Inyo Mountains Exploratory
By: Gordon MacLeod
The Beveridge Canyon area, which was the most important gold producing district in Inyo County and has remained the most inaccessible, was the objective of this exploratory trip. The Beveridge mines and mills, located in canyons on the east side of the Inyos, were reached only by trails, many portions of which have since been washed out or overgrown. The Keynot miles had the greatest production; its deepest of 7 mine tunnels went down 1800 feet. Operation was continuous from 1878 to 1886 and intermittently until 1907.* Ore was carried 3 miles by pack mules to a five-stamp mill in Beveridge Canyon, to which all the heavy mill machinery had been transported by trail. Beveridge Camp, located below the junction of Cave and Beveridge Canyons at approximately 5600' elevation, is the most inaccessible of the Inyo mining camps by foot (but unfortunately not by helicopters, which have been used to "salvage" a fair amount of cabin furnishings and mining equipment).
Beveridge Camp was visited by Gordon, Barbara and Bill Sanders in October 1980 via a west side trail, which climbs 5200' out of "French Spring" canyon (about 3 miles NE of Lone Pine Station) over "Forgotten Pass" (9600') and descends 4000' to the Camp in Beveridge Canyon. On that occasion we also climbed some 10,000' peaks along the Inyo crest, from which we noted a fine-looking peak (10,339') on a ridge extending eastward from the Inyo crest. We resolved then to climb this peak from the east via Beveridge Canyon and so complete a traverse of that canyon. We felt that Beveridge would be of interest to DPS'ers, so we scheduled the trip as a DPS exploratory. Of the 13 people who had originally signed up, only 5 (in 3 cars) met in Saline Valley Sat. morning; subsequently, one dropped out at the roadhead (1600') and one out-of-shape participant-turned back about 2 hours out, leaving only Gordon, Barbara and Bob Tomlinson to complete the trip as scheduled.
The road to the Snowflake Talc Mine (3100') leaves the Saline Valley road about 41/2 miles north of the southern turnoff to the Hot Springs (see copy of New York Butte quad, attached). High clearance will get you in about 2 miles, but 4-wheel drive is required to reach the highest parking area near the mine. From here, a trail switchbacks up the hill, then traverses eastward and downhill to join another trail coming up from the end of the washed out road. Above this point the trail climbs steeply and unrelentingly to about 6600' before making a long down-and-up westwardly traverse to about 7000' before descending to Beveridge Camp, which is well supplied with running water (and well protected by rose bushes). Six hours and two quarts of water should be allowed for the backpack of nearly 6000' gain (without 4-wheel drive).
Sunday, while Bob explored the mining area, Gordon and Barbara ascended a trail up the south fork of Beveridge Canyon to the crest and climbed Peak 10,186' and Peak 10,339'. The weather was beautiful, although up to 5" of new snow were encountered on north-facing slopes above 8800'. A scree run provided a fast descent into the canyon, and camp was reached just before dark. Monday we backpacked out in time for lunch and welcome beverages (no pun intended) at the car and a dip in Saline Hot Springs before beginning the long drive home. A trip to Beveridge should be on every DPS'ers list!
*Reference: "Mines of the Eastern Sierra" by Mary DeDecker.
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