Rex Montis Mine, September 15, 2018

Now that Diana joined us in Lone Pine, it was time to hit the Sierras for a serious hike! First we had some breakfast at the Totem Café. With little staff, it took a long time to get our food, but fortunately Jorge was able to entertain us with his incredible knowledge of the names of music groups playing on the radio!

We drove to Independence, where we turned left on the Onion Valley road to the starting point for the trail to the Rex Montis Mines. After we parked the truck, we got our gear and started hiking up the old road which was lined with beautiful yellow flowered bushes everywhere. After about a mile, we noticed a part of a vertebra from an animal. Continuing on for another mile and a half, we ran into the lower mine, where there was still a lot of mining equipment scattered everywhere, including a fully in tact bulldozer!

After playing around with the “dozer” for a while, we decided to continue going uphill until I would decide to turn around. Fortunately the trail was in very good shape and with a gradual incline, so we kept going until the point where the trail crossed over to the other side of the canyon. Since this was the half way point to the upper mine, we took a small break here. After we crossed over to the other side, the trail started to become a lot rockier and steeper. To keep going, I started to focus on reaching the top of a large rock face and once there a second rock face. Here we took another break, before attacking the 35-30 switchbacks to the small ice field where the upper mine was located. The switchback were hard, especially once we reached an altitude of 10,000+ feet, but we kept pushing until we finally reached the final turn to just below the ice field.

Jorge and I planted ourselves on a large rock to catch our breaths, but Diana decided to keep going and visit the upper miner, which was a couple hundred feet higher up the slope. A short while later, Jorge and I decided to follow Diana to the mine, passing by some old living quarters for the miners. At the upper mine we found some more equipment and a tunnel that goes all the way to the other side of the mountain. We dropped back down to where we had left our backpacks and continued up the old road to check out two car wrecks: a red Toyota, and a blue American car which was covered by a rock fall.

Back at where we had left our backpacks we took a last look at the ice field and started the long hike back down the mountain. The going was a lot easier than I expected, and we quickly hiked down the switchbacks all the way to the halfway mark, where we took a break, before continuing the final stretch asked as passing the lower mine to the trail head. With about a mile to go, we encountered a group of hikers, who asked a lot of questions about where we had been, what we carried with us, etc. We were not sure if they intended to go far up the mountain or not…

Back at the truck, we drove down to Lone Pine, for well-deserved hamburgers and beer (coke for Jorge). In all it was a great day with a beautiful 12 mile hike and about 3,400 elevation gain.

Many thanks to Diana and Jorge for organizing and leading three wonderful days of hiking in the mountains!