This report continues where our Happy Canyon report left off.  We had just spent a long 13 hour day bushwhacking up Happy Canyon and slept overnight outside of the Weston Cabin at the 5th Spring.  The next morning, we woke up and searched for flowing water.  It was heavily concealed in the brush, but eventually we found it and filled our containers with all the water we would need for the next 2 days.  In the late morning, we finally departed the 5th Spring, just as it was starting to get really hot outside.  We backtracked down the canyon about 1 mile to the junction with the major side canyon in between the 4th and 5th Springs.  Then we began the long and arduous process of hiking the side canyon up to the Happy-Surprise Ridge.  This was no easy task, as we had to gain around 3,000 feet in about 3 miles under conditions of fierce heat.  Along the way, we stopped to check out a cableway, some old mining relics, and several silver tunnels.  We finally attained the ridge and since the day was nearly gone, we decided to camp there.  We enjoyed a nice sunset over the Sierras and cool temperatures for sleeping at nearly 8,000 feet in elevation.

The next morning we woke up and backpacked along the ridge as we headed for the drop down point towards the Hemlock Mine.  Making one critical mistake, we somehow missed the Hudson River Mine and ended up spotting its yellowish tailing 45 minutes after we had passed it while looking back.  Thus, Tobin and I dropped our packs and hiked back to it and checked it out.  This was a mine that I had been hoping to reach for about 5 years, but because of its isolation had never made the hike.  The Hudson River Mine area was interesting, but there was nothing too exciting to find as we looked around.  What was most interesting was the fallen house outside of the mine, the stone circle, and the amazingly constructed path crossing the Happy-Surprise Ridge in the area.  About 1 1/2 hours later we rejoined Jim and Ryan and then backpacked down to the Hemlock Mine.  There wasn't much left of a trail connecting the ridge to the Hemlock Mine, so we very slowly made the steep descent cross-country (and had a snowball fight along the way).  From this point on, I had already hiked the trail and seen the mines, but nobody else had.  So we checked out the Hemlock Mine, carefully passed below the vertical cave sitting in the middle of the Wyoming-Hemlock Connector Trail, and checked out the Wyoming Mine.  Once we arrived in Panamint City, we set up camp near the smelter and I hiked over into Water Canyon to get some new pictures.  Our backpacking trip concluded the next day when we hiked down and out Surprise Canyon all the way to Ballarat to pick up our vehicle, thus completing the loop.  The Google Earth map below shows our route from Happy Canyon's 5th Spring to Panamint City.  It is turned towards the East for the best viewing angle.
Please do not enter the mining tunnels of the Hudson River Mine or silver mines.  Potential dangers inside abandoned mines include unseen vertical mine openings, deadly gases, oxygen deficiency, cave-ins, unsafe structures, unstable explosives, and other assorted risks.  As the NPS recommends-- Stay Out and Stay Alive!
Turning up an unassuming side canyon off of Happy Canyon in between the 4th and 5th Springs:
The side canyon was easy to hike but steep all the way:
Looking back downhill and across to the Happy-Pleasant Ridge:
Zooming in on the tree topped ridgeline to the South:
Tobin snapped this picture of Steve as he was looking up at the Happy-Pleasant Ridge:
Further up canyon, the wash became choked with small and large boulders:
Jim and Steve backpacking up the side canyon in the heat:
The side canyon had a very small wash but since there was an old road progress was not too hard:
We had nice views for a long time of the peak separating Happy Canyon and Pleasant Canyon:
About halfway up the canyon, we passed under a cable stretching across the wash:
Some old machinery which had been abandoned was resting in the wash:
A metallic hopper, much like the one we had found a day earlier in Happy Canyon:
Two pictures of the cable stretching across the side canyon and up the hillside:
Continuing on as we had reached timberline and trees began appearing, offering refreshing shade:
Off to the right, we could see the white tailing from a mine and the beginning of the switchbacks:
Two pictures of our group backpacking up the first part of the switchbacks:
We spotted an old rusted tank sitting below the bottom of the tailing:
View looking further up the main part of the side canyon.  We were now switchbacking up the right side of the hillside:
Two pictures of mining ruins we found at the first silver mine:
Across the wash of the side canyon, we could see an old abandoned trailer and switchbacks heading up the other side:
Above the first silver mine, the old road had washed out, so we had to climb steeply to reach the next part:
Soon we were back on the main trail enjoying some nice views.  As you can see, we are now quite high above the side canyon below:
Looking further up canyon, we could see the trail on the other side and the final high point and beginning of the Happy-Surprise Ridge:
Continuing up the steep switchbacks on the East side of the canyon:
Steve catching some much needed shade and relief from the blazing sun.  Today's biggest challenge was not drinking too much water.  Ryan packed around 400 ounces for this day and the next:
Progressing further uphill towards the ridgeline:
As you can see, the trail / old road is still clearly defined most of the way.  But there are a couple spots where it is washed out and you have to hike cross country to stay on it:
We can almost see over the nearby ridge which is above the opposite side of the canyon:
Looking back once again down the old road we were following:
We came upon the ruins of an old house, which was no doubt lived in by a local silver miner:
The springs of an old mattress were resting nearby:
Ryan and Tobin taking a break and enjoying the view as we got higher:
We reached the entrance to a second silver mine:
Looking into the tunnel of the silver mine:
Old wood beams sitting on the ground outside of the silver mine:
Finally, a gorgeous view into Panamint Valley over the ridge:
The final stretch to the ridge was the steepest part of the whole hike:
Attaining the ridge and looking across into Surprise Canyon between the trees for the first time:
Two pictures of Telescope Peak as we first caught sight of it:
A short time later, we set up camp for the night along the Happy-Surprise Ridge:
Steve pitching his tent high in the Panamint Mountains:
Picture of Steve with Telescope Peak in the distance:
Tobin captured this sunset picture from our camp:
The next morning, we woke up to a beautiful view down into southern Panamint Valley:
Time to head out and hike along the ridgeline for a few hours:
A steep uphill portion through the trees is approaching:
Steve taking a sip of water early in the morning during our ridge hike:
View of Panamint Dry Lake and the Panamint Sand Dunes from the ridge:
We also had a view of Ballarat from this spot:
The opposite ridge of the side canyon we had hiked up yesterday:
We had a nice view of the Sierras through the haze:
Steve getting a picture along the ridge on Day 3 of our backpacking trip:
When we reached the high point of our ridge hike, we had a nice view of Sentinel Peak:
And a view of Porter Peak with the South Fork of Upper Happy Canyon:
Across the way, we could see the tailing of another mine.  We mistakenly thought this was the Hudson River Mine and headed towards it.  But it was the wrong mine:
Steve with the South Fork of Upper Happy Canyon in the distance:
You can see our backpacker off in the distance here as he continues along the ridge:
Another outstanding view of Telescope Peak:
The fallen home once lived in by the person who mined the Hudson River Mine:
An odd stone circle close to the fallen shelter:
Great view of Upper Surprise Canyon with Sourdough Canyon and Water Canyon also visible:
I took this picture of the Stewart's Wonder Mine trail, which you can see if you look carefully as it crosses the white rock:
A very clear trail below which follows along the ridgeline:
From this spot, we had an excellent view down into the 5th Spring of Happy Canyon, where we had stayed on our first night:
Tobin and Ryan crossing the ridge on the well defined trail:
View down into Happy Canyon showing the high peak above the 5th Spring:
Jim taking a breather as we continued following the trail:
It was a short time later that we looked back and saw the yellow tailing of the Hudson River Mine.  Time to backtrack:
Lots of boards on the ground in the next two pictures.  It is obvious that there was some kind of home or shelter for one or more persons here:
Getting closer to the yellow tailing of the Hudson River Mine:
Reaching the yellow tailing and looking back across the ridgeline:
The Hudson River Mine's entrance tunnel is partially blocked by a fallen tree:
Looking into the entrance of the mining tunnel:
Looking back out the entrance of the mine:
Steve glowing in the sunlight outside of the Hudson River Mine:
After finishing our exploration of the tunnel and mine, we headed back along the ridge and eventually reached the spot where we had to drop down towards the Hemlock Mine:
The next three pictures show you the steep descent marked by patches of snow.  It was around here that we had a snowball fight during a rest stop:
Ryan and Tobin sliding down the tailing of the Hemlock Mine:
After exploring the Hemlock Mine, we continued backpacking along the trail bridging the Hemlock and Wyoming Mines.  Notice the excellent construction of this trail on the left side:
Crossing below the infamous and dangerous vertical cave in the middle of the connector trail:
Setting up camp in Panamint City near the smelter.  Three days after starting up Happy Canyon, we had finally arrived:
Return to Home