Death Valley - Thanksgiving 2018

4runner DOA

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#1
I suckered @Itaro and his family plus @Airdog to join me in my annual Death Valley Thanksgiving run. This is the 3rd year in a row that I've done it and the 3rd time I've run a totally different itinerary. Each year has had it's ups and downs and this year was no different. I can't thank the guys and their families enough for coming out because without the people I wheel with, it just wouldn't be the same.

We started out Sunday afternoon after @Itaro got off work. We met @Airdog off the 395 with our planned camp spot for the night in Trona. We figured it would be a good half way location and easier than trying to find a place near Death Valley to camp since we knew it would be dark when we got there. Our original plan was to leave Monday morning at the ass crack of dawn but schedules worked out and we were able to start a day early. No need to rush.

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Leaving Trona we headed north and stopped in Olancha for gas, snacks, and more firewood before heading to Cerro Gordo. I have to say that I'm glad we got to see it before they turn it into a fucking hipster hotel. Not even 5 minutes after pulling up we were approached by a guy offering a guided tour for 10 bucks a person. Fuck that. A) I'm not paying for a fucking tour. If I want the history I'll Google it. B) There are satellite dishes on a couple of the main building now C) There were packages that said bed frames on them piled in front of the building. If you haven't been, get out soon, because it won't be worth it. Oh yeah, there's a fucking gift shop there too. Whole lotta nope.

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After Cerro Gordo we headed down the back side to White Mountain Talc Rd that would lead us into Saline Valley. That side is definitely not maintained and it had it's sections, but nothing the 3 of us couldn't handle. Pretty steep (pay attention because steep is key) on the way down but eventually we made it to our lunch spot at Wilson Ranch.

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With lunch done, our camp for the night was to be up near Racetrack at the Homestead Dry Camp. Our initial route was going to be via Hunter Mountain to Teakettle to Racetrack to camp. My hope was to hit Racetrack near sunset because it's a great photographic location when the sun is going down. Shortly before our turn off for Hunter @Airdog got on the radio to say he was stopping for a picture (it was quite scenic at the stop) About 30 secs later @Itaro came on saying he lost his brakes.... wtf? I wasn't sure I heard it right so I asked if I needed to turn around and got a stout yes. Did I already mention steep? Because what we were headed towards was a little bit more hairy than coming down out of Cerro Gordo.

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Fortunately we were going uphill at the time and the spot @Airdog decided to take a picture at was a turnout. @Itaro had sheared his hard brake line at the caliper and was leaking brake fluid everywhere. Rig up, tire off, fluid clamp and we got to work figuring out what was next. @Airdog decided to flare out the broken piece as best he could to make a trail fix while I scouted ahead for potential "close" camping spots. Nothing close enough so we finished up the trail repair, bled the brakes, and found we were good for the minute with no leaks. Quick conversation later we decided that @Airdog would make the trip back to Ridgecrest for parts while @Itaro and I slowly headed back down hill to the intersection where we had lunch since I had seen a fire pit there earlier. That ended up being camp for the night and @Airdog was the savior for the trip by getting bendable brake lines that we used to complete the repair the next morning.

Since we got skunked on our initial route, we headed out early(ish) the next day. Ran up Hunter Mountain, saw Hunter Cabin, Lost Burro Mine, Teakettle Junction, and Racetrack. I showed the guys where I had planned on camping the night before and we had lunch with a great view over Racetrack. I was a little pissed to find that our teakettle from my original trip 2 years prior was missing. It seems that it gets cleaned up once in awhile and most of them were 2017 and 2018. Sucks but I'm glad I have the original picture floating around somewhere.

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(the group from left to right: Robbie (my son) @Airdog Gavin (@Itaro son) @Itaro Brenna (@Itaro step daughter) and Stacey (@Itaro wife)

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After lunch we headed down Lippincott Rd. Compared to running it 2 years ago it really wasn't too bad. Couple of the corners were washed out but otherwise nothing that was going to make you fall off the road. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures down that stretch. In fact I stopped taking pictures after we hit Racetrack apparently. I still have to look through my son's camera and see if he got anything else. Hopefully @Airdog or @Itaro managed to get some from the rest of the trip.

Out of Saline Valley we headed to Panamint Springs Resorts for gas and supplies before heading south with a quick stop at Father Crowley's lookout to check for jets, bathroom breaks, alignment issues, and random noises that suddenly appeared. While checking out some noises on the side of the road we had a fly over which was pretty fucking cool. We got raped for gas, snacks, and beer at Panamint and headed down into Ballarat with the sun going down minute by minute. Got to Ballarat and scored some moonshine before deciding to head into Goler Wash and make Barker Ranch our camp for Tuesday night. Great place to camp, but don't tell anyone what it is until morning if you camp there at night. My son got super freaked out so I had an early night in the tent with him.

Weds morning found us wrapping up Goler Wash and cruising over Mengel Pass. Pretty rocky (again no pics, damnit) but doable on both sides in 2wd unlocked with high clearance. That was basically the extent to any technical road we did and it was fun. Our goal was the Geology Cabin since I'd stayed there the 2 years previous, but unfortunately we found it taken for Weds night and we ended up taking over Russel Camp. Much cleaner than it was in prior years so it worked out. @Airdog split home out through Butte Valley at that point and so we were left to our devices. @Itaro son was running a fever and we scored some ibprofin from a fellow camper but we knew that it was probably going to be our last night instead. So out came the food, the beers, and the moonshine.

Early Thanksgiving was a blast. I got super hammered, fell off a boulder, fell into the fire twice, burned my hand, burned the side of my gun (I was headed to bed and it was in my hoodie pocket when I fell in the fire), and quickly passed out once we made sure the fire was done. Weds night brought us torrential downpours and Thursday morning brought us wild winds. I spent a lot of Thursday morning hiking up and down the hill collecting RC truck parts, chair bags, and whatever trash I could grab from the wind tossing it around. Packed up in the morning. Swung through Geology cabin so Johnston's family could see it and ended up finding a dude's wallet in a jacket hanging on the door. Checked out Warm Springs Cabin and some mines on the way out of Butte Valley, then high tailed out back to pavement with a stop in Baker for a late lunch before heading home.

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All said and done we did 724 miles round trip (from my house back to my house, maybe a little more for the other guys) and roughly 177 miles of dirt. @Airdog might have a more accurate dirt count but I should be close. It was a great week with great friends. You can't go wrong with dirt, exploration, family, and booze.

Side note: We found the guy who's wallet we found on Linkedin. I got a hold of him and mailed him his jacket and wallet. I lost my own wallet years back and it got turned in so it was the least I could do to return his. From what he told me they were too far to turn around by the time they realized it was missing and while I trust most of my fellow off roaders and travelers, the national parks have become inhabited by some not so savvy people that may have returned it. Glad I could help a brotha out.
 

AssBurns

will wheel for beer
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#3
Sounds like an awesome trip! One of these years I’ll have to get out there with you guys. But more dirt miles for sure! I really wanna do some high speed long distance offroad trips. Like 100+ miles a day.
 

AssBurns

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#4
So when you are out there it’s not all dirt all weekend? There is a lot of road/highway driving in between spots or what?
 

4runner DOA

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#5
Sounds like an awesome trip! One of these years I’ll have to get out there with you guys. But more dirt miles for sure! I really wanna do some high speed long distance offroad trips. Like 100+ miles a day.
I could have put a lot more dirt in, and there was a good speed stretch on the way out, but I didn't want to cram too much in on this trip.
 

AssBurns

will wheel for beer
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#6
I could have put a lot more dirt in, and there was a good speed stretch on the way out, but I didn't want to cram too much in on this trip.
Yeah I get that. Sometimes it’s nice to have a more relaxing trip with more exploring involved. I’d really like to do the Mojave Rd in a day trip this season. At 138 miles, it should be fairly easy to do it all in a day with an early start (assuming no breakages), right?
 

4runner DOA

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#7
Yeah I get that. Sometimes it’s nice to have a more relaxing trip with more exploring involved. I’d really like to do the Mojave Rd in a day trip this season. At 138 miles, it should be fairly easy to do it all in a day with an early start (assuming no breakages), right?
You can easily run Mojave Rd in a day. It's 90% high speed. Figure 3 hours with not a lot traffic. Lots of graded road, couple sandy and rough sections, water crossing. There's a lot out there to explore too. We probably did 200 miles of dirt last April.
 

AssBurns

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#8
You can easily run Mojave Rd in a day. It's 90% high speed. Figure 3 hours with not a lot traffic. Lots of graded road, couple sandy and rough sections, water crossing. There's a lot out there to explore too. We probably did 200 miles of dirt last April.
Is it really that easy of a trial? I always thought it was like a legit trail all the way, but if it’s more of just a dirt road, then that’s way less fun. I’d still like to check it out though. I guess I can watch some YouTube videos and get an idea of the terrain. My long term goal is to do some trips like the guys from Expedition X Offroad are doing where they are doing legit trails and 200+ miles a day at higher speed desert stuff in built rigs (mostly raptors). That kind of stuff would be a blast to just haul ass through Baja n shit for a full 5 days and rack up a ton of dirt miles. Maybe if @4Running Daily ever finishes his LT kit... :flipoff:
 
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#9
Is it really that easy of a trial? I always thought it was like a legit trail all the way, but if it’s more of just a dirt road, then that’s way less fun. I’d still like to check it out though. I guess I can watch some YouTube videos and get an idea of the terrain. My long term goal is to do some trips like the guys from Expedition X Offroad are doing where they are doing legit trails and 200+ miles a day at higher speed desert stuff in built rigs (mostly raptors). That kind of stuff would be a blast to just haul ass through Baja n shit for a full 5 days and rack up a ton of dirt miles. Maybe if @4Running Daily ever finishes his LT kit... :flipoff:
That sounds a lot like the Desert Assassins Trail of Missions trips to see all of the missions and points of interest on their way down to Cabo. It has a mix of technical trails but mostly high speed dirt roads.
 

4runner DOA

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#10
Is it really that easy of a trial? I always thought it was like a legit trail all the way, but if it’s more of just a dirt road, then that’s way less fun. I’d still like to check it out though. I guess I can watch some YouTube videos and get an idea of the terrain. My long term goal is to do some trips like the guys from Expedition X Offroad are doing where they are doing legit trails and 200+ miles a day at higher speed desert stuff in built rigs (mostly raptors). That kind of stuff would be a blast to just haul ass through Baja n shit for a full 5 days and rack up a ton of dirt miles. Maybe if @4Running Daily ever finishes his LT kit... :flipoff:
Yeah it's that easy. @BandanaBerg has videos of our weekend. We did it in 4 days but we tooled around and checked shit out each day.
 

4runner DOA

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#14
Killer looking trip. I really need to do dv in my truck once
It's always a lot of fun. I have so many roads and features I still need to go explore. Got to write off a couple routes this year that I hadn't done yet, which was nice. It's about time to start exploring the middle of the park next trip out.
 
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#15
It's always a lot of fun. I have so many roads and features I still need to go explore. Got to write off a couple routes this year that I hadn't done yet, which was nice. It's about time to start exploring the middle of the park next trip out.
Maybe I'll be ready for it next year. Bit scared to take an old highly modified truck that far this year.
 

theesotericone

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#20
Yeah I logged each day on Locus Maps Pro. I used to run it on my Nexus 7 but those both died so I picked up a Samsung Tab A for 99 bucks and threw a 64gb card in it.
Nice.

Speaking of recording tracks. I always use Backcountry Nav Pro on my Pixel XL. I have been looking at 8" tablets to use instead. Amazon had the Fire HD 8 for 50 bucks over Black Friday. I picked one up. Guess what 50 buck tablet doesn't have a GPS chip? FML. Lol
 

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