submitted by Jeff Monroe
An adventurous crew of ten hikers joined hike leader Jeff Monroe on a beautiful January Saturday to journey to an old copper mine in the National Park. Included in the group were PATC veterans Marian Styles, Marie Moss, Pete and Bev Fink, Dave Borszich, John Brandt, and Michael Seth. Also joining us for their second PATC hike were Gaby Novoa and Johanna Song, along with newcomer Jocelyn Prostko.
The briefly shut down federal government had no effect on the hike, other than hastening access through the guard station. And there were very few other cars in the park. In fact, the entire group only saw a stray dog during the hike, and no hikers until they returned to their vehicles at the end of the hike.
On the way to the mines, the group heard about this area’s brief time on the front pages of the local newspapers, when there was an explosion that could be heard all the way to Charlottesville. A later inquisition failed to determine whether the explosion and resulting deaths of three men was the result of an accident or something more sinister. The mine itself looked more like a frozen waterfall.
The group also visited an old trail shelter for AT thru-hikers, likely from the 1970’s or 1980’s, but long since fallen into disuse. Overall the group traveled 8.4 miles before returning to the trailhead and taking the solemn vow to only show others the location of the secret copper mine in person – to keep it secret (and open) as long as possible.