Day Trip to Sport Mine
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  1. #1
    Senior Member wrench-puller's Avatar
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    Day Trip to Sport Mine

    Little late getting to this ride report but better late than never they say, so here it goes. May long weekend our youngest daughter came up with her husband, 7 month boy, and her best friend from grade school for a camp-out / motorbike ride. Katrina hasn't had much time to ride since the whole baby experience and was very excited to get back on her XT225, as was her husband Gabe who also hasn't got his riding time in since the arrival of little Remy.
    With all the bikes and gear loaded up we headed out to our favorite local campground in the woods with a trailer so stuffed with food and goodies that Gramma must have thought we were staying for two weeks. Once we had the camp set up and the bikes were off loaded, there was just enough time for a short ride up to the bluffs over looking the lake before it was supper and sleep time. The next day the sun was out and we were eager to set out for our ride, so with all the bikes filled up and riding gear strapped on we were off to the abandoned mine site at the top of Merry Widow mountain. I rode two up with Camille who has a Quad she uses for work in Alberta, but she hasn't done too much of the two wheeled riding, but with a few quick instructions and me hanging onto the rear of the TW we were off and leading the pack. The climb to the top has a few rough patches and even in first gear it can be a chore to keep things going in the right direction so I suggested (pleaded) that I take over control for the rest of the ride up. We had just got going and I came to the first cross ditch on the road and being two up I slowed to shift into first as we descended into the void in the road and that's when it happened, I blew a shift! For some reason the mighty TW stayed in neutral and as I let out the clutch to climb the other side...nothing....complete stoppage. Well my daughter being fresh back on her bike thought it would be a good move to just jump the ditch and with a good head of speed she pulled up the front wheel to jump the crevasse when she noticed we were heading in the wrong direction.....now with no steering she leaned over and threw the bike sideways to miss us and over she went. Good news was she did clear the ditch but she and her bike were laying on the ground. No harm done and this was the only spill of the whole weekend so all was good.

    From this point on it was just climb climb climb till we got to the top with all four of us still in tacked and smiling.

    IMGP0002.JPG IMGP0007.JPGIMGP0006.JPG
    After we caught our breath and stretched out legs we surveyed the site and tried to place where all the old buildings and tram had been located. I have been told they had a cable tram set-up where they loaded ore into a tub on a cable system. When the full tub was released, the empty one on the other side was pulled up and the process was repeated all day, taking the ore down the steepest part of the mountain to where it was easier to truck out.
    We hiked around till we found the upper concrete base for the tram, the wooden dock to load the tram was collapsed but enough was there to get the general idea of how it all worked.
    IMGP0009.JPGIMGP0010.JPG
    I have asked some of the older residences of Port McNeill about the mine and so far only one says he may have some pictures from his dads time up there, but I haven't seen the pictures yet. From here we rode to the top of the tailings pile were the iron ore has left a big patch of orange dust that nothing can grow in, so Gabe's inner child though this was a perfect spot to spin up the WR250's rear tire....
    (wont let me post more pics, have to break it up) cont'd.
    Last edited by wrench-puller; 07-08-2016 at 08:18 AM.
    2009 TW200, Jimbo shield, 47&55T rear with DID chain, Maxxis Ceros Rear, Kendra 270 front, extended swing arm, 1"Risers, Rear rack, Raised front fender, XOG GPS.

  2. #2
    Senior Member wrench-puller's Avatar
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    Here are the pics of the iron ore dust storm that left us all gaging and with a terrible stink in the air, and Gabe laughing his head off as we all ran for cover.
    IMGP0011.JPGIMGP0012.JPG
    It did get worse than this, but as the orange fog headed towards us, it was camera down and every person for themselves.
    From here we headed to the actual mining site which was this huge hole carved into the top of the mountain. They had drilled and blasted out the minerals they were seeking and from what I read it was mostly iron ore but with silver, gold, and a few more valuable rocks as well. We rode to the road heading down into the mine site, but parked at the top....well most of us....Gabe blew by and rode right down to where the water had filled up the cavern and made this magical black lake.
    IMGP0014.JPGIMGP0013.JPGIMGP0015.JPG
    From here it just got better as we found the air vents and even located a tunnel into the lower side of the mine, but as our internet is dead slow here and it is now time for work..... I will have to continue this later.
    TWilight, Fred, Elvesus and 7 others like this.
    2009 TW200, Jimbo shield, 47&55T rear with DID chain, Maxxis Ceros Rear, Kendra 270 front, extended swing arm, 1"Risers, Rear rack, Raised front fender, XOG GPS.

  3. #3
    Senior Member admiral's Avatar
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    Neat stuff, will be waiting for the rest. I love finding places like this (Old Mines etc).
    TWilight and littletommy like this.
    Hidden Content A ride in the woods helps me relax and release tension. The fact I'm dragging a body should be entirely irrelevant?

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  5. #4
    Senior Member wrench-puller's Avatar
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    So here we were down in this big hole in the ground and the center was full of water. Not sure how deep it is but too cold to dive in and didn't have a rope to lower in for measuring. The only reason it isn't completely flooded in was due to an air vent shaft drilled out and then straight down the mountain side. You can see the dark spot off to the left of the picture.
    IMGP0018.JPGIMGP0019.JPGIMGP0020.JPG
    We took a peek inside and I crawled around the corner to where the drop off was. There was a cool steady wind coming up the shaft with a very musty smell to it. Wanting to find out how far down it was I took a large rock into the shaft and tossed it down.....and wow, it was almost straight down and we could hear it bouncing off the walls for quite some time. Never heard it land, it just got quieter as it fell. On the opposite side was another shaft higher up and it too was vented out threw the mountain somewhere as it too had a steady wind blowing out. This shaft however was down about 25 feet then turned 90 degs. and headed almost flat. (We think this was tied into the mine shaft we found later). The wall around this was full of different types of rock and there was lots of fools gold in some of the nuggets we broke open, others smelt like gun power and were smooth black inside. Two years earlier Denice and I came up here to get some fools gold to put into our grandsons treasure boxes for a pirate theme weekend camping trip. That trip I scaled the cliff and pried out a large rock that turned out to be almost solid fools gold in the center. I broke it up small enough and put it in the canvas day pack on the back of the bike. By the time we got home the rocks had eaten through the bag in many spots and rubbed the powder coat finish right off the rails on the bikes rack. I told Denice she should have just worn the pack on her back, but oh no..."its too heavy and digs into my back". Not sure why I let her ride with me, all that whining really wears on ya! Her bruised back would have healed, now I have to throw out a great back pack and repaint the rack. Anyhow....back to the current ride.
    IMGP0022.JPGIMGP0023.JPG
    From here we wandered back up to the bikes and rode around some more before heading back down the trail. Hoping to get a better view of the path the tram had taken down the mountain side, I veered off on a spar trail and followed it to the end. As we were turning around I saw something out of the corner of my eye and once I realized what we had just found my heart started to race..... (still can post more than 5 pics at a time so have to follow this up again). cont'd
    2009 TW200, Jimbo shield, 47&55T rear with DID chain, Maxxis Ceros Rear, Kendra 270 front, extended swing arm, 1"Risers, Rear rack, Raised front fender, XOG GPS.

  6. #5
    Senior Member wrench-puller's Avatar
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    This is what I saw and couldn't get off the bike fast enough to go explore....
    IMGP0038.JPG
    This was the entrance to the main shaft leading into and under where we had been riding earlier....way too cool.
    Now seeing someone had left the gate open when they were last here....OK, they had ripped it right off...but that meant I just had to take a look inside.
    With four of us out trail riding, it seemed I was the only one that was packing a flashlight and a first aid kit....youngin's....never think ahead. So this meant I got to lead the way, so off we went or at least the girls and I went, the son-in-law thought he best sit this one out. Once inside the cool moist air hits you, it was like 65 degrees and had that damp musky smell of an old basement. There was more to see than I expected as this was a old railway cart tunnel. The nails were still in the cross ties but someone had pulled out the narrow gauge rails sometime ago.
    IMGP0028.JPGIMGP0029.JPGIMGP0032.JPG
    Once we were into the mine shaft far enough that the light and the opening were fading away the girls decided that we were far enough for now and as much as I wanted to carry on, we all turned back and vowed to return with more lights and safety gear, plus the thought of a sleeping bear or cougar being woke up by visitors was crossing my mind. So best left for another day we hiked back out to the bikes, but not before I noticed something on the ceiling of the shaft.... cont'd.
    2009 TW200, Jimbo shield, 47&55T rear with DID chain, Maxxis Ceros Rear, Kendra 270 front, extended swing arm, 1"Risers, Rear rack, Raised front fender, XOG GPS.

  7. #6
    Senior Member BkCntryCrwlr's Avatar
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    Great adventure, thanks for sharing all the pictures! Very different to see all the ferns and evergreens on your trails vs. the pines, fir and sage brush we get out here in southern Idaho.
    littletommy likes this.
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  8. #7
    Senior Member sponge's Avatar
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    Nice write up. thanks for sharing.

    >>Not sure how deep it is but too cold to dive in...

    I would not recommend a dip in water from old mines. They are notoriously high in brain damaging and various other heavy metals.
    Chris Vogel
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  9. #8
    Senior Member Fred's Avatar
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    Nice Yamaha Hide Out. Would make a good set for a Post Apocalyptic Denise vs. the Zombies movie.IMGP0038.JPG
    littletommy and sponge like this.
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  10. #9
    Senior Member wrench-puller's Avatar
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    Well here is what I saw on the mine shaft ceiling..
    IMGP0034.JPGIMGP0035.JPGIMGP0031.JPG
    This was a rusted out steel line that ran up the shaft as far as I could see, all I could think is that it was some sort of communication system like a telegraph line to signal when the ore carts where being moved? What ever it was it required a fair bit of work to install as each hole was drilled and the wooden plugs were driven in.
    I have found a 1924 article in a news paper that talks of a young boy moving with his parents to live in Benson lake mine site as his dad was hired to manage this claim, but the mine shut down in the thirties due to the war/ depression and never reopened till the mid 60's so this line has to be from the later era I would think.
    There was also veins of marble and blue rock running across the ceilings and down the walls and we saw this later in the core piles we found down by the old camp house area.
    IMGP0030.JPGIMGP0039.JPG
    We rode down to the old camp house area and again set off on foot to explore what had once been a site for thirty workers and support staff. Now there is nothing left but a clearing where you can make out where the housing was built in a circle around the outside of the large flat area backing onto a drop off to a creek below. They had constructed a hydro electric system in the creek and had a pump that forced water up above the housing site and then back down to supply the houses. The power house is gone now but we did find the water line up to the camp. (pic to follow in next set). cont'd
    littletommy and sponge like this.
    2009 TW200, Jimbo shield, 47&55T rear with DID chain, Maxxis Ceros Rear, Kendra 270 front, extended swing arm, 1"Risers, Rear rack, Raised front fender, XOG GPS.

  11. #10
    Senior Member wrench-puller's Avatar
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    This is the water line we found running up from the creek to above the camp area.
    IMGP0045.JPG
    As we hike up and over to get back to the bikes I went back to the core pile for another look. I had been here years before and all the cores were laid out in the wooden trays and piled 4' high, but somebody had dumped and smashed all the core up into little pieces and burnt the wood trays. I did find some that matched the marble veins we saw in the shaft ceilings.
    IMGP0040.JPGIMGP0041.JPG
    From here we headed back to camp and check on Gramma and her little grandson, both seemed happy, but said it was a quiet afternoon with out us. It was Gabe's birthday so we had a good birthday dinner by the campfire followed by cake and a few birthday gifts.........a few Lego sets that brought a smile to his face. Even though he has a son of his own, the little boy in him came out as he sat off at the picnic table and just had to put together both sets before bed time.
    IMGP0048.JPG
    This was our little campsite by the lake with Gabe's "Hotel" (truck tent) set up in the front. The next morning it was just Gabe and I that set off for a ride, so it was full throttle and rocks a flyin' as we "explored" more trails at speeds of 80 to 100 kph and just trying to out ride each other. His WR 250 did have a lot more power on the flats and threw rocks at me every time he took off, but soon as the trail twisted or got steep it was the trusty old TW with the fantastic grip of the Maxxis Ceros pushing it along that led the way. We covered a great amount of ground in the time we were out there and had a blast doing it. After lunch the girls wanted to go again so it was off to Skidder main and a few good steep hill climbs to the nicest view of the valley below. This ride was Camille's first try at hill climbing while at the controls so there was no pictures taken as my hands were busy hanging on while I stared at the shear drop off beside us. She did get us to the end of the trail but as going up hill in first is one thing, coming down is a little more tricky, so I took us back down to more level ground before she took over again. Katrina and Gabe had a blast and once we were back on the main line they left us in their dust, so we took the slow and scenic ride back to the campground. It was a fantastic weekend but I think Gramma felt she missed out a bit as she was head babysitter all weekend. I told her I would make it up to her and we planned to get out on the July long weekend for a fishing and riding trip with just the two of us.
    2009 TW200, Jimbo shield, 47&55T rear with DID chain, Maxxis Ceros Rear, Kendra 270 front, extended swing arm, 1"Risers, Rear rack, Raised front fender, XOG GPS.

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