deathvalley offroad day3

Day three: Furnace Creek to South Park canyon, death valley outskirts. 93 miles.
After a tough night on the dirt (scorpions, coyotes, flying bugs) we awoke pre-dawn and headed back to the general store for a quick pick-me-up of coffee and painkillers.  Packed a couple bagels too because our idea was to get the heck of out Death Valley and eat somewhere up in Warm Springs canyon - beat the heat by getting back up in the hills.  Plus all this civilization was nice, but, we prefer the outback.

Finally after a couple miles we get back on the dirt.   

This huge dirt highway takes us to southern DV - took us about 1/2 hour to get to Warm Springs turn-off. 

Shortly after leaving Death Valley proper, the feeling of getting stuck and broken down clouded over me.  Can't explain it but it was if the valley was trying to pull me back down, into the heat, and into the sharp rock studded road if possible.  The honda felt like the tires were flat and every small protruding rock went through my body as if I were curb hopping.
We made it to Warm Springs for water and bagels. (and some left-over BBQ chips)  The bikes were hot, and needed the shady rest.

Wasn't expecting quite the complex at Warm Springs.  Too bad its so run down, but I suppose it could have been worse.  If DV wasn't so uptight with their old cabins this place could have great potential as a adopted backcountry camp.  It had it all, multiple buildings, a warm spring, swimming pool, and landscaping.

I really appreciated this building's added on porch, screening, and overall masonry.   Something like this would be ideal on some land we own the next valley over.

Enormous fig trees.  These suckers were huge, and probably filled with pack-rats. 

 The spring ran just feet away from the pool. 

 Would be fun to camp out with this pool filled.  I'm sure that's a ticket-able offence though. 

James in the main living room checking about a warning regarding packrats.  Don't get him started with packrat problems! Along time ago someone put a lot of love into this place.

We left the springs and headed up to Butte Valley.  On the way I saw another tarantula so stopped this time for some pics.  I read that these things can live 10-20 years.  Impressive! 

Road up to Butte Valley smoothed out and got sandy - just what we like. 

Geologists cabin was taken so we snapped a couple photos and left.  Don't want to mess with anyone's privacy.  The next two cabins were open and free for exploration: Stella's and Russell's. 

Stellas was in fair shape with a smaller overflow cabin down below. 


Liked Russell's the best, even had shaded motorcycle stalls.  Good water here.

James got a kick out of this adjustable BBQ grill invented from someone's trailer jack.  DVNPS approved?  Not likely according to the laminated letters on the outside of Russell's explaining that minimal maintenance is allowed but no improvements of any kind.  Letters like these make me appreciate the BLM adopt a cabin program for what it is - but not when the BLM appropriates said cabins illegally. 

Reading about the laws of our lands! 

Always get a kick out of this ad.  If you read it closely it makes no sense!  Hopefully this trip report is a bit more lucid. 

 Great feel to Russell's - almost reminds me of our place back home over in the June Lake Crater Tract.  And a shower to boot.

Highspeed pass on Mengel pass. 

 Got sucked up between some rocks but emerged unscathed. 

There was a cairn on summit dedicated to Carl Mengel.  At the top we met up with another dirt bike group headed from Ridgecrest to Beatty.  I was impressed with their light baggage and minimal supplies - they in turn appreciated our almost flat front tires. 

Coming down from Mengel the road got real easy.  We wanted to stop by the Barker ranch but because it's now a ruined burnt out shell we opted out.

This boulder was tied off to the mountain, probably holding it up. 

Nice shady spot in Goler wash, perfect for a break and airing up. 

Airing up, don't need to repair a popped tube out here in the heat. 

Some surface water helped cool this micro-climate.  Appreciate that, thanks!

Now according to our map, the road up South park canyon looked flat -- but that was probably our error as everything on paper looks flat.  We were not expecting a hold-on-bucking-bronco ride up from the Panamint Valley floor.  I felt like I was getting my ass handed to me, plus it was hot -- putting the aircooled biked under a lot of strain.  What a better time to stop for some photos. 

Looking across the southern end of Panamint Valley, Trona, Great Falls, and Bainter spring right over the Slate Range.

 South Park Canyon - no road in it here.  The miners did a great job by-passing it. 

Looking north towards Ballarat. 

Again, 10 minutes later for another break.  Too many rock ledges.  If my older bike is going to blow up, now is the time. 

 The road wouldn't quit. 

 Now here's a real equipped back-country cabin - apparently we are outside of death valley national park.  Go figure. 

Inside the stone cabin, an artist by the name of Sourdough Stan captured this shot beautifully.  Second place runner up was the "sweet jimmy".  Custom urinal to the far left of the deck.

Speakers, stereo, electricity, propane, etc.  This cabin is fully loaded.  Notice the upturned broom!  Not just a decoration but fully functional too for sweeping packrats out the door. 

 Like the beds, beats sleeping in the dirt.  The telephone rings the occupants in the above cabin. We called them up at cocktail hour.

 Some of the beds had bunks, gets hot up there when folks play "blast furnace". 

Furnace creek bought Jager cooling down in spring water.  Smoked oysters and miscellaneous mix complement. 

 Reading some of the guest books before happy hour with the guests in the upper Briggs. 

 Later we met up with a crew staying up in the top cabin.  What a crazy bunch with lots of stories to be told.  All J's at that party if I can recollect.  John, James, Jeff, Jordan, Jen, and Jom.  They were from Riverside and sold tools, tended bar, flew homemade planes, and raced quarter mile.  (and also camped at Briggs off and on for the past 16 years) 
And guns?  Don't get me started!  Let's just say that we'd all be well armed in the event of an army of un-dead shambled up the canyon - (most likely the undead would come from Trona)
Earlier another traveler named Jim came down from up above with his wife.  They were in one of those rino things and topped off my brother's gas tank.  Thanks Jim from Carson City!  He also gave us insight to some single track back over in Fish Lake Valley, near Silver Peak.
After guzzling a lot of water it was time to turn in - physically beat, it wasn't a good idea to stay up too late and miss a sunrise departure.
It was easy sleeping, even through the phone ringing, high powered gun shot reports, packrats, donkeys, and then the 2 a.m. 4x4 just rolling through camp (late night Ballarat party crowd).  Actually the donkeys were the worst, coming down the cliff above the roof they sounded like drunks wearing steel high heel shoes.  At least none fell on the way to the water.
End of day three.