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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
12-22-11

We took the road up Surprise Canyon to the trail head at Chris Witch Camp. Unfortunately it got burned down in 2006 but there is still remains of structures and gnarly charred Cottonwood trees. The Santa Ana’s are flared up gusting up to 70 but it's just a little breezy and about 52 degrees where we are. We grab our packs and are headed up the falls. Making it about an hour in and I am getting real sick and by 1.5 hours about half way up Justin is asking me if I think I am gonna die and “should we turn around?” I didn't want to go back at all, and started thinking how bad I would feel for Justin if I died. So we hiked out and headed south to Torona where there is a rundown little town with a mine still in operation. No gas available in town they'd been out for 5 months. We wasted a couple hours and made some phone calls. We grabbed a 12 pack and decided to camp at Chris Witch Camp and see how things went and if I felt up to it we would do it again in the morning. Got pretty chilly under the stars but they were magnificent out there in the middle of nowhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
12-23-11
9 am we're on the trail. Making great time shaving 15 minutes off our previous days turnaround we thought we would be there in no time. At the 3 hour mark we are definitely staring to feel our packs. Carrying food for 5 days and dog food cause I love Randy. He has got the first aid kit and duct tape in his pack. It's uphill the whole way not a second break. We came across 4 burro just off the trail who eyeball us but don't see too interested. About 30 minutes we notice a fella behind us and we pick up the pace to secure our sleeping accommodations at the the Hilton. Well that's what it's called the largest of the old dwelling left from the mining boom. We cross a couple headed out 5 minutes later and hear tale of a monster rat the size of a football who kept them awake all night. Unfortunately he's staying at the Hilton too. We can see the smelter, we're almost there, and it's smoking! The kids before us had lit a fire and it was cool to see smoke rising from the beast.
Finally making it 3hrs 45min we find the cabin to ourselves and move in for inspection. The rat shit told tale of a popular hangout. Water running outside but we decide to boil anyways, to many burro around the springs. We are both pretty whooped but are happy to drop our packs and pick up an ax and handsaw to get some wood for the night. Most everything dead nearby has been picked over so we find ourselves climbing more hills to find some wood. Randy was so tired he stayed to guard the cabin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The fella coming up behind us is a day hiker, his first trip to Panamint City unfortunately he only spends about half an hour looking around and has to get back on the trail to make it out before dark. That's just what we did our first trip up last year and knew we had to come back and explore.
Settling in with a spectacular view from the Hilton's window and a pink hu settling across the cliffs that overlook water canyon we have had a good day. As we look out the window we see another hiker coming down the trail we pop out to ensure he has all the gear he needs to hike out safely in the dark. He is just climbed to Sentential Peak and Porter Peak making his day trip a 20 miler. About 14 of those being pretty steep inclines. Dang, that guy was an animal, he trotted away at a slow jog. Dark at 5 we have a fire going and play some cards and have a whiskey or two. Dinner of top ramen and salmon packs nothing has ever tasted better. Deciding the cleanest place in the Hilton is actually the floor right in front of the wood stove we throw down our bags. Although when it comes time for sleep we find the wind is awakening and we find ourselves listening to the unfamiliar sounds of the night. Not to mention my imagination of the football rat coming out of the cupboard to chew my face off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
12-24-11
Morning comes and I am happy to watch about 20 bluebirds at the spring while we enjoy coffee We head off to the east to Thompson Camp up Water Canyon. Lots of run down structures and a 57 Chevy too, (which Justin is all to eager to check under the hood) Heard tale of an old power generating water wheel but was unable to locate it, awfully thick willow by the creek. We decided to cut slide slope into Sourdough Canyon. We have a nice elevated view of Panamint City and it's surroundings and it looks like everybody shut down in the middle of a shift and walked away. Rocks in carts, processors, and crushers half full and machinery everywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
And then we saw it “The Castle” a small cabin in Sourdough Canyon. Entering we found it very clean and reading the log book it has several mention of no mice! This little place has a ton of character with brick work outside and a cast iron tub that overlooks a view. It is clear a lot of work has been done to secure the place against the little rodents. I'm sold we're moving. Headed back to the slum Hilton to retrieve our stuff and move in before someone else gets there. We are in at the Castle and realize there is no water. Somewhere along the gravity feed PVC lay there is a break. Justin sets to work fixing the 100yard line from the spring. I go back to the Hilton to fill our water bottles and retrieve my trekking poles. I am finding it a task to just get around and wonder how folks pulled it off in the 1800's. When I get back there is water in the sink Justin has founds some couplings and hose clamps and fixed the 5 leaks. What a luxury. Already loosing the day we are off to cut more firewood for our little stove. The rest of daylight was used fixing some brick and cleaning up outside the cabin.
Dark in the little cabin but it's so cozy we have headlamps and candles. Dinner of mac n'cheese and spam we are finding we are very hungry and a little dehydrated. Nothing a little whiskey and Yahtzee championship of the world won't fix..... Whiskey is gone but I am victorious overcoming a 0-2 start to a best 3 of 5, yeah!!!
Settling down for a real nights sleep it gets hot in there and we're on top of our bags. Finding a stash of old Readers Digest and Magazines from the 70's we find articles speaking about VCR's the revolution of television costing you 1,300 bucks and weighing 243 pounds. More on alcoholism, healthcare, and China same problems different era.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
12-25-11
Great night sleep, no critters creeping around the cabin, Merry Christmas. Special breakfast of Mountain Man eggs and bacon. We decide on a hike up to Sentential Peak at 9500 feet, another uphill of 2,000+ feet. On the way up we crossed Wyoming mine. Large entrance 7 by 7 feet very comfortable walking in there. Many brown bats bedded down for the day. It's hard to fathom the work that went into getting supplies up there and the work that was accomplished. The wooden tram towers are still intact with massive metal wheels still attached. Reaching the mine about 600 feet above that there is the still standing loading pier to run minerals by tram. A very steep and dramatic drop in between towers. Justin was a bit more gutsy crawling in and checking out the upper mine finding an ore car remaining on the track. With Randy's paws starting to bleed we decide to head back and give the poor puppy a break. By covering 25 miles in a few days he needed one. First we found a nice sunny spot with a great view stretching all the way to Mt. Whitney for a beef jerky and gorp lunch. Soaking in the beautiful and peaceful Christmas Day.
 

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very cool!

you guys are killing me! My GF and I have been torturing the kids with day hikes for the last year or so, Just to get them ready for something like this!

envious!!!

thanks for taking the time to take the pics and tell the story :beer:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Getting back to camp Randy crashed and didn't move the rest of the night. Justin and I were back to work cutting firewood and a surplus because a sunset bath was in my mind. The set up was pretty simple a 30 gallon tank over and open fire elevated by brick with a hose attached. When it's hot open the valve and fill the tub, you can even put coals under the tub to keep the water hot. As we wait we do more work outside.
Up walked a fella named Steve and his two doggies who pitched a tent just down the way. Waters hot, bath time! Turn the valve and it doesn't work :( So the best man in the world and my best friend Justin siphoned the water from the tank. The water is way too hot but there is chunks of stuff in there. Wait a minute that's fur....and skin....we cooked a mouse and evidently he was plugging up the valve. Yeah, Justin got a little in his mouth and yes he's the best husband in the world.
Started a fire inside and had stuffing and a can of chicken for Christmas Dinner. Steve came up with a bottle of wine, what a treat. We st up trading stories and laughing till about 10 and called it a night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
12-26-11
Best night of sleep yet. I could get used to this place, I am and I love it. But, early that morning we decided if we wanted Randy to make it out and be functional for the rest of our vacation we'd better pack it up and make the 7 mile hike out. Quick coffee and oatmeal and we packed up. Steve came up and said goodbye. We were headed down the hill and down it is. It's definitely up hill the whole way thru water, scrambling up waterfalls, and brush that encompasses you but you don't notice until your way down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Happy to find the car in 1 piece in 2.5 hours, change shoes, and Randy sleeping again we hit the road. At crossroads, north or south it's unknown. But this adventure is over and a new one is beginning. Thank you Panamint and to all of those who made it what it is and everyone who keeps it that way.
 
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