This spring tour season was not one of the best for this desert guide. By April only a smidgen of wildflowers had burst forth with their vibrant colors scattered among the green sage and mesquite. In addition, the exorbitant gas prices ($5.89 at Panamint Springs) caused the cancellation by clients of two tours. However, for this friend of rock, sand, magnificent sunrises and sunsets, there is always beauty and solitude in the desert and so this solitary sojourn began.
It was late afternoon, the wind, a desert song, hummed a symphony across the dunes. With the crossing of the Slate Range pass north of Trona the healing peace again flowed to this scribe desperately escaping the blood-smeared, greedy world of news headlines, and the biased, twisted stories of television media.
A half-day’s burro’s trot from the ghost town of Ballarat in Panamint Valley I set up camp near the mouth of one (my secret) of the several canyons in the Panamint Mountains. I spread out my old Indian horse blanket (a beautiful gift from my darling niece Diane), sat down cross-legged, and took a deep breath. Before me, the valley stretched out forever and the cobalt sky became the ceiling of the grandest cathedral.
Across the valley, the Argus Range hid the history of pioneers and lost souls. A touch of Apache snow (A patch here, a patch there) rested like scattered cotton balls upon the crests near the old mining camp of Lookout. The ghost town sits high above the former mines, the Modoc and Minnietta once owned by George Hearst. George was the father of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. I suddenly realized was giving myself my own desert tour complete with tales of prospectors, gunfights and lost mines. I sighed, letting those words for tourists drift into the desert air. Enough! This was my time...