Some Unusual Outdoor Adventures
By Steve Gillman
Perhaps you are hoping for some outdoor adventures this summer,
but you want to try doing something new. What are your options?
Why not leave the mountain bike behind, and skip the expensive
white water tour? Try one of these low budget alternatives.
Searching for Lost Mines
Phantom Canyon just sounds like a great place to explore,
and it's only fifteen minutes from where I live. My friend and
I have been there hiking six times this spring, and five of those
times we have found at least one abandoned mine. They are mostly
classic hole-in-the-wall mines that end forty feet into the mountainside.
There was on that was different though. We found it by following
a trail of beautiful quartz boulders uphill for twenty minutes,
to where the rocks had been blown apart decades ago. In front
of us was a wall of pure quartz, twenty feet wide and fifteen
high. We have never seen anything like it. Beautiful colored
quartz rocks were scattered everywhere.
Many of these are old claims on public lands, and so accessible.
I like to just poke around, but in recent years treasure hunters
have been using metal detectors to work over the tailings piles
of old mines, finding the occasional gold nuggets inside the
rocks. If you want to make this outdoor adventure both more profitable
and more adventurous, find the mines that are five miles or more
from any road. The San Juan mountains of southwestern Colorado
is a good place to start.
To locate the mines, we went online and searched "mines."
There was a list of 160 in Fremont County, Colorado. What is
interesting, though, is that only one of the five we recently
found was on the list we had. It seems that our strategy of just
exploring and keeping our eyes open works pretty well. Old mines
are noted on many topographical maps too.
Though not a good idea (old mines can be very dangerous) we
just had to take a look in this one.
Finding Secret Swimming Holes
Check with locals when you are in a new area and you might
get directions to hidden swimming holes and waterfalls. This
is how we found a beautiful one a mile down a small creek. Unfortunately
we also found fifteen other people there, jumping from the cliffs
into a small water hole.
To find less populated ones, you need to get a topographical
map and start looking. Try to find narrow canyons with year-round
streams in them. Narrow and steep means too much trouble for
most, so you are more likely to have the place to yourself. Then
get out there and start exploring. Last week I was swimming in
a nice pool below a nine-foot waterfall. In the six times I've
been in that canyon, I've never seen another person.
We've never seen anyone else swimming here.
Ever thought about building a raft and floating down a river
like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer? It sounds like a good idea to
me. In fact, we used to do it on the Manistee River in Michigan.
It works best in wide rivers that have long stretches without
rapids, and ones that aren't too shallow.
Our "Huck Finn" adventures usually started with
parking the car downstream from a long wild stretch and walking
up the river for a hour. We took shortcuts that cut past the
big loops and bends. In a day pack we carried snacks and water,
a saw and hatchet, and scraps of rope and twine. We built a raft
of dead trees and began the float back to the car by early afternoon.
The float is when the real fun started. A tip: have long poles.
They make it easier to control the 1,500-pound pile of logs and
humans you'll be guiding under trees and around rocks.
Fishing By Hand
The smelt run up many streams in the early spring in Northern
Michigan and Wisconsin. These fish are a favorite because they
taste great, are easily cleaned and do not need to be scaled.
I have seen the back of a pickup truck filled with the smelt
from one small creek during one night. You catch smelt by simply
dipping a net in and scooping them out.
Of course, it's nice to get outdoors at night (when the smelt
run), and to catch fish by the net-full, but for a bit more fun,
try catching them by hand. Lay on the creek bank, holding the
flashlight in one hand and have the other hand in the water.
When a smelt swims by, pin it to the bottom and grab it quickly.
I've caught 40 in a hour using this technique, and they made
a decent meal for several of us. While this isn't the most exciting
of these outdoor adventures, it is satisfying to catch dinner
with your own hands.
Treasure Hunting Adventure
To win real prizes in a treasure hunt you can enter for free,
visit my newest web site: http://www.ColoradoTreasureHunting.com