Ski Mountaineering

Bodie and Buckeye

Mar 13-14, 1993

Reiner Stenzel

Skiing to a ghost town in winter is a very special experience. In spite of a gloomy weather forecast four of us, Greg Jordan, Eddie Nunez, Mike Rector and myself, drove together up to Lee Vining where Ruth von Rotz von Reno joined us. On Sat, 8:30am, we started north of Mono Lake from Hwy 167 (7 mi off Hwy 395) where an unpaved road leads to Bodie via Cottonwood Canyon. The first 2 mi was plowed so that it was only 8 mi with 1600' gain to Bodie (8,370'). Thus we did it in a day tour. Snow and weather were fine and by 12:30 pm we entered town along main street feeling like lone rangers in a deserted town with no soul in sight. We settled down in front of a saloon-like building near the closed Ranger office, ate lunch, relaxed and talked about the ghosts when quietly out of a dark building a man appeared. He was the Ranger, but he did not talk much even though he gets visitors only every 2-3 weeks, and soon he disappeared again. Well, it is a ghost town. The only other living creature we saw was a cat with bleeding eyes. Then we skied to the cemetery, which was covered with 4 feet of snow.

Some crosses and a little angel poked out of the snow. We explored many buildings in town which, 120 years ago, had 10,000 inhabitants and produced $100 million in gold. Bodie was also famous for its badmen, a wicked winter climate (-30 deg, 100 mph winds), 65 saloons, 3 breweries, high-tech power generator, cyanide pollution, a miners' union, a baseball team, etc. The longer we explored the town the more interesting it became. But by 3 pm we had to leave, and enjoyed our 8-mi ski/skating run down to the cars. We topped off this great day with a fancy dinner at the Bridgeport Inn. At night bad weather caught up and it rained on our snow camp near Twin Lakes.

Sun morning the weather cleared up and we skied from Doc & Al's 3 mi into Buckeye Hot Springs. We all had our private natural hot pools and enjoyed our steaming baths in the winter landscape. By noon we were back at the cars for the long drive home. We were very fortunate with the weather since the 16 mi day tour to Bodie would not have been easy in a storm.

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