Pleasant Point, New York Butte
By: Lou Brecheen
After spending the night at various spots in the desert near Lone Pine Station, 8 hikers met at the junction of U.S. Hwy 395 and Lone Pine Station Road at the north end of Lone Pine. We zig-zagged east past Lone Pine Station a short distance to where the road makes a sweeping left turn and intersects the road over to Keeler. There is a sign reading: "Dolomite Loop". Instead of turning, continue east on a dirt road which deteriorates as it winds across the Owens Valley and climbs into Long John Canyon. Low-slung cars will not make it very far. VWs and other fairly high clearance vehicles can get at least to the 4,200 foot level. From here we hiked up the 4WD road to its end. Rather than battle through the stickery bushes and climb the difficult waterfalls in the canyon floor, we looked to the right and found an unmaintained trail which switches back and forth above all the difficulties. We followed this trail until it petered out; then we continued on up and across sidehills - keeping close to the canyon for more than a mile, until we came to a spot -a canyon intersection - where we could easily return to the canyon. We took the left-hand fork and immediately found remnants of the use trail. This trail then continued all the way to the road to the Burgess Mine. A short road - 1/2 mile - leads from the mine building to a trail which ascends the low SE escarpment of New York Butte. One mile along this trail, we looked up to the east (right) and saw, through the timber, the pinnacle forming the high point.
Shortly before 2:00 we signed in on the last page of a fine old register containing names of some illustrious DPSers from the past - both distant (Niles Werner) and near, (Cuno Ranchau)and enjoyed the views of the Sierras to the west and all the way to Charleston Peak to the east.
We returned via the same route, arriving at the cars at 5:30. Don Sparks then went home to grade papers. Dan Mihaijevich, Harold McFadden and Bob Ives went to Lone Pine to eat. Bob Emerick and Maris Valkass went to Lone Pine to buy film and Larry Machleder and I drove straight to Keeler. The Cerro Gordo mine road departs from highway 136 directly opposite the little town and is well marked. Our camp for the night was at an abandoned structure about 3/4 mile up that road, which is approximately 4,000 feet elevation.
At a PLEASANT hour Sunday morning we drove up to the Cerro Gordo mine where Mr. Keefer (representing the mining company which bought out the previous owner, Mr. Smith, actually his widow; Smith died about a year ago.) directed us to park on the ridge where the Swansea-Cerro Gordo road begins. (8,200') It's the left-hand or lower dirt road leading to the Northwest around the west end of the prominence situated there. The road maintains elevation for approximately 1-1/4 miles then begins a gradual decline. Before the decline, however; we debarked on a weed-grown trail which kept the same elevation - approximately 8,300' - for another 1-1/4 miles. There we ascended steep, loose, shale/slate slopes 1,290 feet to the scenic top of PLEASANT MOUNTAIN. at 9,690 feet.
The views from the top of Pleasant - while we ate lunch - were exceptional. New York Butte, Keynot and Mt. Inyo were closest to us -- the rounded dome of White Mountain was further in the distance. The virtually snow-less High Sierra loomed west of us in great and vivid detail - - all the way from Olancha Peak to Mt. Williamson - and beyond. We were able to pick out Cartago, Muah, Trail, Cirque, Langley, LeConte, Corcoran, Irvine, Muir, Lone Pine Peak, Whitney, Russell, Tunnaborra, Tyndall? Bernard, Trojan, Versteeg, Junction and Keith. Back to the east and south, we made out; Dry & Tin, Telescope and Sentinel and far on the horizon - but looming over all- Charleston.
While Larry led along the Road/Trail, the ridge top also goes very well, all the way from the cars to Pleasant Mountain.; in fact there is a faint use trail almost the total distance. We were back down to Keeler at 3:30 and were home before dark. Thanks to all participants for making this a Pleasant Butte safe trip.
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