CacheCrazy.Com: The Sheep Mountain Disaster

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Sheep Mountain Disaster

DctrSpott


The Sheep Mountain Disaster








Gather round y'all, and hear another tale of DctrSpott's poor navigational skills.

This story begins with a quiet day in my research group. Discussing our hobbies, my coworker mentions she's an avid hiker and rock hunter. My hobbies, besides geocaching, include beer and wrestling bears of course, but that's neither here nor there. Much to my surprise, I learned that one can get topo maps from the geologic survey, complete with the location of several mine shafts and prospects. Even more surprising? These maps only brush the surface, and there exist entire books, veritable tomes of knowledge about dark, underground places to explore.
 
A Watermelon Tourmaline, one of my friend's finds
Of course, given my love of adventure and scary dark places, I immediately signed on to an adventure to Sheep Mountain, to find an old, unlisted Molybdenum mine. My friend had ulterior motives: she was eager to school a city boy (me) in the ways of hiking. Additionally, she claimed to be an skilled map reader, and mocked my "city boy GPSr ways".  Always willing to try a new, challenging adventure, I agreed to navigate by paper maps and landmarks alone.

What I expected...
So, we set off to sheep mountain. And naturally, knowing my tendency to head off trail, we had broken away from the trail before going a mile. We had anticipated maybe a mile of bushwhacking, but this detour gave us a steep 500 m ascent before we had completed the first mile, following an aqueduct service trail.

You can see the trail we were supposed to take... several hundred meters below us

Lucky for me, my GPSr is my mobile phone. Although I hadn't loaded maps, I could determine our elevation and record our route so far, with the maps, we could find our approximate location. We opted to climb a nearby peak to try to identify landmarks...

JACKPOT!

...we discovered a semi-collapsed prospecting shaft! I explored the area as best I could, but without a tie off, the shaft was too steep to enter and investigate. Darn... maybe next time. I grabbed a sample of quartzite from the outside.

Collecting a rock sample
Having already climbed onto the top of the range, we decided not to backtrack to the trail, but to instead follow the range until we were close to the old mining area. The hike afforded some great views, but was definitely a challenge. Nearly four miles, and an additional 500 m elevation climb later, we were exhausted, but near the mine site.

LOOK AT THIS COOL TREE
Unfortunately for us, we were exhausted, and unable to find the mine. We eventually gave up, and needed to head back. We had found the main creek running through the area, and decided to follow it. We weren't heading back up unless absolutely necessary, and if we were lucky, the creek should take us close to the trail we were originally planning to take in. The alternative was an Amazonian overgrowth... so I came up with the brilliant idea to literally walk down the stream.

In theory... (Image from Madang)
Not all my ideas are good, guys...

What the creek walk was like... on the thin parts (National Park Service)
We were without option. We had to go up, get the view and figure out where we were. It was getting late, and heavy thunderstorms were closing in. The view from the top was even more confusing. We couldn't decide what exactly we were looking at, or if we had crossed an additional range when we were hunting for the mine. So, I mustered all my leadership skills, rallied my team, and shouted...

Exactly how it happened
In reality, I convinced us to travel west over a ridge to get a better look. I got lucky, and had made the right call. We stumbled onto the smooth, even trail, and walked right out of there. All in all, it was quite the adventure. We didn't find the mine we had hoped, but did find a cool prospecting shaft. You can view the overall hike here. The best part... the area is completely untouched by geocaches! Yessir... DctrSpott has discovered a new playground.

2 comments:

Dodger said...

That's our Dr. Spott - professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and - how to put it... obtainer of rare antiquities.

Thanks for an excellent post!

BLOODHOUNDED said...

Hey, my boy Boltzmann is looking good! I see your training him to resist all phobias. That will come in handy when he has to save your ass someday Spott! You live dangerously brother, and I like it,lol!
Be safe, have fun and live it up!
Great post!

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