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.