Owens Valley Fishing / Exploring - May, 2006

Travel Trailer Test Run

The Reward Mine

The Mines Of Blind Spring Hill

Pine Creek Campsite
  • Locations - Goodale Creek and Pine Creek Campgrounds
  • Goals - Fish, relax, explore and fish some more...
  • Date - May 3rd - 17th, 2006
  • Quote Of The Trip - "Watch me make a rabbit dissappear..." or "HEY! Come back with my lure you wascilly wabbit!"

This trip was just what the doctor ordered. I started off on May 3rd for the Owens Valley with the new (to me) 1961 Aristocrat 'Lil Loafer' 12 foot trailer in tow. The whole trailer is 12 feet from tongue to bumper. The box is only 9 feet but it's huge inside with more than enough storage. It towed just fine. This vacation was designed as a test trip for this trailer. It belonged to a deceased friend of mine and I promised the family that I would take it fishing up in the Owens Valley where both of us have fished together before. I did that and I plan on doing it again and again... Everything worked great and I was very comfortable in it the entire time.

Because the trip was designed around testing the trailer, there are a lot of pictures of it in this report. The little box you see plugged into it is a 800 watt AC Power Inverter and 12 volt battery. Later I will install solar panels. Everything will be powered by 2 deep cycle golf cart batteries.

I installed a new 12 gallon water tank and it tested out just fine. I also had new curtains and cushions made for it so now all it needs is a new paint job inside, a little more woodworking and a pollish job on the outside. It even rained on me a few times during the trip and there are no leaks. The top vent used to leak but a new vent fixed that problem.

The first week of the trip was spent 14 miles north of Independence in a BLM campground called Goodale Creek. Nate (Lepidium) who lives in Independence was there to meet me as I arrived at the campground. I quickly decided on my spot for the duration and got set up. The rest of the week was filled with fishing and exploring. I finally got to visit Reward Mine where you can actually drive a full size truck into the main adit a quarter mile. There is a large room in there to turn around in. Nate and his girl friend Riannah and I fished a lot of little creeks in the area surrounding Independence including Shepards Creek and Tinemeha Resevoir. We did well. We also did a day trip through Mazourka Pass and up to Mazourka Peak. We wanted to do the whole trail all the way through to Westgard Pass but it was getting late by the time we approached Papoose Flats and we turned back. It was a beautifull trip but I left my camera at the camp site... (dummy) I have past photos of Mazourka Peak HERE in another trip report.

Another friend of mine from down south, Al Frisby, showed up near the close of the week. He had been traveling up to Idaho and through Utah visiting friends and relatives. He stopped by knowing that I would be there and we spent the evening having beers and telling lies... The next morning Al left for California City Airport to say his last goodbyes to another deceased friend of ours. Getting old sucks... But I guess the alternative is even worse... The next day another friend of mine from Arkansas showed up and we both moved up to Pine Creek which is a nice crack in the Sierras just north of Bishop. There is a tungsten mine up there that is now closed and I did manage to get a peek just inside the closed gate.

Robin and I did a lot of fishing around the valley area and also had a day trip to a place called Blind Spring Hill just outside of Benton Hot Springs, CA. Roger Mitchell included this crazy mining site in his book Inyo-Mono SUV Trails. We only found one tunnel driven in this whole place. The rest of the mines were verticle shafts. I laid down next to a couple of them and extended my arm out over for a couple of shots. Very scary indeed.... We also visited one of my favorite hot springs in Fish Lake, Nevada after which we had a couple of beers at the Dyer Bar And Cafe. We got to listen to old mining stories from the owner who happened to work at the Tungten mine for 23 years! Now he is retired with this great little bar and cafe in Dyer. Make sure to stop by and say hello if you are ever in Dyer NV.

After that Robin decided to take his little dog and head up to the Champion Spark Plug Mines for a few days. Good thing too because a mountain lion showed up near the creek in the evening. Tabby chased it away. At this point I am still unable to do that hike what with the heart attack and all. But the little hike I did at the tungsten mine was encouraging and I am sure I will be able to make it next year if not later on this year. The rest of my trip was spent relaxing and reading at the campsite, fishing the canals and creeks or just hanging around town doing chores like shopping and laundry. It was really a pleasure doing laundry in a nice clean, quiet laundry mat for a change. I also spent some time at Keough Hot Springs and that was really good for my back. I probably would have done a little more exploring but the price of gas told me I had to wait for another time. Just as well I guess. I really did need to relax and do nothing for a change... Pine Creek was just the place to do it. I was camped within 20 feet of the rushing creek. As a matter of fact it warmed up for a couple of days and I was a little worried I might have to move the trailer farther away in order to keep it from becoming a house boat. But just as I got worried the clouds came in for a bit and that slowed the melt-off down just enough to keep the rising creek in check....

Finally the last day of the trip came and I had to pack up and go. I cleaned the campsite up, packed up the trailer and started home. A storm was brewing south of me which was right in my way. I had to stop and pull into the Race Track Parking Lot at Adelento for a couple of hours while a huge squall went through. The wind, dust and tumble weeds were blowing directly across the highway at about 50 mph and I didn't want to chance the little trailer turning over on me. I read some more and had a bite to eat while I waited out the storm. The rest of the trip home was uneventfull. The dog and I were just elated at the time we just had.

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Setting up the trailer at Goodale Creek Campground. Almost there. The first meal cooked in the trailer. Sunset with the Sierras in the background.
View of the camp and trailer. Another view of the camp and trailer. Another view of the camp and trailer. You can see the AC power supply plugged into the trailer.
New curatins and cushions. I still need to do a little more woodwork on the interior. TV, VCR and DVD player all hooked up and ready to go. This will be replaced by a Flat Screen monitor in the future. Interior view of the kitchen. Rear view of the trailer with gray water tank hookup.
Leaving the campground to fish. Uh-oh... Bandits ahead! These guys look like they mean business. They're sending the little guy out to collect. "Your carrots or your life!"
Very first fish was an 18 inch brown trout! This fish is dedicated to the memory of George William (Dirty Ed) Edwards... This little trailer was his and he loved to fish up here. This wood burning stove came from the cook house at Claire Camp. Nate's girlfriend's grandfather and partner in the mine brought it down from the camp. Inside Nate's father's house we find the head of the household. He really makes a pig of himself.
Nate's dad fishing a small creek near Independence. More of the creek with the Sierras in the background. Nate's longtime friend Pete is seen here in front of the Jeepster with Nate and Tabby the Wonder Dog. Nate and I enjoying a liquid refreshment after fishing.
You need to ask Nate about this photo. Notice the rabbit in the background... Ask Nate... Nate cooking on the old woodburner out back of his house in Piss Alley... Piss Alley. We show up at the Reward Mine near Manzanar.
Inside looking out. We have driven a quarter mile into the mine to a place where we can park and turn around. This verticle shaft climbs all the way to the top of the mountain. Nate's Jeepster in the mine.
Nate and Riannah strike a post behind my Blazer. Looking into a crack in the wall of the mine. Lots of shiney stuff in here. A room that may have been the explosives room at one time. An ore bin outside the mine.
Another look at the ore bin. A plastic geo-cache canister is replaced with a metal ammo box. Water Storage. View into the valley from the milling area.
A look up the canyon reveals another ore bin and chute. Nate fishes a small creek behind Manzanar. First day at Pine Creek Robin relaxes in front of the trailer. Notice the leaves are just starting to form on the trees. Robin's dog. or, bait for the mountain lion that has been hanging around here.
Rear view of the trailer and gray water tank to keep the creek clean. Camp at Pine Creek... Almost dinner time! Dinner time! View up the canyon towards the Tungsten Mine.
Looking up Pine Creek. Run-off is building with the melting snow. Another view up the creek. The Aspens are really starting to bloom with leaves. Tabby The Wonder Dog takes a break. This fire place is all that's left of an old cabin.
A closer look. We have a resident! The creek right behind the trailer. Too cold to swim in this early in the year. Robin cleans some fish we caught in the canals earlier.
Robin and I kick back with a beer. Robin downloads some video he shot to his laptop. Benton Hot Springs. An old merchantile building. An old oven in front of the merchantile.
Wagons. Bed and Breakfast in Benton Hot Springs. Old Coke Sign. Read carefully what it says twice. Ruins of a dugout on Blind Spring Hill. This is the first of many.
I relunctantly layed down next to this shaft in order to take a photo. The shaft and claim marker. Some old tin cans. Ruins of an old rock cabin.
Looking down at my truck. The only tunnel we found. Broken pieces of glass and ceramic bowls. Some of these claims are so close together that the tailings had to be shored up in order to keep them from sliding down on the miners below.
Another shaft. Another rock built cabin. A closer look shows the fire place area. More tailings.
With the edge of Boundary Peak in the background this huge farm looks almost super-imposed onto the picture. And still more tailings. Ruins of Janie's Ranch in Queen Valley NV. An old brothel that is now closed. A trail that leads up to six springs hidden in the hills behind Janie's. This is the water head for the place.
A closer look reveals the green area where the springs are. Originaly called Queen's Station, this place once served as a water depot for the small guage railroad from Tonapah to Owenyo. Fish Lake Hot Springs in Fish Lake, Nevada. Oasis in the middle of nowhere.... These warm ponds are the outflow of the hot pool.
Robin gets ready for a dip in the very hot water. This crapper is brand new and made entirely of concrete panels including the roof. No one seems to know who built it or who maintains it! There is nothing else out here but some mines in the hills. Dinner time again...
A hungry dog watches on as Robin prepares the veggies. Fishing the canals of the Chalk Bluffs. Nothing but Browns in here and lots of em. Lots of new calves. Spring is everywhere. Baby ducklings follow thier mom in the canal...
I follow a trail to the rock faces near the camp. Looking back towards the White Mountains. Upon finding the end of the trail I see climbers on the rock face. Another view of what they are climbing. Thier goal of course is the top.
View of the canyon. Another view of the canyon. The climbers area making progress. Looking towards the campsite in the right side of those trees down there.
Another view of the rocks. End of the road. The gate at the Tungsten Mine. I understand that three families purchased the place for purposes unknown. A look into the canyon of the mine. Walking past the gate and up the paved switchbacks.
We find this man made tunnel used to protect the outlet waste water pipe from snow and freezing running along side the road. A look down and back shows the begining of the massive tailings piles. It took me 3 minutes to drive by them all at 25 mph. Robin stands at the portal of the man made tunnel. Walking inside we see the waste pipe.
I have no idea what this ladder was used for. Back at the camp I set up my hand-held 2 meter FM radio and communicate with the local ham radio club in the Bishop area. Life is good. Doing a little cleanup at the campsite.
This shows how close I am to the creek. The run off is startin to scare me a little. Tabby guards the camp... Dang... We leave tomorrow. This cabin must have made someone very happy at one time.
I wonder who lived here? Morning and we get ready to leave. Notice how green and full the trees are now compared to the photos taken when I first arrived. Hooking up the trailer is all that's left to do. My friend from Bishop, Mark and his dog Twist come for a last visit before we leave.
Pulling out I leave the site cleaner than I found it. As I leave south Bishop I look back and notice a weather cell building. The sign of things to come. A look around the Goodale Creek campsite. A look around the Pine Creek campsite.
Driving our trucks into the Reward Mine main adit. Driving out of the Reward Mine. Robin cleaning fish in Pine Creek.