Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why I love this place: the Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine

I have been avoiding the big city (Quesnel) on my days off, and the last couple of weeks found me at Bowron Lake with family and friends, sunning and swimming. This week I was determined to relax right at home; no cars, no travels, no companions, just me and the town of Wells. If it was rainy, I'd sleep and read. If it was nice, I'd head up Cow Mountain to the Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine.
It was sunny.

First, I walked up Lowhee Road, which I'd never done before. Barkerville Gold Mines has some buildings up there, so I didn't go too far, since this is an active gold mine, and gold miners are rather possessive about their property. However, I did stumble upon their top-secret stash of gold! You think they'd be a bit more clever about hiding it...

I crossed the creek, spotting a gold panner along the way (I also gave him a wide berth, since gold-panners are also possessive about their spots and I didn't want him to think I was horning in on his 'claim'.)

And off to the old mine. My fascination with this place is only equaled by my fear of bears, so I am always a little antsy here. Plus, there's something so spooky about old buildings. Spooky, but wonderful.

My favorite building up here.

One day I hope to come here with someone who knows the history of this gold mine, and can tell me what everything is. At a guess, this is an elevator, which either took men down, or gold up. Dunno. The whole side of the building has peeled away, so if you can scootch under some branches which block the trail, you are in like Flynn, and you can explore to your heart's content.

Barkerville Gold Mines is working up on this mountain, so who knows how long this old stuff will remain before it's knocked down to make way for a new mine working? This building has been gutted, probably by heavy snows, but the ground around it is covered in core samples.

My second favorite place: a short walk to a gaping mine shaft.

If you head right, you will be standing on top of a huge tailings pile, where you can survey your domain. Look down, and there is a tangle of machinery which always reminds me of the ghastly Ironworks building in Stephen King's book "IT". As far as I know, Fred Wells' mine was a safe, good place to work, not a haunted kill-site, but the rusty scraps of god-knows-what always give me a bit of a chill.

Speaking of chill, you can feel the mine's cold breath as you approach this shaft. Just a few feet in, the floor is covered in ice.

*A disclaimer: I am far too smart (and too chicken) to enter a mine shaft. AND YOU SHOULD BE TOO! Anyone who goes into a mine shaft is an effin' idiot, and deserves whatever happens to them.*

And down a creepy little path to some more buildings. The Dark Lord apparently reigns here.

There are bits of machinery lying around- who knows what they used to do? Well, someone probably does know. That someone, however, is not me.

Finally I'd had enough of overgrown ruins. The beach on Jack o' Clubs Lake is glorious: strange-coloured sand, shrubs, and stunning views.

I also took a path along the lake for a while. There were claims staked all the way along it.

After messing about on the beach for a bit, I decided to walk over to the highway and the visitors' centre, but the only way there was either through a vile bog, or a wade in the lake, so I chose the latter (although I experimented with the bog first...)

It had been almost a 2-hour hike at this point. I slogged home, wet to the thighs from the chilly lake, and devoured my very late lunch with a huge appetite.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

shoulder season

I've been waking up tired these last few days
although I still have lots of energy for the shows-
no, scratch that, sometimes I have energy-
other days I guess I phone it in, a little
except we're pre-telephone in 1869, so I guess I'm telegraphing it in

Don't get me wrong, I still love being here
and most days, I remember that I'm lucky to be here, too
different test results, different surgery, and I wouldn't have been
I have a birthday coming up
and I feel pretty lucky about that, too
even though the numbers are getting bigger and bigger
i still can't believe I'm over thirty, and thirty happened quite some time ago

but Fall comes so early, here
on the heels of a too-short summer
I count evening swims on one hand this year
including one moonlit skinny-dip, which was amazing; I want more
bike rides are buffeted by headwinds with a chill I can't ignore
I bought a warm coat the other day, which I'll need sooner than I'd wish

cold aside, part of me wants to stay here with
a woodstove, a cat, and a box of books to read...
not go back to the city, where things lurk:
taxes, memories, responsibilities, jobs I need but don't like
I'm excited too, though
there will be new places to live, new people to meet, interesting jobs
even love? but I can't even think about that

I guess what is feel is conflicted
I know this summer can't last much longer
Time stretches and snaps like elastic
and what felt eternal is now almost done
and I am slowly learning
to trust in people and places
even when life takes you far away from them
If I did the same thing, stayed in the same town all the time it would be dull
but it is a wrench to know that I have to move on
to start again
scary and exciting both
so I will try and push through the tiredness
and enjoy every last minute here

Sunday, August 7, 2011

reality check.

She comes up to me before the 1-o'clock show. Not much older than me, but the years have not been as kind to her
I remember joking with her and her family yesterday before our 4pm history drama
I was in character at the time: Irish whore, whisky in hand

She says: Johanna Maguire- did that really happen to her? (Irish whore, whisky in hand, dead at thirty-four, beaten to death by her man)
I say yes. Yes it did.

She shows me the scar on her neck
Two vertebrae here are fused together because of the same thing she says
He got life in jail for that.
It just goes to show you, doesn't it? she says. it's been happening to women for so many years.

it just goes to show you.