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Old 06-03-2012, 08:34 PM   #1
Country Doc OP
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: somwhere north of Kingston, Ontario
Oddometer: 2,760
Little Bikes, Big Desert II - Death Valley, 2012

This is starting to feel like tradition, which is something not often found in my life. I'm warming up to it.

It was late February, and I'd been living in a rental house in Napanee, Ontario, waiting for my upcoming move to our new-old farm, which will be our home until I shuffle off this mortal coil. For those of us in Canada that ride motorcycles, this is about the worst time of the year. It's been three months since any rideable weather, and at least two more until it gets warm and nice again, and the trails open up.

Naturally, it's the perfect time to jet to the desert for a week of backcountry riding and camping with rinconrider. Wes has been one of my best friends since we were teenagers. I remember early in my eighteenth year, firing up my Hawk GT that I'd bought shortly after breaking my ankle, and riding it up and down the street with a cast on my leg, so anxious to get out that I could not stand waiting any longer. Luckily we still both feel the same way about riding, and it's a highlight of every year when we get a chance to travel together.

As essentially novice dirt riders in 2008, we explored around some of the basic trails in Death Valley ("Deserts, Sunshine, and DR's"), and caught the dirty bug in a large way. We've had some other great trips in Southern California, but decided to revisit Death Valley and try and see all the out-of-the-way places we couldn't get to four years ago, when we were limited mostly by inexperience.

We kissed our respective kids and wives goodbye, and hopped in his fine new Taco PreRunner with the bikes and gear loaded in the back. Most importantly, we'd had time to visit Trader Joe's to stock up on many a bottle of fine local wine, marinated meats of all persuasion, cheeses, croissants, sausage, and other essential items of survival.

I'm going to keep this one to mostly a photo tour. Hope you enjoy the ride with us!

Leaving Pasadena. I am a pickup truck convert.


Road Food at the In 'N Out.

Wes hates arm straps, so he commandeered a pair of his "wife's" nylons.

We camped in Panamint for the first few nights, and this was a cold start to the first day of riding out Saline Valley Road, headed for South Pass/Hunter Mountain -> TeaKettle -> Racetrack -> Lippincott Pass -> Panamint. It was just barely above freezing here on Hunter Mountain. Brr....

Down near the Racetrack just before Lost Burro Mine, we hit a huge, nearly invisible silt washout that almost sent me over the bars.


Lost Burro Outhouse

Cabin at Lost Burro


He must have played the left Bauer, just before he was hanged.

A proud pair of Canucks in the desert.

Teakettle Junction

Guess where?

One of my favourite views in the world.

The Racetrack!


The Racetrack rocks I expected to be underwhelming. They were incredibly cool and definitely not to be missed.

Running from a weather system most of the day, it split over the Racetrack for a spectacular late afternoon view.

Wes. Hero shot.

The biggest rock I could find. The paths and distances these things move is simply incredible.

Heading over Lippincott Pass, late in the day, with thunderheads chasing. What could possibly go wrong?

A flat, of course. It doesn't show in this pic, but it started pouring rain shortly after this moment. Good times It was getting late in the day also, with about 45 mins of daylight left. We were starting to get a little anxious about getting out to the road before dark.

Trailside bloody knuckles.


We made it out in the quickly darkening twilight, and down to Panamint for a late dinner at the campground/hotel restaurant, which was much appreciated after a cold, dark ride down Saline Valley Road. Another great day in the books in DV. Tomorrow we head for Pleasant Canyon/South Park Canyon via Rogers Pass, a loop we were stymied on a few years ago by deep snowfall in the higher elevations.

Off to bed for now. More pics of Day 2 tomorrow. Cheers!

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