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Surprise Canyon

 
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KathyW



Joined: 27 Sep 2007
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Location: Redlands, CA

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 1:16 pm    Post subject: Surprise Canyon  Reply with quote

Sentinel Peak in the Panamints has been on my list for a while; so I decided to do an overnighter up Surprise Canyon to Panamint City on Friday and then day hike up to Sentinel Peak yesterday.  Surprise Canyon is a really special place.  I drive down my share of backcountry roads and don't completely understand some of the road closures, but I'm really glad vehicles can't drive up Surprise Canyon anymore.  If you go up there, you'll understand why it's an area that needs to be protected.  If  you plan on staying overnight at Panamint City, bring two pairs of shoes - one pair to tromp up the water covered trail in and a dry pair for when you get to camp.

Anyway - a fun couple of days in a beautiful area:

http://kathywing.smugmug.com/Cali...7169620_2zskgF#1301533673_kWDVWDh

The "Hilton" is in pretty poor shape inside, but it has the best roof if you're up there in rainy conditions.  The "Hippie" or "Overflow" Cabin is nicer inside, but there are a lot of rodent droppings (make sure you hang your food if you leave it in there).  The water is flowing in the "Hippie" Cabin faucet, but it's milky and I didn't clear up even after running a while.  The outside faucet near the "Hilton" is running and the water is clear - I drank that without purifying, but I don't know how smart that is.   I didn't go out to the "Honeymoon" Cabin this trip; so I don't know what's going on out there - that cabin is the most secluded and it has that outdoor tub you can use id you want to boil water and fill it - the main part of the "Honeymoon" cabin was in pretty good shape in the fall of 2009 when I was up there before.  I bivied outside because I'd rather not sleep in a rodent infested cabin, but the cabins provide a nice place to hang out if it's cold outside.
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Location: Who knows

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like a real beautiful place, Kathy! Smile
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RichardK



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
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Location: Florida East Coast

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 6:27 pm    Post subject: Surprise Cyn Reply with quote

Really nice pictures - thank you for sharing them.

Am I correct that Surprise Canyon is a little too long and hard to be dayhiked by an average hiker?  Would it be necessary to camp at Panamint City?
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KathyW



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Location: Redlands, CA

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The hike to Panamint City and back could be done as a day hike pretty easily.  It's only about 6 miles/3600' elevation gain one-way; so a 12 mile hike round trip.  I had an overnight pack and left the parking area at about 10:20 am, I took my time and took lots of photos along the way, and then I arrived at Panamint City about 3 pm.    It can be pretty warm in the canyon, but for the first part you have plenty of water.  It was in the 90's when I came out yesterday about 6 pm, but there was a nice breeze and I was splashing around in the water for the last mile or so.  

I think the reason most people backpack it is because they want to take the time to explore the area once they get to Panamint City.  There are lots of mines and mining junk, the cabins, some pictographs, Sentinel Peak.....etc.  It's not that often you find a nice desert backcountry campsite with a water faucet that works.
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norma r



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Location: Ventura County, CA

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy Nice photos and backpack, Kathy.  Loved the cascades and the Stream Orchid.  Back when we drove a 4WD up Surprise Canyon in the 70's i gave little thought to protecting the environment.  I have changed a lot since then and it's good to hear that the canyon doesn't bear the scars of the days of yore.  I would like to revisit that canyon to see it 30+ years later.  Back then Panamint City was being lived in by the hippies who called those cabins home.

Regretfully, i did not get to DV or PV this year.  I missed out on tagging some of those desert jewels.
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TracieB



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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautiful...so many places to explore..so little time. Thanks for sharing.

Do you use a GPS or no?
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davantalus



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Location: Santa Clarita, CA

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 11:15 am    Post subject: Re: Surprise Canyon Reply with quote

KathyW wrote:

The "Hilton" is in pretty poor shape inside, but it has the best roof if you're up there in rainy conditions.
Could you be more specific?  I thought it seemed to be in pretty good shape the last time I was up there.
http://dav.me/gallery/v/hiking/In...ntCity/20100906-IMG_1853.jpg.html

KathyW wrote:
I drank that without purifying, but I don't know how smart that is.
I know plenty of people who survived it. But you'd never do it again if you saw the things "living" in the cistern.
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Burchey



Joined: 28 Dec 2010
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Location: San Dieger

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautiful pics.  Although those cabins are a little rough, they'd be a welcome site to someone wandering around in the cold out there.
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KathyW



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Location: Redlands, CA

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Surprise Canyon Reply with quote

davantalus wrote:
KathyW wrote:

The "Hilton" is in pretty poor shape inside, but it has the best roof if you're up there in rainy conditions.
Could you be more specific?  I thought it seemed to be in pretty good shape the last time I was up there.
http://dav.me/gallery/v/hiking/In...ntCity/20100906-IMG_1853.jpg.html


The outside of the Hilton is in about the same shape is was in the fall of 2009, but the inside looks a lot worse than it did then and it does in your picture.  It's dirtier - the kitchen area looked nasty, there are no mattresses in the living room, etc.  I was suprised at how much worse it looked than the last time I was there.  A good cleaning would make a world of difference.

Quote:
KathyW wrote:
I drank that without purifying, but I don't know how smart that is.
I know plenty of people who survived it. But you'd never do it again if you saw the things "living" in the cistern.


You're not the first person who told me that I don't want to look in the cistern.  I gave it some thought on this trip, but I still drank the water because I can be rather dim-witted.  I really should have purified it.  I do believe I'd boil the water if I went up there again.
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KathyW



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Location: Redlands, CA

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TracieB wrote:
Beautiful...so many places to explore..so little time. Thanks for sharing.

Do you use a GPS or no?


I do use a gps - route finding was easy for this trip; so a gps is more of a nerdy toy than a big help.  I like to track my hikes with the gps and upload the track when I get home.   The gps does a poor job tracking in the canyon - it had my mileage at about 7 miles between the parking area and Panamint City because it jumped around a lot - I think it's 6 miles or less for that part of the trip.  I drew that part in on the map and didn't use the gps track.  The section from PC to Sentinel on my map is a the gps track and it's pretty accurate.
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