By: Steve Smith
Daisy Canyon is the southern most of the eight major named canyons on the east side of the Inyo Range. Not only is it notable for ifs size but also for a historic aerial tram that runs through it for over six miles. I had made a fast two day descent through this canyon seven years ago but had always wanted to go back and take more time to really see the area.
In September, Debbie and I along with six Desert survivors and Friends of the Inyo WSA followed the tram's access trail dream through the canyon. we set up a shuttle, leaving vehicles in Saline Valley at 1,600' near the mouth of Daisy Canyon and then drove up to the Inyo crest. starting where the tramline crosses the crest at the summit tram drive station at 8,600', the upper part of the trail was easy to follow as it wound from one tram support to the next.
The eastside leg of this historic tram is still well preserved due to its inaccessibility and being on the lee side of the range for storms coming in from the west. Its is a fascinating structure to follow with a variety of large and high tram supports. The canyon itself is an enjoyable experience, dropping 7,000' in six miles without the waterfall obstacles found in all the other eastside canyons, Like all the other eastside Inyo canyons, Daisy has a rugged and colorful beauty with only one short segment of brush.
On Friday, we had a leisurely time inspecting the tram and camped at the middle drive station at 5,800' by late afternoon. Near the station is a small spring with the only surface water we saw in the canyon. Camping on the wooden deck of the drive station which was tapered off at both ends and surrounded by desert terrain gave the feeling of being on a ship at sea and was certainly a pleasant, level camping site.
Saturday we followed the canyon bottom doom to 1,500' at which point the trail climbs back up to a ridgeline at 5,100' before starting its final descent into saline Valley. We followed the trail down to the next drive station at 3,700' and again camped on the wooden flooring with a panoramic view of Saline Valley.
Sunday it was a fast descent on down the trail to the vehicles and then the long drive around to retrieve our vehicles on the crest. The trip through Daisy Canyon is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the eastern Inyo's plus have the remains of the historic salt tram with its impressive tram supports and drive stations. Fortunately, there has been very little vandalism to the structures which date back to 1911.
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