Sunday, August 12, 2007

Our trip into Tungsten was wonderful. It was a 20 year blast into the past. The weather when we left Simpson was not good, low clouds, wind and rain and were not even sure we would be able to land in Tungsten, but the weather gods smiled upon us and it cleared up as we flew over Virginia Falls and then cleared further on the approach to Tungsten so we could see our old friends, Baldy and the Dutchman in all their glory.

We were met at the runway by Mark, the safety guy, and after donning the required safety vest and hard hat we, Barry and I and the pilot, got a wonderful tour of Tungsten. We walked down the streets and visited our townhouse. I wandered into the out of bounds old school house to take pictures, then we got to go through the rec centre. It was almost sad to see the condition of it. Part of the top of the rec center had been severly damaged by an avalanche, but the lower part is still in good condition and the gym is in use, although there is no heat in the building. Tungsten is strickly a fly in operation now, 3 weeks in and 3 weeks out, with employees from all over.
Here the wall of the rec centre was buckled by the force if the avalanche.

The safety guy lives in Comox on Vancouver Island. Barry was fascinated by how the mine was being run now and quizzed Mark on where the ore was coming from and the changes in the mine and the mill. Barry smoozing with the current occupant of his old office and once again enjoying the tremendous view.

After we finished out walk down memory lane we were treated to lunch in the old cook house. Then we were driven down to the hot springs and Barry and I doffed our clothes and soaked in the natural hot springs. The pilot unfortuneately had to go back to town to make a phone call (aw gee, too bad) so we had the place in ourselves for about 1/2 an hour and soaked our troubles away. What a treat. The hot springs were pretty much as we remembered them and we were told that they are used a lot by the workers.

The flight back was quite spectacular, flying over a very rugged mountain range. We f;ew down the North Nahanni River and saw the confluence of the mighty Mackenzie and the Liard River as we approached Fort Simpson. When we landed it was rainy, cloudy and cold once again. I have fulfilled a dream of returning to Tungsten and although we did not get to trudge up the mountain to look for the tree we climbed when a grizzly chased us, it couldn't have been a better trip. We felt very priveleged to be allowed access to the town site because Mark made it very clear they did not allow casual visitors onto the site. Thank you North American Tungsten for your superb northern hospitality!

Notice the avalanches and the huge slump in the snow in this mountain shot.

Where the Mackenzie meets the Liard, a very important historic spot.