DAY TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY NINE
After reading about my hike on Saturday up to the Gold Hill area near Garner Valley, a friend of mine from work called me and said he wanted to go up and check out mines in the area. I really enjoyed my hike in the area so I didn't mind going back so soon.
Here's Charlie, fired up and ready to go.
We hike up past the boulder fields that I went through on Saturday.
On the other side of Gold Hill, I find an arrastra. This was used to grind ore into gravel so that gold could be extracted. It means we're on the right track.
There are so many boulders up here that I wonder if anyone's ever come up here climbing.
I quickly discover that the answer is yes. This bolt is placed in the rock to protect a climber. I spot another one higher on the boulder and I'm sure there are plenty more.
Old trucks and cars are left where they died, just like in the desert.
As we hike up the road/trail we can tell we are getting closer.
Mines always seem to accumulate lots of junk that is left behind once the gold runs out. This junk is known as historical litter and helps tell the story of the mine.
Here's our first mine! This one is not the Hemet Bell Mine. It is on the map but is not named.
Let's see what's inside.
A tunnel! The mine goes back a way but I don't go to the end. When I get a couple hundred feet back a bat starts dive bombing me. The ground is not really smooth and the ceiling is low overhead so I decide I can't keep my eyes on the bat and everything else so I bail out. There are lots of little frogs in here and I don't want to step on them, either.
I don't have to worry about stepping on this guy who's taken up residence in the door frame.
We head up to the next mine, which is the Hemet Bell.
This mine has been cleaned out a bit more than the first one and is easier to travel in. The floor looks almost like it's been swept out.
The tunnel goes back a few hundred yards and has a shaft coming down from the top. I'd hate to be walking above here and come upon this open shaft. A fall down here would probably mean certain death. The tunnel itself is fun to explore but this shaft should be sealed.
The temperature in the mine is wonderfully cool but it's time to get back to the light of day and then head on home.
There's a lot of mining paraphernalia like this rock crusher around. You can see that a lot of work went into these two mines.
On the way back we are going to explore one more mine but we see an interesting area of the trail and decide to explore just a bit more.
It's another mine; this one is not on the map. It doesn't go back very far so I guess not much was ever found in here. There are no bats, either, which is good.
We head over to look at one last mine before we move on. There's this nice foundation and fireplace left from the miner's cabin and we both think this would be a great place to live or at least camp for a couple of days.
The mine here is the shallowest of the lot. It probably only goes back into the hillside about thirty feet. There's a bat inside but he's just hanging on the wall. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a good picture of him. I guess I'll just have to come back sometime.
On our hike out we come upon another old homesite. There's a spring nearby and ample water but living out this far is not for everyone and obviously not for the people who left all this stuff here.
This was also left behind. If anyone knows how to get a hold of Tom Hanks, tell him we found Wilson.
They did leave one thing we were very happy to see, though: an apple tree. The apples are pretty ripe and mighty tasty. I'd imagine in a few weeks they'll be ever better. I wonder if I can wait that long to come back.