It was cool in the morning but the wind was not as harsh. A few miles down the road is the ghost town of Rhyolite, definitely worth a visit for the bizarre artwork alone. From there it was off to Titus Canyon. Titus Canyon is one of the most interesting dirt roads anywhere in the park, perhaps the country. It takes a while to get into the canyon proper but it is a geological marvel and should not be missed. It took me 20 years living in the region to finally make a trip down canyon and after doing so I said I could make it an annual event without getting bored.
At the bottom of the canyon we dropped out into Death Valley proper for the first time on the trip. The park is massive and contains lots of terrain that is not in the valley itself. Actually it’s the largest national park outside of Alaska. A raging sand storm was blowing across the valley. Once through the canyon we parted ways, Pat and Harry headed back to Lone Pine on pavement while Kevin and I turned north for the Death Valley Road, a dirt run that goes from Ubehebe Crater back to Big Pine.
The first 25 miles of dirt was a smooth as silk and we bombed along at 55-60 mph. I have never seen the road in such good condition. At one point Kevin was out ahead and the scene filled me with awe. I knew he was traveling at close to 60 mph but in the vast desert landscape it looked like he was standing still. We passed Crankshaft Crossing, over the Last Chance Range and dropped into Eureka Valley. It never really warmed up the whole day, another sandstorm raged on the far side of the valley.
Stopping to layer up for warmth in Joshua Flats Kevin confided that he didn’t really understand what I’ve been saying for years about the riding in this region. He had no idea how grand a place it really is and plans to do some more exploring this summer. We stopped up top of the Inyo Range at the Saline Valley Road intersection and talked with a couple of Big Pine locals who had been out four wheeling and exploring. The long hill down to Big Pine is one of the finest paved roads around and it warmed up as we lost elevation.
owens valley - photo by ko
Back at the house in Bishop we cleaned up a bit, loaded Kevin’s bike into his van and had a couple beers to celebrate the adventure. He went off to Mahogany Smoke Meats
for a sandwich and bacon, and then drove up to Lake Tahoe for the night. I began downloading photos and was rather impressed by some of the images I managed to capture. It was nice be inside and warm, without the constant rumbling of the wind.
I wondered how the old timers had fared and secretly thanked them for pushing our limits of comfort and desire.
titus canyon - photo by ko