Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tubal Cain Mine

Our first mountain hike of the season went off auspiciously last week as we tackled the Tubal Cain Trail through the Buckhorn Wilderness. We hoped to see the magnolias that line the lower half of the trail in bloom, this being June 11, but the cold and rainy weather has delayed the display for at least two more weeks.  The forecast as we set out called for sun and warm temperatures, so we wanted to make this hike for other reasons- first because it wasn't raining (much), and second to see the old Tubal Cain mine.  As you can see, the weather in fact was, shall we say, damp.  Off we went.

The trail is a consistent ascent of only about 900 feet over 3.5 miles.  Very, very easy.  We thus set a pace of about 3MPH, to be sure that we would end the day with our legs knowing who is the boss.  This translates to a real speed of about 2.0 to 2.3 MPH, due to delays is crossing streams, putting on and taking off clothing, and stopping to enjoy what we were passing through.  

When arriving at the mine area, there are flats that are boggy with newly melting snow.  The moss, lichen and tiny water plants are bright lime green, like the Seahawks famous jerseys.  Above tower the hemlock, spruce and fir trees, taking  your eyes higher, till you see the mountain peaks covered in snow above the tree line behind them, shrouded in shreds of clouds.  These peaks make me want to continue on, past the little meadows and through the big forest into Marmot pass.  But that will wait for another day.  At the mine area there are a couple of campsites, and some remaining mining detritus that has not been packed out.  It is kinda cool to see these artifacts in the deep woods, wondering how people came to decide to try a mine here back in the latter 19th century.  Today, we need to make the turn and head home, a nice day outing.  On the way back, we pass the Tull Canyon mine and trail, which leads to a crashed B-17.  That will be a good goal for another day hike off this trail.  In about two weeks, when the rhodies are in bloom, it will be perfect for another quick jaunt.  

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