Abandoned Mine - Winter Edition | The Life of K: Abandoned Mine - Winter Edition

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Abandoned Mine - Winter Edition

Back in September we went to the Wallingford-Back mine near Buckingham, QC. Here's the post from that trip. I had seen pictures of the mine in the winter and knew I had to see it. About a month ago, we planned for 6 of us to go but by the time Saturday came, only 3 could make it. Myself, J and Alan jumped in A's parent's van and hit the road. It was snowy, not the best driving conditions, so it took a while to get there.

Now, I want you to picture a camel. A three-humped camel. Got it? Good.

We finally reached Chemin de la mine and knew we were close. We're going along this cottage-like road and are climbing a pretty steep hill (like we're driving up the camel's neck) when we come to a stop. Alan says he thinks the road is pure ice. Sure enough we start rolling backwards. Then we start picking up speed. I'm in the middle seats and can see Alan hitting the breaks - nothing - we keep picking up speed and are careening down the camel's neck backwards. Alan is swearing up a storm and yelling at J to clear the back windshield. The brakes aren't working and we're all thinking we're going to hit something, crash and die. Not to be melodramatic or anything.

After what feels like 20 minutes, the van starts to slow. We're heading up the camel's first hump and are slowing down. Relief washes over me until Alan says that he thinks we're going over. We hit the top of the hill, still no brakes, and go over, again picking up speed. Thankfully there's a second hump. We slow down just to hear from Alan that we're going over again. We pick up even more speed. No idea how Alan has kept the van on the road this whole time. We start to slow again. The third hump was our savior. We come to a stop on it.

Then we realize that the van stalled when it started rolling backwards while in drive at the camel's head way back when. Alan starts up the van and tests the brakes. They work. We go up and over the camel's second and first hump and park at the bottom of the neck, after slip-sliding around for a while. We get out and you can feel the relief in the air. We were all gushing about how scary our little backwards trip was and how we easily could have hit something and crashed the van. Alan did a great job keeping that thing on the road and not panicking too much when the brakes didn't work.

We weren't sure how far the mine was but decided that even if it turned out to be too far to walk there, that we had had an awesome adventure and that the day was not wasted.

This picture was taken from the camel's head. You can see the tracks where the van started rolling backwards.

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Turns out the mine was a 15 minute walk away and by the time we made it our hearts had stopped racing and the fact that we almost died was pushed back in our minds. It was incredible seeing the mine and being able to walk on the ice.

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But it had its scary parts. We each had our own camera and so we separated almost immediately. J was almost at the back entrance and Alan was still near the main entrance, I was in the middle, standing on the ice, when it popped. The sound was really loud and freaked me out. I jumped straight up in the air and ran across the mine to where I could stand on rocks. It sounded like the back of a dump truck slamming shut, it resonated. It was freaky.

I did get a really nice picture from there before the ice popped.

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The big chunk of ice is actually a piece of a huge icicle that had fallen. The icicles hung from the ceiling and were huge. You could tell where they were from the bumps they left on the ice from when the dripped. We avoided the bumps and therefore avoided the icicles. I'm sure you wouldn't survive having one of those falling on your head.

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Thankfully the ice was at least a foot deep - we could tell because where it had cracked it was white. Everywhere else it was clear.

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Right near the top were some really neat ice formations.

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And a close-up:

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The clear ice was creepy, especially in the little back part (the dark part in the top left of the picture above), a part we couldn't get near in September, because it was too steep. This is J peering down and getting creeped out:

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It was really hard to take a picture that showed the ice and the rocks beneath the water. We have some video that shows it really well. This shot shows some tree branches and some neat bubbles:

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And just in case you couldn't tell that this mine is enormous, check out the little Js in these pictures:

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This last one is dark, but I promise there's a J hiding in there, somewhere.

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The whole trip was an adventure. I learned that Alan swears under high stress situations and that he can drive really well backwards, downhill, without brakes. I learned that I can pee outside when I really have to. I learned that drinking a whole lot of alcohol after such a crazy day feels good. I learned that trips like these make memories.

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(For the full set of pictures, check out my Flickr page.)


  1. ok, I got the shakes again reading about it. gawd, was that ever scary.

    here's a funny related story: two days after this, mom, sylvia and I were backing up in our car. I was going about 20km/h (vs. 60+), on level ground (vs. camel hills) in a straight line (vs. logging road)... with brakes.

    Mom's like "oh my goodness this is so scary"

    I'm thinking: you have no idea and I will never, ever tell you.

  2. It's the kind of thing that parents just don't need to know. Or that they don't need to know until years and years have passed that they can't possibly worry about it anymore. Like when I got hit by a bus.

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  4. Just to let you know that I've linked to your post in my own blog entry about the mine here. I hope you don't mind.

    Your pictures make me want to see it in winter too, but I'll find a car with chains on the tires! :-)