September 19-21, 2003 Led by Alan Romspert
Reported by Rebecca and Leonard Friedman
We met at Ballarat at 3:00 pm on Friday, September 19, where the resident ghost (caretaker / shopkeeper) was nowhere to be found. Led by Alan Romspert, our group included Miguel Aguilar, Leonard, Rebecca and Hannah Friedman, Bob and Sue Jaussaud and Toby, Bill Ott, John Page, Gordon Lohan, Warren Alksnis, and Dan Dinsmoor. We drove up wet and bumpy Pleasant Canyon, stopping at Clair Camp to look around the extensive mining remains. A little further on, we started seeing burros on the side of the road. Then we encountered a couple of vehicles owned by a geologist and his two drillers, who said they were searching for gold somewhere near the World Beater Mine. Approaching the top of Pleasant Canyon, we made camp next to Rita’s cabin (no known relation to our own Reda A.), where two-year-old Hannah played with Toby for as long as the dog could stand it. Vast quantities of wood went up in smoke in the campfire.
(click Read More to continue)
On Saturday, we proceeded to Rogers Pass (elev. 7160’) where we enjoyed the spectacular view of Death Valley. At a nearby campsite on a side-road to the south, Alan identified plants like sagebrush and cliff rose (just a few out of the possible 700-800 plants in the area). Back on the main trail, we stopped several times for the stunning views of Striped Butte Valley (and beyond) before making the steep and occasionally sliding descent. By noon, we had reached our campsite at South Park near yet another cabin.
After lunch, we drove to a mine, and then down South Park Canyon to see how far we could get. The road was pleasant and easy enough to Coulter Spring, where there were burro trails everywhere. Shortly afterwards, the road became a lot rougher, and we parked to explore the road further on foot. At a particularly sharp turn, the loose rocks (held by a wire mesh) that had been the roadway had slipped several feet downhill, effectively closing the road to all vehicles larger than a motorcycle. A short walk further brought us to the famous log bridge, built over a narrow section of the shelf road that was blown out in the late 1980’s. After the obligatory photographs, we returned to our vehicles. Back at camp, our potluck start time was mysteriously moved up 30 minutes, surprising some unprepared members of our group. We all enjoyed another blazing campfire tended by fire master Bill Ott. Sue Jaussaud told us tales of local heroes, including some fascinating female characters.
On Sunday, we stopped at Red Cloud Mine to search for car parts and other treasures. After leaving, rebel Bob Jaussaud’s car appeared on a parallel road, and we concluded he was lost. After exploring another site, we stopped at Rita’s cabin for a drink break before heading back down Pleasant Canyon. Just as we were leaving Death Valley National Park, we saw remains of an old stone corral not far from the bathtub spring. Then, driving up a very steep side road, we had our lunch break at the saddle above the entrance to Porter Mine, where our hopes of gaining entry were dashed (either by the presence of workers or a well-locked gate). We did, however have a good chance to see how well the vegetation had recovered in the three years since a fire had passed through.
Continuing down Pleasant Canyon, just off the side road to the World Beater Mine, we stopped at a cabin that had been nicely restored. We found that Desert Explorers (including several from this trip) had previously signed the guest book on August 13, 2000. At the end, it was tough heading over the wet rocks covered with jagged metal sheets, and we scraped the bottom of our vehicle several times. We arrived in Ballarat at 3:00 p.m., exactly 48 hours after our original departure. Most of our vehicles were still intact.