Death Valley April 2002

On a whim I decided it was time to check out some of Death Valley.

It has been a place that was on my list of places to visit, just never got around to going there before.

After checking with the original snorkel group gang the timing was bad for them and so we ended up going with only one other 80 series. Juan and his friend Vic were able to sync up and so we headed to Mojave & Death Valley for an 8 day trip.

The following picture is at a campsite (Hole in the Wall) in the Mojave desert near the Mitchell Caverns. We arrived here after dark and I had no idea of what the area around us looked like (Juan had been here before). We set up camp with torches and a howling wind. We awakened to quite a spectacular surrounding and NO wind. That day we toured the Mitchell Caverns - fun for the kids who had never been in a cave before. Also a bargain, $3 per adult, kids free.

The following picture is a neat dirt road that connects from the Mitchell Caverns area to the Kelso dunes. It is a powerline road that goes through some interesting terrain. The picture shows the straightness of the road - check out the image in the mirror.

Camped at the Kelso dunes, Vic on the left and Juan on the right. Note Juan's right knee - just a little mountain bike incident...

My older son with his RC monster truck - kept him amused for days. In the background can be seen the Kelso dunes.

Here's my other son - enjoying the feeling of cool dune sand (near sunset) on his bare feet. Looks like he's having fun.

We went for a hike to the dunes in the late afternoon (Juan & Vic climbed to one of the peaks). The picture is a view looking back from the dune edge. The trees in the middle of the picture is where we set up our camp - the only trees around... That peak in the background was a handy reference when we hiked back - as it got darker and we were into the dunes the camp disappeared from sight.

Finally in Death Valley. We're at the southern end, the temperature was in the high 90's and it was time to air down the tyres to cope with the corrugations. We're around 150' below sea level and eager to gain some altitude and coolness!

An old talc mine near Warm Springs. The temperature was much nicer after climbing a few thousand feet.

Making our way to Mengel pass - my cruiser in the lead and just visible in the background is Juan's 80 waiting for me to finish taking pictures.

After negotiating some minor obstacles on the track we arrived at Mengel Pass. This was a fun start to our Death Valley trip.

Still on the same track - we ended up taking the wrong turn (unknown to us at this point) and came to a drop off that required the driver to put his trust into the spotter. My wife is trying to convince Juan that he isn't going to drive off a cliff - I know when I drove down I couldn't see anything but sky! A few minutes later we had to come back up again after finding this was a dead end - a lot easier to go up than down.

Getting ready to break camp in the morning - a photo op for a family portrait. This was one windy spot - we used the cruisers to shield the tents from the gale that blew through this spot the night before.

Near Sourdough Springs on the Goler Canyon Road. After locating the outlet pipe from this particular spring I found a decent length of polypipe and 'diverted' some of the water. 

The outlet of the polypipe provided plenty of amusement for my kids - and allowed me a quick hair rinse.

At the Lotus mine site - this old Heep didn't quite make it.

They certainly left a lot of gear when they abandoned this mine. This loader still had the batteries in place!

A view of the Lotus Mine area from higher up the mine. You can just make out the two cruisers in the exact middle of the picture (if you try real hard).

My wife appears quite happy at this point - our two kids must have been asleep ;-)

Newman cabin - in good condition. We're heading down Goler Wash at this point - quite a scenic track. These cabins are basically first come first served - most are in excellent condition and available for people to sleep in - I personally prefer my tent.

Getting into the canyon that Goler Wash follows. The road is in great condition and has spectacular scenery - including some spots that are maybe 10' wide with walls hundreds of feet high.

The airforce doing their training in the Death Valley area. While airing up our tyres we had one of these jets fly directly overhead at very low altitude - LOUD doesn't half describe it! I think they used us as an 'enemy' target to do a run on - or the pilot was curious to check out our two cruisers.

On the way up to Mahogany Flats you go past these kilns. They were used to create charcoal from the pinyon trees and were built about 100 yrs ago and only used for a few years and are thus in excellent condition. It's nice and cool inside and fun to listen to the reflected sounds - especially with two little kids experimenting.

We camped at Mahogany Flats (8100' elevation). The view is of the 'valley' - it is 100F down there and we're nice and cool up here!

At 8600' we found some snow which provided great entertainment for our little ones for several hours. Our eldest is using the snow to cool our drinks - before making snowballs and attacking his dad ;-)

Juan's 80 heading for Skidoo. The road follows the edges of some of the hills - we're on the road on the other side.

The Skidoo area - in the background can be seen the snow capped Sierras - and just below & behind us is the 'valley' - up here it was nice and cool. We headed down to Furnace Creek afterwards and it was 102F!

Furnace Creek in the early morning just before heading back home. Our youngest hanging out below sea level. This is not the lowest point - 280' below sea level.