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Recently, I’ve been going through my old VHS video tapes and digitizing them to DVDs.  These tapes contain my travels and explorations between 1995 and 2009.  I thought I’d start releasing some video shorts of my early travels on this forum.

The back story for this particular video is as follows.  On March 30, 1996, I made a short hike of about a mile and a third up the lower third of Surprise Canyon, on the western slopes of the Panamint Range, Inyo County, California.  This canyon is just outside of Death Valley National Park.  This canyon has running water running year round through the stretch shown, fed by substantial Limekiln Springs, and the canyon is a water wonderland.  For those not familiar with the area, refer to the two maps.  The first one shows the canyon in relation to the region, the other a close up of the canyon and the ghost town of Panamint City.  The blue line in the close up image shows the route that was taken.

Surprise_1996a.jpg

Surprise_1996b.jpg

I made the trip with author/publisher Alan Patera, of Oregon.  I had been this way several times previous, but this was Alan’s first time.  Alan publishes the WESTERN PLACES series of monograph publications, centering on the history of locations now ghost towns.  He and I have collaborated on several published historical writings over the years, and have traveled to and have camped in many historical locations.

On this hike, we drove up and parked at what is shown on the topo maps as Chris Wicht Camp.  Chris Wicht was a colorful character, businessman and prospector who lived in the region in the late 19th century and early 20th century; who was a barkeep at Ballarat, now a ghost town a few miles away on the Panamint Valley floor.  He is buried in the nearby community of Trona.  At the time of the hike, Chris Wicht Camp was inhabited by father and son George and Rocky N.; George has since died and Rocky has since been operating the seasonal general store down at Ballarat.  Alan and I then hiked upstream, through an increasing flow of water, topping out at the top of what is locally known as the falls, about a third of a mile below Limekiln Spring.  At that point, there are found in the copious overgrowth of willows mining equipment and a vehicle or two.  Above this point, the road the remaining way to Panamint City has been left alone by the elements and is still in drivable shape but now out of bounds.  Since Alan and I weren’t prepared and it was too late in the day to continue up to Panamint City, we returned back to my vehicle.

Believe it or not, this byway used to be a maintained road, accessing historic Panamint City, one of the region’s early mining booms, founded in 1873.  The remains of Panamint City are high up the canyon, at an elevation of about 6,350 feet.  Though Panamint as a town was a ghost town by the 20th century, a few hardy souls have often lived in one or other of the structures that stood up there thereafter.  There was always some mining activity going on up there, thus Inyo County kept the road maintained.  Severe flashfloods of 1984 totally destroyed the road in the lower canyon.  Inyo County didn’t have the funds, nor did the few who worked their prospects and mines and who lived in one of the few shacks provide the tax base to undertake such a major rebuild.

The route above the high point that Alan and I reached is still in very good shape and could be taken by most vehicles.  The route that we walked was the goal for hard core off road enthusiasts with extremely modified rigs and big winches to about the year 2000, when a large environmentalist group sued the U.S. government and the road has been closed to vehicles since.  Protests and lawsuits were made by land owners and those who had patented claims at Panamint City, without success.

At the time Alan and I walked the road, there were still occasional groups who made it up this canyon with their vehicles, as the closure was still about four years in the future.  There were owners of patented mining claims who drove as far as they could then hiked in to do their annual assessment work.  Death Valley had changed from National Monument to National Park status the year previous.

Alan and I didn’t make it to Panamint City that day, which is several miles further on up the canyon.  But we did make a hike up there the following year and camped overnight, along with two other people, which is another video I’ll add in time.

In the days I took this video, I was using a Sony Hi-8 video camera.  In those days, most of my video editing was simply dubbing video off the camera and onto the VHS tape in the VCR, using the pause button on the VCR to edit out unwanted video.  This particular tape was edited using a complex, cumbersome, old style video editing system, which utilized the camera, a monitor, a VCR and a box that contained an archaic computer.  All editing took place by archaic and hard to use on screen menus.  That is why the video begins with some graphics and text indicating some of the details of the trip.

This video segment is just over 10:38 long.  Put on your waders and enjoy!

NOTE: There is a blank section midway that is about five seconds long and doesn’t show anything.  Don’t worry, the video will come back and continue.

Surprise_1996.mpg

Surprise_1996.xmp [Note: This file is a corresponding file to the video file above and will not do anything of its own if clicked.]

Surprise_1996.wmv

UPDATE: A retry of the original video, plus the same video in two other formats attempted to see if I can get any to work.  This will also help me to determine what video file format works best on this board.

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FWIW, I found that if I just downloaded the file, it played fine locally.  Embedded, it's not playing nice, but the file itself is intact and valid.

 

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I can't get it to play at all, either downloaded or uploaded to the gallery. What player are you using to open it? I only get the audio when I play it on my computer.

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I just checked in on my iPad to see if there was any resolutions since I quit yesterday. I recalled this morning that when I created the .mpg video file, my Adobe video program also created a small .xmp file. I thought I'd try uploading both the original video file and its companion simultaneously, as the second file may contain instructions to the video file so it know what to do with itself.

Also, I brought the original .wmv file created with the default Windows video editing program that came with my Windows Vista laptop (which I used to cut out the desired footage, as for some reason, the Adobe program won't show more than nine minutes of any video dubbed to the program that you want to edit from DVD).

I also created a .flv file (Adobe Flash Video) to upload also. However, the result is a tiny window size.

So, I'll get on one of the libray's Internet computors (I have to use them, as I have the files on a thumb drive) and see what's successful.

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11 minutes ago, Bob said:

I can't get it to play at all, either downloaded or uploaded to the gallery. What player are you using to open it? I only get the audio when I play it on my computer.

I have no trouble playing the original video file in Windows Media Player. However, yesterday I attempted to play the file from my thumb drive with the Libray's Windows 10 computer and it wouldn't play. That's what made me eventually wonder if it was because of the missing .xmp file that computer wouldn't play it. Since the file is on my computer, when I clickd on the video file on my thumb drive, my computer knew where to access the companion file to get instructions to play the video. But the library's computer didn't have that to play the video.

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38 minutes ago, Bob said:

I can't get it to play at all, either downloaded or uploaded to the gallery. What player are you using to open it? I only get the audio when I play it on my computer.

QuickTime is playing it fine for me, but the lack of an XMP file should not make a difference.  I don't now offhand exactly what the .xmp specifically holds, but it's all metadata (or should be).  Everything necessary for playback should be encoded in the .mpg (MPEG-2) file.  If it's not, then something else is wonky in the encoding. 

Does it behave better if you transcode it as a .avi file or .mp4?

 

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I use Adobe Elements to edit my videos (it is a video editor only, other Elements programs are also available for photo only editing).  I need to go and educate myself on some of the seemingly endless formats available.  When I go to put the video on disk (or thumb drive), I have choices of what kind of video format I want (for upload direct to the Internet, to DVD, VHS, computer drives).  But, within each of those choices are many sub-choices (NSTA [or something similar to those letters], PAL, HD720-25, 1080px720p, AVI, FLV, MPG, MPEG, MPEG4, and many more I can't recall their names currently.  But, I haven't a clue as to what their file extensions would be until the video is created on the drive, I have to wait an hour or more before it's done and then I can look at the directory to determine the file extension.  Last night, I tried to make a Windows Media file (.wmv), in HD720-25, and found it needed to make two passes.  When the first pass was completed in just over an hour (and it was time for bed), the estimated time on the second pass was nearly five hours.  Not acceptable!  So, I need to do some homework, I see.

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OK.  I re-upploaded the original .mpg video file, its companion .xmp file, as well as a .wmv Windows Media file into my original post above.  I opened both and they played fine in Windows Media Player on the library computer.  I don't know if the original has anything to do with the .xmp file or not.  I'll leave the .xmp file embedded in the post so as not to jinx myself ... 

Anyway, the .wmv file is only the raw video cut from my original DVD.  In the .mpg file, I added some auto color and contrast enhancements, as the original video is a bit overexposed.

I also uploaded the .flv file, but it opened in a Windows video editing program for Windows 10 and refused to do anything.  So I removed it.  On my home computer, it plays in a tiny, thumbnail size window anyway.

So now you can bet into your waders and make the hike up Surprise Canyon with me!

By the day, DD, how did you like the video?

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Just in case you see my video and wonder how the heck it can be done in a 4x4, take a look at this video.

 

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3 hours ago, David A. Wright said:

OK.  I re-upploaded the original .mpg video file, its companion .xmp file, as well as a .wmv Windows Media file into my original post above.  I opened both and they played fine in Windows Media Player on the library computer.  I don't know if the original has anything to do with the .xmp file or not.  I'll leave the .xmp file embedded in the post so as not to jinx myself ... 

Anyway, the .wmv file is only the raw video cut from my original DVD.  In the .mpg file, I added some auto color and contrast enhancements, as the original video is a bit overexposed.

I also uploaded the .flv file, but it opened in a Windows video editing program for Windows 10 and refused to do anything.  So I removed it.  On my home computer, it plays in a tiny, thumbnail size window anyway.

So now you can bet into your waders and make the hike up Surprise Canyon with me!

By the day, DD, how did you like the video?

After I downloaded it, I got about 1/3 of the way through and then the database geek came over to harass me for help.  I haven't finished it yet, but so far I like it!

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An interesting photo I found years ago was this 1950s Buick at Panamint City, accessing it via the road up Surprise Canyon.

Panamint_Buick.jpg

When I lived in Trona during the latter half of the 1980s, I knew a woman in her 80s who lived there for decades.  Back in the 1940s and 1950s, she drove a Buick Roadmaster.  Each year she would take a holiday meal to then Panamint City resident "Shotgun Mary" Thompson, who also drove a Buick.  Mary's Buick still sits at Panamint City.

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@David A. WrightYou wouldn't happen to recognize the names Lyle and Ida Bell would ya? 

The mpg plays fine for me, the .xmp isn't necessary for playback, it just has extra information about the file and strictly for adobe products..

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I just left the .xmp file in there, because before I put it up, no one could run the video.  Since I put it up, now it works.

22 hours ago, braindead0 said:

@David A. WrightYou wouldn't happen to recognize the names Lyle and Ida Bell would ya? 

The name sounds familiar with both my wife and I, but neither of us can figure out why.

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4 minutes ago, David A. Wright said:

I just left the .xmp file in there, because before I put it up, no one could run the video.  Since I put it up, now it works.

The name sounds familiar with both my wife and I, but neither of us can figure out why.

At the risk of derailing the topic.. ;-)

That would be my grandparents. My grandfather worked for CalTrans stationed at Panamint Springs right about here 36.336418, -117.473136 (last I was out it's just pads where the garage and a few houses were).  I believe they were there around late 70's/early 80's.. I would have been very young so I don't remember much, except sorta learning how to shoot pool at the bar down the hill. 

My grandmother is short (kinda tiny), red haired and very friendly.. and super adventurous.  During my grandfathers 50 some odd years of CalTrans work they moved around the Desert, Barstow, Bridgeport, Yucca Valley.. And every one of these places my grandmother explored fully, seemed like she knew everyone.. there was a crazy artists living in a tiny trailer somewhere... middle of nowhere.. she found him.

Grandfather liked to play Santa Claus every year, and he looked the part..  Not really fat.. but built like a barrel.. full beard.. full head of hair mostly gray as long as I can remember and always a cowboy hat and boots. All I have handy for pics is really old, and a really recent picture of my grandmother.  She'll be 94 this year, still going strong.. living along in Las Vegas and spending all her money at Arizona Charlies just they way she likes it ;-)

Sure would be funny if you knew them... wouldn't be terribly surprising considering the low population of that area... and my grandmother always seems to be out tooling around in the desert in their '65 Scout..

lyleandida.jpg

ida.jpg

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4 hours ago, Bob said:

I would love to hear the stories your grandparents could tell.

By the time I thought the stories would be interesting...well..   age has a way to messing with memory.  Grandfather passed away many years ago, and I'm lucky if grandma remembers me.  I'm afraid those memories are lost to time.

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100_7919.jpg

100_7919a.jpg

Around 1988, a couple of friends, Rick (in denim shirt) and Cliff, and I attempted to get into Panamint City.  Rick was the only one successful in getting there.  These two photos were taken on our way down the canyon.

IMG_0041.jpg

This photo is noted that the American Silver Company is working on blasting the road open to Panamint City to work their claims.  The notes also state that the photo was taken in September, 1946.

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On ‎12‎/‎9‎/‎2016 at 1:12 PM, braindead0 said:

That would be my grandparents. ... Sure would be funny if you knew them... wouldn't be terribly surprising considering the low population of that area... and my grandmother always seems to be out tooling around in the desert in their '65 Scout..

OK.  I doubt I'd know them, then.  If they did their shopping in Trona (as opposed to Lone Pine), my wife might have crossed paths with them (I didn't come to Trona until 1987, and we both left in 1992).  I bet they would have many stories to tell.  I know and used to work with a guy born and raised in Trona, now of Ridgecrest.  He's a Scout fanatic and had them during the 1970s.  He likely knew your grandparents because he explored all over Death Valley and Panamint Valley country.

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On ‎12‎/‎9‎/‎2016 at 1:12 PM, braindead0 said:

During my grandfathers 50 some odd years of CalTrans work they moved around the Desert, Barstow, Bridgeport, Yucca Valley..

My wife and I are friends with a couple here in Winnemucca who was born and raised in Barstow.  I was born in Victorville, raised in the foothills between Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley.  I worked for Mono County (county seat Bridgeport) out of my office in June Lake in the 1970s and 1980s.  And I just moved my90-something parents up from their acreage and large home north of Joshua Tree to Winnemucca.  I guess I've worked in concentric circles around your grandparents.

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Sounds like it.. you may have crossed paths with them sometime.. passed my grandfather on a grader cleaning up the shoulders or fixing washed out roads...  My grandmother did a lot of shopping in Trona, only went to lone pine every so often.  They may have been out of there by the mid 80's though..  Small world ;-)

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I just put up a new video, my 1997 backpack trip to Panamint City ghost town, near the head of Surprise Canyon. The video includes hiking up the canyon to the camp. It is located at:

 

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      October 8-9, 2003

      INTRODUCTION
      The so-called Swansea Grade 4x4 Trail [also often referred to as the Swansea to Cerro Gordo 4x4 Trail] is an off road trail on public lands that allows the explorer to examine closely the rugged and historic southern Inyo Range, in eastern California. The route, which is an approved BLM 4x4 trail, is steeped in beauty and history all throughout its path. The route starts at Swansea, a California historical landmark site, and ends at Cerro Gordo, a semi-ghost town with a long and often wild history. Midway along the route, the summit station of the historic Saline Valley salt tramway, running between Saline Valley and Owens Valley, makes a great place to rest and enjoy lunch.  The route generally poses no problems for experienced off roaders with trail ready 4x4s.  However, due to elevations up to 9,200 feet, snow is a factor during late autumn through mid-spring.  Summertime flashfloods often take a toll on the lowest portion of the route and the alluvium fan that runs down to the state highway.
      The route has its origin in the construction of the Saline Valley salt works tramway.  Mules hauled supplies, machinery and building materials to tower sites utilizing this road on the western slopes of the Inyo Range and to reach the summit station.
      I’ve taken this trail many times over the years.  Generally, I could make the trip easily in one day.  However, on October 8th and 9th, 2003, railroad historian John McCulloch ( http://www.ttrr.org/ ), and Graham C. and I took two days to complete this trip, camping at the historic salt tramway summit station.  John also brought along his standard poodle, named Shadow.
      At the time, I lived in Big Pine, California, in the northern Owens Valley near Bishop.  The entire trip we took totaled only 185 miles round trip from my home and return.  Graham lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, John was from Las Vegas.  It was the first time that either had been over the trail.
      My truck was a 2002 Toyota Tacoma extended cab TRD 4x4 pickup, which I had bought new in June, 2002 (I still own and drive daily this truck).  The truck is well equipped, has a V6 engine and 5-speed manual transmission.  It was equipped with the TRD OFF ROAD package, which added more suspension travel, larger wheels and tires, extensive skid plate coverage and included a switchable locker on the rear differential.  At the time, the truck was still shod with its OEM B.F. Rugged Trail T/A tires, which are passenger car rated with single ply sidewalls.  The tires suffered some stone sidewall damage on this trip, but never lost air.  Shortly after this trip, I spooned on a set of B.F. Goodrich All Terrain T/A tires with light truck rating, 10-ply sidewalls and 3-ply sidewalls.
      John McCulloch also owned a 2002 Toyota Tacoma TRD OFF ROAD 4x4, his being a double cab model, equipped with an automatic transmission.
      Graham at the time owned a 1990 Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup with a low profile, collapsible camper.  It being a large truck, he elected to leave his truck behind at my home and rode with me on the trip.
      This video will be in two parts, one part for each day of the trip.  A photo slide show will be included at the end of each video.
    • By David A. Wright
      Reconnoitering Trips
      Northern Nevada, Southwestern Idaho
      (and a Blip of Southeastern Oregon Thrown in for Good Measure)
      June 19 - 28, 2001

      This is the trip that I consider to be my favorite trip I have ever undertaken.  It had been in the planning stages since the previous December.  Originally, quite a number of people were invited and had semi-committed themselves to come along.  Over time, however, eventually the number of people whose semi-commitments became firm commitments to this trip narrowed to four.  And I was one of them.
      Between June 19 and 27, 2001, I undertook a trip throughout northern Nevada, southeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho in search of ghost towns, adventure and to enjoy the wide open spaces that the Great Basin is known for. Beside myself, there was Alan Patera, of Oregon; Graham, of the California Bay Area; and Gil, of southern California. Since we were coming from different points on the map, we elected Midas, Nevada - located in the far western side of Elko County northeast of Winnemucca, as a meeting point. Gil was originally going to drive to my primary home, then at Ridgecrest, California, and ride with me.  However, at the last minute, he changed his mind and drove his car the entire trip.  Graham and I chose to meet at Hawthorne, Nevada or at Mono Lake, depending on the circumstances of our first morning travels.  Alan was to meet Graham and I in the evening at Midas on our first day out.  Gil planned to meet us at noon the following day at Midas.
      My 4x4 rig at the time was my 1996 Chevrolet S-10. It was bone stock, with standard suspension. It was powered by the 4.3 liter V6 with the higher power option; a 5-speed manual transmission; standard, lever activated 4x4 transfer case. The interior sported the LS option package, which included upgraded interior materials; but the truck still had manual crank windows, no tilt steering wheel; and had an aftermarket cruise control installed. Other options were bucket seats and console. The truck had nearly 100,000 miles on it when we started. It turned over the century mark during this trip, on a dirt road in the wide open spaces of north-central Elko County.
      Graham drove a 1990 Chevrolet ¾-ton 4x4 pickup with a low profile, pop-up camper. The truck is scarcely optioned, running a 350 cubic inch V8 and a 5-speed manual transmission. Graham has equipped the truck over the years for expedition and is well equipped to tackle everything.  However, his truck became problematic over the course of the trip.
      Alan Patera drove his bone stock 1997 Ford Explorer. It's the most stripped Explorer I've seen, virtually no options. It's well used off road and the lack of fluff has suited this rig well.
      Gill tagged along in his 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix. He slept in it, ate in it and drove it over miles of dirt roads. The car would have escaped unscathed, if not for his hitting a deer on the dirt road between Tuscaurora and Midas after he split from our group on the last day we all were together. He continued to drive his wrecked car for a couple more days, until he stopped to visit friends in Reno.
      My camera at the time was one of the original Sony Mavica digital cameras, with a resolution of 640x480. For storage of photos, it used standard floppy disks. The Mavica was in its dying stages at the time, I had owned it about three years. It started acting up on the second day of the trip; completely quit, inexplicably began working again, then died completely on the last day of this adventure. I took a 35mm Pentax camera along as a backup, but had taken along a roll of old film. None of the photos I took with the Pentax came out, I had shot one roll. When processing the many disks of digital photos, I found that about ten or eleven disks had been corrupted by issues with the camera, so that I was not able to extract the images from the disks, loosing around 200 images. Many of the lost images were of ghost towns, such as in the case of National, Nevada; so that I have no images whatsoever of that location, others few.
      My written documentation for each day of the trip will be in a rather paraphrased format, but includes all travel and most experiences.  You can gather the rest of the trip from the video and photos.  I will break the six plus hours of edited video taken and cut down to videos for each single day, along with a photo slide show at the end.  This thread will contain all content from this trip from start to end.
      In a break from my past custom when presenting video on this forum, and due to the volume and number of ghost towns visited, I will not write up a history for the ghost towns or historic places visited.  That is far too time consuming and labor intensive.  There are plenty of written and web resources if one wishes to pursue their quest for knowledge of these sites.
      Below, a list of historic locations we visited – in the order that we visited them:
      1. Bodie & Benton Railway, California.
      2. Stillwater, Nevada.
      3. White Cloud City (Coppereid), Nevada.
      4. Unionville, Nevada.
      5. Midas, Nevada.
      6. Spring City, Nevada.
      7. Paradise Valley, Nevada.
      8. Buckskin, Nevada.
      9. National, Nevada.
      10. Delamar, Idaho.
      11. Silver City, Idaho.
      12. Rio Tinto, Nevada.
      13. Pattsville, Nevada.
      14. Aura, Nevada.
      15. Cornucopia, Nevada.
      16. Edgemont, Nevada (from a distance – on private property)
      17. White Rock, Nevada (from a distance – on private property)
      18. Tuscaurora, Nevada.
      19. Dinner Station, Nevada.
      20. Metropolis, Nevada.
      21. Charleston, Nevada.
      22. Jarbidge, Nevada.
    • By OldSoul
      My husband and I stumbled across this cemetery on a drive through the log truck trails near our home about six months ago and intended to return. We went back this weekend and the property has been fenced and posted "No Trespassing". I am going to attempt to get permission to roam around. We spoke to somebody else who was in the area and they informed us that there is an entire ghost town out there and that some of the grave sites date back to the 1800's. So, cross your fingers in hopes that I will be able to find the owners of the property and that they will allow us to explore. 



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