Monday, November 29, 2021

Copper Queen Canyon -- Slate Range

I really have no idea why I wanted to go to Copper Queen Canyon.  The best I can come up with is I hadn't been and I had seen a photo of a mine shaft that seemed to head to the center of the earth.  With that as motivation, we found friends BJ and Bob who said they would go with us.  Getting there involves driving across the lake bed at Trona, doable when dry, not so much when wet.  And has it been dry, so easy except for the erosion fingers eating into the clay of the lake edges from the last big storm.  And yes, it did rain this July, which is why we found blooming flowers.  Forget the calendar when in the desert, if it rains, flower and set seed.

Emory's Rock Daisey

When we arrived at the mine, our friend Bob immediately headed in. That prospect didn't go far.  We then found the vertical mine shaft.  It was pretty interesting with the wood of the ladder and supports in fairly good shape, and all the metal missing.  Metal was scavenged out of mines during WWII, so our best guess is that is when it operated.  We couldn't find a name for this particular mine, surprising given the extent of diggings.

Bob exploring a shallow prospect.

I think we found the mine.

Yep, looks like journey to the center of the earth.  Yikes.

Part of a short rail line to move the ore into the wash.

The bushes in the wash didn't appreciate the flash flood.

Close up of water flattened bush.

We decided to connect two washes via the badlands.

BJ and Bob are heading up.

There were a few steep tricky spots.

Searles Lake

Argus Peak.

Trona across from Searles Lake

A recliner!

BJ on the throne.  Hmm, that doesn't sound good, does it.

Love these huge rocks in the middle of nowhere.

On the way home we were stopped by the train.  Looking at all the cars and the speed at which they were moving, I figured it would be a good long while.  Turns out they were just moving it and had to pull forward a bit to back it up to the plant.

Oh no, bad timing!

We are going to be here awhile.  Look at all those engines and cars.

Nope, the train backs out of our way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Knight Canyon -- Argus Range

During our four wheel drive exploring of the Argus Mountains I noticed a couple of old limestone mines that I figured would be worth a close up view, but not a full day.  It happened that Knight Canyon was right there, so a hike up the canyon would make a perfect companion to checking out a couple of holes in the ground.  Our goal on the hike was a narrows with towering rock walls and a burbling stream.  The punchline to this hike, our long anticipated oasis at the end, was a complete disappointment.  

ebird checklist

The view heading into Knight Canyon.

One of the mines from afar. More on our way out.

Scenery as we walk up the wash.

Trees, alas, no birds to go with them.

Wonder if this was a temporary or permanent shelter.

Our first interesting mining artifact, an old drill bit.

Rachel is enthralled with the old tractor.

We all thought the old tractor  was one of the high points of the hike.  It had components marked with the year 1946, and was still in amazingly good condition.  It was a bright yellow spot of antiquity in the middle of nowhere.  

Even a needle remains on one of the gages.

A riveted tank.  We figured it was older than the tractor.

The best of our narrows.

Our burbling spring.  Yikes, yep that was all of it.

My other high point in the narrows.

Rachel is leading and if you look very closely in front of Bob.

Yes, this is the narrow canyon with stream.  Hmmm.  Not the oasis we were hoping for.  I characterized it as more of a water witch hell.  Water witch is a common name for that hideous plant that fills the bottom of the canyon.  What is so hideous about it you may ask?  Two things, it stinks, yes it exudes some nasty volatile when walked through, vile.  And the other, trying to walk through it.  It is grasping, thick, and a tangled mess.  Unfortunately for us, our donkey friends had no reason to go beyond the spring so we were on our own to push our way through.  Arrgh!  Rachel and Bob pushed on to see around the corner, when their report was unfavorable, I happily abandoned all efforts to get further up canyon.

Bob and Rachel are in there somewhere.

This is where I gave up.

Bob and Rachel pushing through.  Yuck.

On our way back down to the car, we found a hunting blind.  Very cool.

Danger.  Looks obvious to me.

Now then who had to get a closer look.

Getting out looks fun.

Scenery on the trip back was very nice.

The Panamints in the distance.

The reason I wanted to explore this area.

This tiny square hole in the ground is what motivated me to want to take a closer look at the area.  From very far away and with binoculars, this appeared to me a huge mine with a drive in hole on the left.  Reality is a small square with a round bush on the left.  Sad, but true.

The most interesting thing we saw was a sculptor copying a bust and using a scrap of the abandoned limestone.  I wish I had gotten a photo of that.