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Old 04-04-2009, 09:43 PM   #1
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Death Valley Group Run part 1-3

Here is a trip report that 4 of us took in late February and early March of this year. I must apologize for posting it so late. Iím not very good with computers and never did figure out how to link via attachments. Maybe one of these days Iíll get the hang of it. I did it the hard way and posted the pictures in my album. Next time I plan to post a link to my own trip report web site. Being I wrote it for my site, itís rather long (not a mini-report) so I put the report in parts to keep download times down.

For those of you who are lurkers, the pictures will not be visible. Joining the group is free so why not join the Forum? But for those of you who do not wish to join, this post can be viewed at my site here:

SMB Death Valley Run 2009: Nor-Cal to Red Rock Canyon State Park.

In early January CellularSteve sent me a PM inviting me to join him and a couple other fellow SMB owners to meet at Death Valley during late February and do some off roading in the park. Mengel Pass via Goler Wash was high on the list but anywhere around Death Valley was OK with me. The plan was to meet up at Ballarat and go from there. I contacted a friend who off roads with me frequently (Don) and we loaded up for the trip. Don and I have covered quite a bit of DV during the past few years but Mengel had eluded us during our past travels.
Being DV is a good 8 hour trip from Nor-Cal, we left out 1 day before the rest of the group. Red Rock State Park has always been a reasonable spot to layover at and helps to break up the long drive. We arrived about 4:30 PM and the wind was howling. No fire for us that night.

In the morning we had a little espresso and loaded up and headed out.

This was the greenest I have ever seen it here at Red Rock.

On the way out of the campground we hit a small trail called Iron Mountain that was kind of nice and well worth the drive. It starts off at the vista point (pictured above) across the highway from the entrance to the campground.

This area is similar to the background at the campground and very scenic. Being the drive short, the trail should not be missed if youíre in the neighborhood.

The trail is easy and probably doable with 2WD but there are a few spots that are fairly steep and sandy.

It starts off crossing a wash then follows it for a ways passing short bluffs here and there.

The trail has a spur (Nightmare Canyon) that leads closer to one of the cliff area. This region is closed off at certain times of the year due to disturbing birds of prey that roost in this zone.

The trail gets a little rougher toward the end but nothing bad during good weather.

This was about the steepest spot on the trail.

Overall itís a nice little run whether or not the trail into Nightmare Canyon is closed. We hit the asphalt and headed toward our Death Valley rendezvous.
(End of part 1).

2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

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Old 04-04-2009, 09:45 PM   #2
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Re: SMB Death Valley Group Run

Part 2: Off to Ballarat.

We were off to meet the group at Ballarat where we had planned to meet up. After we left out of the Red Rock area we passed the road to the Burro Schmidt Tunnel.
Steve had made the comment prior to the trip of the group going there to take a look. As we passed on by the entrance road we had no idea that Steve was actually there checking it out. Too bad; I have wanted to see it for some time now.

When we arrived at Ballarat no one was around. I shot a couple of pictures of the store and some old buildings that are in the local vicinity.

I told the storekeeper to tell any other vans who showed up that we were gonna head out to explore and would be back by dark. We checked out the so called campground. It was quite warm, around 70 degrees, and the insects were somewhat annoying. I donít think itís a very nice campground and would rather run up one of the local canyons if it was up to me. But this is a good spot to meet at and easy to find. When we returned to Ballarat sure enough we saw a couple vans with roof lights on that made the area look like some kind of top secret military site. I have got to get me some of those lights. Pulling up we met Steve (cellularSteve) and Jeff (myriadmyriad). It was nice to see some members in person. Steve had a BBQ fired up and Don broke out some of our brews. A few minutes later Craig (calclimber) drove up in his rig.

[Steve, Craig and Jeff]

Craig was accompanied by his buddy Dave while Steveís co-pilot and navigator on the trip was Tom. Jeff came by himself. We had a great time discussing everything about our vans, previous trips, and what we were going to do the next day. That night I gave the group a lesson in snoring, or so they said. MeÖ.Snore? I tried to blame the burros that were making noise all night but that didnít hold water.

In the morning while everybody else made a killer breakfast, Don and I had El Mucho Cup O Noodles while talking about what route to take. The spot we camped at looks kind of scenic, but here is really where we camped at:

(Picture by Craig)
Plans were starting to change. The consensus was that the recent rains might have washed out Mengel and the group decided to hit Cottonwood Canyon instead. I suggested that we take the drive through Wildrose and Emigrant Pass rather than the highway and everyone agreed. On the way out we all stopped before we hit Panamint Valley Rd. Steve wanted to reset his new winch rope and we all had to air up.

With the vans all lined up in a row a jet fighter plane flew over quite low to the vans. It seemed like he was taking a look at us.

Several jets flew over us while we were in the Panamint Valley. Itís common to see these ďair showsĒ this close to the China Lake Navel Weapons Center. I tried to snap off a couple of shots but the planes are on you before you know it. After airing up we were off to DV. Jeff suggested we take a look at Mosaic Canyon across from Stovepipe Wells. I donít think anybody but Jeff had been there, I know I hadnít seen it.

(End of part 2)
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:48 PM   #3
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Re: SMB Death Valley Group Run

Part 3: Ballarat to Mosaic.

The drive toward Wildrose is paved most of the way but at least itís more scenic than the highway. There is a length limit on the road and the map describes it as ďnarrow and windingĒ, neither of which is true. I donít understand the length limit at all.

The Emigrant/ Wildrose junction split.

Driving up the Emigrant Canyon Rd past Wildrose campground takes you to the Charcoal Kilns and a couple of campgrounds called Mahogany Flat and Throndike. The Charcoal Kilns are worth a look but Iíve been there. As far as campgrounds go, Wildrose is usually open year round but Mahogany and Thorndike are closed during winter due to their elevation of about 8100 feet. But we were headed the other direction toward Stovepipe Wells. From the split we still had to drive over Emigrant Pass (5318 ft) which also passes two other short drives; Augereberry Point and the Skidoo town site.

We stopped for a quick break at Skidoo but quickly headed toward the valley floor and Mosaic Canyon. Even though Mosaic Canyon is a tourist trap it is a very interesting walk. The road to it is a short spur off 190, west of Stovepipe Wells.

Jeff said he would stick with the vans while the rest of the group headed up the canyon.

The canyon is very narrow in spots, even narrower than Marble Canyon which Don and I visited the year before. We only had time to walk up a ways to get a few shots.

Tom, Craig, and Steve in the foreground. Don, Jeff, and Dave in the background.

After returning to the vehicles we talked a bit, had a beer, aired down, and left out for the store for beer and ice. For Gods sake, bring your own beer. In Death Valley they charge by the bottle for the good stuff. Over 24 bucks for a 12 packÖYIKES! We bought Mojave Red and Gold in Ridgecrest for a quarter of the price. BTW, I have to give a plug to Indian Wells Brewing Company. Fantastic brew! There located off highway 14, N/O the Inyokern junction and are open seven days a week. Iíve never been there but it would be a definite SMB group visit.

NOTE: Stovepipe Wells does not have diesel. If you need diesel fuel and youíre entering the park from the 395 area, get it at Panamint Springs on 190. Panamint Springs is about 18 miles south west of the 190/Emigrant Canyon intersection. From Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek is the closest place to purchase diesel but itís about 25 miles away.

(End of part 3)
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:54 PM   #4
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Re: Death Valley Group Run part 1-3

Death Valley Group Run Navigation

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