Death Valley - February 2003
Jim's Death Valley 2003

Death Valley

January 31 - February 3, 2003
Driving in Death Valley  

I think my favorite part was the start of Goler wash road. Just the way it starts out in that tight canyon winding around. The exploring of a new trail. I've always liked canyon crawling for some reason. - Kevo

Racetrack was a blast, it was butt cold (freezing) Sunday night. Stayed at an abandoned mine. - Chris

Thanks for the great trip and company everyone! Uncle Bela had a great time and will likely be a cruiser convert. Hope the occasional gunfire and war stories wasn't a problem. - Tom

This was a trip full of contrasts, endless wide open valleys to narrow rock filled canyons, strange dry lake beds below sea level to pine trees and snow covered mountain over 7,000 feet tall. The colors, textures and vast open spaces are already calling me back. - Jim


Death Valley Trip Report:

I was looking forward to driving over distant horizons, again and again, without seeing any paved roads, power lines or people and I wasn't disappointed. It's amazing how the scenery could completely change from one part of the trip to another or in some cases, just by rounding a corner. This was a trip full of contrasts, endless wide open valleys to narrow rock filled canyons, strange dry lake beds below sea level to pine trees and snow covered mountain over 7,000 feet tall. The colors, textures and vast open spaces are already calling me back.

It was very interesting to see so many of the places I had heard or read about before the trip. We were impressed with the condition and availability of the desert cabins we found along the Goler Wash and Butte Valley route. It's obvious many people are taking steps to preserve these historical treasures.

We had heard the stories about the treacherous Lippencott Mine road, but in fact it wasn't scary or difficult at all. Still it was a fun climb out of the Saline Valley and the views were awesome. It turned out to be a great way to approach the famous Racetrack. This is where large rocks mysteriously move across a large dry lake leaving strange tracks. It was fascinating to explore this surreal place and observe this bizarre phenomenon. It's really hard to describe the energy you feel as you walk around this strange and beautiful place.

The days are short on these winter trips and our four o'clock find a campsite before dark cutoff came quick each day. Luckily we found good spots at the entrance to Goler Wash and Los Burro mine in Hidden Valley. The later was cold, well below freezing, but I had my best night sleep - I guess my sleeping bag was warmer than Chris'. Even the night we spent at the developed Furnace Creek Campground was nice - if you don't mind a severe wind and dust storm in the middle of the night. It wouldn't have been too bad since we were sleeping in the back of the wagon - if we would have closed the lift gate sooner. As it was we were covered with sand and dust but still in much better shape than the numerous tent campers whose tents collapsed during the night.

The winds lighten up and the next day was beautiful. We crossed Hunter Mountain (elevation 7,000+ feet) and encountered a little ice and snow on the road. It looked like it could get very interesting up there with deep mud and snow after a storm. It was quite a change from Badwater at minus 200 feet elevation.

I'm happy to report all the cruisers (and Kevo's minitruck) did fine and got us all home safely. The high speed rallying on severely wash boarded roads did cost me an exhaust hanger, a minor price for such a great trip. To quote Arnold's now famous phase, "I'll be back". - Jim

 
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