Quiet as a mouse with coffee no further than arms reach at all times, I begin to get ready for a day of adventure and unknown.
530 am and half a pot of coffee later my lunch is made and packed, water and soda in the neighboring cooler. Life is good. Still sleepy though.
550 am, showered, packed and ready to do this.
In no time their gear is unloaded and ready to be reloaded into the Hummer. We socialize briefly, they meet the wife as she comes out to say “goodbye” and we pack it up.
First stop of the day, The Golden Turkey!The road was a bit muddy but not too bad. Actually pretty well compacted from the rain allowing for a nice ride to our first stop. Oddly enough, Kao and I discussed this very mine a couple nights earlier only we had no idea we were talking about the same mine.
Incidentally, I knew about a building he said had burned down here because my daughter and I had visited that very building some years ago before the fire. I’m not sure I have pictures but will have to look and if I do, I’ll share them with you. By the way, in my research I found an interesting article on that building HERE. I’m guessing though, that this was before they caved in the main entrance to the mine too. I say this because that day we ran into a couple of guys doing some recon for a future visit. They mentioned that the electrical seemed to be in good shape and lights were still strung throughout and they planned on coming back with a generator.
I also tried finding this very same place to show Darcy on our way home from our Honeymoon in Crown King. I didn’t find much because I slashed a sidewall just inside the mine area.
It wasn’t until after our exploration of this mine did I see where the original tunnel had been collapsed. Hence the need to squeeze into this opening to about 2000′ of workings off the main tunnel. Interestingly enough, a warm humid air was coming out of the mine which was quite a contrast to the 44 degree morning.
It took me a few minutes of staring at the cracks in the rock above the opening to get up the nerve to continue. When I explore mines, I’m very aware of the condition of the opening and it’s makeup which usually gives me an idea of what to expect. I wasn’t feeling warm and fuzzy with this opening.
After being convinced that 200′ into the mine I’d feel better, I went for it. It’s what I came out to do damn it and I wasn’t going to sit this one out.
So I fired up my headlamp, checked all my gear and crawled in being ever so careful as to not disturb the rock above me.
While it felt like there was no turning back, I knew I could always go back the way I came at any point and say “Piss on it!” but I continued. Further in we went until we were far enough from the opening that our lights really started to kick in. It was at this point that we shut our lights off for a few minutes to let our eyes adjust to the darkness.
A practice I’ve never really engaged in until now, it makes sense. A few minutes later we fired up our lights and it was like daylight.
Deeper into the mine we went, sometimes crawling through passages only to reach chambers that only allowed us to rise on our knees. Huge timbers were used to support the crushing granite above as well as mounds of gob rock to assist in supporting the ceiling of the mine.
Not all of the mine was a tight fit, there were some miscellaneous areas that we could walk through tunnels only to be back on our knees just around the bend but it was a nice relief for the legs. Knees were fine, I’ve got some great pads that I picked up at Home Depot to do the Silo.
I think just about every mine I’ve been in until now was one that contained tunnels I could walk in. This was a completely new experience for me in a few ways. There is a big difference in walking a tunnel as opposed to crawling it. The thing you don’t want to happen, is letting your mind wander. There came a point where anxiety was really kicking in and I had to slow down, relax and get a grip. It had nothing to do with being claustrophobic, because that’s never been an issue with any of the places I’ve gone. This was something new and completely different.
See, from entering the mine, I was watching my surroundings very closely and was getting uneasy about some of the cracking and collapsed rock I was seeing. I read the news, I know what happens in mines.
After taking a moment to chill, we continued on. We were actually trying to make our way deeper into the mine where there was said to be a pump still down there, but alas it was not going to happen. The tunnel was under water.
As we continued through the mine, there was evidence that suggests this mine may not be around forever. It was at this point we all pretty much started to agree that this would be our last visit to The Golden Turkey. We had hoped of course that that would be by choice and not fate.
That’s not to say the mine was not interesting, because it was. I saw some new things that I hadn’t seen before such as wooden crates that once held explosives as well as a totally different kind of mine in general.
We wound are way through the workings and made our way out via another access point. Lucky for us this entry was exploited, or we would’ve been back-tracking all the way to where we started. It probably would’ve been a quick trip since we wouldn’t be exploring and taking side trips, but it still would’ve been nerve racking.
Having spent about 3 hours in The Golden Turkey, it was time to move on to the mine we really came to see. The De Soto.
Before we get to the De Soto though, check out the rest of the Golden Turkey pictures over HERE.
Thanks for your interest,