Monday, July 09, 2007

Skagway Power Plant Found!

Hydroelectric Turbine
Originally uploaded by gamp

Some of my friends have been trying to get to an old abandoned hydroelectric powerplant in out in the wilderness for years. This place was built in 1901 and was used until 1960something when flooding knocked if offline permanently. They have conducted about 14 trips looking for it, unsuccessfully. On recent trips they followed the penstock, the old wood and metal hoop water pipe, but could only get so far as sections of it were washed away and bridges were missing or unstable. This was my third trip, and second one when I had some idea where it was supposed to be. Last time I took a route on the canyon floor along the creek. There is a sort of "trail" here so it should be easy, but in many places the trail disappears and you're stuck between a fast flowing creek and a 600 foot high wall of rock. I've opted to climb over the rocks most times, and it was grueling. Last time I ended up getting stranded with thunderstorms, soaked, in the dark, and it took me six hours to get back to my motorcycle, where on the way home I ended up with hypothermia. This time similar things happened, but I was smarter and camped and took my new AWD vehicle which can handle the dirt roads that get near the location nicely. As it turned out it was right off the creek about 75 feet up and only 5 miles down the creek. Considering I still couldn't figure out how to hike along the creek without making severe climbing detours, it was by far the most grueling hike I've ever taken. Hazards included; slippery wet rocks and trees, a boulder that came loose and pushed me down a hill, temporarily pinning me against a tree, water way above my boots, trees across the creek, and apparently a christian fundamentalist camp somewhere. I made it though, battered, bruised, and tattered. Hooray! I don't think I'll be doing more hiking soon.

edit 9/23 I have now created a group on flickr if you've also been to or are looking for skaguay

edit 7/7/08 The Colorado Springs Gazette wrote an article about a trip to Skaguay. It has a great slideshow and video documenting the trip, a previously unpublished memoir of life at the plant, and is overall a great article. It looks like they had a better and safer time making the journey then me too.

edit - 2nd trip to the plant

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