive signs and without getting up close to the adit, it was somewhat disappointing. (The huckleberries were NOT disappointing.)

Exploring Near Mullan Pass

Thursday, we decided to take the jeep for a drive. We all jumped in and headed up to Mullan Pass. At the pass, we decided to explore a spur road that headed to the north. It wasn’t too long before we hit a few downed trees and since we’d forgotten that we’re supposed to always bring the chainsaw we wound up taking a little hike.

Looking into Montana

The views from the road were really incredible. It headed up into a small bowl with bear grass and huckleberry meadows all around after giving us some expansive views east into Montana. As most roads do around here, it lead to an old mine site. This one still had a structure standing (I think it was a chute for loading ore). There was a road headed further uphill from the mine that we decided we should explore again soon. Continue reading “Exploring Near Mullan Pass”

Hiking: Willow Creek

The sun finally shone in Mullan on Sunday! Forrest had to work so Sprocket and I headed out for some fun. We rode the quad up Willow Creek Road as far as we could before being stopped by snow. I pulled out my snowshoes and up the road we went; I was glad to have them. The snow was plenty firm in the shade but what can only be called slush in the sun—by the end of the hike even Sprocket, the biggest snow walking devotee ever had given up on it.

After alternating between snow and exposed dirt for awhile we came to a junction. Having not been up this way before I wasn’t totally sure which way we should head to get to Stevens Lakes but before I could think about it too hard I spotted a large tank of some kind in the creek. Around here, debris like that indicates that there was mining activity. It didn’t take me too long to look around and see some more metal scraps and then the dead giveaway lush moss that grows at the opening of flooded mines. This one looked really intact!

 

After we’d checked out the mine shaft (it was hard to convince Sprocket he shouldn’t go swim in there!) we headed up the trail again. As I was walking down the trail/road, Sprocket desperately wanted to jump up this bank. He always catches up so I kept walking but he kept trying to get up on the bank; looking back to see what was going on I saw the trail sign pointing up a tiny switchback hard to pick out in the spotty snow that lead to the top of that bank. Sprocket wins.

It wasn’t too long though before we reached a scree slope and the two of us together just couldn’t find the trail on the other side and decided to turn around. When I got home, I found out that we’d been within three quarters of a mile from the lake that was my “unstated” goal for the hike. I’m sure it would have been really pretty! I’ll probably try again in the next week or so.

It felt really good to get out and wander with Sprocket and hike around. And the scenery? It wasn’t too bad either.

Andrew in Idaho

My visit with my nephew, mom, and godmother was quite nice. I spent most of my time doing the things that he only gets to do with Aunty and F (except for riding the CRF 230…he needs F for that).

Friday evening almost immediately after they pulled in, Andrew and I went for a quad and I showed him the old Lucky Calumet mine. I really didn’t expect him to think it was very cool, it’s pretty much just a hillside with some timbers that has water flowing out of it, but he listened really intently as I described how there used to be train cars and men that would go into the tunnel and bring out rock. I showed him how the rocks around the entrance are streaked with copper green and he decided he needed to take one home with him.

Andrew at the Lucky Calumet

Continue reading “Andrew in Idaho”