Expedition Death Valley Fall 2014

From November 21, 2014 until November 23, 2014
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Fall 2014 Death Valley Trip is a go for November 21, 22, and 23

Be sure your truck is serviced and ready for the trip. Remove any side steps. See the end of this post for recommended gear.

Itinerary, weather permitting

(Accuweather.com currently shows possible showers with a high of 69 degrees, so we probably won't get any snow like last year. But you never know.)

Friday, November 21

Meet in Ridgecrest in the parking lot of the Maturango Museum at 8:30 am.
Address: 100 E Las Flores Ave, Ridgecrest, CA 93555 (760) 375-6900

Be sure to have a full tank of gas as there will be no dependable gas opportunities until our night halt in Furnace Creek.

We'll leave at 9 am and head north making our first stop at Trona Pinnacles.
The Trona Pinnacles are a great site to see- a common location for a number of Hollywood movies.

After visiting, bouldering and photographing the Pinnacles, we'll continue north through beautiful downtown Trona before heading east through Fish Canyon via the Slate Range. This was the "Escape Route" used by the ill-fated '49ers. The top of the Slate Range affords a fantastic view of Panamint Valley.

We'll descend the Slate Range, cross Panamint Valley, and continue our eastward trek through Goler Wash/Goler Canyon Road.
There has been a nice obstacle at the mouth of the canyon where we'll get a chance to put our trucks to good use. There have been other times where it has been graded making it passable in a minivan. It'll depend on how much traffic has been through lately, and how much rearranging Mother Nature has done.
This is a great canyon drive past numerous old mining sites and is the access to Barker Ranch, the one-time hideaway of Charlie Manson. We'll take our lunch break there.

From Manson's hideaway, we'll drive up the canyon to Mengel Pass, which will most likely be the most challenging portion of today's driving. I'll spot everyone through this section. Here is a link to a video of me spotting John Shumovich in his Range Rover through Mengel Pass.

Once through Mengel Pass, we'll head over to Geologist's Cabin for a little bit of exploring and great views of Striped Butte.

From there, we'll head down Warm Springs Canyon and make a stop at Louise Grantham's Talc Mine camp. Numerous buildings are still standing and are fun to explore.
Heading still east down the canyon, we'll come upon the Split Cinder Cone just off the West Side Road. This is a wonderful example of a volcano cut in half by the earthquake fault that produced it 300,000 years ago.

In a short distance, we'll be back on pavement, Highway 178, where we'll head north for our night halt at Furnace Creek Ranch. There are opportunities to stay at the Ranch, or to camp nearby. There is also gasoline available there at the Chevron station.

For reservations, contact the Reservations Desk at (760) 786-2345.
Tell them you're with my group (SCLR) and give them the Booking Number: 689200 for reduced rates.
Rooms with 2 Queen beds are either $140 or $160 (plus resort fees, tax, etc), depending on which accommodation package you prefer.

The Ranch has a fantastic spring-fed pool (usually around 85 degrees and a perennial favorite with the kids- big kids, too!) and is a fun way to unwind after the day's driving.

We usually do a group dinner in the 49'er Cafe or Wrangler Steakhouse. This we'll determine once we get there.
We also have been known to drive the short distance (1 mile) over to Furnace Creek Inn for a drink on their terrace. Again, we'll decide on that once we arrive at the Resort.
We'll turn in and prepare for tomorrow.

Saturday, Nov. 22

We'll meet in the parking lot in front of the Check-In/Check-Out office at 8:30 am for a brief driver's meeting. Please fill up with gas and run over to the Visitors Center and pay the $10 Visitor USE Fee before our meeting.

Saturday's drive will be very scenic and has a substantial obstacle.
We'll head up Echo Canyon, mostly in a dry wash, heading to Inyo Mine, a gold mining town several miles up the canyon.
From there, we'll continue for a few miles before we get to the "waterfall" that offers some good technical driving. Once through here (again, I'll be spotting trucks through), we continue through the Funeral Mountains on our way into Nevada.
Our next major destination is Beatty, Nevada. Here we'll fill up again (gas is way cheaper in Nevada) before we trek north with Gold Point, Nevada as our night halt.

Gold Point is a delightful "ghost town." Homes/cabins are available here, as is the opportunity to camp.

Homes/cabins are in short supply so we may have to double/triple up. One of the cabins can accommodate 4 couples, another 2-3 couples, and so on. Visit theGold Point website for a run-down of accommodation possibilities.

Gold Point only accepts CASH. They also welcome donations of various beverages (beer, wine, whisky, etc.).

The owner of the town, Herb (Sheriff Stone) has agreed to cook a complete Thanksgiving dinner for my group. Dinner will be turkey and ham, mashed spuds, gravy, stuffing, green bean
casserole, dinner rolls, yams and cranberry sauce, and desserts. The cost for dinner is $16.00 per person.

Breakfast will be bacon and sausage, scrambled eggs, pancakes, potatoes, fruit, oj and coffee, and is included in the cost of your room/cabin.
Breakfast for anyone not in a cabin is $10.00

Meals are served in the saloon, and is the hub of the town. Everyone loved it last time, and if this is your first time, you'll love it, too. It's a great place to get together, recount the day's events and learn more about each other.

Sunday, November 23

We'll meet in front of the saloon after breakfast at 9 am.
After our driver's meeting, we'll head south back toward Death Valley with the intention of visiting Eureka Sand Dunes, the tallest sand dunes in California and possibly the tallest dunes in all of North America.
We'll have lunch here before heading west to Big Pines and Highway 395. From there we'll head back to Los Angeles.

We will be covering a lot of ground, with numerous stops for photo ops, exploration, sight-seeing, or just to stretch our legs, or water the plants. We'll get a chance to see many favorite locations in Death Valley.

Be prepared for all kinds of weather- Death Valley offers a variety of temps.

Bring the usual gear:
(Not a comprehensive list- your needs and wants may vary.)

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun Screen
  • Warm clothes
  • Cool clothes
  • Swim suit/towel
  • still camera
  • video camera
  • FRS radio
  • Ham Radio
  • extra batteries for electronic devices
  • extra storage for cameras
  • flashlight/headlamp
  • hiking shoes
  • cell phone/charger
  • cooler/fridge stocked with food
  • water/drinks
  • first aid kit
  • Tools
  • Tow straps
  • Fluids for the truck (coolant, oil, transmission and brake fluid)
  • Spares (tires, fan belt/serpentine belt, fuses, hoses, light bulbs)
  • Tire gauge
  • Car jack
  • fire extinguisher
  • leather gloves
  • hand wipes/wet wipes
  • spare key
  • Camping gear if you're camping

I look forward to seeing you all there!


Pictures from previous Trips:

2009, 2010


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