We had a smaller group for our quad trip today. Just 3 quads and 2 side by sides. We didn’t have much of a plan for what to go and see, but Jeff knew where someone found an old mining shaft, so we headed that way.
Out Bonanza a little ways, we often stop to look this old mining tunnel, that was actually used to move water we’ve since learned. Jeff noticed it caved in during the last couple of weeks, so we stopped to confirm. Yep! Sure enough, it’s collapsed right in front of the opening.
The weather was warm today. 27C’ish. Perfect when you’re moving, warm when you stop, and so many mosquitos! I’ve spent the last day and a half working through the the Moderna second shot side effects, but was glad I was good to go today! Just a sore arm that was pretty easy to ignore with so much to explore! I put the shot off for a long time. Feeling like a cat with 8 expired lives, I let everyone else in the Yukon get theirs first. Turns out not everyone got it yet, and we have our biggest outbreak yet, with 85 active cases and growing, spreading like wildfire through our unvaccinated.
Anyway, back to our ride today. We found this network of roads, and I was truly lost. These roads are being used for quartz exploration, where they drill down and have racks of core samples at their camp. We were back here on this trail, when all of a sudden a pick up truck came around the corner! That surprised me, since the road we used to get back here was very much not passable by a truck. In fact one spot, Jeff jumped on my quad for me to get me through a really uneven trench so I didn’t roll it. Anyway, the truck surely found another way back in this network of roads.
I don’t really know how quartz exploration works, but they always seem to see a high peak, and then put a road right over the top. So up and down we went, and saw some amazing views! A big lightning storm sparked a bunch of new fires yesterday, but none too close to here, so the air was clear and beautiful. (I lie, it was full of dust and grit, unless you were at the front of the pack! I’m still picking sand out of my eyes.)
Somehow Jeff took every fork in the road the right way, like some sort of homing pigeon, and landed us at the old post office cabin that has the roof build over it for protection.
I was going to go poke around in the old post office again, until I looked down. Aww baby bear tracks, how cute!
Oh, momma bear tracks. Cool. OK I’ll stay here by my quad.
Moose tracks too – a real animal highway at this post office!
We continued on in new direction, on a rough and rutted road. After about 15-20 minutes, we spotted the top of the old head frame we were looking for sticking out of the tops of the trees!
It was a short walk through the trees to this old gold mining shaft! This was seriously cool!
There was still a bucket here. Imagine how many pails of rocks and dirt came out of this hole? The guys said it was super deep, but I’m going to take their word for it. Standing on 100 year old timbers looking down in an seemingly bottomless mine shaft is not my idea of a fun time. There may even have been a side tunnel down just 10 feet or so, but again, I wasn’t going to look closer.
Just below it was a platform of beautiful big boards.
Jeff said it looks like a modern drilling rig was likely on here. He saw exhaust pipes for it below. Trees have recently been cleared around it.
I never thought to look up in the head frame to see if the windlass was still there, used for hauling the pails up.
There was a lot of tailings here, arranged in a bit of an outcrop.
And a second shaft! This one had cribbing in it, but no head frame, or timber above it. It did a remarkable job sucking in the male species to stand precariously at its edge looking down in to the centre of the earth. I’m good, I’ll just stand back here. K, thanks, bye.
The road wasn’t passable much further than here, so we turned around and headed for an old roadhouse or bunkhouse that Jeff and some of the guys had seen before, but I didn’t make it on that earlier trip.
Once again, Jeff somehow navigated the road/trail network to find it!
This was really really cool! It doesn’t actually look that old from the outside, but once you are inside, you quickly notice that all of the walls are lined with newspaper. And all of it is from 1912!!! Here is some news and ads from The Montreal Daily Witness on Thursday, January 11, 1912!!
I could have been in here all day reading this old newspaper. It was absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately, or amazingly, 1912 was not only the year of this newspaper, but it was also the number of mosquitoes per square inch inside this place. As I tried to explore, I was feeding them all.
I didn’t get a religious tone from the pages I read, but Wikipedia is telling me that The Montreal Daily Witness was a protestant newspaper, that was a daily publication, released in the evenings. It was published from 1845 to 1938.
This place is pretty primitive, but common. Rustic shelves, big barrel stove, benches, table. Small windows. Animal poop everywhere.
Must have been so nice and warm and toasty with this single layer of newspaper blocking out the cold Yukon air.
While the building seems in remarkable shape, it is also getting a significant lean, or three, with the slope of the walls and floor throwing your equilibrium off.
I don’t know why this story (above) stood out, but I googled her, her third divorce wasn’t finalized until 1915, and you can hear a clip of her singing on Wikipedia! Ernestine Schumann-Heink
I wonder how long it took these newspapers from 1912, and from Montreal, to get up to the Yukon to line this roadhouse or bunkhouse. (I hope to find out if this is a roadhouse or bunkhouse some day.)
Upstairs there were still bed frames!
Except for the mosquitos and rodent poop, this would be a spacious Airbnb, no? And yes, I’m only half way up the stairs because I’m a rickety stair chicken shit.
This must have been used more recently than 1912, right? Looks like some plywood over there. I wonder how I can find out some history of this place somewhere.
Good thing someone put that tin roof on it! Probably the only reason it is still standing.
There is still active quartz drilling going on near here. There was a water pump just right behind this road house pumping water through that hose way down the road/trail to an active drilling rig.
While we were exploring, our buddy Shane said he just saw something amazing down the trail, so Jeff and I raced back to see it. Look at this!!!!
I have no idea how Shane found this. Something caught his eye and he got off his quad and hiked down a super steep slope where these doors were headed back under the road. How badly do you want to know what is on the other side? Yeah me too. Got a shovel?
It wasn’t long before the mosquitos convinced us to get going. Jeff took us to see this old stamp mill he spotted on a previous ride. See it across the river valley, mid picture?
How about now? I guess a stamp mill is used in hard rock mining, like quartz, to crush rock.
We turned around near the stamp mill, at this mining camp that looks like it isn’t being actively used, but is well secured with padlocks on the doors.
We turned around and headed back to town from here, trying out a few old trails here and there. There is so, so, so much interesting garbage left behind from miners over the decades. Metal everywhere. Sad and also fascinating.
So much sand, I’ll just think of it as a facial sandblasting, blasting out my youth, haha!