Mining District Bust Turns into Powerline Loop with Tour of Homes on the Side
, bypasSometimes, plan have to change. We started out planning to snowshoe to the Big Seven abandoned mine in the Neihart Mining District, but quickly changed our minds when we chatted with the guys club at the Inconvenience Store, who warned us that the road was way too icy and narrow to travel on it safely. So we changed our plans to the Powerline loop on Porphyry.
We left Great Falls at 7:45, after a bit of confusion on meet time; we then picked up Paula P at the Sluice Boxes turn and then newbie Kalah at the Cougar Canyon.Little did we know, we could have picked her up at her house, not too far from Paula P's.
By the time we had our potty break and chat at the Inconvenience Store, it was 9:30 when we reached Kings Hill Pass for the start of our trek. The weather was warm with no wind, so many of us stripped layers before we even started, knowing the first part was uphill, so we would get hot fast.
Most of the way was uneventful; no one really fell (Viki took a small stumble), we didn't happen upon any tree wells or other obstacles causing issues, so we moved along fairly fast. Amber led, breaking trail, though the snow had a good base.
Along the way, Kalah put up a few more pieces of marking tape to help guide the way on future trips on this trail that has few blue diamonds.And Susan said why not add the porphyry loop to the powerline loop to add a bit of distance, so we did, bypassing the O'Brien Creek trail and continuing on to the old abandoned trail.
When we hit the powerline portion, those who had not done this section were wondering how they would make it up this steep, steep hill, but we all made it, some panting more than others. Amber practically ran up it, making it in 10 minutes, her goal. Then she returned to offer to take packs from anyone who needed a little help getting up the last hill.
From there, it is mostly downhill back to the cars. We arrived just before 1 p.m.
Then is was off to Cougar Canyon for lunch/snacks and drinks. The gal serving us was by herself and so service a bit slow, but we were in no rush since we finished early, due to the change in hikes. During lunch, we discussed books we had been reading, from Brenda with Where the Crawdads Sing to Paula O Beneath the Scarlet Sky to Katie The Volunteer. But our day didn't end there: Kalah had told us about buying her place by Riceville and invited us to stop in on the way home, an opportunity we were only too eager to take her up on it.
So, we stopped at Kalah's new dream home, which she purchased from the Ferrin's. It was fun to see how nice it was: the loft, the sauna, the logs, the guesthouse, and greenhouse,triple-car garage; but the views were over the top! All of the oohs and ahs didn't start to describe how gorgeous the mountains and valleys look from her windows on both floors.
Then Paula P offered us a tour of her cabin, just beyond Kalah's. This cabin was built by her husband, who greeted us at the door from his perch on the porch. The drive to Paula's cabin was interesting, with its steep curves on a narrow road.We were glad we didn't have ice.
We arrived back in Great Falls before 4 p.m.
Who went: Paula, Susan W, Amber, Brenda, Kalah, Paula P, Roni, Paula O, Katie
Read more about the abandoned mines in the Neihart mining district and its history.
Read about the toxic chemicals at the mine