Exploring The Inyo & White Mountains

Part I

Base Camp and Mazourka Peak Trip

Having lunch near Mazourka Peak.

After a long wet winter in So Cal, Spring is finally here. And with spring comes flowers, sunshine, moderate temperatures and of course, VACATION! The first thing I do before anything else when I head to the Owens Valley is take a break in the Keough Hot Springs. Then I set up base camp and relax for a day while I plan my attack on hunting for old mining camps and cabins. Horton Creek Campground is one of my favorite BLM campgrounds and makes for a great base camp from which to search the White and Inyo Mountains for days gone by.

The first trip will be up Mazourka Canyon out of Independence and on to Mazourka Peak and Mazourka Pass. Mazourka Peak sits at 9412 feet overlooking Independence to the south and affords one of the most fantastic views of the Sierra Nevada of the whole Inyo Mountain range. One can see the Sierra Nevada from Mount Whitney in the south to Tom's Place in the north. With the left over snowpack this makes for a great view. Also, the flowers are all in bloom and this year in particular has been one of the best in recent history for plants like Lupine and Indian Paintbrush.

There were a couple of mines and cabins to explore along this class II and class III road so the trip was filled with adventure. Come along and check out our day-long excursion to Mazourka Peak with my dog Tabby and my old friend Mark and his wonder dog Twist.

If you would like to go up Mazourka Canyon on a trip of your own, may I suggest aquiring a guide by Roger Mitchell. "Inyo-Mono SUV Trails" This outstanding book features forty interesting and scenic four-wheeling excursions in California's Inyo and Mono Counties and can be purchased at the White Mountain Ranger Station in Bishop, CA. Mazourka Canyon, Peak and Pass is trip number 33 in the book.

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First things first. I met Mark and his wonder dog "Twist" at the hot springs. Even that little dog likes it. My not so little dog "Tabby" with the K5. She really loves that truck. She even lets me drive it. Got the tent set up and the stereo is tuned to the local Classic Rock station. "KWTY" And now the Mess is set up. Next a couple of cold ones and we're HAPPY CAMPERS!
My chair, the 2 meter handheld, a beer and the local news and I'm set for an afternoon of nothing. A view of the White Mountains from the campground. Still quite a bit of snow for June. Clouds are always giving us a great show in the Owens Valley. After the long trip up here, Tabby and I decide on a nap for the afternoon activity. Tomorrow we head up the mountain.
At the entrance to Mazourka Canyon, Mark stands below the second biggest ore bin I've ever seen. A portal we found early into the canyon. Safety tip... Always send your friends in first... Still in use, really nice oasis in the bottom of the canyon. It has it's own little mining operation and it's own water.
Now this is really nice. Well maintained too. I'd love to have the keys for the weekend. The portal of the backyard mine has a locked steel door. Doesn't look like it's been worked in a while. The opposite view from the portal. This outhouse is in perfect working order with a whole roll of TP installed.
Most likely a storage hut now, this building has a stove and could have been living quarters once. A nice view of the Sierras on the way up to Mazourka Peak. Whitney is in the distance to the left. A view of the Owens Valley Dry Lake Bed 25 miles to the south. We stop to check out the local vegitation. Indian Paintbrush is among the local species here.
Lupine is also abundant here. Desert Mallow Stuff just grows right out of the rocks here. Another nice view of the dry lake bed while we take a break near the Pinyon Pines.
The goal. Mazourka Peak. The view of the Sierras from in front of the microwave tower is incredible. We park the trucks and start looking around at all the junk up there. Hmmm... I wonder if any of this stuff is part of the local ham radio club equipment. I know there is a 2 meter repeater up here somewhere. Nice battery charger. Got any jumper cables?
Can you hear me now? Tinemaha Reservoir and the Owens Valley River. White Mountain in the background. Lower Owens Valley River. This is what all the big hoo-ha is all about.
The dry lake bed to the south... To the south Mark... Mark... Turn around... Straight out front. More stuff. Mad Cow! Well, actually it's a bull but Mad Bull doesn't sound as good.
No Beer I Don't Get It Campsite For This Trip

Part II