Tue, Apr 21, 2020
Karl and I spent the morning around the Darwin area between the Coso and Argus Ranges, doing a drive-up above town and a longer outing to an unnamed peak in the Argus Range. Afterwards he left left to head home while I pondered doing something else on my own in the afternoon.
Starting out just before 2p, I first crossed the wide, rocky Thompson Canyon Wash to reach the base of the North Ridge on the opposite side. Though the wash was a bit unpleasant, I found the nearly two-mile hike up the North Ridge to be enjoyable. Drier terrain than found on Peak 6,030ft, there were still pockets of flowers to be found and unbeatable views of Panamint Valley and the surrounding ranges. Not far below the summit I came upon an unsuspecting burro minding his own business. I stopped as soon as I spied it so as not draw its attention. It continued grazing for a few minutes while I watched it. It wasn't until I resumed my ascent that it looked up, wandered away from my line and then brayed in obvious displeasure. I brayed back and immediately caused a couple of other unseen burros further down the slope to return the insult. I passed over three modest false summits before finding the highpoint at the far southwest end of the ridge not long after 3:30p. The light rain from the previous evening had left the skies clearer and the scenery crisper today. As the afternoon wore on the lighting improved, too. I found no register so left another here before heading back.
I had planned to return via the same ridge, but after going back over the false summits I noticed some old mine works in the canyon immediately west of the ridge. I hesitated from some time as I continued along the ridge, looking downslope for a reasonable decent line. Though steep, it appeared to be no more than class 2 (and proved to be just that), and descending from the collection of mineshafts was a trail I could see from 1/3mi distance. It seemed worth exploring. It took less than 10min to make my way down to the remnants of the small mining camp. Structures once stood here, just below 4-5 mineshafts that could be seen above the site to the west. Old machinery, household items and collections of rusting cans were strewn about. The trail proved useable in descending about half of the canyon's length, after which it melded into the wash below. It made for a much quicker descent than the ridge would have been, and probably would have been a faster ascent route, too. I was back by 4:45p and though I still had several hours of daylight, I was tired enough to call it a day. I drove most of the way back down to Panamint Valley Rd before finding a place to shower. I briefly considered driving myself home this evening but hit upon some unnamed summits in the Slate Range east of Trona that might make for a nice loop the next day. I ended up driving the sandy BLM roads around the north and east sides of Searles Lake to the edge of the China Lake NWC. The fenceline was old and in ill repair, and I actually drove about a quarter mile past the boundary to the end of the old road where I would spend the night. It was more than five miles from the pavement at Trona but not as quiet as one might have expected. There was a regular booming sound coming from the mineral works all night long. It was soft enough at a distance, but I wondered how that might sound to the folks trying to sleep in the surrounding town...
This page last updated: Sun Apr 26 08:33:37 2020
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