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42. Mine Hill Loop (09/13/97)

Hikers (5): Eric, Peter, Russ, Taylor, Wendell
Distance: 14 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 7 beauty
Park info: Almaden Quicksilver County Park in south San Jose

Write-up by Peter

This was a pretty quiet hike, not much different from our last visit (see Hike #19).

We took the same trail out towards the Senator Mines. Egg and Rusty took the early lead and were out of sight before too long. I stayed back with Taylor and Wendell (obviously, he hadn't had enough punishment on his last hike and was back for more).

We had hoped to go all the way to the mines before stopping for lunch, but about halfway there, we found ourselves running out of steam and needed to break for a snack. This is a deceptive trail -- it doesn't seem very long, but when you add it all up, you're going to be walking 14 miles before the end of the day.

We caught up with Rusty and Egg at the mines (our usual picnic table next to the water trough). They were still eating, so it seemed they hadn't been there very long before us, which was surprising since we had taken quite a few stops. We sat there enjoying a long rest in the cool breeze (it's always windy down at this end of the park).

Taylor and Wendell seemed pretty tired, so we decided to take the most direct route back, missing most of the neat stuff like the closed-up mines. The only point of interest we visited was the Buena Vista Shaft, which we had missed last time. It turned out to be a major disappointment -- just a grate over a dark hole. At least I was able to check it off the list of things to see!

From there, it was just a quick on-in (as they say on the hash) back to the car. Like I said before, this hike always makes you more tired than you think you're going to be, and I think everyone was a little sore the next day. Must be the toxic air of the abandoned mines!



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