The Bradshaws had been mining country back in the old-days, long before my time there, beginning in the 1860s. And the remains of hundreds of mining operations, deep shafts and dark adits, gigantic mountains of poisonous yellow tailings (some now successfully reclaimed), trackless rail-beds, winding narrow roads, and old abandoned homesteads and their correspondent piles of broken stoneware, glass, and rusting metal were all abundant features on the landscape near our cabin. Our place itself was part of an historic mining claim, and subsequently, while we owned the deed to the land for some 40 years, we never did possess the actual mineral rights.
When I was in fourth grade I got my first motorcycle. On it I was able to wander much further... Typically alone, but occasionally with my brothers in-tow, I was able to follow old roads and rail-beds much farther, was able to ride up and down way more and bigger mine tailings, was able to throttle aimlessly for hours at a time through what seemed to me to be a nearly endless woodland. My objective was still to explore old mining operations, but now I brought much less back with me. More and more, my compulsion grew toward simply finding things, not necessarily to retrieving or possessing them... just being out, nowhere, finding old places and old things... seeing them as they were left in-place so long ago... that was enough.
almost no history of mineral extraction in the region. Instead of miners, native people, first... then much later sheep herders and foresters... settled this country. Like all people, they left a mark on the landscape. But to an eye trained to see mines and tailings and abandoned roadbeds, learning to spot sheep camps, and potsherd, and tree blazes, required a lot of relearning.
Mount Elden in the days before the road was built. I've always assumed that this pole followed the original alignment of the mule trail and functioned, long ago, as a communication line, and perhaps also as a power line for folks staffing the tower.
So, today, rather than leave the trail, hike through the snow, and continue to ascend on the freshly graded road... something I will have plenty of opportunities to do as the season progresses... I decided to head back down, but through the trees instead, not on the trail, heading toward the other pole, to see how many more poles I could locate between them. Following an almost straight line, crossing the road at one point, I was able to find 5 poles in all. I took pictures of them, as some kind of proof, I guess, with my lame-but-undeniably-handy phone camera. Five old poles and a fine sense of personal satisfaction. Just another Sunday in the woods.
Where the poles go in either direction above or below points A and E, I don't know. A task for another day.
UPDATE Feb. 2015: The wild telegraph poles of Dry Lake Hills (part two)