Monday 3 April 2006: I took two photos of the shore line remains of Panamint Lake. While there I remember being to of a nice canyon off Shotgun Road in Argus Range, so I back tracked to Nadeau Road. Took the first road (GPS UTM 4664/3989 and drove for a long time not remembering what I was going to find. Wow, the "Kopper King Cabin and Mine", came into view. I had stayed in two wheel drive the whole way. A family was at the cabin so I yelled and asked if it was alright to come up. "No problem" replied the man. It was Big D and his family (Corina and two daughters). This is an adopted cabin and they are here monthly. It's a very clean cabin and a nice mining area to explore.
On the way out, I checked the map for the location of Panamint Valley Crater. Somehow, I took the old section of the road, probably from checking the map while four wheeling. It turned out to be a nice road.
I found the correct turnoff for the crater and managed to drive right to the rim. Its a 60 hole in the ground. In the 1960's the military wanted to find out if it was a meteorite crater. After lowering a trailer and equipment to sink test holes, they found out there had been a limestone cavern under ground and the surface collapsed. So, they left, and the area gets little use. The rain started around 1 pm and while leaving the area I saw two burros.
I started to drive up Wildrose Canyon but a sign said there was no exit so I turned around and went over Towne Pass to Emigrant Campground. I met a few people: David Gottlieb & Julie, a Search and Rescue person from Mt. Rainier. Also a Keven Sporman, who was on a 40 day quest for religious enlightenment. He had some LDS friends, some who had went on missions. Had to set up a tent at the campground, I read a book while listening to rain and wind on the tent.
After a wet and windy night, I got up to overcast. Decided to take the water and presto logs up to the Quakenbush Mine and leave... I thought we (DVHA) could hike to the area from the Race Track and spend Saturday night there. I stopped at Mesquite Springs Ranger Station and bought my last admission to National Parks. I finally got my "Golden Age Passport" for $10.00. Whoopee!! It took 75 minutes to get to Tea Kettle Junction. The road was very rough. It took another hour to get to Quakenbush Mine. I took my time caching the water and fire logs, had lunch and read a book. When it was time to leave, the Geo would not start. I left the lights on and was trying to charge up my portable battery pack. I first tried to push the Geo, but was stuck in a hole. Here's hoping I had a charge on the portable battery, it worked, and then I decided to go over Hunter's mountain because the Racetrack Road was just too rough.
Got up to the top in 2WD but was sliding all over the road and the mud was about 2 1/2 inches thick. When I slid sideways in the road I decided it was time to lock it into 4WD. It was still slippery but onward anyways. I came to a 25 foot watery mud hole. With trepidation, forward I went. Well, I got through it and thought it wasn't really difficult but I wouldn't want to do it again. Around the corner I came to a 2nd mud hole, maybe 40 feet across. I hesitated but went for it. I had to have enough speed to plow through the watery mud but not enough to splash and drown the engine. Well, I almost never made it. The Geo bogged down in the middle, I down shifted to first and just made it out. Definitely would not want to do that again. I am right at the edge of the trees and know the hard part is over when cresting a small hill I saw a 70 foot water hole that had water flowing through it. I figured it could have some ruts, holes or boulders somewhere under the water. I really wanted to drive through it but felt it would be a very stupid thing to do. I was reasoning with myself.. Deep cold muddy water(over the Geo's doors). It was raining, slightly snowing at 3 pm, at probably 7,000 feet elevation and no one would be coming to the area. I really did not want to turn back but I did, so much for me not wanting to do THAT again. That made a really long drive back to Emigrant Campground. Another night with wind and rain, some of my tent poles got slightly bent.
Wednesday 5 April 2006. More rain and wind at the campground. It cleared up later in the morning though. David, Julie, Kevin and I went up Emigrant Canyon which had just been opened. We looked at the road to Tucki Mine and Telephone Canyon with its natural arch. Then onto the Starr Mill and its attractions: Upper Emigrant Spring, the old remains of a furnace atop a boulder, and the cave where prospector Jim Corcoran died. The next stop were the petroglyphs then into A Canyon. It was in A Canyon that I wanted to explore. Rumor has it that there is some mining and mill equipment over the hill from the Moonlight Mine, so instead of going up the trail to the mine, which I have done, I decided to go from behind. When we left the cars at A Canyon, the weather looked like it might rain. Well, it started to snow of grapple (not snow, rain or hail). Julie returned to the cars while the three of us continued. The snow started coming down in earnest then. Visibility dropped to about 50 feet. While continuing up the canyon we would get breaks in the snow. I thought I saw the road to the Christmas Mine, but didn't think we were that far. As we passed the ridge, I saw a road below in the snow, it looked unfamiliar. We explored the mining area then proceeded towards the road. I knew we could get back to the highway/cars by that route. As the snow stopped and the temperature jumped up 10 or 15 degrees, I recognized the place. When we returned to the cars, the snow was gone. Since I had a 5pm dinner date about 80 miles away, we said our good byes and I tried to make up some time. I pulled into the ranch, FCR, at exactly 5pm. The watch turned 5:01 as I went under the portals. I parked in front of the restaurant and Steve Chambers, from Santa Cruz, came up to me. We waited until 5:30 for Stan Soles, from Santa Clara, but he didn't show. We ate hambergers and fries. I set up my tent in Texas Spring Campground.
Thursday 6 April 2006. In the morning after breakfast, Steve went to join others and I went to the Shoshone Library to buy some books that will soon be banned. After fixing a flat, I returned to the Visitors Center at FCR t mingle. I talked to Dianna's husband at the bookstore, and then his boss came out. I was looking for a few new topo maps. He, John?, the one who organized the History Proceedings, mentioned that he had heard of my maps. I went to the car to get my maps and thats when I met Stan. We returned to the book counter and John said he may have some old maps in the warehouse. He will check and email the information. Stan and I went for our $10.00 burgers at FCR and after eating we decided to go to the Furnace Mine. We spent the night at the base of its trail.
Friday 7 April 2006. After rising and eating cereal, we moved on up the trail. The Furnace Mine in Echo Canyon has a very steep foot trail up the mountain with a winch cable along the side. They used to pull up their supplies with some kind of cart. Up on top are the winch motor and a huge compressor sitting on a cement foundation with the name Chuck and 1940 carved into the concrete. (Gee, I visited there before I was born). Further on down hill are some mine tunnels, an ore shoot, some solution tanks, a large furnace and some charcoal. It was really worth the horrible hike uphill. We followed some steel tracks and then went onto the other trail which led back to the road and a horse pen (burro corral). After we left the Furnace Mine, we drove past the Inyo Mine to the end of the road. We were looking for the Echo Canyon petroglyphs. We hiked probably over a mile up canyon past a dead looking mesquite tree on a right turn and found the glyphs. They were higher up on a rock out cropping. They were very ancient. We continued up the wash for another mile plus. The canyon was wide open and a puzzlement. It had a road but where did it go? Later at home, I checked out the maps and it was a rail road grade, which adds to the confusion. Note: Must do some research on this area. It was now time to get to SPW to meet up with the DVHA group.
But true to form, there being so many points of interest along the way, I had to show Stan the straight rock alignment. It's only a couple of minutes out of the way. Next we stopped at Fossil Footprint Canyon. It's only two miles from the road. Well, some day we will eplore over ther and maybe hike up to Nevare's cabin. It was time for lunch, burger and fries at SPW. After eating we checked out the area and could find not one of our group. So we decided I should make sure that the road was passable to the end of Marble Canyon. We checked it out. It was slow going and we could make it all the way to the chock stone, it's a nice campsite. Time to head back to SPW and try to locate the group again. On the way out we met Karen in her Wrangler and then Gus and Silvio and later Andy and Larry. Silvia was not on the road where we needed to find her. We waited at SPW and couldn't find her, so decided to have a cold one(root beer) Voila!! Silvia was at the other side of the gas pumps. We had a hugging reunion then headed back to camp. As we returned to our planned camping area I found out that the others had not been to the end of the road. They had stopped and waited for us, they had though the road ended. After getting to the end, we decided where to park and had to make our beds then we started preparing dinner. Spaghetti and meatballs (world famous), bread, salad, tomatoes, apple pie and two different kinds of wine, two types of quality parmesan cheese with a grater, and olive oil. It was a great dinner. Around 10:30 we could see head lights coming our way. We wondered who it might be. It was Kevin; we had not seen him for a couple of years. It was great. Kevin told us that he passed the Abe Seaman, back at the Marble Canyon turn off. Abe was going to wait there. Stan and I went back to see if any assistance was needed. Poor Abe was asleep but being true friends we woke him up. He said he didn't know if he would travel with us or play tourist in DV. We would meet in the morning if he was still there. Back to camp and enjoyed the simulated camp fire until midnight.
Saturday 8 April, 2006. After a slow malingering breakfast we left four vehicles at the end of Marble Canyon and headed towards the end of Cottonwood Canyon. We passed where Abe had been (he was gone) and then continued up Cottonwood Canyon. Near the end of the road tremendous amounts of sand blocked it with an eroding stream crisscrossing though the old road. After traversing many crossings we came to the end. The last crossing was about 3 feet of water with a 12 to 14 inch bank. Everyone made it over. We parked the vehicles and took off with our packs. Many crossings and getting our feet wet and sometimes finding traces of the old road we finally made it to the end of the old road, there is a wilderness barrier. We took a break, then left in two groups through the middle of the first thicket. Probably took an hour getting through by bush whacking. Another break under some shade trees. Silvio? made some espresso, he was called the gadget man. Continueing on the the second spring we took the north side and climbed way up on the hill. It was the only way around. Andy had been on this trail twice before and knew the way so he lead. When we arrived at Cottonwood Springs, we cut up over a saddle towards Cottonwood Springs Campgrounds. There were quite a few campers at the campground. We followed the stream towards a large wide canyon (Cottonwood Canyon), alot of us topped off our water at the stream crossing. While walking up canyon we could see some animals far ahead. They turned out to gbe three beautiful and healthy horses. They let us walk past them, but from a distance. We made camp in the brush below the saddle that we had to cross.
Sunday 9 April 2006. Stan was the first to rise and he wanted to head out early and get to the summit on the left of the saddle. He had to wait for an hour before we caught up with him as we crossed the saddle. With Andy leading the way I never even bothered looking at a map, having neither a GPS nor even a compass. From the saddle looking where we were going was confusing. I could have been lost had I been by myself. The oblivous direction was to down and follow the wash. Later I checked the maps and that way returned to Cottonwood Canyon with an impassable dry fall. At the next good viewing ridge you could identify Dead Horse Canyon. It was over and around a couple of ridges. We chose to follow the contour of the land which was not really easy. We found the remains of a dead horse in a tributary of Dead Horse Canyon. We had one hill that was all loose gravely dirt. Those with hiking sticks basely skied downhill. After crossing another ridge we were looking down into a brush filled impassable canyon with about a twenty foot water fall. It was later in this cayon with its clean stream that we got our last water. I had no filter and after being out of water for quite a while I drank freely from the stream with no concern of contaminated water.
We followed this small canyon down until it merged with Dead Horse Canyon. The hiking now was in a wider and generally a more pleasant walkng area. Although while following the water, we had to bushwhack through willows, grapevines and other types of brush. Then we came upon Dead Horse Waterfall, Stan, being the more adventurous one climbed down, removed his pack and poles and started to help others. We were going to hand down our packs. Andy had a small rope but Silvio couldn't wait. He dropped his pack the twelve feet to the ground and his water bag exploded. Silvia threw down her hiking stick and it broke. Everything else worked out fine. Oh, Gus, he decided to slide down the falls, went fine and he only got very wet. It was an easy trip to Marble Canyon, which is where the water disappeared. To our surprise Andy met two of his hiking friends at the junction of the two canyons. We all must have rested for 30 minutes before continuing. Uneventful trip back until we got to the petroglyphs. They had been vandalized. Modern day fake Indian drawings were all over the area.
Back to the vehicles, Andy rode with me back to yesterday's starting point. He wanted to see how a small Geo traveled. He agree they do OK. When we got back to the end of the road we found that the stream had cut down the bank another two feet leaving a three foot ledge to get their cars across the stream. We made it out. Gus and Silvio headed for home, Andy and Larry, Karen, Stan and Chuck went for showers at Stove Pipe Wells. It was getting late so a few didn't shower. We wanted to get to Furnace Creek Ranch before the restaurant closed at 9 PM. We just missed it. We found out Longstreet Casino Restaurant stayed open until 10 PM. It was 37 miles away and 9:20. I made it there by 9:50, there was no traffic, ha. Anyway I told the waitress we had a group of seven coming for dinner. She wasn't happy but the tip compensated for her overtime. Larry tripled his money on the slots, ($1 into $3). He was happy. After dinner we headed towards Greenwater Canyon, except Andy and Larry, and Karen decided to head for home. We regretted them leaving but everyone has their own adjenda to follow. We camped at the top of Greenwater Canyon. The wind was horrible but it stopped sometime that night.
Monday, April 10. We drove to the end of the road through thick sand with no problem, and then we walked two and a half miles to a side canyon and then another 20 minutes uphill. After getting to the cave and seeing the damage that's just been done I felt sick. Someone had chipped the edge of the ledge off. There had been people all across the front of the ledge. Also they had tried to remove other pictographs from the wall and ceiling. This art work has been dated to 1,000 years ago. It was horrible. Somehow I hope the felons suffer. Shortly thereafter we went to some caves further uphill. They had been left alone. After leaving the area we left Silvi at the 'Lila C Mine' to find her way out, the rest of us cut across the old exploration roads back to #190.
We went back again to FCR for dinner. Afterwards we went to the visitor's center to check with Charlie about a trip next year from Dante's View through Copper Canyon. Charlie was not there and I must contact hime by phone or e-mail. I was talking with ranger Vicky; we have known each other since the early 90's. During our conversation she told me about a meeting taking place on April 19th. The speaker was an expert on Copper Canyon. Another ranger overhearing our talking, interrupted and said the public was not wanted at the meetings. The information was for them(rangers) not us. WOW! After Vicky and I were done, Stan and I were leaving and the other ranger caught us at the door, grabbing my arm and appolizing about what she had said, said she didn't mean that we could not attend. She was very sorry if we had misunderstood her. ( We believe that someone realized what she had said and told her to smooth it over). It is true, the park is not for the American Public, and it's for the foreign tourist who never leaves the highway.
After the Visitors Center we headed to find Triangle Springs. We found it and took a couple of pictures. For some odd reason none of the photos I took were on the camera, I hope the ones Stan took turned out OK. We talked about doing a moonlight walk around Ubehebe Crater but when we got there I was so exhausted I said I couldn't. We drove another mile and slept on the Racetrack Road.
Tuesday, Aprill 11th. Kevin hqad locked his keys inside his truck the previous night. It would take AAA a long time to come out and they don't do dirt roads anyway. We had no cell phone service and the ranger station was a few miles away and they were probably not at work yet. Kevin thought if he could disconnect the battery the electric locks might release. NO. I tried to make a slim jim from a stiff plastic tie. NO. Stan tried to pry open the rear side window on the club cab truck. He was using two screw drivers and the plastic tie (so not to scratch the paint). It worked!!! Once the window was open we had to separate the hinges to open the window wider. Finally the hinge was separated and a hiking stick could be used to unlock the door. This whole process took probably two hours and no damage was done to the truck.
We were to meet Gene at th Ubehebe Mine for a hike through Corridor Canyon. We never saw him come in so we thought he didn't make it. After driving an hour to cover the twenty miles to the mine we started hiking down the hill. Imagine our surprise when we met Gene coming towards us. He agreed to go with us through the canyon again. We found petroglyphs and some very unusual flower and rock formations. The Corridor Canyon is approximately one mile long, 15 feet wide and up to 200 feet high. It is truly a wonderful place to visit. It's probably nine miles round trip. We have talked about doing a DVHA hike through there next year. When we got back to the Ubehebe Mine my car had a flat tire (rock puncture), no problem, just fix it. Once again we returned to FCR for dinner ( I bet the waitress could identify us by our odor, remember, no showers for some). Afterwards we drove to the Keane Wonder Mine parking lot for the night.
Wednesday, April 12th. In the morning we left Kevins truck there and went to Monarch Canyon and visited the Indian Mine. After that it was up to Chloride Cliffs to put Kevin on the winch road to the Big Bell Mine. Stan and I had given Kevin six hours to get to the parking lot before considering him in trouble. With plenty of time, we went to the Kennedy Mill. It was a one stamp mill used 1871-1873. The road is almost impossible to see but we made it down there. The stamp looks perfect. Stan explored further down hill into the canyon trying to find where the faint trail led. I went up hill to some mines, these were very crudely mined, perhaps some of the 1880's mines. After exploring it was time to get down to the parking lot. We had been there maybe 30 minutes when I spotted someone on the wrong side of the canyon. It was Kevin; below the dam he had dropped into the canyon and had to traverse around four dry falls one of which was 100 feet. That side is considered too dangerous and people never go there. Kevin never knew that and made it through.
The trip was over. Vacation is over and we must return to the make believe world of shaving and showers. No one was hurt. Great time was had by all.
Happy Trails, Deathvalleychuck