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-   -   Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley (http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/forums/f17/eureka-dunes-steele-pass-saline-valley-2529.html)

Christopher Thwaites 04-14-2009 05:43 PM

Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
Phil J. and myself and our families just finished a few days in DV with our 2 vans and my Jeep.
Phil will likely post some pics soon. We started at the Eureka Dunes on 4/4 and finished in Lone Pine a day early on 4/7 due to my bafoonery. The Dunes are stunning especially at dawn and dusk as they change color and new shadows appear. It was 26 degrees that night!

On 4/5 we headed over Steele Pass. I can tell you it is doable in an EB and an RB but you may ding a wheel or 2 as the trail on the stair steps is about an inch narrower than the vans. I broke the center wheel cap on my pass side rear and gouged the rim slightly. Phil took a chunk out of his wheel in the same spot. After that it is slow but fairly easy. It's about 25 miles from the Dunes to Oasis in Saline Valley so we stopped midway and camped at the mouth of a beautiful canyon about half way.

When we got to the Oasis we dicided not to camp there. It wasn't real crowded but we wanted to be away from a lot of people.

We headed out on Saline Valley Road south and made our way up to an old silver mine visible from the road. Rough is not adequate to describe the last mile before we camped. Lots of water coming out of the canyon above us. Our camp site was fairly level with a spectacular view of the valley below. That evening the bugs ate us alive despite repellant. Some kind of knat that was hard to see. We were also entertained by a spectacular fire works show coming from the Oasis about 10 miles away....I'm really glad we weren't camped there.

Next morning we were mistaken for an Afgan village by a Navy fighter jet. He swooped in at eye level and then proceeded to circle our camp about 3 times. We could see the pilot and he could not mistake the villagers jumping up and down and waving and taking pictures. It was so amazing we were all wide eyed and immediately wanted to "join up" and fight for the "Stars and Stripes". My tax dollars hard at work!

We hiked the canyon and the mine after breakfast and then headed for Darwin Falls for our last night of camping.........we never made it.

About 15 miles from Hwy 190 as I crested the pass out of Saline Valley I hit a huge rock clearly visible in the road. I had looked out and down into the Panamint Valley for a split second and KAPOW....Phil drove up and said "Wow, you have 2 flat tires!" Both tires on the pass side were cut on the side wall.

One spare and it's 3:30pm and we are 30+ miles from Lone Pine....crap! Phil's spare won't fit my 17" hub. So we loaded up the jeep with the dog and a busted tire and raced into Lone Pine.

Know what a 285/70 R17 BFG A/T costs when it's the last one in town and it's 4:45pm?.........$359 bucks.

Phil"s wife and mine and Phil's boys headed to a motel (secretly happy about a shower, a bed, and a restaurant meal) while Phil and I went back out to my van.

We made it back to Lone Pine by 7:30pm took showers...nice... and went to dinner.

Without a spare I didn't want to go off highway so we all headed home on Wednesday morning...back to the Bay area.

I checked in every town between Lone Pine and Minden......nobody had a tire. Next day my local Americas Tires had one for $250.
$600 later I have a new appreciation of "watch where you're going"! And carry 2 spares.

My thanks to Phil and his family for staying with us. He was a great pit crew and he carries jack stands and collapsable wheel chocks. My Highlift Jack was of little use. The stock bottle jack worked fine.

Great trip but a little spendy.

jage 04-14-2009 07:38 PM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
You know in that situation you don't actually have to spring for the $$$ BFG. Even a tire that is not 33" will get you out in a pinch, ideally something used which tire shops will generally sell. In the same situation I can't imagine finding a Toyo at any price to put on my rig.

Anyway, great story. I hope you got photos...

bitburger 04-14-2009 07:38 PM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
$359. :a5: Ouch!

Location, location, location, it's not just true in real estate. :a8:

I'm glad it worked out well. On your own that could have been cold and unpleasant.

Ed in Montana 04-15-2009 05:52 AM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
Gak! Two flats, my worst tire nightmare. I carried two spares to the Yukon and back in my old Dodge Dakota, but never needed them. I don't know whether I would carry two on the SMB, i would have to get rid of the Baja Box and or the bike rack.

Sounds like an interesting trip. I've camped at the Eureka Dunes several times and it is a spectacular place at dawn and dusk, if you can stand the scorching heat and sandstorms during the day.

pjpvi 04-15-2009 09:38 AM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
1 Attachment(s)
This was a great trip despite the unexpected ending. Although it was an incredible bummer that a Saline Valley Jumping Boulder pounced in front of Chris while he wasn't looking, we were lucky that he was able to find a tire in Lone Pine, get it mounted right at closing time, and retrieve the van in time to get back to Lone Pine for a nice steak dinner.

Chris's tires and my spare were both 33" although on different rim sizes. That shouldn't have mattered as my rim would have cleared his brakes. What was odd is that the bolt pattern on Chris's Quadvan conversion is ever so slightly larger than the bolt pattern on my SMB conversion. This I don't understand. I had done a quick measurement prior to trying to mount my spare on his van and it looked like the pattern was identical, but it wasn't.



As soon as some time frees up I'll organize some more photos from the trip and get them posted.

Phil

Ford_6L_E350 04-15-2009 10:21 AM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
It sounds like your van still has the van's 8x6.5" bolt pattern while Chris' van was converted to the pickup's 8x170mm bolt pattern. When a pickup front axle is used to do the 4wd conversion, it makes sense to convert the rear axle (spacers or redrilling) to the pickup bolt pattern. There are lots of pickup wheels available also.

Mike

pjpvi 04-15-2009 10:31 AM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
Since Chris's van uses what I think is all stock F350 drive train from the transfer case forward, that would make sense.

Christopher Thwaites 04-15-2009 10:44 AM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
I considered a used disimilar tire if necessary. But at $50 it seemed like all I would save is $50 and I'd rather not have to do all the dismounting and remounting. Had no BFG been available I wouldn't have hesitated. Ford_6L is correct. When Quadvan converts they use new F350 stuff all around to accomodate the larger brakes.

I will build a carrier for my front receiver and carry a second spare at some point. Had I not had my Jeep and/or another van with us I might still be standing around waiting for a ride with 75lb. flat tire.

I might add when we camped at the Dunes 3 cars came in with flat tires. One couple was clueless that their tire was even flat. They had no spare so I pumped up the tire with my compressor and the leak was so slow I think they should have made it back to Big Pine. Another guy had no jack so mine came in handy. The third fellow's spare was nearly flat so I pumped him up. You'd think my Karma would have been so good by then I'd have escaped any tire problems!!! HAH!

Thanks to Phil for the picture. In Phil's comforting words...."It's just human error". Duh!

Ford_6L_E350 04-15-2009 11:54 AM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
Your experience with 2 flats justifies my dragging the SMB trailer along. The trailer has two wheels/tires that match the van. If I have to, I can have 3 spares. Then I can either drag the trailer out on flat tires (maybe if I empty all the firewood out) or leave the trailer and come back for it. Since the trailer runs 15-20psi in the tires, I could probably drag it out on two flats if I empty as much as possible.

Mike

BroncoHauler 04-15-2009 02:22 PM

Re: Eureka Dunes, Steele Pass, Saline Valley
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Christopher Thwaites
...

I might add when we camped at the Dunes 3 cars came in with flat tires. One couple was clueless that their tire was even flat. They had no spare so I pumped up the tire with my compressor and the leak was so slow I think they should have made it back to Big Pine. Another guy had no jack so mine came in handy. The third fellow's spare was nearly flat so I pumped him up. You'd think my Karma would have been so good by then I'd have escaped any tire problems!!! HAH! ...

Just think, without all that good karma, you might have gotten four flats.


Herb


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