U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 360


California Desert Advisory Council tours recreation, preservation areas

The quest in 1849 for California’s gold brought William Isham from Rochester N.Y. across the Great Plains, the Great Basin, and Death Valley where he “died of thirst” on Jan. 13, 1850 near a dry canyon that opens into the Searles Valley, 30 miles northeast of Ridgecrest.  One hundred sixty years later, that canyon, now called Isham, hosts folks with another kind of thirst – the thirst for extreme off-road adventure. (text continues below)

Advisory Council members watch as an  OHV slowly makes its way up rocky Isham Canyon
Advisory Council members watch as an  OHV slowly makes its way up rocky Isham Canyon

The California Desert District Desert Advisory Council (DAC) and interested public got to see what the enthusiasts were all about when they loaded into 4WD vehicles and journeyed up Isham Canyon to a point where it seemed no vehicle could possibly proceed.  But four “jeepers” did continue, demonstrating extreme skills in maneuverability climbing giant boulders and dry waterfalls.

Later, the field trip continued to Surprise Canyon – the canyon Isham unfortunately never found.  There, water flows year-round from the area of Death Valley National Park’s highest point (11,043 feet), the Panamint Mountains’ Telescope Peak.  In the 1800s, miners blasted a crude road through the canyon to access the gold and silver at the head of the canyon and established the town of Panamint City. Today, the road has all but vanished since its closure; willows, cottonwoods, ferns, and moss are in its place. And Panamint City is a ghost town reached only by hikers with stamina and agility. 

On the return to Ridgecrest, rancher and DAC member Richard Rudnick hosted a moonlight BBQ at Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark.  Amongst 50-feet tufa, Rudnick’s brother-in-law, a professional country-western singer, provided entertainment.  And for the moment at least, environmentalists, ranchers, and off-road enthusiasts forgot their differences.

The next day, the DAC met in formal session.  But that’s another story.

A wider view of the surroundings, as another OHV makes its way up dry Isham Canyon
A wider view of the surroundings, as another OHV makes its way up dry Isham Canyon

A hiker approaches Surprise Canyon
A hiker approaches Surprise Canyon

Water rushes down falls in Surprise Canyon
Water rushes down falls in Surprise Canyon

The setting sun casts a purple and orange glow over the Trona Pinnacles, where DAC members convened for a barbecue
The setting sun casts a purple and orange glow over the Trona Pinnacles, where DAC members convened for a barbecue

-David Briery, 12/08

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 360


 
Last updated: 12-04-2008