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Old 11-27-2011, 10:30 AM   #1
señormoto OP
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Location: California + Costa Rica
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Death Valley Thanksgiving - F800GS

Decided to ride over the holiday, so I went to Death Valley to explore some dirt. I'll just annotate some pics, no long winded story about life and big thoughts required.

The first night was camping at Ballarat ghost town. If you decide to camp here make sure there aren't a bunch of RVs anywhere - they will run their generators while you're trying to enjoy the calm quiet peacefulness of DV.

Testing out the Contour Roam helmet cam

Decided to go to Titus canyon today, so I ride over to Stovepipe Wells for gas via dirt road past Warm Sulphur Springs and then hook up to the shoddy road over Emigrant Pass.

Once in Stovepipe Wells I figure I'll use up the rest of the gas I bought from the back of a truck in Trona. Funny story, Trona's Texaco doesn't exist anymore unlike the GPS says it does, and the local QuickStopFastGasFillerUp station is consistently, according to the nice woman at the register, out of gas. So one of the guys at the QuickStopFastGasFillerUp called his friend up; who then showed up with several 5 gallon cans in his truck. I then proceeded to purchase 4.5 gallons (all the GS will hold + 1g RotoPax) of 87 octane (the GS is mapped for 91) for $25. So a word to the wise, don't push your tank to Trona expecting gas to be available - stop in Ridgecrest before heading to the Panamint Valley area.

So, off to Titus Canyon. The initial section is all high speed washboard once you get off the highway after Daylight Pass. These folks were towing an "adventure trailer" because I assume they needed more material items than they could fit into their double cab F250. They were having a great time and were nice people.

Big vistas over the pass and great trail quality the whole way. At this point I'm starting to wonder about the difficulty rating of the Death Valley trail maps - this is marked as a 4x4 road. Hmm.

The Narrows are very fun to ride through. The walls are probably a hundred feet high, but the helmet cam distorts them a bit.

I decide to go to the Racetrack, so it's a high speed burn all the way to Ubehebe Crater, which is past Scotty's Castle - which also never has gas, even though the map says it does. This is the second year I've been to DV when the castle is gas-less - I wouldn't rely on the map for filling points, call ahead if you're riding a bike that doesn't get 200 miles per tank.

The road past the crater is all high speed washboard and beautiful joshua trees. Without a stabilizer I think it would suck, but Scotts saves the day here.

I suppose people think ahead and bring a disposable kettle to leave at Tea Kettle Junction. I did not have a kettle or permanent marker with me so I continue riding...

The Racetrack is cool, but I've seen bigger Playas. The main attraction you don't see at other Playas is the moving rocks, which I did not walk out to look at because I am lazy and it was far. But I did walk out to the Grandstand and climb up to the top.

It's off to Saline Valley, or where ever I decide to call it a day, so I head over Lippencot Pass and meet a fellow ADV rider who is NOT riding, but he's having fun with his girl and we discuss the conditions of the pass.

The pass is not bad, but I turn down the Scotts from washboard setting so I can turn easier.

Lots of rocks.. Lippencot is all rocks.

As I come around a bend I see this vista and can't continue on - I must camp here, it's just too damn beautiful.

The next day I head to Saline Valley and finish up the last 2/3 of Lippencot. The rocks get bigger, and at 7am I'm not really all that excited about it with cold muscles.

I get through the rocks and decide to use third gear. I stuff the front wheel in a rut and lay the bike over into the hillside. Mental complacency can be blamed.

The rest of the trail to Saline Valley is another high speed washboard burn with intermittent sandy washes that want to eat my tires.

The mishap above bent the gear shifter. Yes, BMW puts non-folding shifters on the F800. I considered buying the folding one from Wunderlich before my trip but thought "no, maybe later". Luckily the bent lever still shifts, just have to use my boot lip to do so.

Long Lonesome roads in DV - they're everywhere.

I didn't have enough gas to go over Steel Pass in the Saline Range so I decided to head to Panamint Springs and do something else, but not sure what. Jackass Canyon has some fun water crossings - this one probably 1.5' deep, good times.

And the top of the pass to South Pass was snow and ice. Slow and steady.

South Pass rewards you with one of the best views of Panamint Valley and the Panamint Dunes. Had to stop and enjoy it for a bit.

Met some more ADV riders, hey guys! They were going out five or six more days, lucky bastards.

Lee Flat is basically a joshua tree forest, and it is the start of the roads into the Inyo Mountains, which I plan to check out next time; Burgess Mine and Cerro Gordo Peak, when it's not covered in snow as it is this time of year.

At Panamint Springs gas station I meet two wildmen on KTM 525EXCs. We discuss trails and motorcycles. They're heading over Mengel Pass and then eventually to Pahrump; ostensibly to check out the local whore house. They invite me to head over Mengel with them, which I consider, but I don't think my Shinko 705 tires are up to the task; which is a shame because I just burnt up a set of Kenda Big Blocks riding all highway to San Felipe two weekends ago - the tires should be the other way around, 705s would have been much better doing highway work on Mex-5.

I want to see Warm Springs Canyon, the other side of Mengel, anyway. So I go through the foul tourist jungle of Furnace Creek and jump onto West Side Road. Negative elevation!

I meet up with the Wildmen and offer them my rotopax but they still have enough fuel. They tell me about some cabins to the west that jeepers use... so I continue. I get to the creepy rape cabins at Warm Springs Mine, they mined talc here how exciting. "What do you mine? Talc." There is actually a warm spring here and the water is about 80 degrees. I wash my nappy head in it's not so cool waters and relax.

Camping is nice and I find a location near the spring where mosquitos are plentiful.

I rise at 6:15am, deadly early for my usual schedule of an 8:30 rise, and proceed to eat it on the deep gravel while leaving the canyon.

The GS is fun to pick up, so I get some morning exercise. Then I sit on the bike and consider taking this gravel in 2nd instead of 3rd so I have more reaction time when things go south.

I was originally planning to stay until Sunday but I know the 405 and 5 going back to LA are going to be crap, so I start the long ride back to The Freak Kingdom. Jubilee Pass is beautiful and the pavement is great.

In Baker there's some massive dual sport or enduro race/ride going on. I see hundreds of 450/525 EXC, CRF450X, some TE630, and 690 Enduros. Here is one, didn't get a good shot of the group check-in down the road.

I-15 is boring, so the camera is off until I get to the Hesperia area and jump onto highway 2 over the Angeles Crest, which happens to be one of my favorite all time roads. It's a bit colder than DV here, and there are a couple of icy spots on the way to Newcomb's Ranch where I have a burger.

I'll be going back to DV soon but will do some things differently.
  • meatier tires
  • wolfman expedition side bags - the hard luggage adds unnecessary weight and lets things rattle around too much
  • less food, I can buy it at the little stores during gas stops and don't need to carry 4-5 days with me from the start
  • more water, I was constantly having to worry about running out and did one day
I have a feeling that there are some decisions being made on certain teams lately to make things more complex in order to ensure a certain technological standard of confusion is met.

señormoto screwed with this post 11-27-2011 at 10:47 AM
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:39 AM   #2
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Very nice! Putting it on my "To do" list. Thx!
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:21 AM   #3
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Nice write up. I've never been to DV and plan to do this sometime next year. Always curious on the fuel question(s) though; thanks for the tips.

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Old 11-27-2011, 02:05 PM   #4
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Nice report. Looks like you met Larryboy, wifey and the Frankenbeemer.

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Old 11-27-2011, 03:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by thematt View Post
Glad to hear you had such a good ride. We're the jeeps you met at South Pass.

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Old 11-27-2011, 03:35 PM   #6
señormoto OP
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Originally Posted by German Trick View Post
Glad to hear you had such a good ride. We're the jeeps you met at South Pass.

Hey, it was good to meet you! How was the Hunter Mountain loop?
I have a feeling that there are some decisions being made on certain teams lately to make things more complex in order to ensure a certain technological standard of confusion is met.
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by thematt View Post
Hey, it was good to meet you! How was the Hunter Mountain loop?
It was no problem with four wheels.

We ran into larryboy and crew at the snow and ice, and helped him through the slippery bits.
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Old 11-28-2011, 12:13 AM   #8
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Great stuff! I need to get my 800GS out on those roads.
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Old 11-28-2011, 12:23 AM   #9
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Excellent report! Thanks for sharing!

Looks like the camera did a great job capturing everything.
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:19 AM   #10
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Excellent ....... if I lived closer !!!!!
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:46 AM   #11
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Great ride report and photos! I want to hit DV after the first of the year!
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:37 AM   #12
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Mengle Pass on an 800GS

Great report and pics.

It is possible to ride your 800GS down Mengle Pass, riding east, but it would be a handful riding up Mengle unless you have several people along to help.

There is alot of loose gravel riding through Goler Wash toward Mengle Pass. I tried it once on my R1200GSA, but decided to turn around. It is very easy on a smaller dual sport like my DRZ4000S.

Looks like you found most of the roads in DV for an Adventure Bike. Another fun road is from Ubehebe Crater to Crankshaft Junction on dirt. Then you can either ride Death Valley Road to Big Pine, very spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains this time of year, and refuel or head over North Pass, when there isn't snow, and into the Saline Valley Warm Springs. As you already found out, planning gas stops is important.

Dropping into Big Pine for gas gives you more options when riding the north end of DV.
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:22 PM   #13
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Nice to meet you and chat for a minute!!!

That was more than just a patch of ice and snow here and there.
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:44 PM   #14
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Some good looking camping spots there. Very nice. Good luck with your upcoming RTW trip!

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Old 12-02-2011, 10:24 PM   #15
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Great report. Looks like fun. I need to add that to my list too.
Whoa... DidYouSeeThat!.. Uhh.. Where?...
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