Rainswept left a comment the other day that reminded me I haven’t been tomb raiding in for ever, and so off I went!
You won’t find it on any map or in any guidebook but Protection Mine lurks high up on the ramparts of the Castle Mt/Protection Mt complex. Mostly I was doing some recon for a shortcut into an unnamed area I had discussed exploring with the Copelands. This possible route could have shortened the approach by two days. As an added bonus, I could stop at a mine abandoned for at least a hundred years.
I love crawling down the highway looking for grid reference points on a gps rather than a signpost and a parking lot! Having satisfied myself I was starting up the right creek, I put my legs into it. After dropping Suz in Banff, I only had around 4 hours of daylight so a casual speed wasn’t an option. In 2 hours 15 minutes, I hiked 6km and 3000 vertical feet to stand before the old mine.
above: at the foot of the mine on the roof of the world. In the bottom left you can make out the river where the car is parked.
above: 180 panorama of mine shaft and valley. The field of view distorts scale as mine height is 2m and mountain slope is 1000m
above: close-up of mineshaft
I didn’t go down the shaft for fear of cougars, collapse, and orcs. Perhaps if I’d thought to first shout “Elbereth!” I would have ventured in but alas, hindsight is twenty twenty.
An interesting spot made better by its hidden and unknown standing. As for the shortcut, a cliff hidden from the valley looked difficult though with more time, a weakness in it may have emerged with more traversing and hunting. As the sun set, I hustled down to the road as darkness fell. I had my headlamp with me but seemed to be full of energy so I ran the last 2km in the flat part of the valley and made it to the car. I had just a little paranoia on the return for some reason. I made lots of grunts and shouts through ground that had no bear food or mountain sheep fodder (and therefore not cougar habitat) yet still turned my head dozens of times to look behind me. There must be something about lonely caves that awakens the fear center of my brain. Thinking about the Mines of Moria probably didn’t help!