Monday, November 21, 2016

Another Desert trip complete.

Back from my fall desert trip.

What a great trip this year. We extended the trip by over a week so we could camp in Panamint Valley, West of Death Valley and explore those things which have been our our list of to-do’s for some time. In the past we had to drive from Death Valley which is about 50 miles by road each way.

A bonus was the military jets which used us as targets while flying low over the valley. We had parked our 4 RV’s in a row along a turnout in the road and I guess our predominately white vehicles made a convenient target for the pilots to see. We were buzzed numerous times and some at very low altitude. What a hoot! We also got some good video.

An ancient geoglyph or rock alignment.

Overview of Panamint Valley from the old townsite of Lookout in the Argus Range.

The downside of this week in Panamint valley was the 2.5 days of wind which piled up sand around our rigs and got into every opening. We eventually spent a day at the Ridgecrest Elks club blowing the sand out of everything with my air compressor. Every lock, window, under all the truck hoods, door hinges, etc.

While in Panamint Valley we explored the town of Darwin (people still live there), drove the back road from Darwin to China Springs and back to Panamint Springs Resort in Death Valley. A very nice trip.

One day we drove to the Owens Valley, West of Panamint Valley and visited the mining camp of Cero Gordo located at 8200 ft above the valley. We had made arrangements for a guided tour from the care taker. Many of the old buildings still stand and some are being refurbished by the present owner. The Silver and Lead mined at Cero Gordo were the predominant reason for the growth of Los Angeles. Eighty Six pound ingots were hauled by mule teams to Los Angeles for trans-shipment to smelters in San Francisco for processing. The freighting was done by Remy Nadeau of 20 mule team fame.

We moved to Calico Ghost Town near Barstow for 2 days so we could explore Inscription Canyon and all of its many petroglyphs. This involved about a 100 mile round trip, most of it off highway. We also visited the NASA display at the Barstow train station and well as the railroad museum nearby. Both worth the visit. We also got to see the worlds second largest meteor (6000 lbs) at another Barstow museum.
Ancient petroglyph in Inscription Canyon.

Petroglyph of Big Horn Sheep in Inscription Canyon.

We moved on from Barstow to the BLM area near Tecopa, CA, our usual stopping place after spending a night behind the Mad Greek restaurant in Baker, CA. The BLM area allows us to circle the wagons as it is not an organized campground.

From Tecopa we visited Saratoga Springs along the Harry Wade 1849 exit route out of Death Valley. We have been here before but this time we wanted to look for ancient Indian village sites as well as check out the mining areas. We did all of the above.
What 1.5 inches of rain look like at Tecopa BLM.

Armagosa River in Southern Death Valley crossing Westside Road.

We planned to visit Galena Canyon in the South end of Death Valley but a day of rain raised the level of the Armagosa River making it too dangerous to cross with 4x4 vehicles so instead we drove to the Ashford mine trail head and hiked 2.2 miles up canyon to the mine site. Soon after we arrived it started raining so we took shelter in the mine kitchen and had lunch. The rain stopped shortly thereafter so we explored for a while before going back down the canyon to the vehicles. This was my third trip to the Ashford mine and not one I was planning to do this year.

Ashford Mine in Death Valley.

Tim exploring Phinney Mine in Nevada North of Beatty.

King of the Hill!

Old telegraph wire and pole on the line from Bullfrog to Skidoo.

No trip to Tecopa is complete without a stop at China Ranch Date farm for a date shake and we did that twice this year. The second time was so son Tim could checkout a geo-cache high atop a mud hill near the ranch.

Eventually we moved to Death Valley and continued our exploring of mines, ghost towns, and Indian relics and then ended up attending lectures and events connected with the Death Valley 49er days.

DBRC (Desert Balloon Recovery Crew) haul of mylar balloons (33).

Campfire at Furnace Creek Campground.
On Sunday Nov 13th we again drove back to Baker, spending another night there before driving home on the 14th. We never drive from Baker to Barstow on a Sunday afternoon as the home bound Las Vegas traffic is a night mare. Much better to drive home on Monday.

 One of many great sunsets on our trip.