The trail is pretty rough. It is hard to follow because of heavy spring growth and winter damage.
It is not a popular trail either. So, it gets very little attention from the Forest Service.
I begin to regret coming out here alone. I reach down to my ankle holster for reassurance.
Yes, it is illegal to carry out here.
Yes, if caught I could lose my license.
But this is another instance of learning things the hard way. (I’ll save that story for another time)
I have my hopes up regarding a ghost town. I want old-west-looking buildings, a dirt road, and creepy sounds.
What I get instead is a whole lot of nothing. Just a lot of trees, shrubs, and rocks.
Oh, and mud. Lots and lots of mud.
The Granite Mountain Mine isn’t a mine, per se. It is a claim. Intent to mine but no actual commercial mining ever occurred.
So, what is so interesting about the place that this couple is competing to study it?
I arrive at the coordinates from the maps in Dr. Nickels office. How anyone would even know they arrived is beyond me.
That’s when I catch a familiar whiff of stink.
My stomach begins to protest.
Something is definitely dead, and it is nearby.
I suppress a gag and let my nose hunt.
“Please be an animal, . . .. please be an animal. . .”
The scent takes me well off-trail. I think thirty feet or so.
There are traces of blood.
A trail of it leads deeper into underbrush. I have to use a long stick to move branches and fallen debris.
Bear scat. Oh, this is not good.
It’s dawn for hibernating bears.
My gun is in my hand.
The smell is overwhelming. I cover my nose and mouth.
“Oh shit. . .!”
Two human bodies.
“Mr. and Mrs. Nickels, I presume?”