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Old 04-11-2010, 11:09 PM   #1
WoodWorks OP
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Escaping Soggy Oregon for Death Valley

After 40 days and nights of rain, I suspended work on the Ark and headed south for Death Valley. First was a 620-mile run down to Beatty, NV, so I lit out of Ashland before dawn, passing Mt. Shasta as the sun rose (behind rain clouds).



Heading down 89 I passed through the remains of winter near Dead Horse Summit.



Winter wasn't done with me though, as it started snowing soon thereafter, and it snowed all the way into Susanville, where I topped off the tank. I had all of my thermal clothing on, and the heated grips and vest were on high.

Passing through Reno and Fallon, I swung south on 95, passing Walker Lake and the Hawthorne Army Weapons Depot, with 11,000 ft. Mt. Grant still with a healthy head of snow.



Did I mention that it was cold?

Soon I was blasting into a fierce head wind as I crossed Nevada. Cruising along at 75 mph, the OBC on my normally 50 mpg F800GS told me that I was getting only 29 mpg.



But by 6 pm I was turning into the parking lot of the Beatty Motel 6, which was to be my base of operations.
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:14 PM   #2
hensons
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That sounds like a fun little ride. Id like to take a soggy off road trip in OR some time. I think id be a lot of fun!
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:38 PM   #3
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Waiting for more. I am itching to get back after a brief DV encounter.
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Old 04-12-2010, 04:57 AM   #4
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Love those DV reports!!

Let's go!
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:27 AM   #5
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In addition to escaping the Oregon rain, and getting in some great riding, I was hoping to spend some time on photography. So I got up before dawn and rode into the valley. But I must have brought some of my home state's weather with me. It was completely overcast. No sunrise pictures today.

They've obviously been getting some rain here. Lots of flowers on the eastern slope of the valley




And yeah, in Death Valley, that's a lot of flowers.

I was hoping to get some great sunrise pictures at the Devil's Golf Course, but even without good morning light, this place is always worth a few frames.





And it's not often you see this on your GPS:



Then, over to the Artist's Drive before breakfast.




Fortified with some fine French Toast and Bacon, I decided to try to tackle the ride over Chloride. I had never been over that loop before, and was a little leery of doing it solo. My SPOT device, which had served me so well on the Continental Divide, was in the shop for warranty repairs. So if I got stuck or injured out there, it may be a while before would anyone might find me. Still, I gave it a go. And almost made it over the summit before the bike got tired on a particularly difficult slope and had to take a nap.



You can imagine how much fun it was to pick up the bike and remount on that incline. But I did make it up and over, and whooped my way over some deep, sand-filled washes back out to the highway.



Then the obligatory visit to Rhyolite. (It is obligatory, isn't it?)





After zipping the short distance back into Beatty for more gas, I decided to tackle Titus Canyon. What a great ride that is. I was really on the throttle on the way up. But took it leisurely through the gorge. There was a lot of deep gravel near the bottom, and that kept me on my toes.





The plan was to finish the day out at the Racetrack, where I hoped to get some great sunset photos. But it was still overcast, and by the time I rode out past Ubehebe Crater (which was closed off due to road construction) the wind had really picked up. I checked my gas and figured that I'd barely have enough to make it out there and back to Beatty. But I'd be facing the same headwinds as the day before, and remembering what it had done to my mileage, I was less than sanguine about that.

Still I figured that I'd at least ride out to Teakettle Junction and see what it was like out there.

Almost immediately I began having second thoughts. The road was four inches deep in fine gravel. I was tired from navigating Chloride and Titus, was getting sand blasted, and every time I stopped the wind almost knocked me down. Along with the gas situation, and the missing SPOT device, it seemed like it was really pressing my luck to continue. So I decided to call it a day and return to Beatty.



You can sort of see the wind whipping up dust out on the playa.



The Racetrack isn't going anywhere, after all.
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WoodWorks screwed with this post 04-13-2010 at 10:18 PM
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:58 AM   #6
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:41 AM   #7
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:12 AM   #8
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Nice RR!

Count me in! Great photos.

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Old 04-12-2010, 11:18 AM   #9
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Nice RR!
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:39 PM   #10
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I there's in one place I want to ride before I die, is death valley! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:12 PM   #11
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I woke at 4:30 this morning to the sound of rain outside my window, which washed away any idea of getting up for a sunrise photo shoot. Instead I slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, and then rode up to Dante's View (5,600 ft. above the valley floor) to shoot this pano.



As you can see, the clouds had parted over the valley by then.

My plan was to ride west and then north over the South Pass (got all that?) into the Saline Valley. But I stopped first at the Mesquite Dunes to watch the cloud shadows pass over the sand.




To give you some sense of their size, that's a human standing on top of the big dune.



After topping off my tank in Stovepipe Wells, I started towards the Saline Valley. But clouds loomed on the horizon.



And as I crested the Panamint Range, drops of rain started spattering my face shield.



Looking north up the Panamint Valley toward the Saline Valley.



I sure as shit wasn't going to voluntarily ride into this.



And even near the turn-off onto Saline Valley Road, the view north was not enticing.

I decided to go to Plan B. Living in Oregon has taught me that bitching about the weather is useless. So file the Saline Valley in the same "Maybe Next Year" folder with the Racetrack.

So off to Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, where I hope to take some sunrise pictures of Mt. Whitney.

But as I approached Lone Pine, a single rider on a motorcycle appeared in the distance. As I caught up with him, he pulled over to the side of the road. I stopped to make sure he was OK, and it turned out that he had just pulled over for a chat with a fellow rider.



He's a Brit named Simon, riding his Africa Twin from Tierra del Fuego to Vancouver, and we spent a few minutes just talking bikes and travel on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. I invited him to swing by Ashland on his way north, and I hope he does. I bet he has some good tales of the road he could spill over a few beers.

We split up, me heading north, and he heading south over the Tehachapi to dip his toes in L.A. for a spell.

Closer to Lone Pine, I rode past what was Owens Lake. See: Water Theft, Los Angeles.



And then a quick reconnaissance trip through the Alabama Hills in preparation for sunrise tomorrow.



Here's hoping the weather finally cooperates.
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:36 PM   #12
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Great report and especially great photos. Nothing like the desert that begs to bring out CONTRAST in a shot. Well done, sir!
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Old 04-13-2010, 02:44 AM   #13
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Good read.

Thanks for sharing.

God Bless,
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:11 AM   #14
WoodWorks OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klarue
Great report and especially great photos. Nothing like the desert that begs to bring out CONTRAST in a shot. Well done, sir!
Thanks, Kevin. I've seen some of your photos. So I know that's a big compliment.

Too bad you couldn't come out to play. But as you can tell, the weather wasn't optimum. I guess I brought some of soggy Oregon with me.

David
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Old 04-13-2010, 10:10 PM   #15
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So the weather gods were merciful, finally. I rode up to the Alabama Hills at sunrise, and came away with this:



That's Mt. Whitney (14,505 ft. - 4,421 m), the highest mountain in the lower 48 states framed in the arch. I had to hike through the rock piles for about 30 mins. to to get here. And in order to frame the mountain I had to do a fair bit of bouldering in Sidi Discovery boots (not recommended!). But in the end, a worthwhile trek, I think.

After that task was accomplished, I headed for the barn, stopping only to view the tufa formations at Mono Lake.



And ride over two 7,000 and two 8,000 ft. passes.



Where I just about froze my ass off.

But there was rain and snow still to come, just as it was on the day of my departure.

Still, the bike, the gear, and I made it home relatively unscathed. I got kisses from my wife and two old dogs when I stepped through the front door of my house. As I like to say: the best day of any journey is the day I come home.

David
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