Saline Valley


By: Art De Goede


Since all reports were that the southern approach to Saline Valley was impassable for other than four-wheel drive vehicles, the basic meeting place was changed to Big Pine at 10 a.m. The northern route was good although one car pulling U-Haul trai1er did bend part of its hitch. Bill Clifton met others at the scheduled meeting place east of Olancha and reported that heavy equipment working in the Grapevine Canyon area had improved the road very much although at that time it could still only be negotiated by high clearance vehicles. This latter group saw a bighorn sheep on the way in.

Ultimately, twenty-five (8 youngsters) gathered at the Lower Warm Springs at noon Thursday and enjoyed a good soaking in the cement lined pool. Friday we all hiked 4 miles to Upper Warm Springs (unlined) which some of us sampled. After lunch, the group straggled back to the camping area with a large number returning via an area once inhabited by Indians. One fine arrowhead was found. Back to the warm springs (100F and 110F)! Saturday Bill Clifton, led us downwash to search for and find a group of cold springs. A substantial number of obsidian and jasper flakes attested to the earlier presence of Indians in this area. Sunday morning everyone scattered for the trip home and side trips to the sand dunes, salt lake, and tramway and in search of petroglyphs.

Because the group was split up on Thursday, Nelson Mountain was not attempted and the only peak bagged was Waucoba on Saturday by two individuals. The weather was perfect with only a bank of clouds over the Inyos early Sunday to give a hint of bad weather. Fine campfires were enjoyed each night as wood is plentiful on the drive in and a substantial amount can be found in the camp area itself. While the DPS did not contribute as greatly to the notoriety of Saline Valley as did the Sierra Singles or the Manson group, a fine time was enjoyed by all. Saline Valley even attracted one gentleman from Petaluma who landed his plane on the primitive strip (built as an emergency strip for a glider contest in the Trona-Ridgecrest area), enjoyed the warm pools, and then took his leave.

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