Hikers near North Lake, high in the Twisp River drainage, made an unexpected discovery amidst the fall foliage near an old mine — a plastic bag containing clear cylinders with fuses.
When they realized that the bag could contain some type of explosive, the hikers left the bag near the mine entrance and called Methow Valley District Ranger Chris Furr when they got back to town.
The bag was found near the Jolly Mine. There are many old mining sites in the area, but Furr said he didn’t know when the Jolly Mine had last been mined or if there is an active claim.
Although these discoveries are quite rare, the ranger district has a process for dealing with potential explosives, Furr said. He called Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley and they arranged an expedition on Oct. 8 to safely retrieve the bag and its contents.
Sheriff’s Deputy David Leeman; medics from Aero Methow Rescue Service; three bomb technicians from the Washington State Patrol Interagency Bomb Squad, who came up from the Tri-Cities; and two ranger district employees and two mules, which carried equipment to safely detonate and transport the suspected dynamite, hiked 6 miles up the steep trail to the site.
“It was a very long day, with some people who weren’t used to being in the backcountry. It was dark when they got back,” Furr said.
The bomb squad used det cord for a controlled detonation of the contents of the bag. The remnants were sent to the state crime lab for analysis. Because there is no crime involved, that evaluation could take a while, Hawley said.
“[Potential] explosives can be highly volatile and it is best to leave them in place if you come across them” and to contact law enforcement, Hawley said.