Poppoff Trail

Kind of an unusual days for birds at Poppoff, lots of little geese, a rabbit, and lots of racket.  Quite a bit of activity, birds chirping everywhere you turned, hard to get focused on a particular bird.  Her are a few pictures taken today at Poppoff or on the way there.  There were two geese families, the goslings looked two week old in one set and about two days old in the other.  More pictures later.

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A Day Trip at Costco Pond

A fun morning at Costco Pond, a duck with ten little chicks going for a day trip.

This looks pretty easy… I think I can do it.bd10

Oops – Not as easy as it looks.bd bd0 bd1 bd2 bd3bd5 bd6 bd7 bd8 bd9 bd10 bd11 bd12 bd13 bd14 bd15 bd16 bd17 bd18 bd19

A Killdeer pretending to be injured to steer me away from her nest.bd20

Killdeer chicks

These pictures were taken on May 7th near Costco Pond in Union Gap.  Although I saw 4 that looked to be from the same hatch, I could not get them to sit still long enough for a group photo.  Just guessing, but I don’t think they are over 3 or 4 days old.

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Eastern Washington

Just a quick trip looking for birds to photograph, and casing the area to find a place to camp in the days ahead.  The birds were scarce, except for a couple of red tailed hawks that kept circling the area and screeching.  There must have been a hawk’s nest in the area, as hawks on the prowl don’t generally screech like that.  I think they were trying to scare us off.  I am sure it scared most of the birds I was looking for.

Even the squirrel was hanging out pretty close to his hole beneath a tree.    The weather changed and it got chilly pretty quick.   Great scenery and habitat for a wide variety of birds.   A good, fun day.


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The hummingbirds are back in Yakima this spring.  After a day of trying to photograph them, I think I have discovered why I like taking pictures of  hawks and eagles, they sit still once in a while.  Hummingbirds are easier to hear than they are to see.  If I want to see their wings, I will need a faster shutter speed.  It seems that out of every 50 photographs or so, you can actually see a bird in one.

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Climax Colorado – The Old Home Town Isn’t The Same

I see these pins on eBay from time to time.  A 10 year service pin from the Climax Molybdenum Company.  Doesn’t seem like much for working ten years at 11,316 feet elevation, generally underground where the sun never shines and the temperature never varied more than 3 or 4 degrees.  Always just above freezing, which was actually pretty nice when it was 25 below zero in the winter.  On the other hand, a hot summer day at Climax could get up to 65 or even 70 degrees, on those days, the mine was no fun.


You got to ride on one of these 8 ton motors underground if you were lucky, if not, you rode on the man trip.  I guess you could call it an underground subway, pulled by a 30 ton motor with several dozen cars, each holding about 6 men.  The train ride underground was about a mile, after which you got off, walked to the tool crib to get your tools, then off to the work assignment.



Your work assignment would likely put you in one of these situations, although this photograph is not of the Climax mine, you get the general drift.  You got to play with a jack leg (usually an Ingersoll Rand), a combination of a rotary drill with an air operated hydraulic let that forced in forward once you got the hole collared and started drilling.  I am sure there were miners that were a lot better than I, but in my day, a typical miner would drill about 100 8′ holes in an eight hour shift.  You usually operated in teams of two men, sometimes by yourself.


As long as you kept busy and didn’t think too much about where you were, it went pretty smooth.  Frequently this type of work was done in the stopes.  A series of mined out risers and tunnels that upon completion were intended to be blow up and the ore pulled out from below.

I went to work underground at the Climax mine when I was 20 years old, over 50 years ago in 1964.  I went to work as a Timberman on a repair crew, which was a bullshit name for miners that had to do the work no one else wanted to.  My first assignment was on a crew that had to re-stope an area that had been stoped before and had collapsed prematurely a couple of years prior.  The stopes had been drilled, loaded and ready to shoot when it collapsed.  That happened two years before I went to work there.  It took two years for the ground to become stable enough to re-mine or re-stope.  When those drifts collapsed there was still a significant amount of dynamite that was buried with it.   The picture below will give you a rough idea of the layout.
Everything above the Slusher Drift would be considered stopes.  Everything above the slusher drift would be collapsed allowing the ore to be pulled out of the mouth of the fingers, which were concrete collared to prevent collapsing.  The slusher drift was also a poured concrete tunnel.

The haulage drift, the one with the railroad tracks was timbered and had draw holes to pull ore through into train cars below.  The picture of a man on the short side of the slusher drift operated a slusher that had two huge reels of cable that went to a sheave on the opposite end of the tunnel.  He could pull that heavy steel dipper forward to pull ore through the drawhole  into the train car, and back to get another grab at it.

If all went as planned, ore kept falling though the finger raises into the slusher drift and pulled into the cars by the slusher operator.   Haulage tunnels had numbers, in my case it was 280, slusher drifts had numbers as well, mine was 17 or 19, the fingers were lettered A, B, C, etc to the end.  The first finger on the left being A and the right B, and so forth.   As long as the fingers kept running, as was well, when one quit, you went a little further back and picked on another, then another.  When they all quit running ore they called in a Hangup Man.  He had to go up the finger, poke it or dynamite it or whatever it took to get it running again.  Sometimes huge boulder would lodge above the finger which stopped the flow of ore.  The hangup man got an extra 10 or 15 cents an hour more than a miner or timberman.  That was a really crappy job.   Sometimes fingers with hangups came in by themselves without any help from a hangup man, but every now and then they were up the finger when it came in.  You had to be fleet footed to do that job.




I don’t know why I am going on about this job, I only worked there 3 years.  I guess it is partly because I can’t believe that I was stupid enough when I was 20 years old to think it was a really good job.  It actually paid pretty good, $2.90 to $3.00 an hour with time and half for overtime.  Minimum wage was a buck at the time.  I’m not saying I got religion working in that mine, but it definitely clarified the meaning of “between a rock and a hard place” for me.    This is part where I start whining.

The two drifts I worked in were 260 and 280.  My foreman told me these drifts were “taking weight”.  Boy Howdy was he right about that.  An engineer once explained it to me as an unusual rock formation that caused waves of weight to sweep over that section of the mine, kind of like the tide, though not so frequent.  The situation got so bad that timber would not hold it up, it was constantly breaking timber and caving.  The solution was to use yieldable arch steel, a 3 piece set that had two legs and a cap and designed to let the cap come down slowly on the legs without caving in the mine.   These sets were placed approximately every 2 feet down the haulage tunnels.

When we came to work we would take a piece of keel and mark the end of the caps location on the leg.  At the end of shift another measurement let us know how far down the back came.  It was not unusual to see a drop of 2 or 3 inches a shift.  That was not so bad, but every now and then you could hear the weight coming.  It starting popping the caps down on the legs with a crack.  It would start at one end of the drift and finish at the other.  Kind of like a minor earthquake.  Apparently it was to be expected, but nevertheless it scared the hell out of you.  Anyway, enough crying for now.  I do have a few stories to tell about Climax.  I was working on the Philiipson level when the intake ventilation shaft at Storke Level caught on fire and closed the mine for a few days.

Also worked on loading powder for the “big shot” that Colorado Governor Love pulled the switch on” .  It was huge.

Climax, Colorado was a good town in a good time.  The town is gone now, and so is the time.  I hope that didn’t sound too maudlin, just an old guy reflecting on a life well lived.  If my punctuation and spelling are not up to your standardss, don’t be too hard on me, cause I really don’t give crap. hahahaha

Epilog:  I think what really sticks in my craw is I didn’t last long enough at Climax to get my membership pin in the Cloud Club.  After all, it did come with a free banquet at the hotel in Climax, once every six months.  I had to buy mine on eBay.




Little Red Tailed Hawk

I know it is hard to see, but this nest on Goodman Road had a baby Red Tailed Hawk peeking his head up over the brush.  The first picture near the top border shows him.  Hard to get a good picture, it is a pretty tall tree.

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