Monday, May 29, 2017

Escape from the Intense Heat

The next day, Friday, May 19, we headed to Bridgeport, California, and then we’ll go to Death Valley.  We’ll hang out there a bit and then try to get to Lee Vining again in better weather.  No more snow.  

Anyway, we stopped in Truckee, and found snow again, but it wasn’t snowing; it was just up in the hills.  I was sure glad of that. 
I always like a good mural on the side of a building.
We rode around a part of Lake Tahoe, and some of the colors reminded me of what we’d seen in the Polynesian Islands … clear waters with turquoise-green water. 
The water and the snow-capped mountains were beautiful and the snow was just where I wanted to see it.  Up high.
There's a pull-out where people launch boats and such and some of the big rocks seemed to have been dropped
willy-nilly, here and there. 
All-in-all, it was a beautiful day of riding, and we had a meal at the Bridgeport Inn in this small town that was awesome.  Who’d a thought? 

A walk finished our evening, and we were happy to retire to blogging, reading and sleeping.
More snow, far away.  Yay. 

Our walk-a-bout lead us to this, one of a couple of good-looking wagons.
The following morning (Saturday, May 20), we took off for Death Valley, and Beatty, Nevada, where we’d spend a few nights.  We wanted to wander around a little bit here and go up and visit the charcoal kilns. 

It wasn’t a long ride, and we didn’t rush as there’s always something to see along the road.  We arrived in Beatty by late afternoon, had a bite to eat and made our plan for the next day. 

Sunday, May 21, was another beautiful day, and we set off to visit the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns. 
Corkscrew Peak is just before we started to drop into the valley, and the  heat.

In the distance I could see where we'd be riding into the heat of the day, even though it was still early.  I was hoping we'd get through the desert floor and up the other side before it got into the hundred-degree mark.
The road leading up to the kilns has two miles of dirt at the end, and is more like a mule trail than anything, with some larger rocks, washboard and gravel, but nothing like what we’d gone through for a short visit to Mono Lake a few days before.  (More on that later.)
This is the good part of the road, at the end near the parking.
The kilns are a bit off the path, 37 miles from Stove Pipe Wells, at an elevation of about 6,800-feet, so there wasn’t a crowd of people there, which was nice.  There are ten beehive-shaped kilns, each about 25-feet-in-heighth and about 30-feet in circumference.  The kilns would hold four cords of pinyon pine logs and, after burning for a week, would produce 2,000 bushels of charcoal.  They are beautiful, real works-of-art, and are thought to be the best-known surviving example of this type of kiln in the United States. 

The kilns were restored by a Navajo restoration team in 1971.
We walked up the hill across the road from the kilns, looking for the perfect shot.

We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.
They were engineered by the Swiss for George Hearst’s (yes, father of William Randolph Hearst, newspaperman), Modock Consolidated Mining Company and built by Chinese labor.  The charcoal produced by the kilns was to be used as fuel for two silver-lead smelters that Hearst had built 25 miles to the west.  They operated only for a short time, until the summer of 1878, when the mines closed down. 
Up on the hill we found these beautiful flowers.

The process of turning pinyon logs into charcoal took up to two weeks.  The burning which reduced the wood to charcoal took 6-to-8 days, and the cooling took another five days.
It was a beautiful spot with a postcard quality, and a LOT of bugs that ate us up as we later discovered as we scratched our way through the next few days.  They apparently loved the bug dope we used, thinking of it as a wonderful-tasting spice on their meals.

No comments:

Post a Comment