By: Greg Roach, Mirna Roach
We met John McCully, Wendy Ruess, Duke Blakesley and Reu Hyon on Saturday at 7am in the intersection of Trona-Wildrose Road and Ballarat Rd. Originally 15 people had signed up for this trip. However the majority of participants decided to go "Easter egg hunting" instead. Six of us drove to Chris Wicht Camp trailhead. There is a good dirt road up to Chris Wicht Camp and we began hiking around 8:30. We backpacked up Surprise Canyon, crossed streams, and waterfalls, heading to the ruins of Panamint City; it was about 5 miles, 1000 ft elevation gain This is a beautiful canyon with plenty of water and wildflowers. The walls of the canyon were reddish in color and some of the hills covered with smooth green grass. about 1 mile before you get to Panamint City you can detect the smokestack, and the canyon opens up and finally the ruins come into sight. Panamint City sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains covered with Pinyon Pine and Juniper. There was still snow on the tops of the mountains. This area is like walking back in rime. Everything seems to sit still. We arrived at noon with plenty of time to explore the area and enjoyed this canyon. a gentle breeze blew through the city as we checked the cabins, read magazines that people left behind, and explored the mine.
A LITTLE HISTORY OF THIS AREADuring the 1870's Panamint City was a prosperous silver mining town. Silver was first discovered in 1873 by outlaws who had robbed Wells Fargo and were using Surprise Canyon as a hideout. The bandits had a problem. What good was the silver if they could not spend it? They could not file a claim because of their outlaw status. Fortunately, one of the out1aws knew a Nevada Senator, William Stewart, who had just made his fortune from the Comstock Lode in Virginia City. Senator Stewart William was a fighter and great silver backer. He agreed to negotiate a settlement for the bandits with Wells Fargo for an interest in the silver mine plus an interest for his colleague, Senator John P. Jones, who had also "gotten wind" of the silver discovery. This is how the Senators rescued the bandits and Panamint City was born.
As the day wound down, we had a great happy hour, Wendy brought this DELICIOUS GOYZA Hors D'oeuvre, Rex some artichokes, etc.; we stuffed our happy faces and reminisced on past trips. The weather was pleasant and ended up this day around the campfire with the full moon rising behind the mountains.
Sunday we started at 7am to climb Sentinel Peak. We followed Magazine Canyon southeast of Panamint City. About 1/2 a mile from the canyon, we traversed up the east side to the ridge that led to the peak. This ridge had hard packed snow close to the top, but everyone kept a good pace and reached the summit at 10am (3 hour's total), Sentinel Peak has a great 360 degree panorama view. Since this was a super clear day, we were able to see the Sierra to the west and Death Valley to the east. We spent 30 minutes admiring the view. The spring snow had softened up and was great for a standing glissade. We got back to the camp at noon, ate Lunch, and packed out after an hour.
We had an excellent time!
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