Since coming here every summer of high school, I’ve been aware of the locked shaft into the hillside behind the campfire area, but I’ve never gone into it.
It’s the entrance to a mine that never produced gold, and the claim for which was purchased to establish the original camp.
The entrance has always been barred by a locked gate to keep guests from mischief or injury and animals from taking up residence.
Last night on the way back from Monkey Rock, I visited with a summer staff member who was putting out the third-grade camp’s campfire. She told me that the lock is mainly to keep young campers out and gave me the combination. This morning I let myself in to have a look around.
Inside the first, locked gate is a second gate that could be, but isn’t, locked as well.
Soon I was walking deep into the dark, with my toy flashlight to provide meager illumination and my camera flash to blind me occasionally. Even though the mine is level, I felt as though I was descending into a cave.
As far as I went, there were abandoned electrical cables on the floor that used to light the mine.
It’s just dark in there, and taking pictures ruined any chance of my eyes acclimating. I got a little further than this, at which point the floor had increasingly deep puddles of water and increasingly large piles of debris and I turned back, to return on another trip with more candlepower.
Zoomed to my camera’s maximum focal length, the exit doesn’t look that far away. But I could hear water dripping behind me, and my footsteps echoed, and turning your back to an unexplored dark shaft is far creepier than walking into it in the first place with your back to a lighted entrance.
A good view of the double gate.
And out the exit, back to civilization.
The short path to the campfire and gold mine has my favorite view of the chapel.
I spotted these pink wildflowers beside the path last night in the dark and was glad to come back to them this morning.