Rant n' Rave – Piss n' Moan

June 26, 2009

Charlie Manson and Me – part 4

Filed under: Charlie Manson and Me - part 4 — Tags: — Bob @ 5:23 pm

 

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Charlie Manson and Me – part 4
~Up Goler Wash To The Barker Ranch~
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Sunday morning, after a GREAT nights’ sleep, we awoke to another beautiful day.  After breakfasting (probably on bacon, eggs, toast, juice, etc.), we packed up all our stuff, leaving nothing but footprints behind, as was our usual plan.
But first Danny and I did a bit of exploring.  We went across Goler Wash and climbed a bit of the North wall.  I think there was a mine up there, but we never made it up that high.
Up on the North wall of Goler Wash - 10/1979.
Up on the North wall of Goler Wash – 10/1979.
You can see me with the red shirt and denim cutoff in the center.  Danny was a bit lower and lost among the trees. *Sorry, Dan!*
Once we got back to the cabin, I went inside to leave a business card on the wall where many others were stuck, as a comment that ‘we were there’.  I think there was a ‘cabin log’ as well, which I would have signed, but I am not 100% sure about that.
Then we discussed what our plans for the day would be; head back West and go home?  Or go farther East up the Goler Wash on Coyote Canyon Rd. ‘to see what we could see’ (…to the tune of  ’The Bear Went Over The Mountain’)?  We all agreed that ’seeing’ was much more fun than ‘going home’, so I checked all the fluids and fired up the ol’ van once again, and bid a fond farewell to the Newman Cabin, unless we would see it again after we turned around.
The path was similar to the previous days’ journey in the Wash, with varying space between the mirrors and the steep walls of the canyon.  There were a couple of times when I had to pull in the wing mirror on one side or the other because the trail hugged the wall with a deep drop-off or rough passage on the other side.
Goler Wash - Coyote Canyon Rd.

[Thanks to David A. Wright for alerting me that the previous pic is in a section further Westward than I thought.  The image is actually down near the mouth of Goler Wash, below the Newman cabin.]

At around 2 mi. East of the Newman Cabin, for some forgotten reason, we took a right turn onto an inviting trail.  There were no signposts with directions (as there seems to be now)…

Goler Wash sign.
…so on a whim (…interestingly, also known as ‘a vertical horse-powered drum used as a hoist in a mine’.) we drove up this trail towards who-knows-what!
Some of you readers might actually know where we were heading, but please remember (again) that we had absolutely no clue where we were, where we were heading, what the terrain was like, what the roadway was like, no map, no GPS, no cell phone, no knowledgeable travelling mates — N O T H I N G !
I’ve seen the pictures all over the Web with convoys of well-equipped, heavy-duty, 4-wheel drive on/off-road vehicles, giant rock-crawling tires, with license plates such as “DV GHOST” (Death Valley Ghost), “DV RUBCN” (Death Valley [Jeep] Rubicon), with winches, tow-hitch points, problem-spotters and helpers, and probably a big tow truck and a  medi-vac helicopter hovering somewhere close, ‘in case’!
Aw-right... what's the holdup here? There's never a cop when you need one!
There are 7 vehicles in this shot, and a couple of them have intake snorkels for driving in deep water!
…and look at THIS machine!  That green bumper sticker says, “TREEHUGGER”!!  …see any trees here?
You could climb up the canyon walls with this baby!
…and the white vehicle following this one.  Is the a/c on?  Do they get FM reception here?
Don’t get angry with me, all you off-roaders.  I’m jes’ funnin’ with ya again!  I’d do it in a heartbeat if we lived where we did back then!  I wonder if my ’98 Dodge RAM quad-cab, 2-wheel drive would be able to make that trip today.  I DOUBT IT!
…or WOULD IT??
[Okay, back to the story…]
Goler Wash to Barker Ranch
So, we turned off Coyote Canyon Rd. and drove for another mile or so, when we came upon a house surrounded with a barb-wire fence, with an old school bus, Dodge Power Wagon, a few old house trailers and a couple of flatbed trailers, several dogs and some farm animals we could hear from a pen on the side.
Barker Ranch- old aerial view, maybe surveillance photo.
I stopped on the pathway in front of the gate, instructing Barbara and Danny to be watchful and quiet while I approached and shouted to the house.  Not worried, just cautious.  We didn’t know AT ALL that it was the notorious Barker Ranch, aka ‘Charles  Manson Family hideaway’! (hence, the name of this story!)
When I got to the high barb-wire gate at the wooden arch (clearly visible in the photo above) I shouted, “Hello, the house!”  Several dogs ran to the gate, and were barking and wagging, but I kept back a bit anyway.  Finally a long-bearded guy came out and down to the gate to talk to me.  He was absolutely friendly.
I asked him about the road ahead, and he said it went nowhere.  He told me the best way to go would be to go back to Coyote Canyon Rd., then turn right (North-East) and go on that way.  We would come to a cairn at the top of a rise.  We should go down the other side, past the Striped Butte, and then when the trail got to the center of that valley, to go to the right (East on Butte Valley Rd.), and follow that past the talc mines and down into Death Valley.
He then added this caution; he said that last night it had rained down below, and there would be sand and maybe some water covering the trail where it hits the Death Valley floor.  He cautioned me to NOT cross this, as it would be like quicksand, but we should wait overnight, if necessary, and the Army Corps. of Engineers would be sending a grader to clear the way for the talc mine trucks early on Monday morning.
I shook his hand and thanked him for his advice and help, and headed back to the van.  I remember him smiling and waving to Barbara and Danny in the van.
Who was he?  …ABSOLUTELY no idea!  But many years later, when I was idly looking at my ‘new’ program, Google Earth, and eventually deciding to have a look at where we went on that trip…
THAT’S when I learned about the Manson Hideaway!  WOW! *slapping my forehead*
Okay, so Manson and Family were arrested on August 16, 1969 at the Barker Ranch.
Arrested August 16, 1969 at The Barker Ranch.
 
.
.
…and then there was me…
 
...NEVER arrested!
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Here’s a wikipedia.com description of the hideout: In the first days of November 1968, Manson established the Family at alternative headquarters in Death Valley’s environs, where they occupied two unused or little-used ranches, Myers and Barker. The former, to which the group had initially headed, was owned by the grandmother of a new woman in the Family.  The latter was owned by an elderly, local woman to whom Manson presented himself and a male Family member as musicians in need of a place congenial to their work.  When the woman agreed to let them stay there if they’d fix up things, Manson honored her with one of the Beach Boys’ gold records, several of which he’d been given by Dennis Wilson.
Here is a video I just found of a trip up through Goler Wash, going to Manson’s hideout.  It is pretty well done for an amateur video.  I think it was shot around March, 2006.
Here is a description of this video: **Featuring actual Charles Manson recordings & his music, including the song “Arkansas” as well as recordings of the “Manson Girls”.
Hidden in a remote gold mining canyon, high above Death Valley, in the desolate Panamint Mountains of California, is the last hideout of infamous cult killer Charles Manson & his young followers known as the Manson Girls.   Barker Ranch still stands today, abandoned & left to the elements, only a few hardy & prepared travelers can make the arduous journey through the uninhabited Panamint Valley and into Goler Canyon where Charles Manson and his “family” of young killers hid out after the brutal murders of actress Sharon Tate, the LaBianca family, and other unfortunate people who the “Manson Family” encountered during the summer of 1969.  For several months after the Los Angeles area murders Charles Manson and his followers roamed the hills and valleys around Death Valley & dropped acid in the grungy confines of Barker Ranch.  By December of 1969 the Inyo County police tracked the “Manson Family” down and found Charles Manson cowering under the bathroom sink of Barker Ranch.  We followed the “Manson Family’s” steps from the San Fernando Valley to Trona Pinnacles & Goler Canyon high above Death Valley.  It was easy to sense what these young killers must have felt as they struggled to get their old school bus up rugged Goler Canyon …just as we struggled to get my stock Jeep Cherokee 4×4 up the same canyon.   Wandering through the still furnished rooms of Barker Ranch and imagining the Manson girls singing hippy folk songs left us with a very creepy feeling.  We found the old bathroom where Manson hid from the police and recorded the entire premises around Barker Ranch.  I managed to get actual audio recordings of Charles Manson, including songs from his 1968 LP ‘LIE’, which I’ve included in this short film of our journey in search of Manson’s last hideout.  If you are a fan of the macabre or crime history you will be fascinated.  This is our story about Finding Goler!  Also featuring the music of Tricky, The Goodlookins’, Johnny Cash, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix & Jim Morrison, Portis Head, the Mason Family Girls, etc.
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*WOW*
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Charlie Manson and Me – part 5
~Goler Wash to Mengel Pass~
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