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Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Inyo Range Salt Tram Expedition, September 2010 - - - Part 3

Friday was the day with the convergence of several vehicles, meeting together with the purpose of arriving at two awesome gold mines: The Brown Monster and Reward Mines. This sprung from an earlier plan that Kevin had hatched and it seemed a perfect way to start our first day. Kevin and I started at Oh-Dark Hundred, or 5 AM, meeting at our local hardware store's big parking lot. We checked out all of the latest mods to each other's rigs that our local welding shop had completed for us. Kevin's Bronco now has an internal roll cage and I had some mods completed on my trailer. We met up with Dave at Cleghorn Road, a popular offroad trail along Highway 15. Eric and Jane had a slightly late start, but caught up with us along Highway 395 before we got to the Junction with Highway 14. Just past that junction Bill happened to spot us at a gas station and swung by to hook up with the growing convoy. Alan was going to make it to the mines by 4:30 PM. That just left meeting up with Linus at the road leading up to Kennedy Meadows.

On a previous Salt Tram trip I had designed a sticker to share with the others.
 Little did I know that Linus had hatched a plan to surprise us with an updated sticker just for our merry groups' adventure. When I pulled into the meet spot next to Linus' vintage blue 1965 Land Rover with a canvas top.........

.... I saw the words "Trust Me" on one of the stickers! Oh my goodness! The only word that would have surprised me more would be "Banned". (LOL)

Linus made enough for everyone and generously gave two to each person. Kevin was the first to apply his!
On the Rover Linus had a collection of similar stickers that inspired the updated 2010 design.

Soon we were off towards Manzanar where we'd turn eastward on the road that crosses a WW-2 era runway. Kevin told us how it had once been used by an autocross group that also helped with maintenance to keep the concrete free of weeds. Before long we were parked at the base of the canyon where a steep trail lead upwards, gaining some hard won altitude to reach the first structure.

Check out how high above the desert floor Kevin is as he enjoys a brief respite from the sun's steady blaze.

Here's Dave using some canyoneering techniques :) to stay upright on the loose steep trail.

Hey! Look how high we are now!

Simply put, the mines are unbelievable. Passageways, large fissures cleared of ore and kept open with a forest of huge timber beams, small railways for ore carts, fluttering bats, artifacts and more awaited us. Later on Alan told us how he knew where to drop numbered tennis balls down a shaft on this side of the mountain and then go to the mine on the other side to find some of the balls had made it into that mine!

Linus investigating the source of a breeze of cool fresh air in a side shaft

Kevin showing us his super human strength as he holds up the weight of the mountain.

Jodi called this part of the mine Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

We decided that this shaft was where the Morlocks were plotting the best way to come out and capture us for their next big meal......

Once back outside we enjoyed the warm sun for a bit before heading back down to our vehicles and driving to the other mine. We could easily see more high on the slopes that we could explore on subsequent trips.

The Reward Mine has an enormous pile of tailings near the entrance that make for an ideal camp spot. Once we had the vehicles situated we entered the enormous horizontal entrance shaft. You can find some YouTube videos of people actually driving their trucks in there but it stirs up far too much dust to be enjoyable. On our trek through the mine we saw a lot of new survey markings in orange paint. Maybe the current price of gold will be cause for working the mine again?

This crazy looking vertical shaft is the connector to the Brown Monster that allowed gold ore to be more easily transferred to trucks to haul it out. It is also where some of the tennis balls made their way down!

Purely by coincidence we headed out of the mine at 4:30 PM and there was Alan to greet us, exactly on time!

We took time to check out each other's rigs including Dave's sweet Adventure Trailer

Soon we were collaborating on dinner with flank steak, cold Newcastle Beer in a Keg and other great delights. Before long we were ready to turn in and I got to spend my first night in my new trailer's tent.

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