Silurian Hills High Point and Silver Lake Mine

  • Updated: November 23, 2014
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

  Silurian Hills High Point (3,738')
  Silver Lake Mine
When: November 22nd, 2014
Where: North of Baker, CA
Who: Matthew Hengst, Jen Blackie
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

After yesterdays jaunt up Avawatz we got moving at a reasonable time and went hunting for access roads.

I had no beta on the Silurian Hills and it took Jen and I eyeballing topos to determine what the highpoint even was.  To get there I checked satellite shots and maps to see what old roads headed back that way and made sure to have plenty of alternates.

This was a really really good idea it turns out.

It was a blustery morning as we drove slowly south along 127 checking out the series of waypoints I'd set ahead of time.

First we looked for what was marked Silurian Lake Road on the Garmin maps.  We found a few tracks taking off from the pavement but that seemed to be more cross country than any sort of an established road.

Heading further south we next tried Riggs Road.  This had a promising number of tracks visible.

We followed it straight ahead aiming for the junction labeled Riggs (site).

This seemed to be going well with only reasonable amounts of sand here and there.  We were just about to the junction when we hit a problem.

Not pictured: the ditch behind me blocking the road.

I thought I saw a way I could get around to the right and connect to a different road but I'd be jumping over some rather significant sand and I was concerned what we'd do if we got stuck.  So we backtracked to a major junction we'd passed back toward the road.

This ran just south of Riggs wash and was labeled County 20905 on my maps.  It was really bumpy but kept going.  We tried to turn north at the empty patch of ground labeled Talc (site) on the map but again found ourselves having to turn back south.

The next section had significant amount of sand and I kept the pedal down the entire time.  If I'd had to stop and turn around it would have gotten interesting.

We reached the junction west of Silver Lake Mine at long last.  The site appeared to be long abandoned with the usual bullet ridden no trespassing sign and fire rings built on every flat surface.  We decided to take a look.

(Standard disclaimer: Mines are dangerous, stay out!  See below for a good example of why!)

We found a major looking entrance obviously sealed off for safety reasons with a thick metal grate.  Of course this being the desert someone had come along sometime after and cut through the bars.  So in we went headlamps in hand.

Inside the adit looked stable enough (-ish) we felt comfortable exploring further.

And down and down and down.

Things started to get significantly less stable further back and we decided to turn around here.  There were a few side sections that looked just about as bad.  More pictures on Flickr.  (The speckles is due to all the dust in the air.  Unavoidable unfortunately)

We came back out and explored up top as the map showed more activity.

We're taking more care than it looks in pictures.  A lot of this isn't overly stable looking.

As near as we could tell this is the section we'd been underneath when we were in the tunnel.  The mine was running along the white seam of rock.  So, yea, not the safest.

We continued through the mine and explored one other area with a structure.

Again not the safest.

"Hey, lets go check out that vent!  What's this hole in the ground..."

"Ok, we're done here."

We did some careful poking around and figured there's probably at least one more entrance somewhere but we still had a peak to climb and had mostly satisfied our itch to crawl around underground for the day.

We continued north along a passable road and rejoined Riggs Rd again.  If it hadn't been for that ditch that would have been the preferred way to get in here.  (Anyone looking to come after us look at how we got out as that's easiest and avoids the sand trap)

We made it to the spot I'd picked to park without incident.  There was a light road leading off towards our peak but we decided to walk instead of try and drive.  Reversing for long distances on narrow roads isn't fun.  It's in bad enough shape I wouldn't bother trying to drive it personally.

We followed the road as well as we could aiming for another mine that showed up on the topo map.  I didn't have very high expectations but I figured at the very least it wouldn't be closed off being so remote.

The top pit doesn't go down at all but the lower one has a decent entrance that went in far enough to need headlamps again.

We went back a fair distance before it dead ended.  Not as impressive as Silver Lake but less terrifying and certainly a nice bonus.

Past the mine we just climbed hillsides.  Pretty much everything goes it's just a matter of how much of a pain the loose slopes are.  We did have to drop back down into a gully which is what we took on the way out and this was a little more scenic.

This is the high point from below.  While driving in you'll think it's the wrong peak but it is higher than everything else.  At some point I want to go back and explore the other bumps particularly the ones over towards the 127.

We topped out and at first didn't think there was a register.  This wasn't overly surprising but I've found them on remote things before.  Then as we were leaving we found a small jar that had rolled downslope.  Sure enough, a MacLeod / Lilley register!

We took pictures of all of the pages.  The first ones referred to an earlier register that must have been lost with an apparent first ascent in May of 1978. Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Scrap.

We placed a new pencil and made a better cairne that will hopefully hold up for another 5 years until the next random party visits.

We headed down hoping to do at least some of the drive out in the daylight but that just wasn't going to happen.  On the plus side we got to enjoy a rather pretty sunset.

The wash I mentioned is a much prettier hike with just a few 2nd / low 3rd sections along the way.

Back at the Party Jeep I wasn't wild about driving back across all the sand so we decided to take a chance and swing south from Silver Lake Mine.  The map showed a series of power poles down there and I was hopeful they'd have a maintenance access road that wasn't in too bad a shape.

That was the best call we made all day.  The line marked "THREE STEEL TOWER TRANSMISSION LINES" took us right back out to 127 without incident.  If you're trying to visit this peak I'd actually recommend ignoring the roads mentioned above and just taking this in and out.

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