After missing the group trip to Death Valley earlier this year I decided that I should deffinatly make it there this year, even if only a short trip. We left early friday morning and check out the Desert tortortise sanctuary NE of California City. From there we made our way to Ballrat. I had really hoped to go up Pleasant Valley at least one way. I was told by a group that had just returned that the SMB was to tall as the trail was really grown over and thier jeeps had just made it under some really thick branches.
We decided to head up Mengel Pass instead. Towards the top we found a nice spot in the dead end trail just below the road to the Barker Ranch House. This spot was just barely accessable by SMB as we had about 5 inches clearance on each side of the walls going in.
The next morning we checked out Barker Ranch, site of Charles Mansons capture. We then headed for the pass. I was really suprised to find the pass was really quite a challenge. About 3 miles of so of in and out of 4wd low and a few times my wife Anna had to get out and spot me.
Here we are at Mengels's grave (above)
Here is the toughest part after Mengels grave
Negotiating the rocks
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There are two very nice cabins on the way down toward warm springs mine and we saw many burros. We camped at warm springs mine and enjoyed a very nice bath in the warm springs.
We left warm springs camp the next morning and headed toward Furnace Creek. When we stopped at Badwater I noticed the ATF was dripping from under the van. A quick glance revealed a power steering leak. I perfomend a field repair on the side of the road and we headed out of town. My original plan was to head up to Saline valley and spend a few days there. We stayed a little way off the road on the cut off to saline valley that nite but I realized in the morning that my small leak had gotten much worse and I now had no power steering at all unless I added fluid which would last about 20 or 30 minutes on blacktop. I decided to cut the trip short and return home. On the way home I stopped at the first ford dealer I found which was in Mojave. They did not have the hose and told me that no one else on my route did either. So I drove all the way home without any PS. I stopped occasionally to add some ATF. Not to have PS but to save the pump from destruction hopefully.
Here is the culprit. The HP hose from the pump is rubbing on the track bar. This should be a warranty issue with SMB as the damage is a result of the 4x4 conversion. I'll give them a call tomorrow and hopefully they can just authorize my local dealer to put in a new hose. Now it also needs a serpentine belt as it got totally soaked with spraying atf. I'll post the results of the repair in a different thread but we had a great time nonethe less.