By: Randy Bernard
We meet at 6 am at the turn off to Ballarat on State Hwy 178 just 20.4 miles north of beautiful downtown Trona. We drove thru Ballarat (nobody was home) and then went north on Indian Ranch Road 1.2 miles to the Surprise Canyon road and headed north east up this excellent dirt road to Chris Wicks Camp where it stopped.
By 7 am our little band of 8 hikers were backpacking up the canyon. The road that once went through here was completely washed out by the big flash floods way back in 1984 and there is no trace of the road for the first mile or so as the trail goes up 600 vertical feet and over some water falls complete with running water. The next 2 miles we just walked up the old road till about one mile before Panamint (city) where you can look up the canyon and see a tall smokestack, a goal to hike to! At 11:30 am we reached the ghost town (about 5 miles and 3600 feet of gain) just as weather was getting hot, but we did beat the heat most of way up the canyon. Tom Jeter made a motion that we spent the afternoon exploring the city and resting in the shade, Chris Jeter second it and the motion carried.
Diane Rosentretter, Susan Hanna and Anna Valkass led the mine exploring that afternoon, there are so many to choose from.
We all thought a ghost had visited us because of a banging noise we heard all night long but in the morning we found it was the wind blowing a loose piece of siding on the work shop.
In the morning we took J. Holshuh's suggestion and hiked up Magazine canyon to Wyoming mine then followed the ridge top to the peak reaching it about 10:30 am. We signed the register and head down toward Panamint pass. Before we reached the pass we took a side canyon down to Frenchmans Canyon then followed the ghost trail (hard to find) back to Panamint.
We took a lunch break at Panamint City then the hard part started; hiking down the canyon the weather got pretty hot, but we all made it to the cars by 5 pm.
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