Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lake Elizabeth and Crater Lake

On October 16th we traveled to eastern Washington and  on the way did some exploring in the area of Skykomish, Washington.  Our main destination was an old mine near the outlet of Money Creek, the Damon Pythias mine which was the subject of the previous post.

We met some friends there and while waiting for them to arrive, hiked around Lake Elizabeth, a small alpine lake that we had visited before and which is easily accessible from the same forest road that took us to the mine.  These first few pictures are of that lake.

the trail around Lake Elizabeth

Lake Elizabeth

When our friends arrived we went first to the mine and explored it.  When finished at the mine we hiked on down the road (now decommissioned by the Forest Service and impassable to vehicles) and went in search of a second alpine lake, Crater Lake.

I had searched for this lake once before on a wet and foggy day and had gotten lost but this time I had my GPS and the coordinates for the lake and we did make it to the lake but only after losing the trail several times and having to scramble up some steep slopes.

Losing the trail was not the worst thing that could have happened since we found a beautiful falls (unnamed as far as I know) that was on Money Creek, the outlet for the lake.  Eventually we found the trail again and were at the lake in time to eat our lunch there.

The trail, such as it was, was marked with bits of pink and orange ribbon but we had trouble finding them at times.  They were an improvement, however, on the previous trip when the only markers were bits of soggy toilet paper, many of which had disintegrated.

In spite of the difficulties we had this is a hike I want to do again, perhaps next summer.  It was especially interesting to us in that there was no one else in the area and we like hiking alone.  In any case we can now say that we visited Washington's Crater Lake.

the trail

an unnamed waterfall


near the lake's outlet

Crater Lake

Larch Wax Cap


Monday, October 19, 2015

Damon and Pythias Mine

Five of us recently visited and explored the Damon and Pythias Mine on Money Creek in the Cascades near Skykomish, Washington.  We had been in this area frequently to visit the nearby Lake Elizabeth, but did not even know about the mine until a friend mentioned it.

The mine is one of many in an area where gold was found, though the mine also produced silver, lead and arsenic.  It was opened in the late nineteenth century and operated off and on into the twentieth century.  It is idle only because of impediments to the claims.

The mine consists of 3000 feet of mostly horizontal shafts with 2300 feet of light gauge rail, most of which is still there.  There is also an old ore chute in the mine and various other items of equipment that were left behind when the mine ceased working.

The mine is easily accessible and a hard rock mine, so there is little danger in exploring it.  We went with headlamps and cameras and though we did not explore all the shafts spent several interesting hours there and hope to go back and explore more thoroughly.

ready to go

tailings and ruins of old structures

our fellow explorers

at the entrance

two of the explorers

inside looking back out

the old gate and narrow gauge tracks

ventilation pipes

old compressor tank

ore chute

more shafts

old ladders

more shafts

looking for gold

odds and ends

lost miners