Whiskey and I had good luck recently on the Ruffner Trails.
After a disappointed and sad moment to mourn the loss of our beloved ivy patch that the Park (I’m assuming that’s who was responsible) has mowed/weed whacked down, we came across some beautiful spots.
Crusher No. 2:
See picture number 6 on this site. I didn’t make it to the front, but instead wandered up on the hill behind Crusher Number 2 and looked down upon the odd bowl shaped opening up top. Whiskey loved the smell of it and rightly wanted to pull me down the hillside to get to it. But I was worried about sliding down the steep hill and because it was getting dark I also didn’t want to take the time to find another way around. This leads to an interesting point… I think a lot of people I meet on the trail don’t understand when I explain why I didn’t just go down a steep hillside that seems easy enough to them. They don’t have 65 lb’s of “might understand No. Stop. Stay” attached to their wrist. He might pull me down the hill, or I might have to let go to protect myself from a dangerous slide and then that leaves me with a lost dog. I don’t want that. Whiskey isn’t trustworthy off leash and so I have to decide, is this a risky procedure for us? Is it something easy enough for me to do on my own but difficult to climb down with a dog?
We’ve been working on this though and he’s learning to take commands more seriously when in the woods. There have been several good training exercises where I made him wait while I climbed up or down a hill and he’s done pretty good. But I know my (our) limits.
Speaking of limits, if I’d known we’d end up hiking a bit with people I would have put on a different collar and leash. He was quite the pushy trail hog and had to be in front, and had to be with the other dog (or where ever tickled his fancy at that exact moment.) And I was a little embarrassed about his pulling. But then I think “If you people could have only seen him 6 months ago! You’d think he’s a saint!” Retraining a rescue dog takes time. Some more than others. You accept this and move on. It’s just that sometimes I wish I had a way to help everyone who might be thinking (rude dog, bad owner) know that this isn’t the case (good patient owner, rescue dog with little to no skillzzz… improving every day!).
So on our way back down we ran back into a group of people we had briefly passed by a few minutes earlier and who had directed me towards the Crusher. They were a fantastic group of people who included a gentleman who knew an unbelievable amount about the mountain. He showed me where the Dynamite House was and directly behind it where the caps were kept separately from the dynamite in something akin to a dog house. The gentleman was introduced as Marty. I can only assume, as I’ve forgotten if I was told his last name that this was Marty Schulman, of the famous Marty’s Mondo Mine Hikes. Here’s an excellent but older article about them. I always wanted to go but have been thwarted every time I tried.
I also tried to take pictures of what I’m calling the “rooms” behind the crusher. Whiskey wanted in here so bad! No way. Not today my friend!
Here’s my problem. I want to tell you how to get to these things I find out in the woods at Ruffner but it is so impossible to figure out how without getting you very lost. There are so many turnoffs and possible side trails. I was glad to see that 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles also does not tell you trail by trail how to get there. It says to get a guide. I say, get a guide. I’m most interested right now in finding out where the explosion on July 25th 1971 took place that left a crater and blew up several buildings from 20 tons of explosives that were detonated. I know it was nearby where I was, I just haven’t found it yet.
The good news is that they are apparently clearing the trails and putting in posts and cutting trees (unfortunately beautiful ivy too :( ) etc. in order to open trails. So if that is the plan then there should be marked trails soon that will help me get you closer to seeing cool stuff. Or maybe you’ll just get really lucky on your own hike and run into such knowledgeable people so you can get your own personal tour of Ruffner. Maybe!
For fantastic drawings, pictures, and documents about the mines check out the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record’s Site.
I’ll leave you with a picture of the “nightmare tree.”