off road

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 drive  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.

San Felipe Baja 250

This race was originally slated to be run in Primm, NV, but at the last minute it was moved to San Felipe – the reason so few racers showed up. Also, it was hot – San Felipe is a good place to avoid in September (or July or August).

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Where we were chasing the prerun inland, it was 122˚. Along the coast it was only 108˚, but extremely humid. So it was either hot and humid, or really hot, but with no humidity.
Where we were chasing the prerun inland, it was 122˚. Along the coast it was only 108˚, but extremely humid. So it was either hot and humid, or really hot, but with no humidity.
Ron manages to stay cool in a kiddie pool the team purchased - the hotel where we were staying didn't have its own pool. A beer helps too.
Ron manages to stay cool in a kiddie pool the team purchased – the hotel where we were staying didn’t have its own pool, so we had to improvise. A beer helps too.

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Street art near the San Felipe Marina.
Street art near the San Felipe Marina.
A couple of local COPS fans were following the team on Facebook and decided to come by the hotel to say hello.
A couple of local COPS fans were following the team on Facebook and decided to come by the hotel to say hello.
Manny, George, Ron and I wait for the prerunners to arrive under the only shade in the area.
Manny, George, Ron and I wait for the prerunners to arrive under the only shade in the area.
John and Bill are in the first prerunner to arrive. We'll gas them up, then they'll finish the course.
John and Bill are in the first prerunner to arrive. We’ll gas them up, then they’ll finish the course.
Bill and John in the four-seater prerunner.
Bill and John in the four-seater prerunner.

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Ripping down the old Puertocitos Road, Zak arrives in the other prerunner.
Ripping down the old Puertocitos Road, Zak arrives in the other prerunner.

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A Baja road marker.
A Baja road marker.
Baja residents waiting to become road markers (or carne asada).
Baja residents waiting to become road markers (or carne asada).
Electricity went out in San Felipe, along with extreme Southern California and parts of Arizona. Hotel people came around and put candles in everyone's rooms.
Electricity went out in San Felipe, along with extreme Southern California and parts of Arizona. Hotel people came around and put candles in everyone’s rooms.
Zak brought the Class 12 home for a clean finish. Or as clean as you can get in a desert race.
Zak brought the Class 12 home for a clean finish. Or as clean as you can get in a desert race.
Endo helps the bartenders serve cool drinks after the race - the Class 10 and 12 both finished uneventful races.
Endo helps the bartenders serve cool drinks after the race – the Class 10 and 12 both finished uneventful races.