New York Butte, Pleasant Point
By: Jon Inskeep
|John Inskeep |
The population of Keeler swelled by eight Saturday Morning as a typically irresistible Inskeep-led trip drew two interested parties. Our route was up Swansea Grade to the crest, north to the end of the road and camp Saturday night, then south along the crest Sunday to Cerro Gordo Mine and home. New York Butte and Pleasant were climbed along the way. The route is thoroughly and accurately described in Roger Mitchell's booklet, Inyo Mono Jeep Trails. The road up Swansea Grade, although not shown on most maps, is in excellent condition with signs of recent grading works and can be negotiated by all but the most low-slung or under-powered passenger cars. The road reaches the crest in 13 miles at 9200'. Good road then continues north, passing the buildings at Burgess Mine, another 2.1 miles to a dead-end at 9800'. From here it is a short mile and 800' gain over gentle terrain to the summit of New York Butte. One of the less conventional members of the party did it in bedroom slippers, neither hiker nor slippers however were able to do Pleasant the next day.
The road along the crest is good about as far south as the jump-off to Pleasant, at the 9100' level just south of Cerro Gordo Spring on the topo and NW of the peak. The steep descent along the west flank of Pleasant and, worse, the climb back out further south should be attempted only with 4WD vehicles or trucks with plenty of power and low gearing. Others should retrace the route back down via Swansea Grade. From the meadow below Pleasant, the top is a pleasant 600' and one hour round trip (if you spend 23 minutes enjoying the view from the summit). pinyons and brist1econes grow on the northern slopes.
There is a sign next to the road here below Pleasant that says there is a locked gate ahead and it's no lie there is one all the way at the end of the road at Cerro Gordo Mine. Fortunately we had obtained the combination to the lock previously from the cooperative caretaker. It is my understanding that he is no longer there and the property is being looked after by the owner, you should make your own arrangements or be prepared for a long drive back out.
Remains of the salt tram down the western slope of the Inyos can be inspected close-up at several spots on the way up Swansea grade. At about the 6400' elevation some salt buckets can be found on the east side of the road. The salt tram summit station is an imposing structure reached by the crest road. It is still fairly well preserved, the cables down the east side toward the salt lake in Saline Valley, are still up.
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