Posted: Oct 11, 2020
Wandering Around the Hills Nearby
I've been spending a little time wandering about the local hills seeing what they have to offer... on days when the air is clear enough... Which lately has been more often than not, couldn't say that a few weeks ago, and really, there isn't much I can say about the wildfires that hasn't been said better already. I've only been inconvenienced by the smoke & fires... others have had it infinitely worse.
I was driving back after a walk in the hills & rounded a bend I saw this amazing cloud... "Wow a pyrocumulonimbus cloud!" I had never seen one of those in person. This was an awesome cloud and is just over that hill there! An amazing phenomenon. ...If only I have the good camera with me... Then you think... Aw gee... there's a big fearsome fire under that thing... that is a lot of suffering. That was the first one of the year to spawn "fire tornados" a rare event that the press was all over... in the few months since then they have become almost common... This was the blow up of the Laytonville fire... just about 20 miles away, and the beginning of a lot of smoke.
Yes, there are backroads that wind around the hills. If you have a 4wd they can take you to some interesting spots.
But, in most cases, if you want to see a lake you're going to have to take a hike.
Yep ,There was gold in then thar hills! If you are persistent You can stumble across some of the remains of the operations. This ore cart is pretty well buried and has been sitting there for about 140 years. I hope nobody was hurt that day.
As you get closer to one of the mines you are more likely to run across rusty bits of... Hmmm it looks like this was holding a shaft of some sort... but as tempting as you might be... you can't put any of it in your pocket & take home.. For one... all of the good stuff was carted off 100 years ago... and more important...Point two.... it's fun to run across this stuff... Leave it there and let someone else have the fun too.... Oh yeah, and it's a state park with rules against that & you can get arrested... but that's a pretty dumb reason to leave things be... go with point two.
It's interesting how many things you find that are half buried in rubble and show signs of being subjected to a great force. I read of how one of these mines had 8 months of food stored up to make sure they could get through the winter. Of course this was before good, paved roads, snow plows, the internet... and, um... (Global Warming)
It's fun poking around in an old mining dump... and the things you find... little pieces of porcelain. Busted bits of bottles, chunks of cast iron stoves. What do you do with these things? People lay them out on stones for display... or you might be walking past a spot and find a three foot wide array of broken plates & cups.
And this is is what caused them to go through all of the fuss... big veins of quartz running right up to the surface. this one is about 20 inches tall
This is a spot where they just dug a whole groove out of the side of the mountain to get at the quartz that held the gold... I think they might have dug out the groove and then started tunneling into the mountain and then one day things turned sour... Just down hill from here is where that buried ore cart is. The white bit at the end of the groove is a huge chunk of quartz. It is about six feet tall, twelve feet wide and goes into the mountain I-don't-know-how far. That whole end of the grove is a chaotic mess... That must have been an interesting day.
If you wander around long enough you might find an open mine shaft like this. Now think about those working conditions... Remember this is the 1860s... "So, um, you want me to crawl down that little hole that looks two foot by three foot, hauling a pick a shovel & a bucket and dig for 10-plus hours a day for six days a week in a place where the winter is 8 months long and you're going to pay me... how much?" ... "Any benefits? Health care? Workers comp? Sick leave? Vacation days?" And one of the local mines was entirely funded by folks in London.. When the mine gave out they just pulled all of their money out, sold the equipment they could and just left the mess behind... all from the comfort of their gentlemen's club.
This mine shaft is a bit bigger... You don't have to crawl to get in. Look at all of the stuff that has fallen out of the ceiling. I wonder if a bear lives in there. I know there are bears about. I see their scat and I have discovered they make the nicest trails along the slopes... But I don't think I'll come in for a cup of tea today.
This was an open mine at one point... They even put up a wire fence to keep people out. I'm supposing they put up the fence before the collapse, but yeah... this is what happens to these things.
Now this old sledge hammer has been put to some pretty serious use. Somebody has swung that thing thousands and thousands of times. That's a whole lot of sweat.
I don't know if this is from a cart or a boiler or what. It is about 3/8" thick at its thinnest parts. it's about 3 feet across... I found another similar piece about a half mile away on the mountain.
This is another ... Ore Cart? 3/4 buried half way down a tailings pile. Personally, I really don't care what it is... it is just a lovely piece of rusting steel and I'm fine with that.
Once they dig the quartz out of the hillside, they have to crush it to get at the gold. This is right by the remains of where a stamp mill was. You find different types of rusting bits here but they are just as attractive!
And then you come across some of these stone lined pits.... almost too small for a living space and there is no rotted wood nearby to indicate there was a structure above... But it is a nice little example of well-stacked rocks
Ages ago, our ancestors would consume beverages out of containers similar to this one. You can see that it has the top disc of aluminum while the rest of the container was made of steel. This indicates that this is from the transitional period between the all-steel containers and the later, all aluminum containers. Before this time, in order to access the beverage inside the container, our ancestors needed to use a tool known colloquially as a "Church Key" to puncture holes in the top of the container. During the transitional period the aluminum top had a feature known as a "pull tab" which tore a predefined opening in the top so the user could access the beverage... The part of the top that was removed was often discarded in a casual manner such as dropping it onto the ground. This led to hazardous walking conditions as the "pull tab" often had sharp edges that would cut the soles of ones feet when tread upon. It was at this time most of our ancestors began wearing shoes on a daily basis and this directly jump started the shoe industry we have today.
I was struck by the extreme convolutions this shrub went through in its existence. The picture didn't turn out too well but the struggles made by this plant, up high, in steep terrain and harsh conditions... well, it's pretty amazing.
Another stretch of back road in the Sierra Nevada.
And of course there are the charming little creeks here and there.
Giant rocks line some of the creeks and there are occasional, deep pools that are beautifully clear.
It is interesting to see how fractures in a rock stain the surface. In this chunk of granite it seems that the cluster of micro fractures transported iron or something that made the larger brown stain & seem to have, more recently, been been highlighting the lines with white.
And then there are all of the lovely meadows lined by tall pine & fir trees, underneath a blue-blue sky
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I like hopping across fields of boulders, it's fun and you get to see so many interesting things. One of the things that is particularly fascinating is seeing how these giant hunks of granite fracture and crumble in place and the patterns they make in the process. Yes these boulders are destined to be the beach sand of the future just give it a million years or so.
This is a fun rock surface... Not only do you have the lovely flame pattern from iron precipitating through hairline cracks, you have long gouges caused by glaciers scraping stones over the surface from the upper right to the lower left... And these scrapes have two angles as if there were more than one glacial orientation ... That part is interesting because this is the surface of a thick strata of stone diving into the ground, not just some rock that got tumbled about to get a new angle on things.
A different section in the same area. These are really something to see in person when you can move around and see it from different angles.
I have been in Modern Art museums and observed canvases that are strikingly similar. But seeing something like this that has taken thousands of years to reach this state and will continue to develop for thousands of years to come... I dunno ...a piece of canvas loses context.
This is stone that is at the bed of a stream that flows every year until mid to late July. The water flows from the right to left. Maybe my eyes are fooling me, but it seems like there are fractal erosion patterns branching out in this hard stone... I wonder how long that takes?
Another fractured and crumbling rock but instead of fracturing into triangles and parallelograms, this one seems to prefer squares and rectangles.
This is the tip of a great slab of stone that has slipped from it's mate.
Once upon a time, deep under ground, the lighter colored stone developed a crack or two... as, it seems, they always do. Later there was an event that injected some magma into said cracks filling them neatly and precisely. A few million years later the original block of stone was uplifted to the surface and eroded back down to expose this nice zig-zag pattern. And all of this just for your viewing pleasure!
I thought this was an interestingly-shaped inclusion...
Ok, no more pictures of rocks... even though I have a ton of 'em. This is the Mills Peak Lookout Station that keeps watch over the Mohawk Valley.