Not for the savings bonanzas or the ol’ fashioned tramplings, nor for the buyer’s remorse or the last item on the shelf fist fights.
No, like many of us I worked, but #Optedoutside the minute I got out!
Didn’t have a lot of time, with the sun being so stingy in these winter months, so a short walk to Franklin, WA, an old coal mining ghost town fit the bill.
Eh, it’s got a spooky ol’ cemetery anyway. Who needs light when you have ghosts?
We parked at the small cemetery along SE Green River Gorge Rd. and began our walk.
Someone has done a lot of work to improve the road heading up to Franklin. What has historically been a muddy grade now has a new layer of gravel on top of it.
The trails have been liberally brushed, and some sites that I hadn’t seen in a decade of visiting this place have been cleared of vegetation.
A heartfelt “Huzzah!” to the volunteers and their efforts!
We reached the graveyard after the sun had disappeared beneath the horizon. No ghosts, but plenty of ambiance.
Heading back we encountered some people who decided that dropping a road flare down the 1300′ mine shaft would be a good idea. We were just in time for the show.
The flare erupted in a magnesium flash, brilliantly contrasting the decaying twilight.
Within seconds it was gone, screaming it’s way to the bottom. A robust slap announced it’s arrival with mine’s icy waters.
Darkness. Then inexplicably a light began to flicker from the ghostly depths. A menacing glow struggled to life.
Looking down the stygian pit, pulsating red with sulfurous smoke, it really was a vision of hell.
After the flare burnt out we ambled back to the car, both of us the better for #optingoutside…
Then promptly #optedforthriftshopping at the Goodwill where I got a couple of nice merino wool sweaters, 50%off!
Head to the center of Black Diamond, WA. Turn east on Lawson Street (There is a Los Cabos and a Cenex station at the intersection) this road will change names a number of times.
Continue on this road for about 3 miles then start looking for a small graveyard on the east side of the road. This is probably the best parking available. Hike south on the road to a gated off area. This is the trailhead.
Wind, waves and wildlife are all found in abundance at Ocean Shore’s Damon Point!
The walk is self-guided (no-trail) and is approximately four miles around the entire peninsula.
Alternatively, an abandoned road leads to the center of the vegetated area. It can be hard to see unless you are on top of it, but I assure you it’s there. This makes travel into the peninsula’s heart far easier, and less environmentally intrusive. (Aside from the road’s very being there of course)
The interior is mostly beach grass and Scotch Broom with a few hardier native species sprinkled around for good measure. There are small marshes and channels interspersed as well, so watch your step.
Beachcombing will undoubtedly turn up lots of driftwood, shells, agates and other interesting odds and ends.
Many parts of the surf zone have a deep relief change resulting in dramatic waves when conditions are right. Surf’s up dood!
Currently (as of 2015) there exists a driftwood beach shack at the southern end, which can make a great place to get out of the wind and have a picnic.
On clear days Damon Point offers views of the Olympics, Westport and even Mt.Rainier.
This place is a bird watchers paradise!
Many species of sea and shorebirds frequent the area such as the ‘Near-threatened’ Snowy Plover.
Streaked Horned Lark are a threatened species which use the point for nesting, for this reason the DNR has erected signs around the perimeter of the peninsula’s vegetated center closing the area off to wanderers from March 1st- September 15th.
Staying out during this time isn’t just a courtesy, it’s the law.
Probably the most famous avian visitors to Damon Point are the Snowy Owls, which can occasionally congregate on the windswept spit in the winter months. This in turn can attract throngs of bird watchers, which serves to attract bird watcher watchers, and the watchers who watch them. Lots of watching going on here.
Seriously. It happens…maybe.
Deer, if you didn’t notice on the drive in, are found in ridiculous numbers on the Ocean Shores peninsula, and the Scotch Broom forest of Damon Point is no exception.
As mentioned before, at one time a road spanned into the heart of the park, but has since been destroyed by raging storms. You can still walk the remains of it to the Ye olde abandoned parking area. Oooh scary!
In the early 1960s the S.S. Catala served as a “Boatel” in Ocean Shores, before being run ashore at Damon Point by the New Year’s Day Storm of ’65.
There it languished until the 1980’s, when a girl fell through the ship’s deteriorated deck, breaking her back. The resulting lawsuit forced the state to cut the wreck apart and bury it.
In the 1990’s the wreck was exhumed by winter storms, with subsequent storms revealing more and more of the wreckage.
In 2006, a hiker noticed oil leaking from the badly rusted hull. In response, the state department of ecology remediated the site, ultimately removing 34,500 gallons of heavy fuel oil and all traces of the S.S. Catala.
Dog walking is a popular activity at Damon Point, but please keep your dog on a leash, and especially out of the vegetated swaths of the park.
Ground nesting birds and dogs don’t mix.
Unfortunately garbage is abundant. Bottles, derelict fishing gear, shoes, socks, the kitchen sink… There is a lot washed up from the Pacific and from years of careless visitors.
If you think ahead, do a good thing and bring a garbage bag to pack out some of the crap.
You’ll probably notice that the garbage cans onsite are often overflowing with floatsam and jetsam, so take the trash with you.
Ask a local business to use their dumpster, they’ll likely oblige and appreciate your hard work.
Storm watching can be a fun activity for some of us, but bear in mind that high tide and high surf can easily send breakers right across the point. After all, in this article alone they have already beached a boat and destroyed a road!
You could be sent across along with them…
Find your way to Ocean Shores, WA.
Enter Ocean Shores via the fabulous 1960’s era white stone gateway. This is Point Brown Avenue.
Simply follow it south until you see the scary derelict hotel, then look for parking.
No pass required for parking!
The park is Day-use only, dawn to dusk.
The only other red tape is the annual March 1st-September 15th travel ban through the park’s interior areas to protect threatened nesting sites.
Rain, rain and more rain was on the forecast today. Despite that, armchair enthusiasm was running high!
We headed up for Snoqualmie Pass, bolstered by rumor that there was enough snow to make it worth the effort to break the snowshoes from their long, long hibernation.
Well, there was snow, but it was a lot higher than any of us really cared to hike in this sorta November slop.
So instead Blewett!
If it’s rainy on the west side, it’s usually a little less so over there. The fact that the place is absolutely steeped in mining history is another selling point, at least so long as I’m concerned.
We got to the old townsite and took a quick tour.
First we swung by the arrastra, a curious artifact sandwiched between the US 97 and Peshastin Creek just south of the Blewett historical marker.
The second site we visited was the remains of the old stamp mill, which is in surprisingly good condition considering the proximity to the highway. Definitely a gem hidden in plain sight for the history minded road tripper.
Briefly we headed back down the highway thinking that a hike along Negro Creek would be fun, but with the high water, didn’t seem worth the treacherous crossing. So…back to Blewett.
We followed the little footpath which passes the Keynote Tunnel and followed it to it’s end before beginning uphill.
Two thick metal cables were stretched down the hillside, inviting us upwards to find their source.
Gaining the ridge granted us some beautiful views of the surrounding hillsides partitioned by low, soggy looking clouds.
Continuing up, we passed countless collapsed adits and cuts, sometimes marked by small piles of shattered, milky quartz left behind by those who still search these hills for precious metal.
One small cut even contained a pick axe and shovel. Modern no doubt, but waterlogged and weathered.
The ridge made a nice stopping point and allowed us ample views up and down the US97 corridor.
Leaving the ridge, we opted for a more direct path to the car.
Blewett can be a fun place to visit, but be aware that there is a lot of privately claimed land in the area and many potential hazards in the form of open shafts and deteriorating tunnels.
Respect all private property postings, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because many sites are full of hazards, and… some people can get pretty weird when that funny yellow metal is involved. Just a friendly word of caution.
As always PACKITINPACKITOUT!, leave it better than you found it, take only pictures leave only feet prints, and especially in the Blewett area: STAY OUT, STAY ALIVE
As previously mentioned, you can get there by way of the Foss Lakes trail. You could feasibly get there all kinds of ways, but the trail is by far the easiest.
Copper Lake is one of the more popular destinations along the Foss trail, and being more or less the middle point, provides a decent base to explore the surrounding peaks, lakes and “whathaveyas”.
There is a collapsed adit at the south end of the lake, in fact the trail utilizes the tailings pile as it heads to Little Heart Lake.
According to DWHM#1 there may exist a claim “1 mile south of Malachite Lake on a ridge west of Copper Lake”. It is described as a “Caved pit and caved adit”.
I’ve heard speculation that these may be the same claim.
I’ve caught both Cutthroats and Brook Trout out of Copper Lake. The most convenient fishing access is at the north end of the lake, but the intrepid may be able to find access to less accessible shoreline.
If you are so inclined, you could hike up an inflatable raft and ply the azure waters until your heart is content.
Copper Lake is pretty big, and the trail ambles along it’s eastern shore for it’s entirety. This affords many campsites to choose from.
The north end of the lake hold the lion’s share of campsites, but others exist along the trail, and between Copper and Little Heart Lakes.
There is a backcountry toilet available for use here, so please, if nature calls, use it rather than a cathole.
Campfires are prohibited at Copper Lake and any point over 4000’ft in the Alpine Lakes wilderness (west).
Free loading birds in your backpack the minute you turn around:n=n1 x n2/m2 x f(t²)
Your journey starts out easily enough, gradually gaining elevation along the Foss River and it’s mostly dry flood channels.
Keep an eye out to your right for Shoestring Falls, descending into the Foss on it’s west bank.
About a mile in you’ll come to a very well built bridge which, if it’s secretly anthropomorphic, is likely counting the days until the next major flooding event, the likes of which destroyed it’s predecessor.
Standing on the bridge, you are a little less than a mile down trail from Trout Lake.
Along the remainder of the way there are a couple of points of interest;
One is an absolutely monstrous tree (can’t miss it). If you hike this trail with friends I can guarantee we’ll have one thing in common; a picture of someone standing in front of this tree.
The other is marked by a rusted 2-½in pipe crossing the trail. Without going into too much detail; above this pipe, blasted into the flanks of Malachite Peak is the 772′ long Imperial #2 tunnel, and the 112′ Vine Maple Prospect.
Below the pipe, along the banks of the Foss River, is the site of the old Imperial Power Plant. Not much remains, but the occasional rusted metal relic can sometimes be found.
At Trout Lake take a breather, cast a line or stay the night at one of it’s campsites.
The trail begins to climb significantly after passing the west shore of the lake, almost 2000′ in less than two miles!
Silver Eagle Peak dominates the eastern horizon as you switchback up through mixed forest and shrub. At one point you’ll pass a corner with easy access to a slabby watercourse, great for dipping your head into and refilling empty water bottles.
Malachite Falls becomes visible as you gain elevation, it’ll be filling your ears with it’s 618′ of waterfally-ness before you can see it.
You’ll continue to gain elevation, eventually surpassing the waterfall and coming to an intersection with the Lake Malachite trail.
NOTE: You may also notice a sign near here that says “Campfires prohibited beyond this point” This meansALLpoints along this trail beyond this sign(Specifically any point above 4000′)
Lake Malachite is only a short, sorta steep hike from here, offering great views, a few campsites, and fishing.
Less than half a mile from the intersection you’ll cross a fairytale-esque bridge of perfectly placed boulders before setting eyes upon beautiful Copper Lake.
The popular campsites fill up quick, but the lake is spacious enough to allow some breathing room if that’s what you are looking for.
If Copper Lake isn’t your thing, the trail continues along it’s eastern shore towards Little Heart Lake.
Not a whole lot jumps out at you on this section of trail, but you will pass over the tailings pile of a mining prospect at the south end of the lake, and there are a couple of established campsites along the way.
Little Heart Lake seems a little less hospitable by comparison, it’s smaller, and seems crammed into the surrounding rock. Upon first glance, shoreline access also seems extremely limited.
Exploring around however reveals some established campsites, and ample talus shoreline if you are a little more adventurous.
Leaving Little Heart Lake, the trail again begins to climb, gaining a little under 1000ft in a mile, then losing a few hundred feet on the way to Big Heart Lake.
The views through here become more dramatic.
Looking back you’ll see Trout Lake (perhaps bringing back memories of when your legs were not on fire) Delta Lake is down below, Otter Lake peeks at you from across the valley, and then finally Big Heart Lake, shimmering at you through the trees.
The first time you approach Big Heart Lake is likely to stick with you for the rest of your life…
You walk in on top of a little ridge that parallels a small arm of the lake. The water is deep, and bluer than anything you’ve yet seen, not unlike that mysterious fluid barber’s put their combs in.
Here the official trail ends, there are a few campsites available in the immediate area, and a couple more hidden about.
For the ambitious hiker, this may only be the base camp, for there are numerous boot paths leading to many destinations: Angeline and Azurite Lakes, Camp Robber Peak, Chetwoot Lake, you could even make it a loop back down the Necklace Valley.
The West Fork Foss river trail is your oyster.
Bearing that in mind, leave your oyster better than you found it; pack it in, pack it out, leave no trace, take only pictures, leave only footprints, I’m sure you know them all.
Basically; Don’t be “that guy”.
THE GETTING THERE
Firstly, I’d suggest driving to Skykomish to procure a pre-hike sandwich, or some campin’ booze at the ever friendly and delicious Sky Deli.
After filling up at Skykomish, head east on the “2” and you’ll pass the Skykomish Ranger Station, keep your eyes peeled for the Foss River Road branching south (right) from the highway. Take it.
A little over a mile in you’ll pass beneath a gargantuan railroad trestle, and then hit a fork. Stay right.
You’ll pass the Necklace Valley trailhead on your left in another half mile, and a half mile past that is your left turn for the West Fork Foss River Trail#1064. The turn is signed, but can be missed.
Two miles from the intersection and you’ll be there.
The trailhead has ample parking and a pit toilet, but on summer weekends, try and come early because this is a popular trail, and is steadily gaining in popularity with every new Ballard condo.
THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
Currently a NW trailpass or other qualifying document (America the beautiful interagency pass) is required at the trailhead.
In addition to provided links,
Woodhouse, Phil; Jacobson, Daryl; Petersen, Bill; Cady,Greg; Pisoni, Victor, Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1: The West Central Cascade Mountains. Oso Publishing Company, 1997
The Kitanning Mine is located not far from the tiny hamlet of Index, WA, and can be found just off the long washed out Index-Galena Road.
(Disclaimer: These directions are for novelty purposes only)
The washout makes for two different ways to reach the Kitanning; either from Beckler Road, just past Skykomish or by driving to the washout at the end of Index-Galena Road and hoofing it along a rough hewn path through trees, mud and some post-apocalyptic looking sections of washed out roadway.
In the wintertime hiking is sometimes the only way, and makes for a nice winter walk anyway.
Either way you go you’ll wanna end up at the east side of the wash-out.
Maybe ½-1 mile or so east of the washout shore exists a curve in the road from which a faint trail leads off into the woods. Follow it and you’ll start gently gaining elevation.
At this point mine finding experience is a good thing to have. (A copy of Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1 really helps too)
To the best of my recollection I followed the little trail until it disappeared beneath thigh deep Oregon Grape.
I found an ephemeral stream bed to my right and followed it up, staying left when an obstacles came and eventually began reaching small cliffs, working my way around the them.
When I first went some years ago the sight of the old cabin meant you were there. However I’ve heard in recent years the old Kitanning cabin has collapsed, possibly making the mine more difficult to find, and sealing the hodge-podge of relics and ancient pornography within.
The first adit is right around the corner from the remains of the cabin, literally. It’s right there.
The tunnel is a couple hundred feet long and is blasted into what seems like pretty stable rock. Turquoise colored mineral staining can be seen inside, as well as a couple scattered artifacts.
The upper adit is approximately 500ft above you, amongst steep and sometimes cliffy terrain. An old miner’s trail fades in an out, occasionally leading the way.
This tunnel is a couple hundred feet longer than the lower one and boasts more impressive mineral deposits.
An interesting side note is that this adit does not have a corresponding tailings pile. Strange, no?
According to DWHM#1, the entire tailings pile was hauled off to the smelter by the Twentieth Century Alaska Copper company in the early years of the 1900s.
This journey begins at the Bare Mountain trailhead, approx. 20 miles out of North Bend down the North Fork road.
Elevation gain: 4000’±
Mileage: 10mi RT±
Ice cold lakes mocking you on a blazing hot day:4
(fortunately Bear Lake is along the way, and pleasantly swimmable!)
The Bare Mountain trail begins upon a very unpleasant substrate of grapefruit sized rocks, which are just a pain in the butt to walk on, especially on the way down, and especially when wet.
The second obstacle of note is the Bear Creek crossing which can be very treacherous during the melt or other high water.
The trail continues along, passing over Bear creek once again, but this time across a steadily deteriorating bridge.
After the bridge, the trail surface turns to dirt and is much more agreeable to walk upon.
Forest gives way to open slopes of Bracken Fern and shrubbery. At about 2 miles you will reach an intersection consisting of a switchback sharply heading left at a 20˚ angle, or a rough hewn trail heading straight ahead.
Heading straight leads to Bear Basin, while the switchback leads to Bare Mountain. Go straight.
The trail leads over a few old bridges in varying states of decay, proceeds to pass some mining debris and aircraft wreckage before reaching another intersection. This time take a left.
This leads to a small open area with scattered debris. Look for a trail heading uphill into the woods. (At the time of this writing it’s marked by a purple dog poop bag)
Keep heading up, over a small bridge made of old pipe, then passing an established camp along the creek.
The trail continues uphill, becoming more rough hewn the higher you get.
You’ll break out of the woods and onto alpine shrubs and talus. Here you might notice the light colored tailing piles of a couple of mines above you. You’ll want to work your way up towards the one on the right.
Climbing the tailings pile will put you in front of an open adit. To the right of it follow the boot path heading up the hill.
Things begin to steepen up here, and in wetter years or during the melt, this area is more or less a waterfall. There is one section that has a helper rope. It comes in handy, but the user agreement clearly states that the rope accepts no responsibility should it break.
The next stop is Bear Lake.
If you intend to overnight, this isn’t a bad place to bivouac for the night.
Leaving the lake, climb up the talus toward the gap to the NW. Here you’ll get your first view of Mt.Phelps, as well as the Paradise Lakes.
Let’s call this Paradise Gap. No wait, I got a better idea! Let’s call it Behr Gap! Gotta stick with the naming consistency!
Anyway, from here gain the ridge to the east. This is the western ridge of Canoe Peak.
Standing atop the ridge will reveal Lennox Mountain, as well as the long traverse you’ll have to surmount to get there. If you keep a good pace, the average hiker can expect to get to the summit in about 2-3 hours from here.
Descend the ridge until it’s more level and head east across boulder sized talus, traversing your way towards Lennox.
Soon you’ll come to a flat meadow area, which is also your last chance for water for some time. This is also a good place to assess the terrain and make your plan.
Gaining the ridge is obvious, but where?
Much of the ridge wall is sheer cliff as you’ll see. Stay low, but on the talus. There will be a treed portion which hides a gap after you ascend loose talus and steep heather.
This will put you on the ridge, looking down upon Coney Basin.
Now head NE, staying below the ridgeline itself.
For the most part this is just more talus travel, but there is a short section in which you’ll make use of narrow meadow ledges to cross some short cliffs.
Eventually you’ll run into a deep gully. Parallel it up the talus, looking for another heather gap.
This will put you on top of the ridge, as well as give you a look at lovely Coney Lake and your quarry; Lennox Summit.
At this point just aim yourself toward the summit and enjoy a walk on top of the world through alpine meadows, heather and world class views.
You made it!
If your legs aren’t noodles by now, the hike back will seal the deal.