Skip to main content
| John Page | Trip Reports

2003 Trip Reports - High Flats

High Flats Trip(s)

August 20–25, 2003
Led and reported by John Page

How many ways can you say "boring?"Borrring! Dull. Tedious. Uninteresting. Unexciting. Monotonous. Uninspiring. It was great!

Bill Ott was already comfortably settled in at Mahogany Flats at 8,133‑ft. , and we were in CB contact when Nan Savage and her charming daughter Kathryn, Gordon Lohan, and I stopped to check out the Charcoal Kilns high above Panamint Valley. The Savages’ new all‑wheel‑drive Subaru Forester made it up the final steep pitch “with power to spare,” according to Nan. Allan and Ding Wicker, Bill and Mary Cook, and Warren Alksnis trickled in later that afternoon.

Conversation around the potluck dinner table dealt with the heavy rains/floods around the Las Vegas area and whether or not the storm would be wrung out before it got to where we were. Some (Ott, Cooks, Wickers, and Alksnis) set up for rain while the Savages, Lohan, and Page elected to take their chances.

Campfires were not permitted, so we sat around a candle lantern for a while after dinner.

At about 2:00 the next morning, a few heavy raindrops hit my sleeping bag, and I got up to erect my tent. My good friend Allan Wicker showed up a couple of minutes later and helped me with the poles and fly. Thanks, Allan! Meanwhile, the Savages holed up in the Forester.

A few more raindrops a little later and that was it for precipitation on Wednesday night.

Thursday was a relaxed, laid‑back day for most of the group. Some worked on mythology homework, some read, some meditated, some took short hikes, and some just sat and talked. Bill Cook and I, separately, hiked the 7‑mile‑long, 3,000‑foot‑climb to Telescope Peak at 10,049 ft. The views of Death and Panamint Valleys along the route were spectacular, but occasionally obscured by the clouds that formed around us.

Tired does not adequately describe my condition when I returned from the hike. Every muscle in my body was screaming; I decided that maybe I had enough of this alpha‑male stuff and had maybe just finished my last hike to Telescope Peak. After a light snack, which was all I could handle, I “crashed” in my tent, left up from the night before.

A few minutes later the skies opened up and Mahogany Flats experienced a major, world‑class downpour and hailstorm, soaking the Savages’ sleeping arrangements. I slept soundly through the misery of the folks I was supposed to be leading and looking out for. Oh well!

Friday morning was beautiful! The Cooks slept in while the rest packed up and headed down Wildrose Canyon to Panamint Valley; the Savages turned south for Studio City, and the Wickers, Ott, Alksnis, Lohan, and I went on to Bishop.

We made CB contact with the Martins at Isaak Walton Park about noon and split to do chores and lunch. I verified that it was O.K. for campfires at Coyote Flats. By a little after 1:00 pm, we were aired down and heading up the Coyote Canyon road toward the Flats.

A little while later, we made the last, rough section of two‑track into Funnel Lake and were disappointed, but not surprised, to find a vehicle and tent set up at the primo camping area on the shore of Funnel Lake. What did surprise me was that the level of the lake was down at least 10 feet from normal, making this small, shallow lake even smaller and shallower! A flat basin near the lake made a good camping area for our little group.

Fishing in Funnel Lake was a bust! Nil! Nada! No strikes, no ripples, no nothing to suggest that there were any fish in the neighborhood. I was sorely afraid that my promise of a trout dinner for Ding was not to be fulfilled.

A potluck dinner was not on the schedule, but the ladies, Ding and Marilyn, managed to put together some fine dinner dishes and share them with the bachelor males who were hungrily hanging around the fire circle. All ate well. Bill set up and maintained the campfire. Water in containers was frozen on Saturday morning. The rest of the day was less exciting: I hiked a short distance to Rocky Bottom Lake, where I was able to land a couple of 9‑in trout for Ding.   Others took short hikes or relaxed around our campsite.

   That night, Ding cooked her trout and shared them, on crackers, with the rest of us. Another campfire by Ott. I gave Bill my interpretation of Blazing Saddles after the others retired..

With a warmer night and no freezing to talk about, Sunday was unusually uneventful: No one did much. Bill drove out and explored Coyote Flats alone. Some took short hikes. Bob knapped   while others napped. Another dinner where the bachelors free‑loaded food from the ladies. Another campfire started  by Ott.

Monday, Bill elected to stay for another day while the rest broke camp    and made for Bishop where we had lunch and closed the books on one of the most boring trips in the annals of the Desert Explorers. It was great!