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2015 - Rondy Report - Cerro Gordo

Rondy Trip Report
Cerro Gordo
Saturday, April 4

By: Steve Jarvis

First of all I want to thank Bob Jacoby, Emmett and Ruth Harder and everyone who went on our trip for helping me succeed on my first attempt at leading a DE trip. Thank you!

Nineteen explorers in eleven vehicles left the Boulder Creek RV Park pretty much on time at 9am. It was a pretty morning perfect for a little DE adventure into the Inyo Mountains. The group headed for Hwy 136, an easy 13-mile drive to the turnoff at Keeler. I fumbled a little at first trying to get the hang of using my new CB radio but with Emmett and Ruth Harder in the sweep position backing me up on the CB, things went pretty smoothly.

We turned off onto Cerro Gordo Road (Yellow Grade Road) and began the 8.5-mile climb toward Cerro Gordo. The road was in very good shape but quite steep in places. Everyone in the group moved along well. Our first stop was at a spot about 3 miles into the climb where high above the road we could see a remnant of the old Aerial Tramway cable with an ore hopper hanging from it. Back in the day, the tram transported silver and lead ore from the Cerro Gordo mines to a smelting operation in Keeler.

Our next stop was at a beautiful vista point about 6.5 miles up the road at a hairpin turn. Spread out below us was the Owens Dry Lake, now partially refilled with shallow pools of water by the LA DWP.  We didn’t stay long, a couple of radiators began to percolate so we were on our way again.

As we neared the old mining town at 8,500 ft., the air temperature was much cooler but still very nice. We parked near the old bunkhouse and met up with Robert Desmarais our guide and the manager of Cerro Gordo. Robert was great! He took us around the town exploring and revealing wonderful stories filled with lots of details and humor. He really brought the wild little silver mining town of the late1800’s back to life for us. We toured the old general store/museum, the Assay office and the Lola Travis brothel next door... how convenient! We toured the Belshaw House interior, the well- preserved American Hotel and after lunch some of us hiked up to take a look at the Hoist House for the Belshaw Shaft.

Everyone said they enjoyed the trip and we all got back with plenty of time to enjoy happy hour and share our tall tales of the day before the DE dinner.

Steve Jarvis