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Here is a short trial report of our Tday trip my buddy Mike did......


Well, for the third year in a row, I have somehow convinced people to go spend the holiday weekend in the Death Valley National Park area. So far, they are still claiming me as a friend. :D

We had Dr.Dirty (Scott, Amy, Cloe), MyWifesJeep (Mike D., Shirly, Niko), FishPOET and WestwardHo (Doug and Tracy), Dirtman13 (Chuck, Aleshia, Cody), Rat Patrol (Kurt), and Roger (Roger) who joined us late Thursday Night.

The theme this year was to explore the northern part of the park. Wedesday Night, we all met at the Wildrose Campground to have a place to leave the tow vehicles. The night was a chilly 19 degrees and we woke to gusting wind. We were highly motivated to get packed up and moving in the morning.

I bought and repaired a trailer for the trip since I had both Sharon and her mother Louise with us. I had that trailer loaded as fast as I could, but I still had to take breaks to get out of the wind:


For Thanksgiving Day, I woke up with a head cold, so I was very happy when we got to the valley floor and the weather was much warmer. We needed to get to the northern part of the Park, so we headed up Hwy 190 and then over to Lone Pine, Ca. Along the way, we were treated to views of Father Crowley Point,:


And Snow in the Eastern Sierras:


We took US 395 up to Big Pine, gassed up for the long haul one more time before heading out Death Valley Road for 48 miles to the Eureka Dunes. We had to climb a pass that reached over 7200 feet in elevation. We found snow on the ground and ice in shadowed patches on the road:


The view back towards the Owens Valley was nice:


After a long trek down the pass, we were excited to finally have the Eureka Dunes in sight:


I had fun climbing the dunes and taking photos. I had wanted to climb to the top of the highest dunes, but at 700 feet above the valley floor, I didn't think that I could get there and back before sunset (or a cardiac arrest!). Regardless, I got deep into the dunes:








To be continued.....
 

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Doug and Kurt also made the trek up some of the steep dunes. I'm looking forward to seeing some of their pics:


For Thanksgiving Dinner, we had a spread that would be envied by anyone! We started with two deep fried turkeys prepared in camp, and then added hoards of fantastic dishes made by everyone that went:


It was one of the best Thanksgiving meals that I have ever had!

As the sun set, we started prepping for the cold night. Louise was getting the hang of how to stay warm in the desert:


And it was a good thing too. Although the morning was clear, windless, and beautiful, the low was 8 Degrees!:


After packing up, we trekked around the dunes toward Steel Pass. The road passed around the northern and eastern sides of the dunes and the early morning sun gave us some nice vistas:




As we left view of the dunes, we immediately entered into Dedeckera Canyon. This section is a series of four small falls that must be climbed:




For light, high clearance vehicles with large tires, the obstacles were no serious challenge. But for Chris and Ginger, some folks that we met in camp with a Ford Van Sportsmobile, the falls started out as pretty challenging due to the size and weight of the vehicle. But once Chris flipped on the electronic lockers, the big beast just rolled right through. I have some video of this that I will share later.

Above Dedeckera, the climb up Steel Pass has some great geological features:



But the one that I was searching for was the Mysterious Marble Bath. We had to briefly stop our search to replace a brake caliper bolt that Chuck shook out on the rough washboards. We said goodbye to Chris and Ginger at this point, since they were headed to the southern end of the park.

Once we got the repair completed, we were back on the trail to find the Marble Bath.
 

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Friday morning when we woke up at eureka dunes it was 8 Degrees. All of our water was frozen solid. The temps were low but spirits were high. We put just under 600 miles on the Jeeps in 3 days
 

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:beer::beer::beer:

So the story on the Marble Bath is that several old maps from the 1900's had a geological feature marked on them named The Marble Bath. Many geologists have searched for the this mysterious feature but haven't found it.

But we did! I'd tell you where, but tradition requires that the location must be kept a secret. But it is an awesome feature, well worth the search:




As we made our way down the Steel Pass into Saline Valley, we came to three natural warm springs. The upper one is the most natural of the three and has two tubs with the warmest one being around 99 degrees:


The second spring is called Palm Spring and has two large tubs, one on either side of the road. These are developed and surrounded by campground sites.

The lower spring is by far the most developed and is in a very nice and upkept setting. The water is a warm 106 degrees at the both of the developed springs. Clothing is optional at all of these springs and the holiday weekend attracted hundreds of people to the area.

Even so, we were able to find a nice camp spot that wasn't too far from the very nice vault toilets but still far enough to seclude the children from the nude bathers.

People have been attrached to the area since the stone age, but it was the 60's/70's that seems to have left the biggest marks:


After the sun went behind the tall Inyo Mountains, the air started cooling down:


But the night promised to be much better than the previous two nights. We settled in after dinner and told stories around the fire and sipped our favorite beverages for quite a while:


 

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continued






The next morning was bright and clear. The night had dipped into the high 20's, but the day was warming up quickly:


After breaking camp, we headed for the Saline Valley Road. Along the way we stopped to admire the elaborate Bat Rock Road marker:


On the Saline Road headed south, we saw several wild burros:


We made a brief detour to the Saline Lake shore:


Before crossing back and heading up the bajada to the Big Silver Mine:


The mine had a couple of streams flowing through the area and several mill related equipment pieces scattered about.

From there, we when to the remnants of the salt beds and tram that hauled very pure salt from the Saline Lake up and over the Inyo Mtns and back down to Swansea in the Owens Valley:




We were headed to the Lippencott Grade and the racetrack from there, but on the way, I had a spectacular trailer self-destruction:
 

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It was amazing, all the tools came out, including Chuck's magic welder, and a crew of folks worked to get the trailer repaired:


We eventually got the trailer road worthy again with some creative repair work and a little manual adjusting:


I REALLY appreciate all the help guys! I would probably still be there if it wasn't for all of you.

As it was, we lost a lot of daylight with the repair work, and a storm was moving in over the Inyo Mountains by the time that we were moving again:


Even with a change in plans to go as quickly as possible back to the Wildrose campground, we had a lot of road to cover with only a little light left:


Heading up the Grapevine Canyon the temps dropped quickly. The water crossings had significant ice:


At the top of the gap, Mike D had a serious trailer failure with his spring mounts. Out came the welder as the light at the overlook faded:


It was quite dark by the time that we were moving again. Doug had gone ahead to get his truck and trailer from Wildrose in an attempt to find a campsite in the lower (and warmer) Panamint Valley floor. Roger called him on his HAM and let him know that we had a trail repair delaying us a little longer.

Long story short: No good camp site in the valley + storm moving in + high winds in the valley = we just decided to drive home instead of camping Saturday night.

Regardless, it was an excellent adventure and a killer T-Day dinner! I really enjoyed the company (even though it was through a DayQuil haze at times) and am looking forward to the next adventure with this crew.
 

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Freakin gorgeous would have gladly sacrificed my turkey day for this
 

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We go every year for thanksgiving and i dont regret a second of any of my time spent in death valley :)
I remember your pictures from last year I think and I keep telling myself oh yah that's on my list to go.
 

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i did those trails last year. I would love to go back to explore more.

did the wash boards kill the trailer?
 

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i did those trails last year. I would love to go back to explore more.

did the wash boards kill the trailer?
# of us were towing trailers and 2 had major breakdowns ( Mine made it out unharmed other than some paint scratches) The first one the ubolts fell off and the axle fell out. The second one his spring hangers broke off the frame
 

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Great story...beautiful...I must make it out there sometime...:beer:
 

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Some of the sights in the park are amazing.... I highly recommend the trip to anyone
 

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Dirty, that was the absolute best vacation "documentary" i have ever seen on JKO. Loved the pics and the commentary. Thanks for sharing....:beer:
 

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Dirty, that was the absolute best vacation "documentary" i have ever seen on JKO. Loved the pics and the commentary. Thanks for sharing....:beer:
It was a wonderful trip if any of you guys ever have a few days to explore Death Valley has it all :D
 

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What an awesome write up- that looked like a great trip!
 

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Great trip report Dirty!!

It had to have been tough getting out of them warm sleeping bags first thing in the morning with those temps? BRRR! :beer:
 
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