Sunday, February 4, 2018

Rope Mill (but not on the bike)

Goodness. The weather. Pretty all week, then garbage on the weekend.

As it was, I made it up to Rope Mill anyway, but not on the bike. I wanted to find the elusive waterfall that various neighborhood roads are named after, and that I swear I'd seen in a mountain-bike-related magazine or maybe even a book in the early 2000's, but never run into in 18 years of riding up there.

I'd also passed various other points of interest at various times, but always been too busy to get a photo of them, so I figured I'd do that, while I was at it.

First up, some ruins along North Rope Mill Road.

Ruins on North Rope Mill Road 1 Ruins on North Rope Mill Road 2

They're on private property, but you can see them from the road. They're a lot easier to see passing by though, as your brain filters out the trees.

Next - Gresham Mill.

Gresham Mill Gresham Mill and Dam

You can't miss it on the way in to Blankets, but I've always been antsy to get riding and never stopped to get a photo of it.

I was pretty sure where the waterfall was, having scoured various maps and satellite photos, and I was pretty sure how to get to it from Rope Mill, but it was basically in someone's backyard, and I wondered if I could just get to it from the neighborhood streets, so I drove around trying.

Nope. Private property. And given the abundance of private property signs on that street in particular, and dearth on every other street, it would see that I wasn't the only one who'd tried that.

Dangit, it would be a long walk in. I parked at the end of North Rope Mill, followed the gated road to the river, and followed the trail beyond that.

Some guys were fishing in the river. First bit of fishing I'd seen yet this year. I wondered if they'd had any luck, but the water was too loud for a quick conversation.

Last time I'd been in that vicinity, I found a mine adit up a little feeder creek.

I think I found another one just around the corner from it this time.

Collapsed Adit on Little River Trail

Hard to say for sure, but given all the gold mining that had been done in the area, it seemed likely.

I'd explored the area before, but on cursorily. This time I gave it a much more thorough examination, and made several new discoveries.

The first was an old WMA Gate.

Old WMA Gate 1 Old WMA Gate 2

The whole area was once the Little River WMA. In fact, before there were Rope Mill and Blankets Creek parks proper, that's how the old mountain bike books described the area.

Next, was a maze of old roadbeds, some still in use, others long abandoned.

And, finally, the waterfall itself.

Toonigh Creek Falls from the Top Toonigh Creek Falls from the Bottom

Toonigh Creek Falls, I guess should be its name, considering that it's on Toonigh Creek, and as far as I know, it's the only falls on the creek.

For as large and reasonably spectacular as it is, I'm amazed that it's not more popular. I've ridden in its vicinity for 18 years and never once heard anyone mention it.

Maybe it's kind of an accidental secret - all the locals know about it and don't think to mention it because everybody knows about it. I remember that kind of thing from the skateboarding days. A lot of spots were popular with locals and otherwise completely unknown.

While decoding the maze of old roads and trails, I found 2 more collapsed mine adits.

Collapsed Adit Above Toonigh Creek Another Collapsed Adit Above Toonigh Creek

Or maybe they were just surface trenches. Hard to say.

Either way, I'm pretty sure they were related to gold mining.

Sadly, that was all I did that day. Couple of hours wandering around in the soggy woods. I guess I made the best of it, but man, I'm really looking forward to some sun.

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