Mad Dogs & Rock Collectors Go Out In The Mid-day Sun! (Post up your Rocks & Mid-day Epics!)

  • Of course, most climbers wouldn't care to,
    And older folks wouldn't dare to, go out in the mid-day sun.

    Noel Coward wrote the original title & lyrics (Mad dogs & Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun.) while motoring in Vietnam in 1931. It doesn't sing well, but the title has lingered with me since studying the lyrics a bit to improve my English accent in a long-ago high school drama course.

    The mid-day sun makes most crystals sparkle & certainly makes them somewhat easier to find. I ventured out to the edge of deepest Idaho on two day trips this week. Happily, I brought little home but memories & photos. I did keep this 2" x 2" specimen with nice small pyrite crystals.
    IMG_0890-CROP ENHANCED.jpg

    On Tuesday we took our SLC friends Jerry & Angie into the fabled Muldoon Mining District & hiked a couple miles to a mine that was worked off & on from the early 1880's up to the 1940's. The rocks sucked but large mining artifacts were abundant. I enjoy photographing that stuff too.

    Angie & Dorita inspecting a 1920's 30's vintage 4-cylinder engine & air-compressor for air-drilling rock.

    A 1900 - 1920 gas one cylinder engine about 10' long. The huge wheels on this would have been connected with belts to other mine machinery.

    Two steam-boilers from the late 1800's. with their shed & smoke stacks collapsed on top of them. I've never seen side by side boilers before in my 60 years of exploring old mines & western ghost towns.


    And setting in the creek, a 1930's - 40's Caterpillar.

    After lunch we visited a vanished 1880's town. All that remains are mostly flattened charcoal kilns that provided charcoal for an adjacent vanished lead & silver smelter that was only in business from 1882 -84.


    After two days home in Choss Creek doing "honey-do's" & tree triming in mid-day temps that ranged from 90 -100 f., I was ready for another day in the hills. It has also gotten warm in the hills of deepest Idaho. After a drive, I started my hike to more old lead/silver mines at 11:00 AM & 82 f. The shadeless south-facing hillside I hiked an ancient mining road up, was covered with stickers, thistles, & dried out annual grasses. My first objective was 1,100 vertical feet up & I was a little warm by the time I reached those mines. The whole area had burned a few years back & shade was mostly lacking.

    There was a lot of pyrite aka fool's gold on some of the mine dumps, and although it sparkled in the mid-day sun, the crystals were mostly a little too small for me to keep.

    The wild flowers were nice & I had intended to push on off-road another mile & another 1,000 vertical to an old barite mine. After exploring the considerable number of mine dumps around me, I made it to a ridge & some marble, where hot granite had altered limestone a few million years back.

    There was also a view of some nearby big mountains in the Pioneer Range.


    That was good enough for me & I got the hell out of there & went home to wine & air conditioning.

  • Thanks, Fritz!

  • Moosdrool! Great to have you aboard young man. You're fun!

    No-one had ever climbed this test-piece with an umbrella, before Moosedrool tried it.

    Such style on rock should be collected!

    Moose umbrella city.jpg

  • Nice! Roaming the eastern sierra saw a lot of mining equipment. Always wondered how they got all that up there....

  • johntp! It is amazing to me, what those 19th century miners achieved to bring machinery to their high mines. Of course they had mules, horses, & oxen to drag stuff up roads, but sometimes they had to drag tons of metal up cliffs to the top of new tramways to transport ore back down to the road.

    I found this assortment of large metal wheels at a mine portal at about 10,000' in Idaho's Lemhi Range a few years back. Per the photos, the labor to get it there is somewhat amazing.

    The tramway wheels were about 36" in diameter.
    tramway top Spring Mt 1880s.jpg

    The mine dump with the above tramway top is marked with a blue arrow in this photo from the valley floor.
    Spring mt tramway head in blue.jpg

    I just got home from 3 more days of fun, getting high, exploring old mines in deepest Idaho. More to follow!


  • @FritzRay Nice hat! Is that a Tilley yer' sportin' there? 👍

    My well worn and sweated up rig got ripped out of my truck up at Petit Lake when I turned my back long enough to use the outhouse. Jeeze, not even safe to take a piss anymore... Cost to replace had gone sky high by then and I just couldn't justify so my neighbor kicked me down a US Army regulation sun hat. Gets the job done well enough. More recently another neighbor in the Guard noted how old mine was and kicked me down an updated one - less purposeful pixelation action in the camoflauge pattern to accommodate the updated resolution of the satellites, drones, etc. Or so I am told. Ain't technology amazing? But I digress...

    Cool pics! 📷

  • I'm home from three days of "getting high" in Idaho's Lemhi Mountains near the old mining town of Gilmore. Despite the annual Idaho mountain July plague of biting flies & mosquitoes, I had a great time hiking to old high mines & even climbed to a high point.

    After a 9:00 A.M. start from home, I stopped beside an old miner’s cabin when the little used road I was on started looking a little soft. It was the two-week anniversary of burying my SUV axle- deep in a Nevada mudhole & I didn’t have a friend with another 4-WD to pull me out, this time around. Besides, a walk was what I wanted anyway.

    Photo from near where I started walking. My high point is at top left & the first mine I walked to is in the saddle at top center.

    After spraying vulnerable parts of me with DEET, I started hiking at 1:45. Although I could see switchbacks going up a hill to the appropriately named Hilltop Mine, the first mile of my hike went gently down & then gently up to a creek crossing. I managed the switchbacks at a steady pace & soon arrived. The mine had been worked from the 1880’s off & on up until the 1960’s, but I was somewhat surprised to see a number of cabins that looked like they dated to the 1800’s. Other than a 1930’s car body & a more recent water tank, no other mining machinery or minerals of interest remained.

    IMG_0557.JPG IMG_0521.JPG

    My book on the geology & mines of the Gilmore area mentioned there were more mines above, so I kept going up a now somewhat steeper road. I explored scattered mine dumps along the way without finding any minerals to take home & finally decided I needed to get high. My map showed a high point I could see just ahead as 9,431’ & since I had started walking at 7,480’, that seemed like a good altitude to end my hike.
    My high point objective at top center.

    From the high point, which was a large outcrop of what is called Kinnickinic Quartzite, the view was good, I was exercised, the flies had not been voracious, but unfortunately, it was 4:45 & I had about 4 miles to hike back to my SUV before cocktail hour could begin. Happily, I did find one nice mineral specimen at a small mine on my way down. As I neared my vehicle mosquitoes started pestering me & I decided camping on the edge of a swamp was not a good idea. A half-mile drive got me to a flat camp spot & I only had to kill an occasional mosquito during the evening.

    Looking down to the northeast from my high point. The Hilltop mine is at lower center left & the Bitterroot Mountains & Montana border are in the distance.

    Kinnikiinic formation quartzite on the upper slopes of my high point. It dates to the Devonian Era, about 350 - 400 million years ago & started out as sand that was subjected to heat & pressure.

    My "keeper" rock for the day. Pyromorphite, lead potassium chloride. from near the Hilltop mine. Rare in the Gilmore area.

    More to follow!

    And Toby, my hat is a Tilly hat. I worked for them as their Idaho/Montana sales rep for a couple years until I got fired when a large & prestigious rep-group made an offer they couldn't refuse for all the Rocky Mountain states. The hat was a free parting gift from the embarrassed
    sales manager. I like it!

  • I do need to post two camp photos of my first night, so friends know it is really me telling this story.



    The next morning, I drove up an occasionally wet road to where things were looking a little boggy & parked. I found the Mountain Boy mine in about 1 1/2 miles, near the end of the road & followed cat tracks above the main mine to higher tunnels at about 9,000’. The mine had a few left- behind ore specimens, one piece of mining machinery I couldn’t identify, a couple cabins, & a lot of No Trespassing - Government Property signs on the cabins.

    Mountain Boy seems like an appropriate name for the mine.

    Indian Paintbrush & more Kinnikinic quartzite.

    Lead - Silver ore found near the mine. The ore is similar at every mine in the district & is described as "earthy."

    After I hiked back down to my vehicle, I found the biting flies were warmed up & waiting for me. Lunch was inside & I drove back down & south to the old Mining Camp of Gilmore. It had boomed during the early 1900’s & a railroad named the Gilmore & Pittsburgh Railroad had been built to it from Dillon Montana, where it connected to an existing Union Pacific rail line. The town had mostly become a ghost town in the early 1930’s, but a number of historic buildings still remain & quite a few folks have bought lots there to park trailers on. A few historic buildings have been restored as vacation homes. Since Gilmore is located just off the highway from Idaho Falls to Salmon, year-around access is possible, even though it sets at 7,200 ft.

    Gilmore from the north.

    The county historical association has a few old photos & stories of Gilmore in it's prime, at an outdoor exhibit.

    Gilmore in its prime about 1920. The row of small houses at the bottom of the photo was described as miner's homes. (click photo to enlarge)

    A stout Gilmore prospector & his dog & horse about 1900.

    Although most of the large mines just west of Gilmore are marked No Trespassing, some aren’t & I walked around several, then drove up to scenic Meadow Lake looking for a mine of interest that is called the Meadow Lake Mine. It remained elusive, but I stopped at the nice campground at the lake & shivered in the 20-30 mph wind & 60-degree temperature. The numerous campers did not look to be enjoying themselves. After going back down towards Gilmore I found the somewhat hidden, but nicely maintained Pioneer cemetery & paid it a visit.

    A large open mine shaft just west of Gilmore. I tossed a rock in & it fell for 3 seconds before hitting bottom.

    Meadow Lake, the most scenic campground near Gilmore.

    Oxidized pyrite crystals, mostly converted to iron, from a Gilmore mine.

    The well-maintained Gilmore Pioneer cemetery. It's a little hard to find, but scenic. I understand people are dying to be there. (Actually there's only one grave from this century.)

    After that I drove south to the Birch Creek desert & got out of the bug zone. Unfortunately, the wind that kept the bugs away also made fishing Birch Creek difficult. It was ok with me though, since I could start cocktail hour at 5:00 instead of 7:00.

    One of Idaho's eight 12,000' plus mountains from my camp.


    After sleeping in, I fished for a couple hours the next morning, but never saw a trout larger than 10". I made it home to Choss Creek by 3:00.

  • @FritzRay Looks like you're well supplied in the vino department 🍷

    In other news... yeah, ID mosquitoes can be bad news. Even worse news is that we lead the nation in West Nile cases per annum. I had an AK river guide turn me onto these Thermacell Units a few years back. He had a fairly large group size unit that we benefited from even camped thirty feet away during a particularly nasty mosquito year up at Hell's Roaring. I was sold and subsequently purchased one of the personal sized units linked above. Consumables are a bit pricey but otherwise love it. Not having to coat your body and clothing w/toxic insecticides is a huge win. Toby recommended. 👍

    Edit: I also favor ExOfficio Bugsaway Bandanas. In addition to keeping mosquitoes at bay, also helps shield higher elevation UV off ears, back of neck, etc. Mine cost $8. Looks like they got popular and are running half again that price now. ExOfficio also offers a lot of other clothing items. Group of affluent "Touristas" I met that same trip had a member of their party sporting one of their Halo Shirts. Evidently pretty popular around certain golf courses and he'd brought his. The group had been packed in by local outfitters and there were perhaps a dozen empty large sized cans of OFF waiting to be packed back out. Seeing was believing.

  • Pretty cool stuff! what where the steam boilers used for?

  • @NickG Just like in a steam locomotive, the boiler steam was piped to pistons, which turned wheels. The wheels were connected to mine machinery with belts. They could run winches to raise & lower ore & miners up & down mine shafts, or pumps to pump water out of mines, or ore-crushing machinery. By the 1880's Ingersoll Rock Drill company sold a rock-drilling rig that used compressed air to cycle a pneumatic drill. It was far more efficient at drilling holes in mine tunnels, than men hitting hand-held drills with sledge hammers. Those holes were then filled with explosives to blast more rock or ore & extend the tunnels. So then, steam engines also ran air compressors which powered the drills, until smaller gas engines were developed early in the 20th century.

    "Small" gas engine is a relative term. My buddy Gordon, who you met, & I found this single-cylinder gas engine at an Idaho mine two years back. They are often called "hit & miss" engines & were widely used in the early 1900's.

  • saw some cool stuff up around Teluride in 2016 but didn't know what most of it was used for other than knowing it was for mining..

  • @NickG! Here's a Ingersoll Rand air compressor at a mine on Spruce Mountain Nevada. It likely dates to the 1920's.


  • looks like buzz worm heaven 😉

  • @NickG! I think it was above prime rattler territory, although I'm up to three encounters this year, including descending a mine dump on 2' diameter rocks & looking down at a disturbed & excited rattler in a hole, a foot below my right foot. I levitated out of that position. Mostly, I don't encounter rattlers at the high mines I visit.

    But, we were finding good mineral specimens. Garnet crystals on white calcite from that mine.

    Andradrite Garnets on white Calcite. Photo is a closeup of a 1 inch area.jpg

  • As interesting as all the historical stuff is it is also important to bear in mind the huge environmental impact from mining. Entire river systems, e.g. Clark Fork, became essentially sterile. Time and expensive cleanups footed by taxpayers rather than the mining barons restored fisheries decades later. Still ill advised to eat the fish so it's a good thing most sportsmen are into catch and release these days.

    Another example would be Anaconda Smelter Cleanup. Copper Barons declared bankruptcy prior to expensive cleanups that ended up tapping millions from the Super Fund. Folks who grew up there bitd often contracted various strange forms of cancer. My mother in law was pretty involved with the local historical society and records indicated the Barons we well aware of the hazards and even went so far as destroying records.

    Here's one more from the Anaconda Copper Legacy.

    Okay, sorry to be a downer. Just wanted to keep in perspective cuz while I dig these pics of days gone by it was pretty bad news ecologically. ✌

  • Two things
    In that sweltering garage that flooded, was the cardboard box containing
    what is left of a once-proud rock collection.
    My father & I amassed somewhere around 60 quality specimens.
    After my leaving he saw fit to leave 3 pounds of raw decaying Vermiculite
    in the same wood/glass display case.
    From all I've read, a bucket of soapy water and a light spray down
    will render the stones & crystals safe.
    From what I understand;
    my mother was known to pass out small hammers to very young children,
    to give them entertainment; smashing on the best of the semi-precious stones,(Pictures to follow in a few days)

    This is an awe-inspiring thread and I give tribute!
    It makes me think of a thing not so much as any sort of competition
    I can think of this to inspire me to do my own march to a sad castle that sits a click
    (or 2 at most) up a hill in the tick-infested mixed hardwoods.
    We'll usually go in the fall as it is an annual thing
    so it might be more in a month or 2.

  • Vermiculite is not that big a deal in small doses. water will keep the dust down. wear an N100 mask (majenta filters) if not you will probably live with a snug N95 dust mask. wash that stuff off and move on...

  • Toby! Your point is well-taken.

    "As interesting as all the historical stuff is it is also important to bear in mind the huge environmental impact from mining"

    Much of our history had dark spots, when we dig a little deeper. Mining caused & still causes incredible damage to our environment. An Idaho story that amuses me is that the "world-class" ski resort towns of Ketchum/Sun Valley had a lead smelter during the 1880's. The large & modern Philadelphia Smelter was on the banks of Big Wood River, just west of Ketchum & it smelted lead/silver/zinc ores from the many mines in the area.

    Here's a non-copyright stereoscope photo of the smelter & the railroad bridge to it from the Bancroft Library.
    Philadelphia Smelter-Bancrof Library, 1905.jpg

    The Smelter went bankrupt by 1890, but the environmental mess from it has been "swept under the carpet of history," since Ketchum/Sun Valley don't want to be thought of as a "mining waste site."

    Ketchum/Sun Valley celebrates the next local industry that was important, massive sheep-grazing, which also caused much erosion & damage with a highly-successful "Trailing of The Sheep" festival every fall, but I doubt if they will ever have a "Mining & Smelter" festival.

    I drove by the local airport two weeks ago, when the annual Paul Allen & Company "Billionaires Summer Camp" was happening. It is strange to see so-much wealth & power concentrated in a one-time mining boom town.



  • I managed a two-day outing to another group of high mines in "deepest Idaho." South Mountain sets near the Oregon border on the western edge of the Owyhee desert & has a mining history that goes back to the 1860's. The mines there mostly produced lead & zinc along with some silver & copper & achieved their most productive years in the 1940's & early 50's. They have now mostly slumbered for 65 years, but still hold substantial ore reserves. For the last 15 or so years much exploration work has been done on them, but fears that the mountain-top & BLM fire lookout would be replaced by an open-pit mine have not been realized, yet.

    Fire lookout at center left from my first mine hike of the day

    My abusive rock-hound parents dragged me to South Mountain when I was a teenager & forced me to look for old bottles, small mining artifacts, & mineral specimens. All I can remember finding is the box of mineral specimens I still have. Heidi & I went back in 2007 & enjoyed the wonderful solitude & terrific sunsets from the high treeless ridge the fire lookout sets on. There are of course, no developed campsites & no amenities, which is just the way we like it.

    Looking south at the Owyhee highlands & my SUV from the lookout.

    One of many open mine shafts.

    I was at a mine about 400 vertical feet under the summit on the east side when two Air force fighters cleared the summit by about 100' & roared off east. The dot in center of this photo is the 2nd jet.

    Most of South Mountain is a "Skarn" where semi-molten granite was uplifted millions of years ago into still more ancient limestone. It produced the ores that got mined & some minerals only of interest to collectors. Most of those minerals are on private lands, but some areas are still available, although 150 years of mineral collecting there has made collecting challenging.

    Here;s a big chunk of calcite, with sprays of Skarn iron minerals, brownish Hedenbergite & black Ilvaite. I left it in place.

    But, there is still the glorious sunsets & awesome sunrises.


    And even though I had to share my camp with cows, moonrise with cow is a rare photo opportunity.

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