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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Black Eagle Camp aka The Champion Spark Plug Mine

 The story of our short trip up Jeffrey Canyon to Black Eagle Camp aka The Champion Spark Plug Mine began a couple of hours earlier and about 10 miles to the west. From the previous blog post: We drove a short spur road up out of Red Rock Canyon to eat lunch. At our lunch spot Jan's cell phone started to receive messages because it now had service. We discovered that our friends Clark and Jo Ann were hiking and camping west of us in the Sierra. They told us that the next day they were hiking to the Black Eagle Camp in Jeffery Canyon. Looking across the Chalfant Valley with my binoculars I could see Jeffery Canyon and the road to the upper trailhead. I looked at Jan and said, "It is only 3 PM, we could be at the trail head by 5 PM, set up the camper for you and I could start hiking by 6 PM." Jan asked, "What are you up to?" I replied, "I'll spend the night at one of the cabins and surprise Clark and Jo Ann when they arrive in the morning." She said, "Won't they see me and the camper at the trail head?" I chuckled and said, "They will be using the lower trail head." Jan asked,"Why?" I replied, "You will understand after we drive the road to the campsite".
Crossing an old aqueduct that once carried water to the White Mountain Ranch from Millner Canyon. White Mountain Peak 10,000 feet above our location.
As we drove the high road Jan saw why our friends driving a large truck camper would not be hiking from the upper trail head. Five months later there was a mishap on this road.
Using a conveniently located wide spot at the road's end we turned the truck around and set up camp.
Jan's airy trailhead camp. It was difficult finding a flat spot to set up camp which wouldn't be in the way of other vehicles wanting to turn around.
 2,500 feet below a rooster tail of dust plumed behind a distant vehicle on the Fish Slough Road.
It was 6:30 PM when I started my hike to the camp.
The sun was setting and the shadows were getting long.
Not a bad trail considering that is isn't maintained by the Inyo National Forest.
The narrowest part of the trail. This section is about 200 feet in length and the trail narrows to less than a foot in width.
After about a mile of hiking the Black Eagle Camp came into view.
My accommodations for the night would be provided by the Champion Hilton.
A quick scout of the camp revealed that I had the place to myself.
The Champion Hilton proved to be a very relaxing place to eat dinner and watch the sunset.
I spent the rest of the evening reading the cabin logbooks.
Sunrise on the Sierra Nevada. The overnight low at Black Eagle Camp was just 41 degrees.
 Early morning photograph of the Champion Hilton Cabin at Black Eagle Camp. The upper mine is about two miles from camp in the formation behind the cabin.
View of the interior.
 More of the interior. I have spent the night in many old cabins and need to say that these are by far the cleanest and best equipped. (Except for maybe the Briggs and Thorndike Cabins in the Panamints.)(Well, there is another but I promised to never reveal its location.)
 A sample of some of the artwork on the walls of the cabin. This artist should sell their work. I would buy a copy of this pen and ink.
It seems as if Sarah was here, again.
I walked over to the museum to see if it was open. (wink)
This collection of footwear reminded me of a woman's shoe Jan and I found when hiking an old emigrant trail in the Sierra.
Once inside the museum there were many artifacts and photos. What follows is a small sample.
 A photograph of the upper mine.
Three of the cabins in the upper camp burned in a 1987 fire.
A postcard of the Jeffery Mine from the 1930's.
It is hard to believe when walking around the camp but everything was carried in by mules.
400 pounds at a time.
Must have been something to see.
My next stop was a look inside the cookhouse. Makes one think about all the meals and conversations that happened in this building.
The dining room is now a bunk house. Sure do wish these walls could talk.
I visited the rest of the buildings and although nice, none of the other cabins were quite as comfortable as the Hilton.
This coin was stuck in the floor outside of one of the cabins. It reminded me of the six weeks I spent in the South Pacific. That was a long time ago.
A bit after noon I decided that I had waited long enough for my friends and started the hike back to the truck on the high trail.
Approaching the end of the trail I heard someone yell from far across the canyon. (12x zoom) It was Clark and Jo Ann hiking on the old pack trail. From what I could gather from our across the canyon confab they got a late start because of truck trouble.
Later in the week they sent a photo of me from their side of the canyon.
Leaving our upper trailhead camp.
More of the shelf road that makes up most of the route.
The only section of the road where one wouldn't mind meeting another vehicle.
One of several switchbacks on the route.
We stopped for burgers at the Chalfant Mercantile and then headed for home. I had new garage door windows to install.


  1. I was happy to see you blogging again. This looks like it was a very nice trip. My husband can't wait until the weather is cool enough to start going out to the Mojave again.

    1. It was good to be exploring again. Still more to see north of the volcanic tablelands. I was just talking to a friend today about heading for the desert. Thanks for posting Beth.

  2. Your post is extremely helpful On Truck Camper. I will keep following. Thank you for sharing this information.

  3. The camp looks very interesting. I would like to visit and stay there someday.