Lone Pine Area

Before heading out to the Alabama Hills, we made a stop at the Alabama Hills Café so Karen could get a morning munchie. I miss being able to eat there, but such is the result of celiac disease. We took Movie Road and passed up all the neat stops for arches and views of the Sierra crest.

Lone Pine Peak on the left, Mount Whitney in the center back.

I was looking for the location where the scene of the Jericho missile demonstration in Ironman was filmed. I had some GPS coordinates for the area, and I found it fairly easy to match the background mountains, but I couldn’t match up the foreground, which means I wasn’t finding the camera location used in the movie. Here’s a clip from the Ironman movie, followed by my shot. I couldn’t find the foreground rocks behind Robert Downey, Jr.

Clip from Ironman

My shot. Background matches, but the foreground doesn’t

If I go back, perhaps I can find the right camera location and take a selfie with coat and tie.

Then we drove out east across the Owens River to the location of the movie set for Bad Day at Black Rock. There is nothing left—it’s even difficult to see where the old Southern Pacific railroad bed was. I approximated one of the scenes, although I should have been farther away from my truck.

Scene from Bad Day at Black Rock

Main Street still exists, but no buildings or railroad

After all this, we drove out to the Reward mine area. I think we saw about half of the complex, so a return trip is in order.

Part of the Reward Mine

Before returning to our motel, we spent some time at the Manzanar visitor center. The displays have been expanded since we were last there. It is still a sobering reminder of how we can mistreat people in times of crisis.

Lone Pine, February 2017 photo gallery

Lookout City

The mining camp of Lookout lies on a mountain top in the northern part of the Panamint Valley. Rich deposits of silver were discovered in 1875 and a small mining town quickly developed (50 dwellings, 5 saloons, 2 general stores). A 10-stamp mill and two 60 ton furnaces were processing the ore. Charcoal for the furnaces was hauled in by mule train from the charcoal kilns in Wildrose Canyon. A pack trail was constructed up the east side of Lookout mountain.

Surprisingly, that pack trail is still usable, so we decided to hike up to the ruins following this old trail. There is a 4×4 road that goes around the backside of the mountain and up to the ruins, but I’m told that it is quicker to hike the trail. The trail never gets very steep, but it is a continuous climb with lots of switchbacks.

Climbing the switchbacks up a barren slope.

We looked around a little on top, but didn’t explore extensively. The best remaining ruins are the stone basement walls of the general store. Almost all of the wood has collapsed.

The remains of the Lookout general store

After looking around for a while, we returned the way we came. There does appear to be an alternate trail down, perhaps so that the pack mule trains never had to pass each other on the narrow trail.

I had seen in my research that the Minieeta mine was on the south side of the Lookout peak, so we drove out to it. In retrospect this was probably a mistake. The road was very rocky. In a couple of places I had to make a couple of tries to find the correct line. I never scraped bottom, but I found it nerve-wracking. If I go back with my current vehicle I will park and hike in to see more of the old mining equipment at the site.

Cabin at the mine

Lookout City, February 2017 photo gallery

On the way to Lone Pine

After checking out of our motel in Barstow, we drove to Mule Canyon in the Calico Mountains. I had gathered some locations where fossilized insects were found and it was just a short hike to one of them. Of course, there are rocks everywhere and I quickly realized I didn’t know how to identify a “nodule” that might contain a fossil. I need to do a bit more research before I try fossil hunting there again.

From Barstow we drove north on highway 395 until we reached Coso Junction. This was a convenient spot for a break, as well as the turnoff to go east out to a pictograph site. Pictographs are rock paintings. These particular ones are only a little over 100 years old, and historians believe they know the name of the native American medicine man who painted them. In addition to the pictographs, there are tons of obsidian flakes in the area.

A section of the pictographs at the site

Our next stop was at Owens Lake to check out two old, decaying charcoal kilns. They produced charcoal that was loaded onto a steamer and sailed over to Keeler on the east side of the lake, and then hauled up to Cerro Gordo to provide fuel for the mine furnaces. The kilns in Death Valley National Park near Rose Peak served the same purpose. Of course, Owens Lake is now dry because LA ships most of the Owens Valley water south via its aqueduct.

Charcoal kiln at Owens Lake

As the sun was setting, we drove out to the Manzanar Reservoir (just west of the Manzanar site) and looked at its concrete works and the graffiti scratched into the concrete by Japanese workers from the camp. Worker names and dates are in english, but the writings in Japanese characters express the workers extreme frustration at being held in the camp against their will.

Manzanar reservoir

We also made a stop at the Manzanar cemetery and, closer to Lone Pine, a small, memorial cemetery for those Lone Pine residents killed in a massive 1872 earthquake.

Along 395, February 2017 photo gallery