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Old 09-25-2012, 04:59 PM   #1
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CA: White Mtns, Wyman Canyon

Folks have probably written this up before but I thought I mention it for current conditions.

I had been staying with some friends in Mammoth in mid Sept 2012 whilst they dirt biked around (I myself can't ride now ). I decided since the weather was clement I'd head over to the Whites, since I like the desert views better than the Sierra side of the Owens Valley. I thought I'd do Wyman Canyon, not having done it before, and since I love camping in the Whites.

Most descriptions say it's a fairly easy drive, just some bumps and occasional water crossings, which for the most part is true. Quite narrow in the canyon, which means you'll pin stripe your van a bit, and the passing can be sketchy. But I only passed one other vehicle (it was a Thursday), and saw one parked just east of Roberts mine.

Most descriptions I've seen also are from the top down; I guess most come up the paved road to the Whites or up Silver Canyon. That is definitely easier. Here's why: in the narrows area the road follows the bottom of the canyon, and is crossing or in the stream. Even though water was low, the stream had relatively recently jumped its normal course and streamed into the road, just above the falls. There were consequently a couple of ruts that other users had helpfully stacked with rocks, otherwise they'd be too deep to negotiate. These are generally easier to descend. When going up, you are accelerating up the hill from the trough in the stream bottom, so your tires are wet, prone to spin, and very good at spewing the necessary rocks from the ruts. Which consequently drops you into said rut, with unfortunate results. I bent some underparts that way. It's hard to slow crawl up because sitting with your rear in the water isn't a good idea either. Going down, however, you just roll over with no throttle and the rocks tend to roll under your wheels, kinda like boot skiing scree.

So...if you're up there soon (and I'd recommend it) try going down instead of up.

And BTW, although I didn't do it this time, Silver Canyon is also a hoot. I'd recommend going UP that. A pretty heavy SMB can go down without brake issues if you use 4WD low range, but the issue is the tight switchbacks. Not as tight as some in Silverton/Ouray, but kinda tight. It's always easier going UP tight switchbacks with a turning-challenged vehicle because you go wide INTO the hill and UP, which means you just roll back to where you started to try again. If you go wide going DOWN you end up at the edge of the precipice, which is OK UNLESS you don't have enough traction to back up...then you are royally (and scarily) stuck.

Here's the waterfall and the first rut; the second was worse.



And the stream in more bucolic repose:



Rob
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:35 PM   #2
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Re: CA: White Mtns, Wyman Canyon

I am heading to Wyman Canyon Oct.10th and plan to hike up to Roberts Mine, then up to the ridge where the veiw is fantastic. If you would, please call me so I can pick your brain about the canyon. THanks, BillPa1 619-303-7488.
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Old 10-06-2012, 06:59 PM   #3
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Re: CA: White Mtns, Wyman Canyon

You know Rob it seems that the drives up and back produces different views but I usually find the trip down produces the best views... usually that is. I'll have to give that spot a try one of these days.

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Old 10-07-2012, 07:40 AM   #4
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Re: CA: White Mtns, Wyman Canyon

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob_gendreau
And BTW, although I didn't do it this time, Silver Canyon is also a hoot. I'd recommend going UP that. A pretty heavy SMB can go down without brake issues if you use 4WD low range, but the issue is the tight switchbacks. Not as tight as some in Silverton/Ouray, but kinda tight. It's always easier going UP tight switchbacks with a turning-challenged vehicle because you go wide INTO the hill and UP, which means you just roll back to where you started to try again. If you go wide going DOWN you end up at the edge of the precipice, which is OK UNLESS you don't have enough traction to back up...then you are royally (and scarily) stuck.

Rob

We just drove Silver Canyon the first week of September. We took the paved road to the Bristlecone Pine area and then drove down the canyon. It's a little scary pulling up to the top of that and looking down 6,000'. Still, the drive down wasn't too bad. We were in 4 low and still needed to ride the brakes quite a bit. Only met one other vehicle, a beefy jeep going uphill. We had to make a few 3 point turns around some of the switchbacks. The creeks (8?) near the bottom only had 6" to a foot of water at the crossings. After we reached the bottom, we thought it might have been a more relaxed drive going up than down, but the view looking down was spectacular.


We ran across a couple of Big Horn sheep also near the bottom.


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Old 10-07-2012, 12:26 PM   #5
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Re: CA: White Mtns, Wyman Canyon

Love that area. I've spent considerable time atop the Whites (and the Inyos) over the past 20 or more years. I stopped taking the paved road a long time ago and have been up and down Silver Canyon about 25 times. It's always a pleasure. Too bad it's not longer! There are still some 4x4 roads up there we haven't talked about, stuff for another thread. Here a sampling of my images:

View from Silver Canyon:


Silver Canyon Wildlife:


Sunrise at first snow:


Bristlecone Pine Tree, thousands of years old:
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