November 2000 Hike............
Its the motley crew of desertrats. Picture taken on the ridgeline in the Owlshead Mountain near the Black Magic Mine.
Hikers walking up the mine road to the top.  We've been very lucky the last few years with no rain to speak of in the desert.  One of these days its going to catch me without tent or rainfly.  Oh well thats just apart of the desert experience. 
About all that remains of the mining boom for manganese.   The Black Magic mine was worked by a series of open cuts.  The quarry faces exposed high grade manganese  ore.  The mines where worked during the 1910s,1940s and 1950s when warfare  demanded large amounts of manganese for the military machine.
Morning sunrise at our outback campground.  Great soft spot on the ridge  north of Owls Lake.  The decomposed granite made for a comfortable spot to bed down. 
After hiking up and down rock and boulder strewn alluvial fans on previous hikes this was a treat.  Heading down Through Canyon Sunday morning.
Silvia and Drycamp standing in front of a Smoketree, or Smokethron, or sometimes called an Indigobush.  Dalea spinosa Gray.  Spiny, many-branched shrub, or small tree with short, crooked trunk, compact or irregular crown of smokey-gray branches, and small leaves; leafless most of the year.  Flowers:1/2 " long pea shaped with 5 unequal, dark purple or violet petals.  Range W. Arizona, extreme, S. Nevada, SE California and NW. Mexico.  Below sea level to 1500 feet.  
Another great hike.  Sunday afternoon stroll across the flats to our cars.  With the Confidence Hill in th background we say our goodbyes to the Owlshead Mountain.
On our way out we came across the Death Valley 49er Encampment Wagontrain.  Slowly making their 125 mile journey to Furnace Creek.
                                                                                                      November 13, 2000

Dear Death Valley Hiker,

     We enjoyed another good hike this fall in an area seldom visited -- the Owlshead Mountains.  After meeting at Ashford Mill, we drove down to the Confidence Mill site and split up the vehicles for the 25 mile shuttle to the Black Magic Mine perched on the ridge line above the south end of Owl Lake.  The Black Magic and New Deal Mine once delivered manganese ore to the mill at Owls Hole Spring.  The ruins in this area include pieces of mining equipment, concrete foundations, loading bins and ore chutes.  Bob Greenwalt, one of our seasoned hikers, recalled as a teenager exploring this area in 1941 when the mill was in full swing and then being offered a job by one of the miners for "$60 a month and found" [meaning room and board].  Bob's recollection of this brought the setting to life, and I couldn't help but think where Bob would be today if he had accepted their offer.
     From the Black Magic Mine, our route dropped down an unnamed canyon to the barren playa of Owl Lake.  About half way down we came upon a 25 foot dry fall which was easily bypassed on the west side.  Sitting in a bowl, the dry lake bed is much like a miniature version of the Racetrack Valley, without the moving rocks.  From Owl Lake, we continued north to the head of Through Canyon where we camped on level ground and watched the sun quickly set behind the Owlshead Mountains to the west.
     Through Canyon is one of the easist walking canyons I've been down.  Fine decomposed granite erodes down from the north side of the canyon creating a  smooth patio-like surface.  Part way down the canyon we came upon several smoke trees, the only ones in Death Valley.  The largest tree at the upper end of the canyon apparently seeded the other smaller trees scattered over several hundred yards down canyon.  As the canyon opened up, we had broad views of Death Valley Wash and the west side of Confidence Hills.  Taking a bit more time, we explored the soft, dry mud surface of these hills with intricate paths of small eroded washes leading to the outer edges of the hills.  From Confidence Hills, we crossed Death Valley Wash to our waiting cars along the road.
     Remember to check out the DVHA website (courtesy of Don Brown) at www.homestead.com/deathvallyhikerasso   I also have tee shirts still available for $7.00 each and copies of the guidebook, Hiking the Desert Trail available for $11.95 plus $2.00 shipping and postage.
    I'll have information on our spring hike going out to you early next year.  Have a great Thanksgiving and holiday season!
    Regards,  "Grubstake"  George