Death Valley Dirt instead of Turkey
A few years ago, I went to Death Valley over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and head a great time. I decided to do this every year. So I did for one year in a row and ended up doing some family stuff the last 2 years. This year I got a chance to go back.
My WeeStrom has a blown fork seal so I decided to take the DR350 up on a truck. The Dr350 is much easier to ride in dirt anyways. I loaded it onto the truck and set off later than I should have as usual. I got to Panamint Springs resort on Wednesday before thanksgiving at Sunset. Too late to ride after setting up camp. About a third of the campers at Panamint Springs were riders, most of the rest were jeepers an photographers. O'Hooligan (Gerry), his wife, and another inmate came by and said hello. Gerry also has a DR350, but his died on him at the Charcoal kilns and had to be trucked back to camp.
Thursday morning ride was to the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells. This was all pavement, about 30 miles. I wanted to go to Zabriskie point to get a sunrise picture, but slept in too long to get there before sunrise. It turns out there is a good spot at the dunes to take pictures right near the parking lot.
The little sand berm with dead trees on it was perfect and I arrived just as the warm morning light hit the dead wood.
I think many photographers pass this up and hike a few miles in looking for that perfect dune picture. It's easy to miss good photo opportunities if you are focused on the classical locations.
Rather than hiking into the dunes for 2 hours to find pristine sand with no human footprints, I decided to walk around the lower dunes. There were a lot of photographers about the dunes, but few on the lower dunes. Walking about, I found another dead tree that looked like it might make a good subject.
Here is something interesting
It looks like some dry mud puddles partly exposed from under the sand dunes.
These brushy trees grow in the transition region between the valley floor and the Sand Dunes.
Some areas there were small animal tracks in the sand.
I circled back to the parking lot though the transition zone between valley floor and and the sand dunes. Not many footprints here as most people go strait into the dunes int he direction of the tallest one.
Next, I headed to Titus Canyon.
Hi, RandyM...Great pictures...waiting for more !! Myself and Mr. redninja were there when Gerry and Jonathan were tearing into the bikes for the parts swap......that was something to see, for sure!
Yep, haven't seen any RandyM stuff in awhile, and it's always good stuff...
Yeah, good to see a RandyM trip...always good stuff. :thumb
Nice, especially that first pic is very striking! :thumb
Want to tell how grateful I am to Randy, he volunteered his bike parts so we could pinpoint what was wrong with mine. It was a CDI unit which meant my riding trip was over, but his generosity enabled me to know exactly what the problem was. Here's a shot of the swaperoo in action.
Thanks again Randy
The next desitination is Titus Canyon. I have never been there before and everyone who goes to death valley talks about it. You have to ride out of the park into Nevada to get to the start of the road to the canyon. It's an easy ride through a nice area of the desert.
I am carrying a 2 gallon Rotopax can on the back of my DR350. I have been messing with the plumbing for my gas tank and have not checked the range since putting a pumper carb on the bike. One of my goals for the day was to run out of fuel and then run out the reserve. At this point I had about 60 miles on the odometer.
The road to Titus Canyon was easy and well graded. A careful rider could do it on a street bike. The scenery started out plain but got better as we got closer to the canyon.
Before long I came to Leadfield.
Leadfield was a mining boom town that grew based on false advertising. All that is left are a few shcks and foundations.
I walked across the wash to the town site. This corugated steel roofing was widely used in desert mining towns. Tin Roofing and piles of tin cans in washes are common at old ghost town sites and old mining camps.
Inside, not much is left.
A small shed beside the larger structure.
There were some foundations, mines, and a couple shacks nearby.
I didn't linger long since I wanted to get back to Panamint SPrings for the Thanksgiving Dinner. After a few minutes I got back on the road heading to Titus Canyon.
I had a helmet camera going in Titus Canyon but it was not set up right and ended up filming video at 45 degress off the horizon. The video file is mostly useless but I scavanged a few frames to post. I should have stopped to take still pics.
Overtook several rental jeeps.
I stopped and chatted with a hiker who walked in about a mile from the mouth of the canyon. Titus Canyon is a one way road from Nevada to the the mouth of the canyon in Death Valley. It looks like most visitors park at the mouth of the canyon in the valley and walk in a few feet then get back in their car. This hiker was the only person on foot that I saw that was not within 50 feet of their car.
You don't have to walk far to get away from the holiday crowd at Death Valley.
My Take on the trip
Got toether with Randy and another guy, I dont recall his name. They were both on the smaller bikes.
Took them on the Hunter Mouuntain, Teak Kettle, Lippencott loop.
Crusing down the straightaway
stopped at the cabin on Hunter
Made it to the junction
End of Lippencott
Waiting at the crossroads for the others.
Basically, the ride was pretty good, the only hard part was the washed out section of South Pass. I was actually very surprised that the little bikes were not waiting for me most of the time. I think in the entire loop only one drop took place by another rider at the S Pass washout.
Not much of a ride report, it was fun loop and we made pretty good time. Good group to ride with.
Hi Dave, Thanks for posting up your pics. It was Marty (mwolff) on the DRZ400 with us. Hope your knee is doing better.
Thanks, your DV reports have been an inspiration to me!
I just connected your faces to your posts. Hope you had a good time in DV.
Great pictures, thanks for sharing. Much better riding than in July eh? :rofl
After Titus Canyon I went back to Panamint springs for the Thanksgiving dinner. Every year they serve a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. My last Thanksgiving dinner in Death Valley involved eating cold spam in the dark. The dinner was pretty good. It was more like a home cooked meal than a restaurant meal. No pics because I forgot my camera.
Later I brought my DR350 over to O'Hooligan's camp site so we could swap parts and figure out what went wrong on his DR. It turned out to be the CDI box which meant there was no hope for fixing it over the weekend. Must be a bummer driving out so far just to get half a ride in.
I met Dave (DSM8) and Marty (mwolff), a few other riders, and lots of other nice people that evening. A lot of people came by an talked about motorcycles, Death Valley, and photography. Thanksgiving campers seem to bring a different atmosphere than the typical summer campers. I think going to a national park on Thanksgiving is really outside the normal box that most people live in. I wonder what Christmas is like.
Dave found out Friday morning that a riding buddy was not going to make it up so Dave, Marty and I got into a group to go to hunter mountain. I did get a few pictures on the ride.
Dave at Hunter cabin
Not much inside hunter cabin, but a neat rest stop anyways.
Outside the cabin one of the guys noticed that my license plate came loose and was hanging by one bolt. We removed it and zip tied it to the tool bag on the back. No taillight now.
Some good vistas on the road between Hunter Cabin and Hidden Valley.
We were going to take the short side road to Lost Burro Mine but we apparently missed it. We were moving through hidden valley fairly fast. Stopped at Teakettle Junction. There wee only two teakettles hanging off the sign there, apparently the ranger remove them every now and then. I wonder what they do with them? I picture a warehouse full of teakettles somewhere.
Marty spotted an expensive looking flashlight that fell out of a passing car. Dave caught up to them easy enough in the 990 and returned it to them. Good deed for the day. We made a brief stop at the racetrack then went to Lippencot.
Top of Lippencot.
Marty at just before the hardest part.
Most of lippencot looked a lot like the photo above, babyhead rocks and a few bigger ones. The hard part is a 100 yard or so long steep section that has a lot of rocks and holes dug out be jeeps spinning their tires. Really it is not to bad going down on a small dual sport but it was probably a handful for Dave on the 990. We got through there without major incident.
We knew south pass was washed out but we had conflicting reports on how bad it was. Dave had hurt the back of his leg on his passenger peg and I didn't have a tail light, so we wanted to get back to camp before dark. We took off toward south pass and I was last. Before long I heard and awful sound coming from my rear tire.
Broken chain guard
The chain guard must have been hit by a rock or something. I removed it and tied it to the back of my bike and was back trying to catch up in less than 5 minutes.
As we got into south pass there were many washouts on the road. Mostly, these were perpendicular to the road and just had to be crossed. Most amounted to riding down a small step crossing some sand and a few baby-heads then a small dirt step back up to the road on the other side. No Problem if you keep up some momentum. After crossing one of these washouts there was a short climb up a section of very washed out road. This time the washed out was to the right side of the road. The left side was the obvious choice of line since it was mostly dirt and the right side was mostly rocks. The problem was that the left half of the road was cambered down into the rocks. At about halfway up my rear tire slid down toward the rocks and manged to overtake my front, leaving the me on the ground and the tires pointing uphill. Fortunately DR350s are fairly light and I got it picked up easy. I regret not taking a picture here but i didn't think of it. Mostly I wanted to catch back up to the others. It took a few minutes to get the bike up to a good enough place to get it going again.
After a few minutes I saw Marty and Dave riding back to look for me.
Last pic of the day was from south pass.
So that was my group ride. Dave was heading out due to hurting his knee and Marty was moving to Furnace creek for a few days. One more solo ride day for me.
That's right where I had to wait for the wind to calm down on my last trip, I didn't want to get knocked over on the big 1150.
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Here is the MEAL: Best food ever! Turkey, ham, potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, coleslaw, apple salad, cranberries, green beans, roll, beverage, and dessert.
The view whilst dining:
You don't have to dress up, and there are no Family Dramas......I give it 5 Stars, for sure!!
Cant think of a better place to be and see no reason to look anywhere else.
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