Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Old Miles Mine makes a good hike

Bear print above door
Miles Mine headframe

When you're at Bow Narrows Camp this summer you might consider taking a hike up to the Miles Mine, one of the abandoned gold mines at the west end of Red Lake.

It's a little more than a half-mile to the mine from the end of Trout Bay and the trail is usually in pretty good shape.

Like several of the other gold mines at the west end, this one was started in the '30s and didn't re-open after a devastating forest fire a half dozen years later.

All these gold mines were vertical shafts, nor horizontal into a mountain like you see in the cowboy movies. All that can be seen of the mine itself is a hole in the ground which is full of water. Don't get near the shaft as it is possible that the rubble around it can collapse into the hole.
Also, stay away from the old headframe. If it hasn't fallen down since I took these photos it could any day.
The Miles Mine also has a few remnants of buildings including a shack about two-thirds of the way up the trail to the mine that a very large bear left his mark on.

Bears like to scratch trees to mark their territory, but this one left his claw print on the tarpaper above the door to the shack. I don't know if it impressed other bears but I find it awesome. To give you some perspective on how high this is, my brother-in-law Gord Cooper in the photo is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and he can't stretch to where the bear reached.

You can search through the tailing pile from the mine to see if you can find any gold. All of these mines found some, just not enough to make a go of it. There's also some rusty old equipment laying around, some of it old steam-engines that provided the power in those days.
Mostly the trip to the mine is just an interesting walk. The trail cuts through a mixed forest of quaking aspen and white spruce.

The Trout Bay end of the trail usually shows a lot of beaver activity with felled trees and peeled limbs lying around.

There are frequently moose, timber wolf and bear tracks and scat on the trail. You'll probably see a few ruffed grouse or even spruce grouse on this walk.

There are newer trails made up by the mine but I would advise not taking any of these. They were made by prospectors and mine exploration outfits and don't really lead anywhere. They can also be confusing. You don't want to get lost. It's best just to go straight to the mine and then straight back to your boat.

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