Having a power bar lunch on the shore of Silver Lake, I bemoaned the scarcity of wildflowers to Bobbie. It was getting on into the afternoon and I was feeling spent, ready to head back to the car, maybe stop in Silverton for a 20 ounce IPA at the Avalanche Brewery.
On a warm, glorious 21st century day, it's difficult to appreciate the hardships endured by miners and their families at such altitudes, especially during winters, which, up here, last from October through May... sometimes June. Imagine riding the tramway up to the mine during a blizzard, high winds buffeting the ore car on a cable stretched hundreds of feet above ground.
The earliest pick-and-shovel gold seekers began arriving at Silver Lake in the 1870's. I can't fathom getting supplies to the upper basin in pre-tram days. I can only imagine how many mules and miners fell to their deaths, all in a day's work.
|You can see part of the mill site we explored in the background of this photo|
I asked Bobbie if she wanted to head down or head up higher. Of course she said, "up," and I'm thankful that she did.
We made our way cross country to what looked like a possible trail up the ridge to Little Giant Peak, 13,400 feet. On our way up we stumbled upon a bench that was loaded with wildflowers, as dense as I've seen anywhere. Well this is going to slow us down.
Gusty winds made the flowers a moving target; tough to get a good shot no matter the shutter speed. Nevertheless, here's a few of the less blurry shots...
|Columbine were profuse|
It was a slog, but we made it to the ridge.
Time to plop our butts down and rehydrate.
Little Giant loomed over us... taunting, goading, luring. Bobbie had had her fill and passed on a "summit." I had an IPA nightmare that the Avalanche Brewery would be closed before we could get there.
|Little Giant... 15 minutes away.|
Time to face the snow tunnel.
The sun had been at work for several hours by then... thawing, softening, thinning the slab of snow overhead. Bobbie went first. I heard a squeal as she disappeared into the darkness. Turns out ice water was pouring from the melting snow; a nice cold shower to revive us after a hot day in the mountains.
Later, at the Avalanche Brewery, over a thin crust Mediterranean pizza and tall boy IPA, we recounted our adventure... smug, like, we still rock. Then it was brought to our attention that the Hardrock 100 was about to begin, a grueling 100 mile race through the mountains, all night, all day, and then some. Ok, nuff said. Point taken.