Alone in Death Valley - The Story

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by frickinjim, Aug 16, 2015.

  1. PinkPillion

    PinkPillion Been here awhile

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    Holy crazy camera perspective, I like it. :D Your batteries must be so tired by now, completely shot. My gopro eats them up.
    Ash Meadows looks like a super neat place. I am going to put it on our list of future NV rides. Adding Armargosa too thanks to your cool pictures.
    The report is excellent so far frickinjim----------- wondering what is coming up next.
    :lurk
    #21
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  2. disconnected

    disconnected brap

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    Sweet, thanks for sharing!
    #22
  3. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv

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    solo in dv!

    in for this adventure.
    #23
    VegasDesertRat and TZR MIKE like this.
  4. RuffnReadyXJ

    RuffnReadyXJ Strait 250 adventure'n...

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    Just like some of the previous people stated, the amount of water you go through is nuts. My friend and I spent 9 days in Moab doing some wheeling a few years ago. We both drank half a case of water bottles a day and we never noticed sweat or felt sticky. The heat takes it right off your body. We went through a bag and half of ice a day just keeping the ice chest cool.

    I'll admit I did have a sopping wet shirt/palms once from sweat while out there. I've raced cars, rock climbed, motorcycles, been four wheeling on gnarly stuff, you name it, we were on Moab rim and my Jeep slid about 8 feet while we were wheeling next to a cliff. I'll admit, even the time I put a car 40 feet down a steep berm into a creek and missed every tree in the forest some how, this particular time in Moab was the time I've actually froze from fear or disbelieve something terrible was happening. Still gives me the creeps thinking about it.

    Great ride report, I love the desert!
    #24
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  5. frickinjim

    frickinjim Cheap bikes <3

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    Thanks to everyone for all the encouragement to keep working on this! It keeps me going.

    Yep, hydration is a battle in these parts for sure.

    Oh yeah, had to keep rotating out batteries constantly! Part four coming up today sometime.

    Man, I've never been to MOAB but I think I need to put it on my list. Sounds like you've had your share of fun out there, haha. I might send you a PM if I ever need some advice for a MOAB route!
    #25
  6. frickinjim

    frickinjim Cheap bikes <3

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    Part Four – Artist’s Drive, Ubehebe Crater, Racetrack Playa

    I left the bike alone for a good 20 minutes to cool off before I made any further attempts to get it moving. After that, there was no more detonation. That was quite a relief! The rest of Artist’s Drive is above sea level and has a breeze so it wasn’t mega blazing hot hellfire like the valley.
    Looking west above the valley:
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    Artist’s Drive snakes through part of the Black Mountain range to give people an up-close look at the naturally colorful rocks. It’s quite a sight to see. The colors are caused by oxidized metals in the rocks; each metal produces a different color.
    I’ve bumped up the saturation to get my non-professional camera to bring out the colors. The first picture is of the “Artist’s Palette”
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    Furnace Creek was my next fuel stop. I had used exactly 1 gallon since Shoshone, which meant I was still in the 80-90 MPG range. This told me I was good to go for the Ubehebe Crater. Since that would be an 133-mile stretch without fuel, I planned to not do it if I was getting 50MPG or less.
    Off to the right you can see the Furnace Creek Inn and Resort. Man, that would be a nice place to stay. Bucket list.

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    Just outside of Furnace Creek I went through Mustard Canyon loop and caught a glimpse of the Harmony Borax Works ruins. I should have stopped and really checked it all out, but it was getting late and I really wanted to get to the Ubehebe Crater before the sun went down.

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    Mustard Canyon:

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    The Grapevine Mountains on the way to Ubehebe Crater. They seem to have so many layers!

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    The Ubehebe Crater, possibly my favorite part of Death Valley. This HUGE crater was caused by underground water mixing with magma, which created extreme pressure and an enormous explosion. Someday I will make the hike to the center.

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    The sun was setting, so I really just needed to find a place to camp for the night. Camping is not allowed within two miles of the Ubehebe Crater, so I just kept going on my route towards the Racetrack Playa, looking for a spot to camp along the way.

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    Finally found a good spot to settle down as the sun vanished behind the mountains. My little camping spot was between Dry Mountain and Tin Mountain. There was nobody else out there. There was a rain drop on occasion but no serious rain for the night.

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    Dinner was an MRE, because they’re free and they keep you alive LOL

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    The night was fine and the rain held off… until 5:00am when it started pouring! That was my cue to pack up and continue on. It stopped just as soon as I was packed, of course. I continued on towards the Racetrack with a beautiful cotton-candy morning sky.

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    A lonely John Deere along the way:

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    Teakettle Junction, unfortunately, had no decorations at this time. The only thing there was a pile of water bottles.

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    I made it to Racetrack Playa as the sun was coming up. I parked and set out to find some sailing stones!

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    Found one little guy! Not quite big enough to ride, but I was satisfied.. heh

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    The grandstand:

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    And then I was off towards Lippincott Pass Road…

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    To be continued!

    Part Four video available here:
    #26
    Shivanshu and Nick Helliwell like this.
  7. statsman

    statsman Long timer

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    I'm just curious.
    Is there a significant difference in the temperature in the valley between July/August and January/February?
    Or is it hot as the surface of the sun year round?
    #27
  8. frickinjim

    frickinjim Cheap bikes <3

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    It dips below freezing in the winter! Like most desert areas, it has a very wide temperature range.
    #28
  9. benwiggin2

    benwiggin2 Brock Warwick

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    Very nice....waiting for more!:clap
    #29
  10. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

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    sunny san diego
    what benwiggin2 said--------
    #30
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  11. mikegc

    mikegc Long timer

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    High Point, NC
    I've been going out there the second week in March and have seen daytime temps in the low 90s. Most of the time, though, it's in the low to mid-80 during the day and mid-60s at night. One year, I left Death Valley around 5:00 AM and, on the way to Pahrump, saw 21˚ briefly.



    Mike
    #31
  12. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    put something on and stay in that position.
    When I was there in April a few years back, I had to ride clear down into Texas to miss the blizzard warnings through Utah and Colorado. I made it to DV at dusk, so I booked the Furnace Creek Inn ($229 IIRC) and noted that it was 79 degrees. When I awoke, I took the opportunity to enjoy the 70-ish temps and do the washing. By the time I packed and checked out, it was 85 at the Borax works. I had everything unzipped and then made the climb (Daylight Pass) toward Chloride City, which puts you from -600 ft below sea level to about 4,317 feet. It was COLD. Bloody cold.

    I zipped everything up and held on, you know it won't be too much longer before the temps soar again.


    Standing by for the rest of this report!
    #32
    TZR MIKE likes this.
  13. little foot

    little foot Super Mediator

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    good report!!
    #33
  14. Spark6

    Spark6 Adventurer

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    CT
    Awesome report!
    #34
  15. frickinjim

    frickinjim Cheap bikes <3

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    Part Five – Lippincott Pass Road, “Hobby Lobby Pass,” Hunter Mountain

    Just a mile or so out from the racetrack, I was presented with two possibilities; left… or right…

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    There were no signs in the area, so I consulted the map. Yes, I’m an old-school folding map user! I brought this map along ( http://amzn.to/2kEkkG2 ) only.

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    Turns out I was supposed to go right. Oops, because I chose left before looking at the map… I’m glad I did though, because I think I may have run across the world’s most lonely porta-potty! Gusty winds, please latch door.

    [​IMG]


    Right near the latrine there was an unofficial campground. There was evidence of recent camping.

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    Anyway… I got on the right track and found the entrance to Lippincott Pass. Looks like people are using the sign as an “I survived Lippincott” log book. Anyone on here see your own mark?

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    Now, this road does have a reputation for being pretty rough. However, when I went through it was not rough. There was a lot of awesome cliffs, and a great view of the Saline Valley, however!

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    There was also this clearly-unnatural cave. Excuse me for not investigating the inside; it was creepy!

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    I made it through Lippincott Pass just fine, and made it down to the valley floor of Saline Valley. It was a straight, up-and-down rollercoaster for a while.

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    Again, no road signs… but there is a pile of rocks with a shot-up steel drum. If you are ever out here, this heap translates to “Saline Valley Road”

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    Heading up into the mountains via Saline Valley Road:

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    A sign that makes PERFECT sense, haha!

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    There was a wash going alongside the road through the mountain pass, and it was literally overflowing with life.

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    Okay, here’s something that really stumped me. Does anyone know what these are?! It’s like someone took manure, put it in blue pots and staggered it along a trail. I saw this at the entrance of two different trails. Not sure what’s going on with this!

    [​IMG]


    This point, as you’ll see in the video, is where I decided to rename this place “Hobby Lobby Pass,” because it smells just like a Hobby Lobby store. It’s a crisp, flowery smell, like a potpourri.


    [​IMG]


    At the intersection of Hunter Mountain and Saline Valley Road, I encountered one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. Pictures and video do it no justice. I’m not especially afraid of heights, but when I peered over the Panamint Valley from this spot it overwhelmed me. I had to back up a bit, and just sit there in awe for a bit. There’s just something about this view for me…


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    Continuing on, I ran into the place where I originally planned to camp for the first night. I wanted to camp here so that I could use my hammock between two trees. Maybe next time!

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    I hit reserve on my main fuel tank just outside of that forested area. It had been around 100 miles since my last fuel stop, so I was totally expecting to hit reserve on that stretch.

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    To be continued… My posting schedule has slowed due to the start of UNLV’s semester!

    Video of Part Five available here:
    #35
  16. BobRob

    BobRob Pick one

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    Awesome trip report! Looks like a blast.
    #36
  17. nwgs

    nwgs Danned

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    Great report.

    The Amergosa Opera house is really cool. It is run by a non profit and has a ton of history. They still do ballets in the winter mo's. Stop by the train museum and they will bend your ear for hours. The cafe is for lease but at $1200 per month will probably stay closed for some time. The graveyard is full of locals from what used to be a thriving little settlement. The motel and lobby are really cool with a ton of history. They are happy to give you a tour of the place if you stop in.

    Quite an adventure you had, thanks for sharing.
    #37
  18. frickinjim

    frickinjim Cheap bikes <3

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    Awesome! This answers a lot of questions that I had. The more you know...
    #38
  19. frickinjim

    frickinjim Cheap bikes <3

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    Part 6 and 7 rolled into one good chunk… I’ve combined these two because in both of them I battled a bad luck streak which took up an entire day. I did not make it far or see much during that day.

    Coming down into the Saline Valley, with the great joshua tree forest. I’d never seen so many joshua trees before!

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    I headed back East toward Panamint Springs for water and fuel, and ran into Rainbow Canyon on the way there. This is one of my favorite views in the area.

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    Stopping in at Panamint Springs

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    Haha, the General Store. They might as well be honest and call it the Only Store!

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    Well, after I got my fuel and water it was time to head west again. The plan was to head back into the Saline Valley and then make it up the mountains to Cerro Gordo.

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    I had some close air support along the way. I watched this pilot fly through Rainbow Canyon multiple times going incredibly fast. What an amazing job that would be!!!

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    Back into the Saline Valley. I wasted a LOT of time in here. I explored just about every road looking for the road I needed.

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    I did find the Boxcar Cabin! So at least I found something…

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    I believe I actually did find the road that would take me to the turn for Cerro Gordo. That was this one, and I stayed on it for a long time looking for the road to Cerro Gordo.

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    That road, however, simply vanished and gave way to an unmarked wash. I ended up trying to follow the wash up higher into the mountains.

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    No dice. The wash just got steeper and looser until it was at the point where I just couldn’t climb such a slope. I had to turn back.

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    I went back exactly the way I came. See the rain falling ahead?

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    Yeah, I ran into it, haha.

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    I escaped the rain pretty quickly and got on 190 toward Lone Pine. For some reason, I burned a LOT of fuel while messing around in the Saline Valley…

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    The first view of the Sierra Nevadas!

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    Owen’s Lake

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    And then I was out of fuel in my main tank. It seemed to have gone by so quickly. It gave me the feeling that something was wrong, but everything felt fine.

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    Well, shortly after my fuel stop things started to get a bit wobbly. There the problem was, a leaky tube. It had probably been low and leaking the whole day, which would explain the sub-par fuel efficiency.

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    It was actually one of my previous patches that had failed. It looked like the whole patch just melted. I put on another patch and got back on the road. I burned an hour. I am not quick at patching tubes.

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    I stopped for lunch in Lone Pine. When I got back on the bike, the tire was flat again… One side of the patch did not stick well enough. So I re-glued it, and put a patch on top of the patch.

    I made it all the way to Manzanar…

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    …before it was flat again! This time I just put a 21” tube in the 18” rear. I don’t carry an 18” rear tube usually, but on the next trip I will.

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    By the time I was done messing with flat tires, the sun had set behind the mountains.

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    Owen’s Valley sure is a beautiful place to witness a sunset though.

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    I almost stopped at a campground in Owen’s Valley, but the adventurous side of me took control and I started up White Mountain, the highest drivable road in California.

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    I made it to the vista point overlook of Owen’s Valley before complete darkness, but after this the camera really didn’t pick much else up. I kept going up White Mountain Road…

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    To be continued…
    Video for part 6 –



    Video for part 7 –
    #39
    Shivanshu and motocopter like this.
  20. MotoJedeye

    MotoJedeye C'mon Guy

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    California

    Wicked video! Nice work! Makes my video look total amateur hour ;). I wonder if my Icon Scrambler can handle Death Valley- what do you think?
    #40