4×4

Death Valley, Eureka Dunes, Steel Pass, Saline Valley Rd.

On Friday afternoon we met friends Dave and Irene, George and Vince, and Bob at the Eureka Dunes in Death Valley. The dunes are the second highest in North America, but that wasn’t why we were there. The plan was to driveĀ  up thru Steel Pass, stop to visit the Warm Springs, then exit the park on Saline Valley Road.

George and Vince in the black Bronco are followed by Bob, meeting us at the Eureka Dunes.
George and Vince in the black Bronco are followed by Bob, meeting us at the Eureka Dunes.
Carol shows off our camp site at the dune. We were sure too get there early enough to watch the sunset and shadows on the dunes.
Carol shows off our camp site at the dunes. We were sure too get there early enough to watch the sunset and shadows on the dunes. Here’s a cool video we made of the trip, including a sunset time-lapse of the dunes.
The morning sun reveals critter tracks on the dunes.
The morning sun reveals critter tracks on the dunes.
The backside of the Eureka Dunes.
The backside of the Eureka Dunes.
After leaving the valley floor and the dunes, we head up through Dedeckera Cayon.
After leaving the valley floor and the dunes, we head up through Dedeckera Cayon. The road stair-steps up and over rocks and ultimately tops out at near 5,000′ at Steel Pass.
Carol is the first in our group to take advantage of the Marble Bath, near the summit of Steel Pass. To help the cause, we added a couple hundred blue marbles to the bath (which, as it turns out, is not a lot of marbles).
Carol is the first in our group to take advantage of the Marble Bath, near the summit of Steel Pass. To help the cause, we added a couple hundred blue marbles to the bath (which, as it turns out, is not a lot of marbles).
We checked out the lower Warm Springs.
We stopped to check out the lower Warm Springs. Even though we’re in a National Park, clothing is optional at these springs. Nope, none of us had to worry about sunburning personal areas.
The remaining towers of the Salt Tram near Saline Lake. At the turn of the (last) century, salt was mined, then carried 14 miles over the Panamint Mountains to the town of Keeler in the Owens Valley. It operated sporadically from 1913 to 1936, but ultimately proved too expensive to operate.
The remaining towers of the Salt Tram near Saline Lake. At the turn of the (last) century, salt was mined, then carried 14 miles over the Panamint Mountains to the town of Keeler in the Owens Valley. It operated sporadically from 1913 to 1936, but ultimately proved too expensive to operate.
Bob, George and Dave arriving at the shores of the Saline Lake.
Bob, George and Dave arriving at the shores of the Saline Lake. Remaining towers form the salt tram run up and over the Panamints to the shores of Owens Lake.
Remaining rotted piers, where salt used to be mined in Saline lake.
Remaining rotted piers, where salt used to be mined in Saline lake.
Carol and George get the fire started with the help of a little gasoline.
Carol and George get Saturday night’s fire started with the help of a little gasoline.
Sunday morning sunrise.
Sunday morning sunrise. The drive out of the park on Saline Valley Road was going to be challenging – a week prior it was hit by heavy rains, flooding, mud slides. The water had turned the regularly smooth graded dirt road into 4×4 fun.

Video: Death Valley, Eureka Dunes, Steel Pass, Saline Valley Rd.

Starting at the Eureka Dunes in Death Valley, we drove through Steel Pass and out of the park on Saline Valley Rd., stopping briefly to see naked people. Saline Valley Road had been recently trashed by heavy rains, transforming it from a smooth, graded dirt road, into a genuine 4×4 experience. A seriously fun weekend.

Sequoia National Forest and Sherman Pass

We spent a secluded weekend at Rodeo Flats in the Sequoia National Forest, at the southern tip of the Sierra Nevadas. As a fun side trip, we took the Sherman Pass Road from Kennedy Meadow Road, down to the Kern River. The scenic road is remote, 4×4, fun, and after cresting at 9,200′, drops rather quickly down to the Kern River Highway.

Carol got in a quick ride on one of the dirt bike trails. As it turns out, dirt bike trails have lots of sand and whoops - not so good for mountain biking. Instead of riding, I got to watch my broken back heal.
Carol got in a quick ride on one of the dirt bike trails. As it turns out, dirt bike trails have lots of sand and whoops – not so good for mountain biking. Instead of riding, I got to watch my broken back heal.
Our dispersed camp site near Rodeo Flats, sans tourists.
Our dispersed camp site near Rodeo Flats, sans tourists.
The east/top end of the Sherman Pass Road.
The east/top end of the Sherman Pass Road.
After skirting the north side of Sherman Peak, the road begins to drop off, revealing some spectacular views. A majority of the trees had been killed from a recent wildfire.
After skirting the north side of Sherman Peak, the road begins to drop off, revealing some spectacular views. A majority of the trees had been killed from a recent wildfire.
A couple times, when the road dropped off fairly steeply, Carol decided that walking was better than riding. The burned trees gave us great views that we'd otherwise not have (read: high anxiety).
A couple times, when the road dropped off fairly steeply, Carol decided that walking was better than riding. The burned trees gave us great views that we’d otherwise not have (read: high anxiety).
The walking continues ...
The walking continues …
Bald Mountain fire Lookout.
Bald Mountain fire Lookout.
Minutes before we arrived at the Bald Mountain LO, a nearby wildfire had erupted. The ranger told us that little fires like this are fairly common during the summer months. Many times, the fires are so remote and non-threatening, that they're left alone, to burn out on their own.Minutes before we arrived at the Bald Mountain LO, a nearby wildfire had erupted. The ranger told us that little fires like this are fairly common during the summer months.
Minutes before we arrived at the Bald Mountain LO, a nearby wildfire had erupted. The ranger told us that little fires like this are fairly common during the summer months. Many times, the fires are so remote and non-threatening, that they’re left alone to burn out on their own.
Grumpy Bear's restaurant and bar. The lady in the box cooks the food you order, which, by the way, she can't make because they're out of everything you'd like to order. The lady on the right was watching the rain out the window and thoroughly enjoying the afternoon, if we catch our drift.
Grumpy Bear’s restaurant and bar. The lady in the box cooks the food you order, which, by the way, she can’t make because they’re out of everything you’d like to order. The lady on the right was watching the rain out the window and thoroughly enjoying the afternoon, if we catch our drift.
Sunset at Rodeo Flats in the southern Sierras.
Sunset at Rodeo Flats in the southern Sierras.