Goler Wash and Mengel Pass

Goler Wash and Mengel Pass over a route into Butte Valley from Panamint Valley. Trail conditions vary from easy to difficult depending upon recent rainfall, with one section near Mengel pass being difficult.

The route twists and turns through a narrow valley, until it opens a bit into Goler wash itself. There is a short side trip to Baker Ranch and Meyer Ranch which was the one time, although short lived home of Charles Manson and his family prior to their arrest by Inyo County Sheriffs Department in October of 1969.

Follow the trail up to Megel pass, which offers the explorer access to Butte Valley, Megel’s Cabin, the Geologists Cabin and Russell’s camp.

Continue Reading →

The Green Gopher

Growing up in the 70’s I learned and spent a lot of time camping, hiking, being outdoors and active.  Every spring summer and fall, my parents and I would load up the truck, and later the trailer and head out.  Typically preparations would start the week before departure, and the loading process would start on Thursday afternoon with my brother and I hauling all the gear into the yard, while my mom packed the vehicles.  Friday could not come soon enough and when it did, my dad would come home from work, change is clothes, wrangle up two kids, maybe a dog, adjust the mirrors, and exclaim “We’re off” as we drove out of the driveway.  For the most part, for my family nothing much has changed much from my dad.  It is however the details that matter.

In 1972, I was one year old and to celebrate my dad bought a new truck.  Details of the vehicle back then are scare.  From my point of view, my dad previously owned a 1964 International Scout.  He drive this car for years all over the desert south west in the late 1960s.  When my dad married my mom, my mom made him sell the Scout because the breaks were horrible, and at least three times they failed completely.  It was a wise decision considering the stakes for the family at the time, but the loss of his beloved Scout was difficult and for decades despite its faults the Scout cast a long shadow in our family.

Returning to 1972, my dad decided to purchase his truck.  He chose a Sea Foam Green 1972 Ford F-100 pickup sporting a 302 inch V-8 sporting with a 3.2:1 gear ratio, two fuel tanks, and a four speed manual transmission which included a “Granny Gear”.  The extra costs of a four wheel drive were not an option for my dad at that time.  So, the truck became the “ultimate compromise”.  He opted for 2 wheel drive, but to offer improved traction he chose a four speed with granny gear.  The differential was geared up to offer improve gas mileage, but the little 200 HP V-8 could not pull a grade at any sort of highway speeds.  A camper shell, home built bed, pass-through rear window and the “green gopher” was complete for the initial incarnation

The interior of the truck bed was built by my father and contained storage, and folding queen bed.  The low profile camper shell offered no room crouch, let alone stand up, the windows and top vent offered perfect locations to pull out tufts of hair from the person who was not wise to the danger.  During a trip, I can remember distinctly laying down in the cab between my mom and dad as he drove.  Later my brother and I would argue about who got to sit in front between my parents, but clearly the place to travel was in the bed of the truck.

Continue Reading →