The weekend after Independence Day was sunny and warm, a good excuse to journey to the mountains. An opportunity to hike along a stream, a chance to explore an old mine and a tough climb to the summit of mountain was just the right choice.
The Bonanza trail entered the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness shortly after leaving the trailhead, but it quickly became obvious that the Trail gets little use and little maintenance. The first 1 1/2 miles stayed in the Cheeney Creek Valley and was mainly a nice walk through the alders by the Creek. The next mile climbed the western canyon wall to an old, abandoned mine. I don’t know what minerals they extracted from the Bonanza Mine, but the mine shaft was six-foot tall, extended 100 feet into the mountain and still had some rusting ore-cart rails visible.
There was only three more steep miles to climb after exploring the area around the old mine. As I ascended higher and higher on the nose of the ridge, the views became better and I entered into transition zone of hemlocks, lodgepole pine, noble fir, beargrass and rhododendrons. By the time the 4,300-foot summit of Huckleberry Mountain was reached, I was in an alpine area strewn with wildflowers of every color. And, for the piece de resistance, Mt. Hood dominated the skyline covered in fresh snow. I laid down among the flowers and marvelled at the beauty of the scene. And, to think, I had not seen one other hiker. All in all the hike was 12 miles in length with 3,500 feet of elevation gain.