Snow Flurries and the Word 'Surfactant' Crop Up All Day
With newbie Patty along, we learned a few things about her life and another use for the word "surfactant" as she told her story about her daughter being born a premie but having enough of the substance needed to have strong lungs. The word cropped up again as Jasmine, our leader, told us about the surfactants used in the mining process. For those who don't know, "surfactant" is a lubricant that reduces the surface tension in liquid.
Anyway, our day started out at 8 a.m. with raining coming down in Great Falls. The roads were a bit of a worry as it was already snowing in Neihart, according to the weather report, with rocks and possibly ice on the road, but we headed out anyway, letting Jasmine know we might be a bit late getting to the Inconvenient Store, our meeting place.
We arrived around 9:30 and wondered if Randi's front-wheel-drive vehicle would make it up the road as it had snowed about six inches and no one plows the Carpenter Creek road. But we decided to give it a shot. Jasimine loaded up Tip, the dog, and we followed her to the turn off point, which we quickly discovered would not be a good idea to go farther in Randi's car. So we all hopped into Jasmine's Honda CRV, five gals and a dog, for the wild road trip of three miles. Jasmine handed the car well, and the car, in turn, handled the deep snow well.
We hit the trail about 10:15 as the snow really started to come down, but the wind wasn't bad, thwarting the prediction of gusts up to 40 mph. Still, we were in a near blizzard; albeit with 30-degree temps.
We had a lovely climb to the top of the mining area with Jasmine doing the majority of the trail breaking in the new fluffy stuff. We all though it looked like Christmas, rather than late March, with the trees laden with snow. On the climb, we came across several mining structures, all collapsed, and we could glimpse the mill far up on the hill off and on through the trees.
Jasmine led us to the Glory Hole, a huge mining pit from the silver boom days. She said it was visible from space; and the hole has a protective fence all around it as the ledge was steep. In the hole, we spied a huge nest in a side cave. It would either be a big bird/raptor or perhaps a porcupine, which like to find alcoves and caves. At the hole, Tip the dog got afraid. She put her trail between her legs and slinked off. We wondered if she sensed the danger of the drop off or if there were magnetism or if perhaps the contaminating chemicals affected her. We didn't stay long as the wind started to pick up and we didn't want to catch cold.
So we headed downhill, with a few route finding efforts on Jasmine's part, to the actual mill. It was in quite good shape and still had the gears and machinery inside the structure, remnants of an earlier time.
The rest of the trip was a quick downhill descent to the car. Jasmine had a note on her car from a neighbor, asking her to drop in. While we took off our gear and loaded the car, she went to his shop to see his latest wood-crafted items.
We said goodbye to Jasmine at the highway and got back into Randi's car. We were surprised that even though it had snowed most of the day, the road was just wet, not snowy or icy, so we traveled back to Neihart to have hot chocolate, coffee and sweet potato fries at Bob's Bar. We sure hope Patty wasn't scare away by the weather or climb. We hope to see her on the trail again soon.
Who went: Susan, Randi, Patty, Katie, Jasmine