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Mountains & Miners

shellyinseattleand I went up into the Cascades yesterday, after grabbing some some picnic goodies from the deli. It was a great day for driving, and we headed north along the I-5 past Everett, to find a picnic spot. We would up taking the Mountain Loop Highway out of Granite Falls up to Verlon and Silverton, a road we had previously approached from the north in February, though the "loop" was actually closed then.

This time, we approached from the south, through tacky Lake Stevens and modest Granite Falls. Leaving the subdivisions behind, we soon passed by the Masonic Camp ("Private Land. Members only."). I've seen plenty of Freemason's Lodges in my hometown, in downtown city spaces, and in the suburbs. I've never seen one up in the hills, complete with campground. The imagine of a Masonic weenie roast cracks me up. Maybe they make little smores made with special Masonic marshmellows.

The scenery soon got very impressive, and we stopped for our picnic. Continuing up the road, we reached the end of the "loop" and stopped in Silverton, a mining town founded in the 1890s by the Colby and Rockefeller families, who ran the Everett & Monte Cristo rail line up from Everett to Silverton and (wouldn't you know it) Monte Cristo. The Independence Mine and the Shelby Mine were big enough concerns that the town of Silverton had a population of 7,000 at one point. It's declined a bit since then.

Ok, it's declined a lot. It has a population of maybe 20 or 30 people now, and Silverton is totally off the grid: no phone, no water, no sewer, no electricity. The railroad is long gone. It takes 10 cords of wood to heat a cabin through the winter. But you can still get an espresso there. This involves a little more effort than usual. The proprietor of the general store has to go out back to start up the generator, first off. Then he combines the usual milk, espresso, and a cup — but they were all brought up to the snow line from civilization in Granite Falls, 30 miles away. The drink was great, came with scenery and a history lesson, and cost less than the equivalent at my local coffee shop. A complete steal, and well worth stopping in.

A great way to see the mountains, including Big Four Mountain and Mount Pilchuck. We didn't climb either one (we'd brought the dog, and weren't really prepped for it), but I suspect we'll be back for those trails sometime soon.

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