Sunday, August 31, 2014

North Fork of John Day River: Day hike to Tub Spring Cabin

Saturday, August 16 - day hike on trail 3034 - round trip 8 miles

Saturday brings our first FULL DAY of SUNSHINE!

After breakfast we pack our lunches and head out for a day hike on trail 3034, the trail that follows the North Fork of the John Day River.

This is the same trail we hiked in on four days ago, but the river looks different here. It is narrower, shallower, and wilder.

Today's hike brings many surprises. There is frequent evidence of the mining activity in the area from the late 1800s.

 The cables and remains of a derelict cable trolley that crossed the river.

 More piles of rocks like the ones we saw yesterday, but instead of being adjacent to the river, these are nearly 100 feet above river level. Could they be from mining? We cannot imagine a natural process that would have resulted in these piles, and yet we also cannot imagine using hand labor to haul them so high above the river.

Part of the mystery is solved around a bend in the trail when we come across the historical marker for Gutridge Mine. Now we know that this is more mining evidence, but we still do not know why (or how) they hauled the rocks so far.

Soon we encounter what looks like a blaze mark in a tree, but there is more to it…

An old mining claim sign.

It feels like we've hiked about four miles, and all of us are ready for lunch, when we come to a river crossing. No bridge this time, so we settle in to enjoy the view.

 But as we look more closely through the trees…what is that?? Why, it's another cabin roof! We lament that it is across the river. No water shoes with us and we don't relish hiking 4 miles out in wet boots...
After lunch, Dorothy and I can't stand it. We both decide to wade the river barefoot, with the help of Mark & Ken's hiking staves, so we will have 2 each for balance.

We don't trust ourselves with the cameras - we might fall! - so sadly, we don't have any photos of the cabin itself. Meanwhile, the boys amuse themselves with taking photos and videos of our slow progress across the river.

The cabin was the BEST ONE YET! I figured we could find some photos online, but I have not had any success yet. So sad.

The cabin was labeled "Tub Spring." Historical markers indicated that it was a relinquished mining property that dated to 1895. More signs outside the cabin pointed to "Whisker Peak" to the south and "First Gulch" to the west.

This is how I described the cabin in my hiking journal: "The cabin is in good condition - walls sound, roof not too bad. The walls were criss-cross logs with notches cut in the ends. Inside, Dorothy and I found a rough handmade bed attached to one corner, 2 tables attached to walls, a screened-in box attached to the wall - I think for food - and a set of shelves attached to a wall. Misc items - saw, scythe, other tools on wall, large galvanized tubs. Some modern litter (whiskey bottle, spray can of insect repellant, broken lawn chair). It was not trashed, and it was so easy to imagine that I had just walked into Lydia's cabin in The Jump-Off Creek. This cabin was larger than hers would have been, but in the same region and time period. There was even a hand-made ladder up in the rafters."

Wow. Wow. Wow. It was so cool to explore this cabin!! And then we made our barefoot way back across the river.

As we hiked back to camp, the sun was hot and the river pools were so inviting. Finally we couldn't stand it any longer. "Our clothes will dry," Dorothy said, and that was all it took for the 4 of us to enjoy a little "swimming hole."

We also explored a lovely beach campsite just 1/2 hour hike away from Granite Meadow.

 (Ahhh…that glorious blue sky…)

And still, in spite of my worries, no sign of any other campers!! (Spoiler alert - we did not see anyone for the entire eight days that we were in this amazing wilderness area.)

Again we relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon and evening in camp.

I did a little laundry. (Wash clothes in gallon ziplock bag, a few items at a time. Wring out. Rinse 2-3 times in the same ziplock bag. Do not dip the ziplock bag in the river. Bring water from the river in a bucket and pour it into the ziplock bag. Keep the soap out of the river!!)

Then hang up the laundry and sit back and relax!

Another beautiful, peaceful evening in Granite Meadow.

Night falls over the North Fork of the John Day River.

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