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1999 Trip Report - Bodie, Labor Day

Bodie, Labor Day Weekend, 1999

By Marilyn and Bob Martin
Photos by Marilyn Martin

Note: Hover the mouse pointer over the picture to see the title.

Friday September 8, 1999: Those who were retired or played hooky from work filtered into Oh! Ridge campground Friday afternoon: Sunny and Jean Hansen, Debbie Nakamora, Pete and Steve Panattoni and Don and Myrtie Putnam. It was a nice day and we sat around the camp table in the warm sun. Happy Hour progressed as usual. When the sun went down you knew that you were at altitude as it cooled off rapidly. Jackets soon came out. By 8:30 all were tucked into a warm bed.

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It would have been nice to report that we slept well all night. We had discussed the sign about bears in the camp, but we all concluded that there probably were none. Ha! About 1 in the AM Jean heard a noise outside, and her flashlight picked up a bear as he was carrying off their ice chest. Lots of yelling and noise ran the bear off, but not until most of the camp was up. Not long after everyone had settled back in Marilyn apparently dreamt the bear had returned and was in Sky Horse, Debbie’s open Jeep. Marilyn’s scream woke our group again.

Back to bed and sleep until a siren went off sometime before 5:00 AM. Some decided sleep was past and got up in the cold, 35°, dark morning.

On the road at 8:00 AM, and at the June Lake and Highway 395 junction the Jaussauds, Ken Sears and Nancy and Bob Dodds with grandson Jonathon sailed past on 395. Gas in Lee Vining, had gone down 11 cents since August. We were at the Visitors' Center by 8:30. By the appointed 9:00 AM meeting time the rest of the crew were on scene: Susan and Elwood Berry, Rebecca and Leonard Friedman, Jim Kay and son Ryan, and Carol and George Gilster. Many returned to their trucks after visiting the museum displays with bags of books.

The fires in the Sierras and in the south left the sky less clear than we hoped for, but the views from Copper Mt. were worth the trip. Four hang gliders were poised for flight just below the summit. We lunched below the launch site for the hang gliders hoping to see them in the air. Lunch was over, and we were just about to leave when the first took off. The rest followed and their graceful flight was "ooed" and "ahed" by all.

Steve Panattoni's radio repair expertise got all the CB's and ham radios functioning properly so the group had good communication for the trip along the Walker River and into Sweetwater Ranch for much bantering. Good CB communication allowing shared information really enhances a trip. Steve knows exactly what buttons to push to make any radio function at its best.

Star City provided a rest spot for the Panattoni's Durango to recover from the climb. Seems that it would have been happier in low range. Then on up the hill to 10,500 ft. Belfort.   This time the Berrys' truck expressed its’ preference for low range on steep hills.

4:30 PM found us in camp around a loaded hor d'oeuvres table with another great view. The weather was pleasant, and after dinner the campfire was a nice background for the evening sky. The nighthawks flew over but failed to provide a show. The camp was quiet by 8:30 PM.

Without the excitement of a bear in camp all slept well - some even till sunrise.

This orderly group was on the road at 8:00 AM as requested. Masonic was the first scheduled stop, and much exploration followed. Nancy Dodds took lots of photos and announced she is planning to donate a painting of one of the ruins for the Rendezvous raffle.

On the way to Bodie, George Gilster spotted 4 antelope on the hill. Hawks, magpies, flickers and deer also provided visual entertainment.We made Bodie by 11:00 AM. Our timing was good as the mill tour was open so folks could get on it without problems. By 2:00 PM when we were ready to leave the parking lot was overflowing down to the picnic grounds.

Aurora came into view by 3:00 PM, and we all found a more or less level space by the old cemetery. We were early enough to provide plenty of time to peruse the two cemeteries. Some even walked to town and the big open pit mine. The only problem with Happy Hour at 4:30 PM was finding space on the tables for all the goodies. After dinner we enjoyed a fine campfire with a nice view to the south.

Monday morning was the warmest yet with the thermometer showing 47° at 6 AM. Again all were rolling at 8:00 AM. First stop was to see the 10 stamp mill frame. Many searched in the tall sage for old house remains and found many wellsThe Aurora visit was greatly enriched by the presence of George Gilster who had attended a recent presentation on Aurora and brought along photos and information he had collected to share with everyone. A week or more could be spent exploring the area if one had time.

Next stop was to see the mill with the two cone crushers and a ball mill. The rutted out little hill presented no problems to this experienced group of 4X4’ers. We hit the pavement at Hwy. 167 on the north side of Mono Lake at 11:00 AM. There the poor souls who had to go to work Tuesday left. A few followed Ken Sears for what we're certain was a much enjoyed stop at the hot springs on the way south. The lucky five left found a big juniper to sit under and have lunch.

Our route then took us to the RR berm and lime kiln, then past two old ranches and along the RR berm on the east side of Mono Lake. At the tufa stop we hiked to the edge of the lake, and all but Steve, Carol and I (Marilyn and Pete stayed at the trucks) waded or swam in the lake. George tried floating which he did with hands, feet and head well out of the water and then coaxed Bob Jaussaud in. Leonard couldn't be coaxed.

We made the site of the Mono Mills by 4:00 PM where we said our good-byes and went our separate ways.

Special thanks to George; Ken, who is a great tour leader but played tail end for us without a single complaint; and to "Mr. Radio", Steve, for all your help. Thanks also to John Page and Kevin Martin and family for helping with the pre-runs.