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Old 05-07-2016, 01:15 PM   #1
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Death Valley May 2016

My buddies and I use to do regular annual guys trips, but skipped the last couple years. Decided to get the band back together and start up. Added several more friends and 2 Jeep JKU's to head to Death Valley again. Had a great time without any major issues (always a good thing).

Trip name was "Wild Tangent Cactus Caucus" as our conversations typically take of on wild tangents and tis the year for Caucus's. We have a wide variety of political views, so evening fire time discussions were interesting, but stayed friendly.

Day 1: Left SF Bay area for Alabama Hills. I swore this would be the visit that I get there in daylight, but wasn't to be. We stopped for dinner in Lone Pine and wandered in after dark. The wind was extremely intense. Watching (helping) others set up tents made me so happy again to have the van!

One friend had a brand new, never slept in, Big Agnes tent. Found out later, this was his first ever camping trip. As we were standing next to the van for wind shelter having beers around 1AM, Big Agnes (known now as BAgnes) decided to take off. Tent owner and I gave chase for a few seconds before it disappeared into the night never to be seen again. It did spit out his duffel bag, sleeping bag and iPhone before leaving. Fast forward to yesterday, he went to REI and produced 3 stakes and the stuff bag. Explained what happened and they gave him a full refund. He is now a REI fan for life!

Day 2: Headed to Eureka Dunes and got there too early to settle in (and wind was still intense), so went through Steel Pass and headed to secret spot another forum member turned me on to a few years ago. It is now within protected Wilderness Area, so we went on. We headed a bit further and camped in a wide spot that turned out to be at the Marble Bath. Still a bit windy this night, but good times ensued.

The group heading into Steel Pass.


I have at least three other identical photos here from years past, but have to post again.


DV Ducks!


Morning hike views.


Day 3: Started day with hike up to a red rock wash in the mountains then down to Saline Valley Hot Springs and settled into a spot far from the only other two camps there. Cocktail hour started with a soak in one of the tubs, then on to my buddies award winning lambsicles (lamb chops), and conversation went on into the night.

Typical camp with this group. LED lighting not for everyone, but every night was a party!


Day 4: Change of itinerary and decided to head south in Saline Valley and up Lippincott grade to Race Track, then right at Tea Pot Junction, the up to White Top Mountain area for camp after a visit to Lost Burro Mine. Was strange to be camping up in the trees in DV. Views were incredible!

Goodbye Saline Valley Hot Springs!


Quick plug for not being an idiot in the back country. We came across this Jeep Patriot rolled in a side wash going up Lippincott grade. So many things wrong with this.

1. This trail is beyond designed capabilities of this vehicle and tires. In the hands of a knowledgable driver in good conditions, it could likely make it, but certainly not wise.

2. We think he was coming down the trail and likely lost traction and slid off to the inside and rolled once. One of the tires showed signs of lots of spinning on rocks, so he was obviously traction challenged. These are tires you may find on typical minivan.

3. It was a rental vehicle (Hertz). The renter just bought himself a slightly used Jeep Patriot. Wish we could have heard his call to Hertz to explain. In retrospect, we wish we had tried to fire up the Hertz Never Lost to see which way he came from.

4. Jeep Patriots only have a 13.6 gallon fuel tank. No sign of additional fuel.

The note on the dash said "Driver OK. 5/1". It happened the day before we came by. There is always the possibility this is one of those cases you hear of that GPS took a tourist on a path it shouldn't, but I doubt it.

There was no blood and side curtains deployed. I'm guessing it was a slow speed roll, but had it happened in a few other places on this road, it could have been a very different outcome.

This will be one expensive extraction!

(disregard the fact my buddy is sitting in drivers seat for effect)


One of the many shafts from Lost Burrow Mine.


Day 5: Drove to the end of the road and hiked down / up a few canyons. Came across some polished marble which was very cool. We then went in search of our last nights camp. We explored many side trails and mines on the way to what ended up being one of the most amazing camps I've had in DV or ever. The views were absolutely spectacular and given we were at around 6500', the temps stayed in check and was a great evening.

Would love to have a time laps of changes to this area over the last billion years or so! Always love what you find in rock and mountain formations.


This mine shaft looks safe??


This area had stunning colors from wild flowers. No way can picture do it justice.


1941 Dodge WC-3 Military truck near our last camp.


... and one of the best camp sites ever!


With sweeping views that again, photos (at least mine) cannot do justice to.


Day 6: The long slog home ...

All in all a great trip. Only minor mechanicals: (ground cable on JKU second battery would not tighten up and kept coming off, small hole in one of my tires, broken cheap LED light bar brackets on the other JKU, strange power source issue on HAM radio in FJ). The van ran like a champ. Still a major fan of the 50HP Tow tune I loaded last year!

Look forward to the next trip ...
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Old 05-07-2016, 01:35 PM   #2
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jealous!!!
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Old 05-07-2016, 02:00 PM   #3
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Nice trip report. How bad was the Lippencott trail? I haven't been down there for quite some time and your report makes me want to do a similar run in that area. Too bad about the tent...rangers say they often see tents rolling rolling out of Mesquite Springs CG during high winds.
Glad you guys had a good time.
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Old 05-07-2016, 02:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by daveb View Post
Nice trip report. How bad was the Lippencott trail? I haven't been down there for quite some time and your report makes me want to do a similar run in that area. Too bad about the tent...rangers say they often see tents rolling rolling out of Mesquite Springs CG during high winds.
Glad you guys had a good time.
Lippincott wasn't bad from a washout perspective (compared to last time I did it at least) and rest of it is what you would expect if you've done it before. Steep, narrow and some large exposed rock in a couple areas.
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