French Spring Trail, Keynot Peak, Beveridge Cabin Stabilization
By: Steve Smith
Friends of the Inyo Wilderness volunteers had been working this year on a project to save the historic Beveridge Ridge cabin. This cabin, located at 8,400' on the Beveridge Ridge, is shown on the New York Butte 7.5" topo as a small, black square about 2,000' above Cove Spring. The cabin was threatened by loose rock scree which was slowly caving into the cabin and beginning to collapse one of the walls. This cabin built by miners in the 1890's is a unique historic structure along the Lonesome Miner Trail. BLM volunteers have been protecting it since their first stabilization project in September 1989 when they installed bracing and supports.
Volunteers had made two trips to the cabin this spring to begin the work of digging out the loose scree and building a rock retaining wall. Its a four day round-trip backpack just to reach the cabin and when having to carry in all supplies, it becomes quite a challenge. On top of that, during their June trip, there was a snowstorm which dumped 2' of snow at the cabin and which required extending their stay until the snow could melt off. One more work trip was needed to finish the stabilization so on August 14th, nine people headed for the cabin from a couple of different trailheads since people wanted to use and monitor a variety of trails. Jerry Boggs, my 10 year old son Stenson and I decided to use the French Spring Trail. It had been 11 years since my last trip up the French Spring Trail when Ron Jones and I had lead a DPS traverse over Forgotten Pass to reach the Beveridge Millsite and then descended down to the Snowflake Talc mine. Its a good trail and this time I knew where to take a trail northeast at 8,800' which leads to a pass just south of Keynot Peak instead of staying with the more obvious trail into Forgotten Pass.
Slowly switch backing up towards the 10,600' pass in warm weather, it was great when we finally crossed over to the back side of the ridge. At this point, the trail contours northward for .25 mile to the top of the Beveridge Ridge. We dropped down 600' on the north side of the ridge to reach the remains of a historic sawmill on the south side of the meadow below Keynot Peak. The remains from the old sawmill make an interesting relic to visit on the way to the Beveridge Cabin. The trail at this point isn't obvious in the loose scree but it can be picked up again by contouring eastward from the lowest wooden platform at the sawmill. From here, its a good trail down to the Beveridge Cabin and much easier to follow since volunteers several years did a little brushing of the trail to help check hikers on the original, historic route and avoid creating new routes down the ridge.
By Saturday, nine of us were at the cabin and enjoying the splendid wilderness scenery and remoteness of this midpoint on the Lonesome Miner Trail. The log book showed a few backpackers are enjoying the cabin and various trails which lead to it but not too many people are venturing along the isolated Eastside trails. By Monday afternoon the slope stabilization and rock retaining wall was well along when Jerry, Sten and I started back. We had enjoyed our two nights at the cabin and the discussions about the 123 miles of historic Inyo trails, various wilderness management issues affecting this area and possible future trips.
We followed the trail back up to the sawmill and then took a side trip up Keynot Peak before traversing over to the pass at 10,600'. Dropping down to the trail junction at 8,800', it was a great campsite and view of the sun setting over the Sierras that evening. The last day was quick as we descended the trail back down to the French Spring Trailhead and signed out at the wilderness register box that BLM has installed a short distance above the parking area. Several of the volunteers worked through Wednesday and did an outstanding job in finishing the work of stabilizing the slope behind the cabin. As far as we can determine, the cabin is now in great shape to continue standing as a unique historic feature along the Lonesome Miner Trail.
I have prepared one page BLM information sheets on both the Lonesome Miner Trail and Beveridge Canyon which provide additional information for people wanting to access this area. Anyone wanting copies can contact me at 760-384-5440 or send a request to me at 300 South Richmond Road, Ridgecrest, CA 93555.
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