Hitch 3: Minerals

Hitch lead: Lisa Weidemann

This was my first minerals hitch, giving Shannon a break to bop on over to U-routes for a few weeks. My time was spent roaming the countryside in search of abandoned mines and assessing any hazards they pose, taking photos and GPS points, and searching for evidence of sensitive flora and fauna.

The long daily drives in the jeep, affectionately renamed “The Heep” were always interesting as the small SUV had the heart of a lion but the legs of a lamb. We drove until the two-track roads ended or the skid plate was hit more than half a dozen times, whichever came first, then hiked in to begin the search for adits and shafts.

On this particular hitch, I tried to imagine what life was like for miners in Idaho. Claims from the early 1900’s were picked by hand as miners worked in small dark passages, searching for precious metals. Adits were often dug through unstable rock and collapses were common. Multiple families shared one-room cabins, and claims were worked until lode-bearing rock was hit and mined or money ran out. The thought of risking everything to find a big lode definitely made my work more exciting through the course of the week.