Day 5: Cerro Gordo and Inyo Mountains

Saturday October 5, 24.5mi/39.4km

White Mountain Talc Road (78.5/5980ft) to Long John Canyon (103.0/5180ft) (CA)

I started by 7am today, since I knew it would be a longer day. It was a long, 3-hour climb up to an 8000-foot high ridge.

Near the top, I entered an old mining district, Cerro Gordo mines.

Looking back downhill from where I started this morning:

The entrance to the old mining village was at the crest of the hill.

I spent an hour exploring the old buildings, talking to the caretaker, and sitting in the wonderful shade!

Finally, I left the old mining village, and spent all the afternoon walking the crest of the Inyo Mountains.

I could see the Owens Valley to the west. This area used to be Owens Lake, before Los Angeles stole all the water.

And across the valley was the front range of the Sierras, rising 10,000ft/3000m above the valley.

After an hour of ridgewalking, I came across an old mining cabin!

The inside was nice and cool, and full of random trinkets. No interpretive display signs, just an interesting site.

The old mine was nearby. I definitely didn’t go in, small enclosed spaces are my kryptonite. Plus it might collapse!

To the east of the ridge was another huge valley, the Saline Valley.

It was an afternoon of bliss, expansive views in all directions, and on an easy old jeep road.

The road winding along the ridge in the distance…

I passed an old salt tram, which used to haul salt that was mined in Saline Valley up and over the Inyo mountains, and down to a railroad in the Owens Valley.

Saline Valley, 7000ft/2100m below:

I explored the inner workings of the tram, it was mostly just the structure left, no cables or machinery.

I met a random guy who had driven up there in his jeep, he was super knowledgeable about the local mining history and very interesting to chat with. I couldn’t stay long though, I still had 5mi/8km to hike before dark!

I left the ridge at 5pm, and traveled x-country down some steep hillsides, finally dropping into a wash.

This eventually joined Long John Canyon, which I was able to hike in the dark with my headlamp, since navigation is not an issue in a canyon. I setup camp at 7:30pm, an hour after sunset, and quickly fell asleep after a 12+ hour day!

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