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Old 03-19-2006, 09:21 PM   #1
levity OP
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DRs in Death Valley’s Dirty North

DISCLAIMER: NO DRAMA, JUST A SHORT REPORT W/ PICS.

We’d explored most of DVNP but had never visited Saline Valley Hot Springs. Last week DRxDR and I stayed at Mesquite Springs Camp near Scotty’s Castle so we could make a day loop through the some of the northernmost scenic valleys and passes. The ride would take us by Ubehebe Crater, the Racetrack, Lippencott mine, the Springs, Steel Pass, and Eureka Dunes. Estimated distance ~130 miles; estimated ride time uncertain and “incident dependent”.




March is usually an ideal time of year in DV, but a late winter storm was on the radar and we set out under cool, cloudy skies.
Here’s DRxDR on the road up from Ubehebe ……




and a bit further along in Racetrack Valley (just before Tea Kettle Junction).




Here’s the “Racetrack” dry lake and the “Grandstand” for watching the rocks do their thing.




The skies were clearing and Lippencott mine road afforded great views of the Inyo Mtns and Saline Valley.






Once down on the graded valley road we had the chance to play Dakar racers before arriving at the Salt Dry Lake.




The lower Hot Springs turned out to be quite the oasis.










The Lower Spring wasn’t flowing well, so the “bathing beauties” were all gathered at the Upper Spring.
As we rode through we realized how fortunate we’d been to have stopped for lunch at the Lower Springs.
Just be glad we didn’t take any photos!

We sped through with eyes focused on the rocky wash leading to Steel Pass, and didn’t look back or rest until we were a good ways up the canyon.
DRxDR was still composing himself.




After the long climb the saddle at Steel Pass was a welcome sight….




and led to a fun section with new vistas.




The wash entered a narrow canyon…..




with some small rock ledges…..




and eventually opened to a sweet view of the Eureka Valley between the Saline and Last Chance Mtn ranges.



The dunes look small from here but rise to ~700 ft. (tallest in California?).
The area is designated as the Eureka Sand Dunes National Natural Landmark.


The road out heads north then east through the Last Chance Mtns where the final pass of the day afforded a nice view into western Nevada.
(Crankshaft junction is just above the left mirror.)




Death Valley Rd returned us to Mesquite Springs after ~150 miles. We arrived back at 3:30 PM (7 hours ride time) so I guess we wasted a few hours of daylight.
Because the weather was cooling off we packed up and headed south to the Texas Springs Campground near Furnace Creek.
The storm eventually arrived and delivered rain in the valley and snow to the hills.




cheers, Larry


Last fall’s south/central DV ride report (DRZ and a GS-hack) is here.
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Old 03-19-2006, 09:40 PM   #2
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Dv

Thanks for sharing your Death Valley experience with us. The pictures are great. How were the roads and trails on the route that you took? Would they be gritty for a V-Strom?
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Old 03-19-2006, 10:17 PM   #3
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Very nice report Larry. Great pics too. I have got to get out there some day! Thanks.
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Old 03-19-2006, 10:21 PM   #4
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That loop is one of the best day rides anywhere IMHO. I love DV. Great pics.
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:26 AM   #5
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Excellent ride report and photos.

I especially loved the photo climbing up to the view of Eureka Sand Dunes. I noticed you guys were on dualsport tires. How did those do in the sand? The Auto Club map shows that route as being very rough, 4x4 only and not going all the way through. I can see the rocky sections but none of the photos looked impassable. Any tips?
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Old 03-20-2006, 06:36 AM   #6
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Excellent report and pics!

Thanks for posting! thumb
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Old 03-20-2006, 07:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by levity
DISCLAIMER: NO DRAMA, JUST A SHORT REPORT W/ PICS.




.


NO DRAMA - Great report!

Last week saddlebags and topbag came by UPS for a DR that I will be buying. Got the fever bad.

Thanks Larry for a preview of the dream.
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Old 03-20-2006, 09:02 AM   #8
levity OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoxusa
Thanks for sharing your Death Valley experience with us. The pictures are great. How were the roads and trails on the route that you took? Would they be gritty for a V-Strom?
It can be managed on big pigs (Popey did it on a GS!), but it would be a lot more work wrestling the extra weight around on some sections - we were tired enough handling the DRs.

Take your Z if you want to have fun, your V if you're on a tour and have plenty of time.
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Old 03-20-2006, 09:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregCifu
....I noticed you guys were on dualsport tires. How did those do in the sand? The Auto Club map shows that route as being very rough, 4x4 only and not going all the way through. I can see the rocky sections but none of the photos looked impassable. Any tips?
Hi Greg - I had MT21s (good) and Wayne ran 6006s (fair). Very little sand, but loose gravel and rocks on the hills are a less work the more traction you have. 606s or TKC80s would be fine. Main concern was punctures - lots of sharp rocks and over 100+ miles you can get bit. We kept the tires at 18psi to reduce the chance of pinches and put up with the harsh ride.

The sand behind the dunes was minimal. I think the Park service is trying to discourage two-wheel drive vehicles from going there - it's along way from nowhere if they have to get you out and its VERY hot in summer if you're stuck or disabled. The road does go through but is worse further up. The part missing on the AAA map corresponds to the short section of rock ledges shown in the photo - easy for a bike either direction, but a challenge for an SUV going up.
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:28 PM   #10
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Hi Levity, I was on the black DRZ that you met on Steel pass. That solved the mistry of the BMW hack at the dunes campground.

That was the third day of our ride. First day was Beatty to Jean (south of Vegas), second day, Jean to Beatty via south end of park,
Echo canyon, etc. Third day, Beatty to Eureka Dunes, Steel Pass, Past the springs and out the south end of Saline Valley to Panimint springs "resort". It was my birthday and I was looking forward to a major party.The new owners didn't have a liquor lisence yet. Bummer. Forth day Paniment to Saline road, Hunter Mt. ( lots of snow and mud) to tea kettle junction, race track, Scotty's castle for gas, hwy 267 to an old SCORE track to Rhyolite, and Beatty.

Great ride and a luck out on the weather. We got into a major blizzard in Goldfield on the way home on Sat. Semis chaining up,etc.

Nice to meet you guys, Duke
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Old 03-20-2006, 04:12 PM   #11
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Nice pics levity
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Old 03-20-2006, 04:34 PM   #12
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Gritty on a Strom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by motoxusa
Thanks for sharing your Death Valley experience with us. The pictures are great. How were the roads and trails on the route that you took? Would they be gritty for a V-Strom?
I guess it is "do-able" on a Strom, however in spite of having the crashbars, skid-plate, handguards and longer travel Wilbers shock on my Wee-Strom, I wouldn't want to do the rocky section from the hot springs to the top of Steel Pass. Additionally, I'd feel that the miles and miles of washboard surface would be beating the shit out of a bike built for the street and mostly smooth dirt roads. Ten to twelve inches of trave is a good thing and riding a bike that you don't feel bad about dropping raises the fun factor. wayne
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Old 03-20-2006, 05:29 PM   #13
Bachster486
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Great report for a day trip.

DR's rule.
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Old 03-21-2006, 10:26 PM   #14
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Howdy Larry,

Thanks for the report and the photos, I sure miss DV, we had a great time down there this year.
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Old 03-22-2006, 11:15 AM   #15
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Nice report and great views
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