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Old 02-24-2007, 06:58 PM   #1
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Gettin' Dirty in Death Valley

I just got back from a bunch o' days in Death Valley. We went poking around the backcountry in and outside the park. When I get all the pictures and videos sorted I'll post up a proper ride report.

Until then here's a picture of a parking place I found:



We put in about 200 miles of roads/trails/sand/even worse sand/ and pole line roads each day for 3 days. Lot's of eye candy is coming. I promise.
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Old 02-24-2007, 07:33 PM   #2
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let's see the pics!!!

bone, I got a new scoot too......DRZ400S w/a 5 gal tank, to replace the big pig.....went to metcalf mx park today with XRsick50 and his CR125 2 smoke....had a great time, didn't hurt myself and then went on a pave twisties ride in the EB hills near my house,.......plenty of damp spots meant sliding around on the knobs was easy and fun.......
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Old 02-25-2007, 01:23 PM   #3
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Alright, after a false start a minute ago, I think I've got the images all worked out.

So, Tuesday starts at sunup with some nice warm sunny morning coffee. The temps would rise today to 75-80. Just right for riding, and maybe a bit hot when we have to muscle the bikes around.

We started out at the Furnace Creek Campgound, and headed down West Side Road. It's unpaved but well graded and a bit loose at times. Peaks of 75 MPH weren't out of the question and sustained speeds of over 50 in the corners was easy. Just remember to slow down for other vehicles since the speed limit is 25.

We turned up Warm Springs Canyon Road, another "highway."



Warm Springs Canyon Road heads up the illuvial fan and into a narrow canyon where the road becomes more of a loose rock two-track, and eventually out into Butte Valley.



We found a tail light assembly and license plate on the road here. It was obviously off an F650GS. Having had one I know what they look like, and also know that they have a fondness for shedding these particuar parts on the trail when in stock form. If you have one, buy the Touratech brace and you'll be golden.

At the top of the track in the above image lies Geologist's Cabin. I'm not sure the history, but is lightly stocked and would provide shelter when the weather gets ugly.

We continued up Mengel Pass where the road got a bit rougher, until I chickened out and chopped the throttle while trying to get over the rocky section.



We ended up having to man handle both bikes up this section, though I'm sure that if Slyderite was along, he'd show us the moves and ride it out.

So Luke, having hot had enough, heads up the side road to the top of the hill. Mind you, this is not a necessary venture, he just feels like doing it.



He did successfully get the bike turned around and rode it back down. Unfortunately, having seen that, I chickened out again. I'm just getting used to my new-to-me 640 Adventure, and am trying to keep a very healthy respect for it's explosive power. I'll stick to the not-so-hard stuff for now.
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Old 02-25-2007, 01:40 PM   #4
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Butte Valley from Mengel Pass. If you make it here, it's all downhill. From what I understand, most people take a looksy at the rocky section and call it quits- only 100 yards from the pass.

Somewhere down Goler Wash we came across some mining ruins. This whole area is torn up in places from a big mining boom in the late 19th and early 20th century. This used to be a tramway of sorts to get the ore down the hill.



So at the Bottom of Goler wash, past Chalie Manson's last hangout, the road is about 15 feet wide with cliffs up both sides. I was having so much fun I forgot to get a picture. Hopefully Luke has one I can post later.



We made another high speed run up to Ballarat. A ghost town in the Panamint Valley with at least one resident. I'm not sure he'll be around much longer, but he sure was full of information and stories. After a $2 Coke ( a deal- since it's the only beverage you'll find for a long way, unless you brought some- we did, but bought one anyway ) we headed back down Panamint Valley, past Charlie's place and up and back over the pass.

This is why they call it Butte Valley:



If you look carefully, you can see Luke in the photo wearing his Hi-Viz Darien.

The sun was getting low and we still had a long way back to camp. Without pushing the pace, we managed to get all the way off Warm Springs Canyon Road and down to West Side Road before the light started to fade.

Then we pushed the pace and made it back to camp just as it started to get dark.

189 miles- only 5 were pavement.
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Old 02-25-2007, 04:20 PM   #5
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Day 2 started out almost as fine as day 1. Waking up 3 times in the night to re-inflate my air mattress interrupted my beauty sleep, and combined with 2 days now without a shower, and I'm sure that all our camping neighbors were happy when I donned my helmet for the days ride.

West Side road was such a blast yesterday, we did a repeat performance. I'm pretty sure that even though it's longer than the highway, we could probably meet a car that took the pavement at the other end where it dove-tails back in.

Then we cut off again a few miles later to the Harry Wade Exit Route. This was the way that one of the original settlers who got stuck in Death Valley, braved his way out without having to cross the mountains. Good History Here
Again, graded dirt with a couple of wide sandy creek crossings (dry). In other words, it is a fine road for speeding.

The Harry Wade Exit Route dumps us right at Little Dumont.

Luke demonstrates a winding path across the dunes.


We played at Little Dumont for a while. This is the Wednesday after Presdient's Day, and he have the whole place to ourselves. It's good for practice, since I have pretty much ZERO sand skills.



Gratuitous bike prOn



After a while the dunes at Little Dumont began to seem a bit small. At only 30 feet or so, the challenge ran out. After having braved the severely whooped and way-too-long trail over to Dumont Dunes Proper, we found ourselves outclassed. It was going to be some work and we welcomed it.

Circling around to gain momentum:

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Old 02-25-2007, 05:06 PM   #6
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Finally peaked out near the highest dune. It had only been an hour or two of struggling. A 325+ pound bike with knobbies isn't the best sand machine around.



There it is...



Down the front side in full view of all the campers. Intimidating to say the least. Down was pretty easy- weight back, power to keep the front light and point it at the bottom. I still circled around a bit just to make it more interesting though.

We went up the highway to Shoshone for lunch. A ranger we had talked to up my Mengel Pass the day before came by (completely on the other side of the park, what are the chances? ) and suggested we try Echo Canyon the next day if we wanted something a bit different. We put it on the menu for tomorrow.

Green Water Valley was a cutoff we could take back into the park. We pulled up at the pavement where it meets Dante's View Road and I looked back and saw this sign:



In case you can't read, it says "Shoshone 36" but it doesn't specify miles or minutes. The way we'd been riding, it didn't really make much difference.

Day 2 was 193 miles, about 30 of which pavement.
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Old 02-25-2007, 05:47 PM   #7
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The sun shone in through the door on my tent on the morning of Day 3 just like it had all the other mornings. And just like the others, I had been awake several times as I touched down through my leaky air mattress and had to reinflate it.

A good cup of coffe later, we were off to an early start. The plan was to make it a shorter day, so that we'd be able to pack up the campsite and be ready for a fast getaway tomorrow.

Echo Canyon starts as a little dirt track just down Furnace Creek Rd (HWY 190) from the Zabrisky Point pullout. We missed it the first time even though we knew the milage where to turn. A couple of miles up the wash we came across a couple sitting outside their camper having morning coffee. Death Valley allows camping anywhere in the park so long as you're 2 miles off of a main road. I made mental note of the location, it was flat, had morning sun and a probable good view of the sunset. Next time I'm in Death Valley and without reservations...

Entrance to Echo Canyon:



This morning, I was having a bit of difficulty with the road. The gravel was rounded and polished and deep. It moved around a lot and I felt like the front tire wanted to plow every time I tried to turn. Frustration had set in by the time we took a small break and I reminded myself to stay loose and push the bike around, not the inverse. Much better.

The map showed one road up and over the pass. Of course, like everywhere else in Death Valley, this area had been heavily mined and there were roads leading onto every ridge and into every valley. We made several map consultations and at some point decided that if we pretty much picked any of the roads that went somewhat north, we'd probably end up where we wanted to be.



We had been warned that the worst was on the downhill side, going out of the park. This was about as bad as it gets.



The bark was worse than the bite so to speak.

We proceeded down the canyon and came out in the Amargosa Valley to the east of the Park. We were looking for a road, but found a heavily tracked wash instead.

I suffered badly each and every inch or forward progress we made in the wash. Actually, I suffered pretty badly for all the side to side progress too. The sand was coarse, littered with baseball sized rocks, grooved, tracked, and in some spots narrow with bushes hanging out in the way. I'd take off, spinning the wheel for what seemed like an eternity before I'd even start forward motion and then just as I shifted into second and started to get the front wheel to float over the sand, it would hit a groove, dig in, whip the bike to the side and start a slow motion tank-slapper, from which I could recover by the various techniques I'd been taught. Eventually I'd have to stop so I could gain some sort of control over the motorcycle, only to repeat the process again.

I tried riding on the desert sruface next to the wash- it was worse because there was a slight crust over the sand and more bushes. Turning more often on the slight crust that hid the sand was more trecherous, so it was back to the wash.

In the old days of the Baja 1000, when someone broke down in the middle of nowhere, they'd let the gas out of the bike and torch it as a signal. When I finally caught up to Luke, and only because he had stopped, I suggested this to him. He mentioned that the wind had picked up and no one would see the smoke through the dust.

We did find a set of tracks that went east (across all the washes) and after consulting the map yet again figure that there ought to be a road over there... somewhere. And there was.

It went over toward the highway and luckily, several hundred yards before we got there, we found an alternative to the pavement.



We were headed for Rhyolite, and this looked like it pointed right at it.
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Old 02-25-2007, 07:17 PM   #8
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cool stuff bone.....the dunes bit looks like you guys did a mini Dakar

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Old 02-25-2007, 07:25 PM   #9
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We followed the pole line road for about 10 miles. It wound around the poles, had a couple of surprise launches, some fun dips into the washes, and finally put us out right by the Silver State Shooting Club and an airport.

Over at Rhyolite, yet another Ghost Town, we stopped for lunch an I snapped a couple of pics.

This one gives a whole new meaning to Ghost Rider, eh?



And here's Rhyolite:



Back on the bikes, we headed for Titus Canyon. Another of the very narrow canyons that a road runs through. At the top of the pass we stopped an snapped this picture looking west.



Notice the dark clouds over the range. They had been moving in all day, and after we were 20 miles committed to the one-way road, we noticed that they actually looked threatening. Getting caught in a flash flood was on my mind.

Down the hill:



And into the canyon:



No rain, luckily. At the mouth of the canyon we were slammed by a howling wind that seemingly changed direction every few minutes, just for the sake of it. With 30 miles of highway back to the campground, we took a beating from the everchanging crosswind.

We packed camp, bought a shower at the resort, cooked dinner and called it a night.

Up super early the next morning after yet another night of hating my air mattress, and packed it in for home.
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Old 02-25-2007, 07:55 PM   #10
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WTF? It's dry? Where's a pic of mudslides and flooded roads?

Seriously though, nice stuff. Looks like you had as much fun as we did last week (on the pavement).
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Old 02-25-2007, 09:01 PM   #11
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Cool. I was there for DVDAZE with bunch of advriders. Did that Mengel pass on Weestrom. It was a little too much for poor weestrom. It survived. Next time I'll bring something more dirt worthy.
One guy had R1200GS with bags. He got totally stuck going up those rocks. 5 of us had to push him through.
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Old 02-26-2007, 07:42 AM   #12
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I HATE YOU GUYS I HATE YOU GUYS I HATE YOU GUYS. I'v been starving for an adventure 950 for way to long. When i get it i bet i get fired from my jobs for calling in sick. "uumm yeah this is cold100 I can't come to work today i'm in Africa....I mean I'm sick yeah I'm sick cough cough.
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Old 02-26-2007, 07:46 AM   #13
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Adventure riding is the best thing EVAR. Great pics and thanks for sharing!
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Old 02-26-2007, 10:57 AM   #14
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That's awesome, boney. I liked the different view angle of the Rhyolite. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 02-26-2007, 03:24 PM   #15
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looks like fun. nice pictures too.
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