Sylvania Mountains Wilderness
By Denis & Sandi Inman
Once again, we were shooting for a 6 AM start, but since Jeremy and Deanna showed up at 5:45, just as I completed topping off my tank, we left a little early. After a quick stop in Beatty, we had a 20-minute wait at the road construction site on highway 95. When we reached Cat Road, North of Scotty’s Castle Road, we aired down and headed West in the direction of Tokop. Once we had thoroughly investigated the various towers, the group headed West to Oriental Wash.
It wasn’t long before we found a trail that seemed to be a shortcut across the valley towards Tule Canyon, so we headed North. The abandoned mines, State Line Mine in particular were very interesting, but the pair of waterfalls that we would have had to negotiate to continue, had a couple of deep sand pits below each major pitch and we were not in the mood to fill them with a shovel. Discretion being the better part of valor, we took a seldom used sand wash back to the graded Oriental Wash.
We were only on the main trail for a couple of miles before we came across the track that would lead us to the bottom of Tule Canyon. Up the draw a ways, we stopped at Roosevelt Mine for a little exploration, then again at a spring where we flushed a large flock of chukar. When we reached the narrow part of the canyon prior to Piper’s Toll Road up to Tule Summit, we made use of the better trail up from the bottom of the canyon as we didn’t want to deal with the huge washout that interrupted us on a previous run from Crankshaft Junction. Viewing it from above, the chasm has yet to be repaired and is still impassable.
At the summit, we tried to follow the Southern edge of the valley along the base of the steeper hills near Wild Rose Spring, Walker Spring and Poison Spring, among others, before turning South at Willow Creek Road to descend Cucomungo Canyon and Willow Creek Canyon, then passed through White Cliff Canyon. When we came to Willow Wash, I made a navigational error and we wound up doing some reconnaissance in Death Valley. Oh well, the temperature was mild and after only a little reconnoitering, we retraced our path back to the illusive fork.
Traveling Northwest on Eureka Valley Road, we saw where several of the historic, 170 year old, cut-offs that I wanted to utilize to reach Sylvania Canyon had been closed off and reverted to nature. Fortunately, the last of our selections was still available and we made a sharp right turn and headed generally East along the North edge of the Sylvania Mountains Wilderness. We took a few photos of the Sylvania Mine as we made our way to Highway 266 to air up for the trip home. It was a beautiful day for driving off-road and we were back in Pahrump shortly after 5:00 PM.