abandoned mine above the tubal cain trail
Despite my reservations, earlier this summer a friend talked me into exploring a little mine above the Tubal Cain trail in the northeast range of the Olympic Mountains. He and I were on our way to Buckhorn Pass thousands of feet above, we were resting here. The idea of being attacked by ornery bats, warty trolls or getting buried alive in this rocky hole had me feeling jitters about sidetracking. Entering abandoned mines is dangerous and not a topic I feel the need to expand upon. The truth is, my companion had entered this short (big enough for a litter of kittens) tunnel once upon a time and he knew it was safe in the general sense we weren’t going to fall down any shafts or have the roof collapse on us. Then again, nothing is guaranteed in life and we could’ve found a fate worse than trolls.
My recollections back to this day come roundabout after the recent flub-up in the abandoned Gold King mine in Colorado that has released millions of gallons of foul, chemical-laced water into the Animas River. It has been particularly weighing on my mind because also, I’ve been blazing opened eyes through Brad Tyer’s Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water and the Burial of an American Landscape. It’s hard to imagine wherever we’d be culturally (and technologically) without certain minerals, like copper. At the same time, the legacy of greed, environmental degradation and human suffering (lost lives, lost ways of life) as a result of industrial-scale mining of the earth is almost unbelievable. I’m not as naive as I sound. Toured the Berkeley Pit once upon a time. Stood at the lip of Bingham Canyon Mine and felt my heart sink at the congo-line of house-sized dump trucks. Already consigned my share of burned-out electronics to the dump. Flipped a light-switch about a hundred billion times. The devil (and horror) is in the buried ghosts and parts per million.
Today was a warm, very hazy afternoon in Seattle as a result of smoke from wildfires in the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. It has been just about forever since I couldn’t see The Brothers on a sunny day, though I swear I could make out the profile of Mount Jupiter.