Returning to the Amargosa Canyon, you'll be heading for the Palisades along the base of the cliffs at the left of this photo. What looks like a church spire [center] is the northern edge of the cliff area named "The Palisades".
To gain access to the southbound roadbed a detour up the China Ranch Wash is necessary. Where there is a tie driven vertically into the old spur's roadbed, head south across the fan. If you're coming down from China Ranch, take the left turn where the trail splits, just after passing the Saloon Ruin.
Avoiding the growth, a lightly marked trail can be found that will arrive at a 'scramble down' point to enter the China Wash. Downstream it is possible to climb out with ease or you can continue in the creek bed and go back up the smaller wash that joins on from the south. Keep heading for the south wall of the wash area.
Once across the washes, the trail follows the side of the southern hills and one last rough wash must be crossed. Down the slope, the trail arrives at the opposing side of the T&T's bridge over China Ranch Wash.The roadbed of the Tonopah & Tidewater was cut into and along a bench of the eastern wall. Major cuts and fills were required for this section of the right of way.
Continuing on through the series of cuts, the roadbed now ends at a major washout. The USGS topographic map [Tecopa - 1983] with details and alterations to the area based on the satellite scans of 1978 does not show this. However, it is visible on the 'current' U.S.G.S. satellite image taken on June 5, 1994.
To continue on, the 'trail' now leaves the roadbed line and follows the eastern wall until arriving at the wash responsible for cutting through the roadbed fill and allowing the river to eat back along the right-of-way. Scrambling down the steep wash is fairly easy, no individual drops are more than two feet. At the bottom is the Amargosa River and a good spot for a cool break.
Reaching the bottom, turn back towards Morrison and find a place to jump the river. As shown , it's not too wide, but the side walls are a bit soggy. Try to find a good rock buried at the edge to 'launch' off. From here - there's NO marked trail! Apparently not many people come down this way. Perhaps the BLM and the volunteers will clear a trail as they have improved the trail from Tecopa to Morrison.
A suggestion is to find the animal trails and follow or parallel them. These will often go through areas where you'll have to bend very low, especially if you're carring a pack. They also simply wander through swampy areas and across the Amargos River at will! There's little to no chance for a view from down here.
Crossing to the western wall of the Amargosa Canyon will give you excellent views of the Palisades. The western slopes are almost featureless at this point, but once up on the bench, walking is easier. Cross the river twice more along the western side of the riverbed, and you'll find a wash that will let you climb up to the bench. Be very careful about the north-west corner that's about to collapse (1999). If you go a bit further and then return to the wash, you will find an open space with a good shot of the Palisades and the river.
Staying with the roadbed means that it is necessary to find a point to scramble back up the eastern slope to the 40' higher roadbed. (I did this section in reverse and slid down the slope, just south of the washout, dropping off the 8' wall at the bottom.)
A possibility is to locate the wash that runs under the only (?) remaining ballast topped bridge left on the T&T. It is located about half way between your descent onto the riverbed and the north end of the Palisades. This bridge is a typical T&T wooden construction for spans of about fifteen feet. Spanning distances longer than 15' would have required upright supports to safely carry the loads.
One such multi-support bridging of the Amargosa River can be found just north of Tecopa Hot Springs. Look to the north and up the wash, just west of where the road crosses the old roadbed. It's just beyond the 'marked' roadbed - about halfway between Tecopa Hot Springs and the junction with California 127.
The northern entrance to the Palisades from the roadbed is a staggering sight. The scale can not fully be expressed in any photograph taken from the roadbed, wide angle lens or not. Climbing the outer walls of the many cuts approaching the Palisades will provide a constantly changing view of the wall.
If you have chosen to take the western bench 'trail', look for the "Gold Ball" on the wall of the Palisades. Along that side of the Canyon you'll be able to skirt most washes and end up at the western side supports of the site of a major trestle.
While the Palisades demands most of the attention in walking through this stretch, don't forget to look at the riverbed and also south along and across the Amargosa Canyon. For those along the western bench, the changing light, especially with clouds in the sky, reveals and hides features of the eastern wall.
Looking south, the view is of the turning of the Amargosa River to the southwest. This was the location of a long trestle for the T&T. Once constructed, the eastern end was filled in almost to the major channel of the river. In this shot, the fill is the light horizontal streak at the center.The roadbed here is running south preparing for a long curve to enter the trestle. On the western bench, you are just above the trees and bushes in the riverbed, not scrambling up and over the humps. The 'trail' there is at the base of the slope.
View from the western bench just after climbing out of the riverbed.
|While the distance from Morrison to the trestle location is but 1.4 miles on the map, the round trip (including to & from China Ranch) took nine hours. This did include a long lunch break, rest breaks and photographic angle hunting. Now that I know the 'way' it would save some backtracking, but not too much. A full day should be allotted for this section alone.|