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Old 10-19-2007, 07:08 AM   #1
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Saline & Death Valley

Just got back from six days on the road. Started out dashing down 395 from Reno to Mono Lake for the first nite. (25 degrees at night. Gotta love that espar!) Then to Big Pine where we cut over to the northern end of Saline Valley. Finally had time to head up to the opal mine at the north end (nasty, steep and narrow - but fun) and spent the nite at Upper Warm springs. Too many folks at Lower and Palm. We were going to go over Steel Pass, but since we had just done it last year and we were told that the Lippencott road was in good shape, we headed down Saline and then east up the Lippencott. Well, I hadn't been down that one for about seven years and it was tough then. I was in our XJ at the time and the road had a super narrow spot. To give credit to the guy that said it had been fixed up, it was a little better in that one spot, but the bottom line is I REALLY don't recommend a full size rig doing the Lippencott!!! It took us over two hours for four miles and the wife was terrified. Definately took four wheel drive and low range. That part was fine, but there are about a dozen narrow spots with a straight drop-off. In several places, I measured where the road was one inch wider then my tire width. That's with the inside tire up against solid rock and the outer on loose, stacked up rocks filling a washout above thirty feet of straight down. There was no way I could back down thru the first couple we went thru, so I plowed ahead. (real men don't back track - right?? ) I've been wheeling for fifty years and been in some pucker places before, and this was real near the top. Just the wrong rig on the wrong road. No place for an 8,000 pound, $100k, top heavy, wide rig to be out playing.
If one wants to cut over to Death Valley from Saline, Steel Pass (last year) was fine. 4x4 needed at the northeast end, but a good ride. The Hunter mountain road is another way in that's good.
Anyway, we spent that nite above the Racetrack with great views to the north. Then we went out past Ubehebe Crater and headed north on Death Valley road to Little Sand Spring and went northeast on the Oriental Wash road into Nevada. That was all two wheel drive if you drop tire pressure in Oriental Wash. Spent the next few nites camped at old ghost towns and on mine tailings. Got some good hot springs in too.
Great trip, just watch out for Lippencott....
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:45 AM   #2
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Lippencott

Scatter, the Badgers did the Lippencott Track two years ago in their RB SMB, and wrote about it on their blog. Didn't sound too bad, but you won't find me anywhere near it!
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Old 10-19-2007, 11:16 AM   #3
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Scat,

You are in my country now! Great trip report. I spend a lot of time there (DV, Saline, Hunter, the Inyos, the Whites, etc) and just passd through the Panamint Valley this week. I've gone up and down Lippencott numerous times, but not yet in the van. Some years it's rough, and some it's just a low range crawl with no major challenges.
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Old 10-19-2007, 11:17 AM   #4
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Lippencott

Now that i have gone back and read it, the Badger's did it in January 2007. Their short description of the Lippencott:



Quote:
2007-01-25 (E)

A few miles past the lake we turned east on the 4x4 trail listed in our book. This trail leads from the Saline valley road up a narrow gully, ascending a few thousand feet in about 3 miles, to the Lippencott mine at the south end of the famous Racetrack Playa with the "sailing stones". The trail was one of the more interesting we have taken recently, with large boulders in the track, and some very narrow switch-backs that were partially washed-out. The new larger tires certainly made the journey much more comfortable than it would have been with the original set.
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Old 10-19-2007, 07:22 PM   #5
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As if you couldn't tell from my screenname we frequent the area! Good writeup of an awesome area (Photos!!) , Lipencott can vary greatly year to year thats for sure. Even did Racetrack and down Lipencott in a foot of snow.
We're headed there on the 12th. Yeah.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:51 AM   #6
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Well, we're back home again and here's a few photos from the Saline, etc trip. Maybe these will entice some of you to try this area. It gets pretty lonely on those back trails.



View of Mono Lake from our camp



Camp at the edge of the trees



We hiked up one of the craters to catch the view



This is the road up to the Opal mine north of Saline Valley



The wonderful Saline Valley from the north




Looking up the Lippencott road from the bottom



Section of the road

I didn't get any shots of the van on the narrow spots as they weren't the best place to stop. I'll be doing the Lippencott again, just not in the SMB. I've been up it after the Park graded it and any kind of rig would have been fine. I've also been there when the biggest rig that could make it was a motorcycle. There had been some good rains early this year and they took their toll in the narrow spots in the draws. Don't let my feelings sway you away from a great ride thru beautiful country. Check it out and make your own decisions.



SMB that didn't make it....



Lippencott Mine



The next morning looking north to the Racetrack



One last spot from the mine to the Racetrack



Ahh yes, the mysterious moving rocks



One of the mines near Gold Point.


There was a movie company from England filming "Bloody River" at Gold Point. Look for it at your favorite video store in the not too distant future.

Lots more photos, but I don't think this is the place to post. Those of you that haven't been to the area, get your butts in gear and use those super vans. Great country we live in and we all need to get out and see it.
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:12 PM   #7
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Very nice pics.

Can you post some basic information on the route you took through Saline and DV?

Rob
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Old 10-23-2007, 10:51 PM   #8
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Rob - I sort of covered the route on my first post, but to be more specific:
From Hwy 395 at Big Pine, head east on 168. After about 2-3 miles 168 goes left but you stay right. About 15-16 miles from 395 go right on a graded gravel road. It's signed and this is the road into and thru Saline Valley. From here it's about 90 miles on good gravel south to Hwy 190. LOTS to see and do in Saline. About 30 miles from the pavement is the left turn (hard to spot) to Warm Springs. Good hot springs here and this road continues over Steel Pass to the Eureka dunes. Very cool area. We went further south thru Saline to the Lippencott road. Not sure of the mileage. You'll just need a decent map. If you bypass the Lippencott about ten miles you'll come to the Hunter Mtn. road. It also comes out at the Racetrack. From Hunter turnoff, it's about ten miles to Hwy 190. Our route went from the Racetrack, up past Ubehebe Crater. Around three miles past Ubehebe hang a left on the good gravel (washboard) Death Valley road. About 14 miles up that road you come to Little Sand Spring. Hang a right on the Oriental Wash road and with a good map you'll find your way out to Gold Point where you hit pavement again. Lots of old towns and mines in this area. That was the main part of the trip.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:58 AM   #9
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Scatter,

A big thanks for posting details & pics from your most recent trip. I was white-knuckled reading about the Lippencott section....CRAP! I've been in 'no return' situations like, but thankfully not in the SMB.

We'll be adding the Saline Valley to our short list of destinations to head out to soon and explore.

-Jeff
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