After you leave the haunted beauty of Independence Mine and the hidden turquoise waters of Summit Lake, the road gets rockier. Small, private mining claims dot the road, identified by crude, handmade signs that read “Private Claim, Jones, Willow, AK”. Rusty trucks, beautiful in multicolored patina and decay, serve as warm shelter when the barometer dips below 0 in December. Tents provide little protection when you wake up in a crystal world of ice fog and hoar-frost. You wonder if these new miners, mainly young men with flannel shirts and thick beards, are descended from the Men in Caves. If something in their DNA or family oral history sparked a thirst for gold, if the Pass was too green and teaming with blueberries to stay away from for long.