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Old 01-02-2017, 07:36 PM   #1
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Mono Lake, Alabama Hills and Death Valley

Ended up driving down the 395 and decided to take our time and stretch the legs of our new 4x4.

First up was Tahoe. First time driving in the snow with Big Clif and it was everything I had hoped for.

Stopped real quick in South Lake to let the pup play in the snow for the first time. Needless to say, he enjoyed it.

Continued down to Mono Lake

We drove around some of the 4x4 trails for a while, which would have been fine in 2wd since the sand seemed compact/frozen. Im sure in summer it's a different story. We parked for the night in a popular pullout.

We then hunkered down for the night. Temps were forecasted to hit low twenties, high teens so time for the espar to shine. I had only been able to test it in my driveway minimally, so i was interested to see how it went. Fired up fine and heated up the van wonderfully, but didn't seem to be kicking back on, so i decided now was the time to install the high altitude kit I had been needing to install. Nothing like on the road fixes in crunch time!

Installed it according to some sprinter forum pictures and all was well. Pretty sure i just wasn't waiting long enough, heater kicked on probably once an hour throughout the night.

Woke up early to catch the sunrise, and was greeted to a frozen windshield, on the inside! I had a window cracked to try and help with this, but apparently it wasn't enough.

Made it down to the lake only to find a half dozen cars with the same plan, no idea where they slept the night before, because no one was around us.

We packed up and took off heading south.

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Old 01-02-2017, 07:45 PM   #2
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While I was fixing the heater, my better half secured a dog watcher for the day and we we headed to mammoth. Greeted with cold beers, sunshine and perfect snow conditions.

Got in some good top of the mountain runs in, picked up the pup and continued on south to Alabama Hills. Before we took off, I had downloaded Gaia GPS and we followed the trails around Alabama Hills for a while. We were originially looking for a spot posted here, but it was getting late and we found a nice secluded spot that would do for the night.

Woke up and walked around with some coffee, taking in all of the different shapes and sizes of formations on offer.

Then continued to Panamint Springs

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Old 01-02-2017, 07:55 PM   #3
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We were really winging this trip as we went along, and it finally showed a little in Panamint Springs. Service ended very quickly between Alabama Hills and Panamint Hills and we figured we would use the resorts Wifi to do some quick research as we filled up with fuel.

2 Problems. Diesel was $5/ gallon and wifi was down. Luckily we only needed half a tank, 20 gallons. Never thought $100 would ever only get me a half tank haha. Unable to download the Gaia maps for offline use, i was happy to have my paper map that I had purchased before Gaia when starting to want to do a trip here.

After seeing all of the pictures from teh groups recent trip to racetrack, we set off on our way. I did have Google maps downloaded for offline use, but thought I remembered the way that the group had went.

Long story short, I was wrong and we turned around when we we got to Hunter Mountain. The snow, mud and steep cliffs were too much for the passenger and it was a wise decision to turn around.

We had fun in the mud and it clearly did not get our spirits down.

We looked for some 4x4 trails close by and were not disapointed

We were too busy on our first real 4x4 roads to take many pictures, but we were slowly gaining confidence and having a lot of fun doing so.

We headed back to Panamint Springs and happily paid the $15 for the spot and more importantly, a nice hot shower.

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Old 01-02-2017, 08:08 PM   #4
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Woke up nice and early to get a full days of fun in. Making coffee on the rear bumper just seems so right.

The kindest gentleman came over asking about the fuel cans on the rear bumper box and next thing I know I have my map on the table and he was spilling some of Death Valley's secrets. We thanked him and headed out searching for some mines close to Panamint Springs.

Went down a longer, tougher road and had a great time going over rocks and eventually up a decent sized hill. Stopped and hiked to the top.

all sorts of cool stuff awaited at the top.

We kept pushing on and stumbled upon what would end up making the trip. Earlier in the morning the guy had mentioned cabins existing that were publicly maintained and if there was no flag flying, they were yours for the taking that day. My wife was thrilled that it seemed the bumpy rides were over for the day.

We then spent the next several hours hiking up the hills behind the cabin looking at the large operation that was once going on.

We had a great night playing board games in the cabin next to the wood burning stove. Truly a night that we will never forget.

Woke up early at sunrise again and headed off to the nex adventure.

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Old 01-02-2017, 08:16 PM   #5
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We then headed to Stovepipe Wells, and got enough service to find out that Titus Canyon had just opened up the day prior, so off we headed.

Had a wonderful time on the 26 mile run. Ate lunch in the canyon and enjoyed being surrounded by the steep walls.

We then decided to start making our way towards home. But not before a visit to hole in the wall, never really found it, but this was the first time the wife took the wheel. Boy did she love it and proclaimed she finally realized why i could drive around in circles all day offroad.

Made it to the end of the 6 mile trail and hiked around the "amphitheater" a little.

We went thru 20 Mule Team trail before pounding some pavement towards home.

Overall we had an excellent time and cannot wait to get back to Death Valley. THe magic Agile did with the 4x4 conversion was amazing. Had no problem on any trail and drove like a dream at 80 mph on the highway. Cheers!
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Old 01-02-2017, 08:30 PM   #6
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Awesome pics! So jealous! Especially jealous about coffee on the bumper! So great that you and your wife get out and enjoy backroading together. Cool,Cool!

Any idea what they were mining out of that mountain?
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Old 01-02-2017, 08:57 PM   #7
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Nice "new" rig and great TR! Thanks for sharing.
2005 E350 RB 6.0 PSD for extended fun
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Old 01-02-2017, 09:07 PM   #8
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Excellent trip report. Looks like you guys are living the dream!

Thanks for sharing

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Old 01-02-2017, 11:46 PM   #9
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Great trip report... I love those areas. Thanks for posting.
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
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Old 01-02-2017, 11:56 PM   #10
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Looks like you had a great time. Thanks for posting.

Read detailed trip reports, see photos and videos on my travel blog,
Current van: 2002 Ford E350 extended body camper with Colorado Camper Van pop top and Agile Offroad 4WD conversion.
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