In 1898 copper bearing minerals were found perched in a narrow canyon not far from the now defunct settlement of Halford, WA. Eight years later in 1906, the Buckeye Claims, as they were known, were surveyed for patent.
Much improvement had been done in that short time; bunkhouses, cookhouses and barns had been constructed on the site, in addition to trails, bridges and three tunnels totaling about 1500′ in length.
Then as now, access to the Buckeye is a little remote, which required any ore wrested from the claim to be carried out to the nearest railroad depot by miner or by mule.
Despite the hardships of transport, and difficulties involved in driving tunnels through the Buckeye’s particularly hard rock, work continued. However, the miners discovered only dwindling amounts of unspectacular ore as they chased the vein through the mountain.
These less than stellar mineral showings coupled with a tunneling cost of $25/ft (about $650 in 2018 usd) had conspired to halt further diggings at the claim by 1907, with the vast majority of the Buckeye’s hard won ore ending up in the tailing dump.
Scattered chunks of iron pipe and metal debris can be seen here and there on the way up the steep gully, as well as tell tale ore samples amongst the rock.
Most relics and such, including the ore cart mentioned in DWHM #1, have long disappeared from this site
The tunnels house cart tracks and ventilation piping throughout, with one drift in the back used as a store room for now decaying timbers.
One of the more memorable features of the Buckeye’s tunnels is a high pressure jet of water literally screaming out of a crack in the wall.
Honestly it’s a little unsettling at first, as you hear it before you see it. “W…t…f… is that?!?”
Around the adit one can see metal bars set into the cliffs which once supported a timber roof to protect the miners from whatever might come tumbling down the gully.
A quick peek inside the adit reveals it to be a widened chamber perhaps a dozen feet back and about five feet wide. The remains of a wooden platform are set in the mud.
Just outside, you’ll notice a narrow ledge leading off toward the gap in the cliffs, where the miners dumped their ore carts into the gulch.
This narrow cliff could easily dump your ore cart into the gulch as well. Stay out, stay alive!
The journey to the Buckeye begins in the vicinity of the popular Lake Serene Trail.
Follow the trail to a junction with the old forest service road 6020 at about 1200′ elevation, a little before the Bridal Veil fork. This road, or what’s left of it leads to an old BPA powerline road which skirts the long east arm of Philadelphia Mountain.
The BPA road can also be accessed from the Index River Sites, but it is a private community with strict access rules. Know before you go!
Just uphill of the Index River Sites, where the BPA road meets the 6020, the road will climb steeply to a gate. From here you’ll travel eastward and up and down a lot of hills, but at least it’s a navigable road!
If you can get a mountain bike out here, that’s the way to travel imho.
After about three miles from the gate, you’ll see the rusting hulk of an ancient jeep at the top of yet another down hill section.
Luckily this is the last hill.
At the bottom, an old road can be found leading off toward the mountain where you’ll be looking for a…
At the base of Buckeye Gulch is the remains of a clandestine backwoods campsite known by some as the “Meth Camp.” This eyesore is probably one of the best clues that you’re on the right track.
An absolute cacophony of debris are strewn around; cookware, coolers, tarps, clothes, children’s toys…? Gradually the forest is burying the mess with duff, but it ain’t going anywhere soon.
An earlier adventurer shares his impression:
“I first saw the camp back in ’08; wasn’t as bad as it is now but I still thought a meth lab blew up. Got up past that ugly scramble to the mine and the freakin’ ore cart was gone. Tweakers jacked it I bet!”
-Davey Leghorn, enthusiast
So what was really going on at the Meth Camp? Was it actually a deep woods drug den? A mountain meth mill?A tweaker-fest in the timber?!?
Old maps suggest that the area may have been the site of some of the aforementioned bunkhouses, cookhouses and barns that supported operations at the Buckeye.
It’s unlikely that Meth Camp ever served as any kind of alpine amphetamine (ah)peration, however the true details remain shrouded in mystery…
Which really, might be for the best.
If you’ve found “Meth Camp” then all that’s left is to head up the gulch…
At first it’s not too bad, heading up through comparably light brush via the canyon’s main drainage channel, which by late spring may be running dry.
Eventually you’ll break out into open talus and have a good view up the canyon, which you’ll notice gets very narrow. As you approach the squeeze you’ll notice the lightly vegetated ore dump appearing on the canyon’s western wall.
Where the steep granite walls pinch together, you’ll find yourself faced with a scramble up a 15-20′ wall of wedged boulders. This will turn some people back, and rightly so. You’re now a very long way from a hospital. Especially with a compound fracture!
Just above the scramble, you’ll find the adit of the Buckeye No.5 blasted into the center of the canyon, which forks steeply beyond this point.
10mi+- (16km) rt
Travel time could be significantly reduced by riding a mountain bike.
The gully contains a scramble up a steep boulder jam that is sometimes also waterfall.
Potential rock fall danger while traveling in the canyon. Got a helmet?
Off trail travel and routefinding skills and equipment a must.
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
That’s what I thought when I saw a small adit symbol marked with the aforementioned moniker on my USGS map.
“What kind of ice cave are we talking about here!? Obviously not like the Big 4 Ice Caves. Eastern Washington is like the freakin’ desert!
I’ve heard of lava tubes around some of the local volcanos that form ice inside… some were even used for cold storage.”
Oh! I wonder if that’s what it is; a cold storage cave, like where they stored perishables in the days before refrigeration…
Maybe it’s a portal to Hell, which indeed has frozen over as a result of… Eh, these days, take your pick!
The Ice Cave is along the base of the lengthy north face of the Saddle Mountains. Whether it’s the semi paved road or the total lack of standing structures, you might say the area feels a bit remote.
I hoped to spy a peculiar adit or other odd portal as I slowly rubbernecked by the site, but nothing immediately caught the eye, so I parked and started on foot.
Skirting the muddy margins of an ephemeral pond, which seperates the Ice Cave from the road, I headed to the heaps of fractured basalt at the base of a prominent buttress of the long mountain.
In little time I saw some old shoring poking up out of the rocks…
Not many relics are around, except for a few wooden shoring posts and a selection of bullet ridden debris. Wheel furrows in the alkali mud tell of the area’s popularity with motor sports over-enthusiasts.
The portal is pretty well collapsed, most likely forever. However, a cool breeze can still be felt coming from the area of the shoring.
Perhaps there is still a chamber of some kind sealed away behind the many tons of rubble.
Then again, maybe this was a cut and cover sort of deal. Might be a ways back to solid rock. I dunno, it was collapsed when I got there,I SWEAR!
Well, that would be that. There’s no indication at the site to the nature of the ice cave nor to it’s origins. Ain’t no historical marker, ain’t no nuthin!
(Don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to try thatbefore I drove all the way out there!)
According to that information, the cave was likely dug by railroad workers around 1906 after they’d found some ice on the ground at the site…
Wait, why was there ice just chillin’ at the base of some ol’ hill in the desert?That sounds like a Bible story!
The answer was another new one for me; Apparently talus, in concert with underlying rock structure can sometimes form cold traps; locking winter’s cold within, and slowly releasing it during warmer months.
While rare, there are other known talus cold traps in the region, some also having been converted into early walk-in freezers.
I dunno though, I’m still thinking Hell might have froze over and this is the way to it… hmmm, but that means Hell would have had to freeze over BEFORE 1906. Back to the interwebz!
A CAVE AND A COMMUNITY
Gleaning from the wealth of information available on “Legends of the Ice Cave” I “dug” up a bit more on the Cave’s history…
The cave was said to be cut into the hill about ten feet back and may have been about twenty feet wide. This excavation was then topped with wooden beams and covered.
A heavy wooden door once kept the cold air in, and occasionally kept people out. By the 1930s a local farmer by the name of Chambers had began to use the cave to store perishables for the community.
During those trying economic times, the cave was kept locked and sometimes even posted with armed guards to keep any pre-refrigerator bandits at bay.
Speaking of refrigerators, it was the steady hum of the first Freeze-O-Matic’s in kitchens across America that sounded the end of the ice cave’s immediate importance.
Undoubtedly though, the odd passerby would stop along their journey and peer inside. Catching the cool breeze and some respite from the beating Eastern Washington sun.
That is until until the Ice Cave’s untimely collapse sometime in the late 1990s.
RIP ICE CAVE
The Smyrna Ice Cave can be found along Lower Crab Creek Road across from an ephemeral alkali pond.
From Vantage, WA take the I90 east to the eastern shore of the Columbia River. Head south at the interchange, you’ll soon come to a fork.
From the fork you can either continue south, watching for an eastern turn into Lower Crab Creek Rd in the settlement of Beverly. Or head east to Royal City, then south to Smyrna.
Either way the remains of the Ice Cave are along lonely, ol’Lower Crab Creek Rd. not far from a span of high tension wires.
There are a handful of places along the Washington State coast where petroleum naturally oozes from the ground. Not in grand tar pits, but in small seeps.
Early in the 20th century, the seeps inshore of Jefferson Cove attracted the attention of oilmen, eager to exploit the resource and sell it to an oil hungry world.
A few relics and ruins still dwell out there in the coastal forests, a remote monument to an oil boom that never really was.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Local tribes have long known of the oil seeps in the area. According to some texts the native people knew the mixture of oil and dirt as “smell mud”, owing to the sometimes pungent, petrochemical aroma detectable near such deposits.
Wild animals also knew of these oily seeps, sometimes using them as mud wallows. In the winter of 1906-07, a survey party discovered petroleum seeping from one such “bear wallow” near Hoh Head.
In 1911 the first attempts to collect the seep oil were conducted by locals who used explosives to redirect the flow into a nearby shaft where it would pool up to be collected.
Earlier that same year, the settlement of Oil City began to spring to life at the mouth of the Hoh River. As it’s name suggests, it was to be THE city for the speculated oil boom. Talk of a deep water port was in the air, drilling was right around the corner, and the newly platted properties were selling.
A few years later in 1914, the Jefferson Oil Company landed a steam donkey at Jefferson Cove. After the heavy iron contraption was wrangled onto the beach, it was placed at the top of a 300ft terrace to pull equipment up a quarter mile long skid road to the drilling site.
Two wells were drilled; Hoh #1 & Hoh #2. However, neither well ever produced quantities that would make further investment worthwhile.
Over a decade passed when beginning in 1931 renewed interest saw almost a dozen wells drilled at the site, some of which showed potential to the tune of a hundred barrels a day. However, dreams of a lucrative strike faded in step with quickly diminishing yields.
By 1937 drilling had ceased, and the area was protected from future mineral extraction when it was incorporated into the Olympic National Park in 1938.
During a 2017 survey of the area, several pipes were found still sticking out of the forest floor. A few are full of stagnant “mystery water”, and one of them still gurgles with escaping gas.
Another pipe juts out of a spongy depression filled with alder leaves and a creamy, oily substance. A bit like a paraffin bog maybe.
There are a number of shallow mud filled shafts around the site, some partially filled with the natural seepage. A few show decaying cribbing.
What appears to be a moss covered wooden framework lies on the forest floor, along with a number of rusted pipes and fittings.
PAPERWORK AND PLANNING
Jefferson Oil Seep lies right along the border of Olympic National Park and Rayonier logging land. Both entities require a pass to access their lands.
With a Rayonier pass it may be possible to approach the site via a maze of logging roads and a good map. Otherwise it’s probably best to begin your journey from the trailhead at Oil City and make your way up the beach and the bluffs. (National Park Pass)
The journey to the Jefferson Seep is not for the inexperienced or unprepared, timing the tide is critical and no trails pass near this remote site. The weather at the coast is often wet, and the underbrush can be burly.
Once again I was pouring over some maps and saw something that piqued my interest: “Mine Tunnel” written above a little adit symbol, and well off the beaten path…
Not far beyond the long, low bridge spanning the Carbon River at the same named entrance to Mt.Rainier, there is a logging road branching westward just before you reach a huge shooting quarry. This is the de facto trailhead for this trip.
Logging roads zigzag Burnt Mountain, if you follow the correct combination (think up and east), it’ll put you on the highest, furthest eastward landing. From here it’s offtrail to the ridge.
You may occasionally see flags, but it’s pretty much game trails through trees and brush. A couple wide open areas of scree/talus are hidden in the trees and can make a good place to ascend.
There are also a few rock outctops hidden on the hillside that you’ll probably want to be avoiding.
Once atop the ridge I started coming down broken snow on the other side via an easy contour clearly visible on the map.
A tea stained mountain pond (Burnt Mountain Pond?) lies at the base of the contour as does another logging road.
Other amenities include; the remains of some aluminum lawn furniture, pieces of a TV and a fire ring.
From this small camp it’s a little less than three and a half miles to “Mine Tunnel” Oh Joy!
Again on logging roads, the hiking is non technical but you’ll really want a map out here. It’s a maze!
Much of my walk was amongst low clouds this time around, but I got a clear view to Tacoma at one point, and there were some interesting basalt columns in a roadside quarry.
Eventually a rather large hill appeared a distance away, “Mine Tunnel Hill” presumably.
Before reaching the hill, the correct way makes a hairpin turn and is marked by an orange gate. Shortly thereafter the road crosses a railroad flatcar bridge spanning a fork of Gale Creek.
Just up ahead was the site. I won’t lie, my expectations were low. I figured there probably wouldn’t be anything at all, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was in fact a hole in the ground!
Right along the road, half covered in crap is a little adit, pretty much exactly where the map said it’d be. It’s not too deep, maybe ten feet if you really tried to stretch it.
Peering into its depths I could see such historic artifacts as; a few discard plastic bottles and a half buried piece of wood.
“Well that was that, time to walk my ass back up the hill!”
THE SHORT VERSION
Approx 7.5mi; 6.5 mi on logging roads, 1 mi off trail (One way)
Map or navigational device is a must.
As a historic mining site, probably not worth the time to all but the most devout. Good destination for wandering esoteric types.
On the way up the roads on the south side of Burnt Mountain I ran into a fella up at the landing before jumping offtrail.
He told me about other trails in the area and we both agreed how strange it was to see another person on Burnt Mountain.
The fellow wanderer also mentioned that the logging roads on the north side are sometimes accessible from Wilkeson with a high clearance vehicle… So if you’re interested in a logging-road road-trip, there’s an idea for ya.
There’s a nearby area on Gale Creek marked “falls”. If for some reason I’m ever out here again, I’d probably check it out.
A WORD ABOUT MINE SAFETY
Mines and mining ruins are inherently dangerous and should NOT be entered.
Took an easy trip to the base of Big Four Mountain this weekend with ol’ friend and fellow blogger Nealbob from http://www.nealbobwalks.com/ to spy some spring avalanches careen down Big Four’s impossibly steep slopes.
With the current gate closure at Deer Creek, the hike began on the snow covered Mountain Loop Highway.
A little over a mile and a half of easy walking on snow was punctuated by the stark contrast of great mountain vistas and vile heaps of decomposing (dog?) feces along the path.
In little time we arrived at the Ice Caves Picnic area parking lot before embarking on the pleasant woodland walking of the Ice Caves Trail.
Luckily there were no serious blow downs or other obstacles along the grade, but snow was continuous from the Stilliguamish River crossing onward.
We arrived to discover we had the entire basin to ourselves.
Throughout the morning, periodic rivulets of snow tumbled down until a real doozy broke loose around 10am.
… and it was quite the show!
A light stream of powder soon became a torrent of white doom as it rained down into the broad avalanche fan for several minutes. The air echoed with the brilliant chaos that a few tons of cascading snow tends to create.
Late morning steady drizzle signaled our time of departure. Just before the last glimpses of the avalanche basin were lost behind our steps however, another hefty heap of spring melt was liberated from the 6161-foot tall block of rock. The distant chorus of muffled impacts resounded through the conifers.
Apparently the sound carried all the way to the trailhead as both a pair of hikers and a pair of Forest Rangers we passed on the way out asked if we’d been witness to the spectacle.
“Yeah man, we were there…”
THE SHORT VERSION
Snow covering much of trail
Gate closed at Deer Creek, requires an extra 1.5mi+ walk to trailhead
Lots of dog poop
Approx 6.5mi RT
Extreme avalanche danger
Road closed to vehicles at Deer Creek, snow currently covering most of the road to trailhead. Much of the trail is also snow covered with the exception of bridges and boardwalks.
A hard packed footpath of snow exists most of the way to the avalanche zone. Traction devices advised. Waterproof footwear highly recommended.
Travel into avalanche area NOT recommended.
Avalanches kill. Keep a safe distance or don’t go at all.
Please bag AND pack out your dog poop.
Road closure keeps the crowds down for the moment. Good time to take advantage of this very popular hike.
A WORD ABOUT THE ICE CAVES
Many lives have been tragically cut short due to the inherent natural hazards at the Ice Caves area.
Avalanches, falling ice or other debris, collapsing ice caves and many other hazards exist at all times of the year, but are especially heightened during certain seasonal conditions.
Know before you go. Stay safe, stay out of the avalanche area.
*Disclaimer: The activities and actions described on this website are for entertainment purposes only.
I’ve been up Mt.Teneriffe many times, with many people. It’s been a favorite of mine since I first trudged up it’s steep slopes, if not for the views and the challenge of getting to the top, then certainly for the lack of crowds.
I hadn’t been here in a couple years though, and was surprised this time around to see that some pretty significant changes have been made, namely a new trail to the summit.
While those in the know have for years known that an alternate to the Kamikaze route existed, slogging up old logging roads and faint boot paths between Mt.Si and Teneriffe, as of late summer 2014 the WA DNR turned it into an official trail.
How about that?
Great right!? A steady moderate grade on a nice even surface as compared to the stiff hike and light scrambling it used to take to get to the top, I’ll bite!
Hell, I can even loop it with ease now, and I do love a good loop.
Well all is not as it seems, for what the new trail offers in easy grade, it doles out distance in spades.
The new trail is 7 miles to Teneriffe summit! Yowza! That’s compared to the steeper old path which is only a couple miles from trailhead to mountaintop.
Well lets throw on some boots and see what this thing has to offer…
The Teneriffe trailhead is little more than a dirt turn out a little ways further down the road from the much more popular Mt.Si trailhead. While the Mt.Si trailhead is tantamount to a Wal*Mart parking lot, the Teneriffe trailhead really can’t hold more than a dozen vehicles at best.
There are “No Parking” signs along the road and I understand that the neighbors WILL call the towing company.
During peak season, the strategy here is to get in early, or get lucky, oh and a Discover Pass is required to park.
The trail begins uneventfully enough down a DNR road passing through young forest, most likely logged in the early 80s. The road comes to a fork that until very recently wasn’t marked.
You’d just have to know which way to go, but now there is a shiny new sign directing hikers to bear right to “Teneriffe Falls”.
The left fork as of this writing is still unmarked, this is the “new” trail between Mt.Si and Mt.Teneriffe.
THE “NEW” TRAIL
Heading left, the trail continues along the DNR road passing little rivulets cascading down the mountainside before climbing up into denser forest.
The grade is mostly modest but long. However it does travel through pleasant forest and every so often slight views will open up in thinner stands of trees which breaks up the monotony a bit.
When I was passing through, the forest was alive with the songs of black-capped chickadees and Varied Thrush, which made me wonder why in the hell anyone wears headphones while they hike, I mean really!
Just about then a trailrunner jogged by with headphones on, eh, to each their own I guess. Which reminds me, I imagine this would be a great trail for trailrunning as the grade is mostly very even and the path is broad.
Ahem…. So after about four miles or so of long switchbacks the grade relents a bit and the views start to be revealed.
A fork will appear in the road around this time. As of this writing it is marked with a blue ribbon, but really it’d be impossible to miss whether or not that shred of plastic was dangling there.
Going left will result in arriving at Mt.Si in a half hour or less, while going right is approximately another three miles to Mt.Teneriffe. Alright, come on, my legs are aching too, lets keep going….
Thankfully the grade remains mostly light and/or level for awhile giving you a chance to recuperate. The views here really start to open up as well, including an interesting view of “The Haystack” jutting forth from the conifers, seemingly eyeballing you like an immense and hungry Golem.
The tread seems to go on forever until finally reaching a viewpoint to points northward, the first views of such available thus far.
Take a minute to rest up because the trail begins to climb from here yet again.
The switchbacks begin immediately through the upland forest, and you can’t help but feel like you are really getting close now. Then you gain the ridge and start up! Yes, finally, almost there….er, or not. Nope, instead we find ourselves atop the high point more or less northwest of the Teneriffe summit.
Even my legs are aching good now.
Next the trail winds about along a very steep, forested drop off and eventually begins to climb again.
This has got to be it… I think I see blue between the trees, yes it’s sky alright! Phew!
The trail breaks out of the woods and dumps you out about mid-point on the Teneriffe summit block. If you have any gas left a light scramble will take you the rest of the way up. You did it!
The summit is a nice perch offering great views in all directions.
WARNING: In snowy conditions Mt.Teneriffe can have a nasty cornice on top, if it gives way, or you slip, it’s a long ways down to your certain doom.
When it’s time to head down you can either go back the way you came for a 14-mile roundtrip, or cut down the mileage but increase the difficulty by heading down the old trail.
THE OLD TRAIL (KAMIKAZE FALLS)
So beginning from the fork in the DNR road this time we bear right in the direction indicated by the nice, new and shiny Teneriffe Falls sign.
The road ambles along, crosses an ephemeral creek and starts gently climbing, becoming more and more of a trail the higher you get.
Small views begin to open up as you climb above the treetops before the road comes to something of an end marked with a sign. A boot path continues on along the road, but ignore it and head up onto the open talus above you.
After a few switchbacks the well built trail really starts to climb, and the T/A truck stop at the exit 34 really starts to become a fixture of your southern views. Try to look beyond it.
The trail continues to switchback up and up through conifer forest and talus with occasional views opening up along the way. This is a decent workout for most people, but every step is worth it when you finally reach Kamikaze Falls (Teneriffe Falls).
I first knew this place as Kamikaze Falls, I don’t know what the history behind the name is, except maybe that Kamikaze is said to mean “Divine Wind” in Japanese, and usually a divine wind does seem to issue forth from the falls.
Maybe it’s being changed because of Kamikaze’s WWII connotations, or maybe it was Teneriffe Falls this whole time, hell, I dunno. A rose by any other name I guess…
This is a great destination in itself.
During the summer you can indulge in a cooling shower beneath it’s cascading waters, or marvel at ice formations during winter cold snaps. Kamikaze Falls is incredibly photogenic destination any time of year.
With low mileage, open views and a beautiful waterfall at the end, Kamikaze Falls is a great goal for someone in kind of the low-middle range of hiking endurance looking for a new challenge and a huge reward.
At this point if you feel like trudging up to Teneriffe Summit be warned, the rest of this hike isn’t for the timid or out of shape. It’s steep, relentless and often nothing more than a faint boot path.
Look for a trail on your right, it’s a lot more well marked these days so you ought not to have trouble finding it.
The trail basically takes off like a rocket here, gaining the ridge in little time.
Get used to this grade, it’s the norm from here on out.
The route mostly follows the ridge spine, only deviating here and there. Occasionally light scrambling may be necessary up rock outcrops.
Most of the way you will find the trail is big on gain, but short on views. However that all changes rather suddenly as you break out of the trees. On a clear day the views are fantastic! Rainier dominates the south while the burgeoning Puget Sound mega-sprawl stretches along beneath the Olympics to the west.
Here you will find yourself on even steeper terrain, up mountain meadows and patches of trees before coming out near the bottom of the summit block.
During winter months it is advisable to bring some form of traction aid along with you, such as micro spikes or poles (or both!) it can be treacherous around here.
The final climb is little more than a light scramble when snow free and offers ample room for all you summit apes to enjoy a picnic surrounded by 360° of the kind of stuff some people can only dream about.
Now that you are familiar with the Teneriffe trails, from here the world is your oyster, well, if you still have some gas in the tank.
Make it a loop, take a stroll to Mt.Si or come back the way you came!
As always, leave only footprints and take only pictures, oh take and any garbage you might find along the way too. Not to get preachy but just because orange peels and banana wrappers are “biodegradable” doesn’t mean they should just be tossed on the ground. If you can’t pack it out, don’t pack it in.