Forum Index > Trip Reports > Valley of Death, again [PART 3] 1/29-2/03 2015
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Gimpilator
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PostTue Mar 24, 2015 4:21 pm 
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Back to Death Valley for more desert fun!  We had a half day starting out so we stopped to hike up Ord Mountain in the Mojave.  It's a road hike and not super-exciting.  But I was excited to see that Gerry Roach and his wife Jennifer were the last people to sign in, just 4 days prior.  I also noted nearby East Ord, a DPS peak I hope to do in the future.

Ord road walk
Ord road walk
Ord register
Ord register
Gerry Roach entry
Gerry Roach entry
Eric Noel entry
Eric Noel entry
descending Ord
descending Ord

We drove on to the Eureka Valley.  Previously we had attempted to access the Eureka Dunes from the southeast, but that road proved to be too long and too annoying with washboard.  This time we drove through Lone Pine and Big Pine which was much nicer.  We camped near the dunes and then hiked up them the next morning.  It was predicted that this day and the following would be overcast with a slight chance of rain.  The lighting on the Eureka Dunes was  not conducive to photography, but we still enjoyed hiking up and measuring the various high points with a GPS.  We also saw the specific primrose which is endemic to the area.

Eureka camp
Eureka camp
ascending Eureka Dunes
ascending Eureka Dunes

We came to a spot along the sandy ridges where some black sand had mixed with the white and then wind had created an amazing pattern.  It reminded me of the storms on Jupiter.

sand patterns
sand patterns
Sandy Peak behind the dunes
Sandy Peak behind the dunes
storms on Jupiter
storms on Jupiter

When we were done playing in the sand we drove up to the pass north of Sandy Point and hiked from there south along the ridge to the summit of Sandy Point.  It's a long distance with several ups and downs.  Not really an interesting route, but we imagined that it might have nice views of the High Sierra if there had been less clouds.  We did have a good view to the south though of Tin Mountain and Dry Mountain (future hit list) as well as the Eureka Dunes down below.

ascending Sandy
ascending Sandy
Sandy
Sandy
Sandy register
Sandy register
Sandy summit
Sandy summit
Eureka Dunes below
Eureka Dunes below
Dry Mountain and Eureka Dunes
Dry Mountain and Eureka Dunes
descending
descending

The following day we climbed another peak across the road, Last Chance Mountain which at 8456 feet is the high point of the Last Chance Range.  We followed a wash to a ridge passing a lot of mining operation debris.  One mine adit was large and inviting.  I had been hoping to find a few mines to explore in Death Valley but up until this point, they had all appeared unstable or blocked off.  Heather had no wish to enter the mine however, so I didn't follow it to the very end.  It was still fun.

road to Last Chance
road to Last Chance
Heather waits
Heather waits

We continued to the end of the wash and then climbed up to a saddle from where we followed the ridge to the summit with several ups and downs along the way.  The wind was very cold on this early morning and we crossed a few patches of snow.  I found it sort of humorous when I saw a cactus poking up out of the snow.  Again, we could see Tin and Dry mountains to the south, but now with a lot of fresh snow visible.

the wash
the wash
Last Chance
Last Chance
Last Chance summit
Last Chance summit
Last Chance register
Last Chance register
Tin and Dry to the south
Tin and Dry to the south
Dry
Dry
very cold wind
very cold wind
Saline Valley
Saline Valley

After returning to the car we drove north to Chocolate Mountain aka Piper Peak.  It was a short easy hike with a good view of White Mountain Peak to the north and Mount Tom to the west.  Our initial attempt to follow the road and trail failed so we just followed a wash to an upper ridge then found another road higher up which led to the final trail.    We enjoyed plenty of chocolate on the summit of Chocolate.  smile.gif

Chocolate
Chocolate
White Mountain Peak
White Mountain Peak
Last Chance
Last Chance
benchmark engraving
benchmark engraving
Chocolate summit
Chocolate summit
Chocolate register
Chocolate register
enjoying chocolate on Chocolate
enjoying chocolate on Chocolate
Mount Tom
Mount Tom
some snow on the descent
some snow on the descent

The next day we hiked up Towne Benchmark which had a sign on the summit "Mount Knight".  Along the way we spotted a small crashed aircraft on a separate ridge.  This peak was somewhat frustrating.  Along the initial ridge, large volcanic rocks made for slow travel.  The upper route was pleasant though.  I was surprised to see that Grant Meyers and his wife Nettie were the last people to sign in before us, just 3 day prior.  Across the valley from where we parked, the west face of Pinto was inviting.  Some day I'd like to go up that way.

southeast ridge of Towne
southeast ridge of Towne
upper Towne
upper Towne
Maturango
Maturango
Knight?
Knight?
Towne benchmark
Towne benchmark
DPS Towne register
DPS Towne register
John Stolk entry
John Stolk entry
Grant Meyers entry
Grant Meyers entry

After Towne we drove around to Telephone Canyon, a super-secret DV location not displayed on the tourist map.  It was difficult to find the start of the road despite the 30 minutes I had spent studying satellite images and plotting points.  We were able to find it and drive across the rugged wash to reach the mouth of the canyon.  The canyon was narrow and had overhanging rock in places.  Exposed bedrock made Heather cover her eyes a few times while I was driving.  I wanted to see what my new car was capable of.

Telephone Canyon
Telephone Canyon
the boulder washout
the boulder washout
camping in Telephone canyon
camping in Telephone canyon
boulder washout
boulder washout

The standard south route up Tucki Mountain Skidoo is long and crosses something like 7 washes and 7 ridges.  My hope had been to access the mountain by this other route which cuts down some of that distance.  But going into Telephone Canyon we had no idea what condition of the road would be.  It was a gamble.  Fortunately we were able to drive most of the way to my goal starting location for the hike.  But several miles before we got there we encountered a large washout that had been filled in with some boulders.  The biggest boulder stood up in the middle with deep open spaces around it.  I studied the rocks and decided not to try it with my Subaru.  We could try to fill in the spaces with other rocks, but it would be hours of work.  A jeep could have gone further.

Tucki false summit
Tucki false summit

We camped near the washout.  The following morning we hiked up the road and then crossed the first ridge.  On the far side we entered a valley.  Tucki is a truly massive peak with a complex system of ridges and canyons.  While crossing the valley we noted a small miners cabin at the far western edge.  We decided to check it out, after the summit, if there was time.  We ascended the ridge on the far side of the valley.  Near the crest of that ridge Heather warned me to be quiet.  I knew she had spotted some wildlife.  I carefully joined her at the crest without making a sound.  100 yards below on the other side of the ridge, were two bighorn sheep.

bighorn sheep
bighorn sheep

We stood there in awe for several seconds.  The sheep must have smelled us or sensed us because it didn't take them long to notice our presence.  They decided we weren't friendly and bounded off down the slope, crossing the next canyon and running up the far side.  They covered a distance of at least 1.5 miles in about 10 minutes with considerable gain and loss.  We took the opportunity to break and snack while we watched them.

another false summit
another false summit
another false summit
another false summit
Tucki summit and Telescope behind Heather
Tucki summit and Telescope behind Heather
DPS Tucki register
DPS Tucki register
Death
Death
Whitney and the High Sierra
Whitney and the High Sierra
wild woman
wild woman

We crossed some more ridges and saddles and then reached the summit of Tucki.  The #1 and #2 benchmarks were marked with "Death" but the original must have been stolen.  frown.gif  I noticed another pile of old eroded batteries.  Does anyone know what these are from?  Heather and I have seen large old batteries on a number of desert summits.  Or just the remaining cores.  I'm guessing they have something to do with early aviation.  And once again we had a very nice view of Whitney to the west.

Martin Crossing cabin
Martin Crossing cabin
Haunta virus
Haunta virus
remains
remains

On the way back we stopped to explore the miners cabin.  It was marked as "Martin Crossing".  There was a letter from the Superintendent of the park from 1997 as well as a warning from 2012 about Haunta virus.  Mouse droppings covered the floor, counters and bed.  Heather would not enter the cabin and I stayed only for a minute or two.  We returned to Telephone Canyon and drove out.  That evening, on the way, through Furnace Creek I proposed we stop and inspect a hill behind town which has interested me for several years.  Each time I drive by, I see a small structure on the summit as well as use trails leading up the ridges.

evening light on Tucki
evening light on Tucki
evening light on Thimble and Corkscrew
evening light on Thimble and Corkscrew
hotel construction workers memorial
hotel construction workers memorial
summit structure
summit structure
Furnace Creek lights below
Furnace Creek lights below
not happy to cross Furnace Creek
not happy to cross Furnace Creek

To get to the base, we had to jump across Furnace Creek.  We passed a memorial near the start of the ridge and then ran up to the summit in fading light.  What had looked like an old lookout from the road, turned out to be an old building in a bad state of disrepair.  Sunset lighting was very nice over the badlands and the moon was rising through the clouds.  We jogged back down and had to jump across Furnace Creek again.  Heather was disgusted by the mossy green mucky water.

Ibex Dunes and Ibex Benchmark behind
Ibex Dunes and Ibex Benchmark behind
approaching Ibex Dunes
approaching Ibex Dunes

The next morning was our last day.  The previous night we tried to access Ibex Peak from the northwest but the access road is badly overgrown and abandoned.  Then we drove to the trailhead for Avawatz but in the end we decided on Ibex Dunes.  I'll go back for Avawatz later.  The Ibex Dunes turned out to be a good choice.  In fact, our favorite so far.  They have a unique location far up on the edge of the valley and felt more remote and appeared more scenic than the others dunes we have visited.


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https://www.youtube.com/c/Zogador
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Ski
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PostTue Mar 24, 2015 6:07 pm 
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excellent. love the "storms on Jupiter" shots.

so.... did you walk all the way down into that tunnel just so you could turn around and see the light at the end? wink.gif

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Bloated Chipmunk
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PostTue Mar 24, 2015 7:05 pm 
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Man, sounds like you guys are knocking out all these peaks from my Desert Summits book!   up.gif  We've been slowly chipping away @ some of them when we get long holiday weekends... agree.gif

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Home is where the hiking is. 

"Peaks that have come and gone four times should halt a man in his steps." -- William O. Douglas

A balanced diet is a margarita in each hand.
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Gimpilator
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PostFri Mar 27, 2015 5:54 am 
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Yeah we recently bought that book.  Initially we were just picking peaks at random down here but then someone we met while scrambling told us about it, so we decided to check it out.  It doesn't have everything, but it sure covers a lot of ground.

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https://www.youtube.com/c/Zogador
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Brucester
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PostFri Mar 27, 2015 11:28 am 
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Nice pix!

Love how you can look out and just see land.
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puzzlr
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PostFri Mar 27, 2015 8:45 pm 
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The shot of Eureka Dunes is amazing.

I think if I ran across that cool sand pattern I would have been stuck there all day taking pictures. Love stuff like that.

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Mid Fork Rocks flickr
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ofuros
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PostSat Mar 28, 2015 1:19 pm 
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Great pics & trip report, Gimpilator.

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...always dreaming of far off adventures.
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Jim Dockery
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PostSat Mar 28, 2015 3:47 pm 
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I really wanted to get out to Eureka Dunes when I was there but was put off by reports of sharp gravel giving people flats (a couple stories of multiple flats in a day leading to very expensive tow/work out there). What did you think of the approach you took? I'm hoping to get in there next time.

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jimdockery.com
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Magellan
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PostSat Mar 28, 2015 9:08 pm 
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Good stuff, Gimpy.  up.gif
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ree
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PostSun Mar 29, 2015 12:28 pm 
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Thanks for posting those beautiful pictures. 

Isn't it interesting the wild variety of temps?  You can freeze your butt off or boil like crazy.

It's so colorful, and the barren folds and contours of the earth are amazing.

Did you drive over any deep sand by entering the park from the north?

I wanted to find some beta on the road that peels off into Oriental Wash.  You can access Gold Point from DV (Eureka Dunes), and I know there is quite a bit of history in Oriental Wash.  Gold Point is a fantastic ghost town (privately owned, but the owner is pretty cool about allowing sightseers.)  I thought that would make an interesting loop trip through DV...

The gazebo behind the Inn has sentimental feelings attached to it for me.   wub.gif  wub.gif   

Very much enjoyed your DV posts.  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif
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Gimpilator
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PostMon Mar 30, 2015 10:52 am 
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Jim Dockery wrote:
I really wanted to get out to Eureka Dunes when I was there but was put off by reports of sharp gravel giving people flats (a couple stories of multiple flats in a day leading to very expensive tow/work out there). What did you think of the approach you took? I'm hoping to get in there next time.

This is a very valid question for anyone planning a trip.  As you may have noticed, some of the park maps label certain roads as having sharp rocks and only for special tires.  Furthermore the guide book we have used called Desert Summits claims that the author got multiple flat tires on certain roads in the same day.  Because of this, we had some trepidation about visiting a few areas.  But after our 4 trips (last report pending), I feel I have a better understanding about the road situation in Death Valley.

In many places we saw people cruising down rough washboarded roads in rental vehicles at 25+ miles per hour.  We on the other hand, were without any spare tire in our vehicle and also sporting half worn-out stock issue tires.  So we stayed between 5 and 10 mph the whole way on the Ureka Dunes road and 5 to 20 mph on the Ubehebe road.  So to answer your question, there are a lot of rough roads in DV and many people opt to rent expensive jeeps from the Furnace Creek company.  In my opinion you can go most places in a Subaru or the equivalent, so long as you are willing to drive slow.  Impatience could lead to a flat.

ree wrote:
Isn't it interesting the wild variety of temps? You can freeze your butt off or boil like crazy.

You said it!

ree wrote:
Did you drive over any deep sand by entering the park from the north?

We did not, however I would be very curious to see how my car does in sand.

ree wrote:
I wanted to find some beta on the road that peels off into Oriental Wash. You can access Gold Point from DV (Eureka Dunes), and I know there is quite a bit of history in Oriental Wash. Gold Point is a fantastic ghost town (privately owned, but the owner is pretty cool about allowing sightseers.) I thought that would make an interesting loop trip through DV...

I had not heard of Gold Point before but it looks pretty interesting.  I went to the ghost town of Cerro Gordo a couple days ago and after talking to the caretaker who lives there, he allowed us to enter the old American Hotel which is incredibly well preserved.  Such amazing history in these parts...

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https://www.youtube.com/c/Zogador
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Eric Hansen
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PostMon Mar 30, 2015 8:18 pm 
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Thanks Gimpilator. Your photos brought back a lot of great DV memories.

Monarch Falls is a 120- foot gem, an easy 3-mile off trail hike from the Beatty Cutoff.

Pyramid is on my to do list. Awesome view, supposed to be a good bivy spot on top
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ree
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PostTue Mar 31, 2015 12:40 pm 
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Cerro Gordo has been on my ghost town list for ages.  Got any pictures you shot of Cerro Gordo?  Years ago, they allowed overnighters in the hotel there, but the owners stopped that - liability issues.   frown.gif    I'd love to see some shots.

Go check out Gold Point, and Goldfield, if you can swing it.  Goldfield has that creepy hotel in the center of it.

Gold Point
Gold Point
Gold Point
Gold Point
inside saloon at Gold Point
inside saloon at Gold Point
Gold Point
Gold Point
Gold Point
Gold Point
Gold Point
Gold Point
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Valley of Death, again [PART 3] 1/29-2/03 2015
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