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Author: Subject: Cerro Gordo and Death Valley
TMW
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[*] posted on 1-1-2017 at 04:19 PM
Cerro Gordo and Death Valley


November 2016

A Death Valley Adventure

On election day Tuesday November 8 Phil (Nomad XRPHLang) was able to get away from his restaurant Bon Temps Creole caf in San Luis Obispo and meet me in Bakersfield. From Bakersfield, we headed to Ridgecrest where we met with Roy (Nomad The Squarecircle) and Blanche. It was north on Hwy 395 to Olancha. Hwy 190 to 138 to the Cerro Gordo turn off near Owens Lake.

Air down


It was a beautiful sunny day as we climbed the 8 miles of twisty road up the mountain to the Ghost Town of Cerro Gordo. Parts of the climb were rather steep and at one point I went into 4x4 low range. The road was in very good condition and 4x4 is not really needed. At the top, there is a combination of old buildings in need of maintenance and old buildings in what appears to be good shape. The elevation is 9,000 feet and the view is spectacular.



The Valley behind


Cerro Gordo



We are soon on the east side going down with Phil leading and me at the rear. Soon I see what I first thought was oil on the road in front of me. It didnt take long when Roy was on the radio saying he had a hot engine. This seemed like Dj vu all over again. Roy had the same problem back in January with his Land Rover on a trip we did in Baja and he had to replace the engine.

Down thru the trees


Beautiful mountains and hills


We all stop at a wide place and look things over. We decide that the best thing to do is keep going down the mountain and find a flat spot where we can camp for the night and figure out what to do. Roy had shut off his engine to prevent any damage and coasted down. At the bottom, Phil hooked up a tow strap and towed Roy to and an excellent camp area in the Santa Rosa Flat section.

Need a tow, Toyota to the rescue


Camp for the night


The dogs like it


Tuesday night Phil cooked an excellent dinner that included a shrimp dip and chicken soup. We sat around a warm fire and discussed the Land Rover problem. Roy thought it was a thermostat problem and we decided to pull it in the morning in the day light. It being election day I thought Id check the results on the radio. I tuned into KNX AM 1070 out of LA and low and behold they said Trump had won. Well that came as a surprise to all of us.

Wednesday morning after a light breakfast Phil and Roy pull the thermostat out and fill the hoses with water. The vehicle does not have a normal radiator cap. Roy starts the engine and all appears OK. We discuss the situation and it is decided that considering on where we plan to go it is not a good ideal to take the Land Rover in there.

With Roy in the lead we head back to Olancha and Hwy 395. On the way there the SUV ran fine. At Olancha I give Roy my cell phone since he nor Blanche have one. If he has any problem going back to San Diego, he will be able to call for help. We say our good byes and part company.

Phil and I head back to where we camped and on to Death Valley. We go thru South Pass and onto the Saline Valley Rd. We turn just pass the Sand Dunes toward Warm Springs. There are several people at the Lower Springs, clothing optional, but nothing to get excited about. We decide to move on to the Upper Springs for the night. We arrive and there is no one in sight.

Death Valley


Lippincott Jct


On the road again, where are those warm springs


The mountains are a changing


It should be noted that the Lower Springs is maintained by the Saline Preservation Association, a volunteer group.

We make camp and Phil makes a great chicken dinner with Cole Slaw and all the trimmings. The springs are enclosed with a chain link fence with a round about opening to keep the burros out. The water is warm to touch but neither of us take a dip. Around the camp fire we discuss the plan for tomorrow.

Thursday morning after another light breakfast were on the trail. Some places are rocky others sandy but no big deal, just slow going most of the time. At Steele Pass we stop and walk down an arroyo to the Marble Bath. It is there, a white bath tub with about 6 inches of marbles, like kids play with, in the bottom.

We leave the valley behind


What is in that tub


Who would have thought


A friend no less


From Steele pass it is over the hill and down thru whats called the steps. There are four ledges in Dedeckera Canyon to go down traveling SW (Warm Springs) to NE (Eureka Dunes) or going up if traveling the opposite direction. I would not try going up the steps unless I had a front locker or was with someone who did. Some are narrow and a spotter is necessary going up or down unless you are familiar with that area. Once thru it opens up to a beautiful valley with the Eureka Sand Dunes or as some say the whistling dunes. From here its out to Death Valley Road and to Big Pine on Hwy 395 then home.

Into the unknown we go


Watch them rocks


Easy does it


Oh my, we came down that


Finally the dunes


They get bigger as you get near, I also understand they whistle in the wind


Walk the ridge


Beautiful lines


It was a fun trip and I was able to get thru Steele Pass something I have wanted to do for a long time. Death Valley is an interesting area with extreme temperatures summer to winter. Snow at higher elevations in the winter and blistering hot in the summer at lower elevations. A lot of history out there.

The road home


Snow in the mountains




[Edited on 1-2-2017 by TMW]
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[*] posted on 1-1-2017 at 04:47 PM


Wow- great road trip! Thanks for the lovely scenery and photos.



\"Probably the airplanes will bring week-enders from Los Angeles before long, and the beautiful poor bedraggled old town will bloom with a Floridian ugliness.\" (John Steinbeck, 1940, discussing the future of La Paz, BCS, Mexico)
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[*] posted on 1-1-2017 at 04:59 PM


Great trip. Thanks for sharing. Would like to go there some day.:bounce:
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[*] posted on 1-1-2017 at 05:55 PM


:):)
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[*] posted on 1-1-2017 at 07:16 PM


Excellent write-up and photos - I've been on that route - very fun!

But why no skeeny dipping at the lower hot springs?




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Barry A.
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[*] posted on 1-1-2017 at 07:28 PM


Great report and wonderful photos. That is "God's Country" for sure. Went thru Steel Pass in 2009 in a Nissan X-Terra with "lockers" and it was a bit more friendly then your photos reveal now. A great "loop" trip, for sure. Warm Springs was an "experience", but we only stopped and looked, and then went on up the canyon to camp. Everybody was really friendly there------a little too friendly & welcoming for us. LOL
If I went back I would probably stay there a bit------great hot tubs and nice atmosphere, I now think. The view of the Eureka Dunes in the late evening as you come down from Steel Pass is breath-taking------a photographers dream view.

Thanks for posting the report.

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[*] posted on 1-2-2017 at 09:50 AM


Thank you Tom,

for the great trip report and the many wonderful pictures.
The Death Valley used to be my backyard playground, and my G-wagen friends and I have visited that route many, many times in the past.
Have Harald tell the story about the Marble Bath, and his effort to keep the blue marbles in there.



Have you ever taken the road/trail from Swansea (CA-136) up to Cerro Gordo?

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[*] posted on 1-2-2017 at 11:31 AM


Quote: Originally posted by StuckSucks  


But why no skeeny dipping at the lower hot springs?


It was mostly old men in there and not any hot chicks.
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[*] posted on 1-2-2017 at 11:36 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Fernweh  


Have you ever taken the road/trail from Swansea (CA-136) up to Cerro Gordo?



No I haven't, I'm waiting for you to take me there. I've only been to Cerro Gordo twice, from opposite directions, both times with Phil.
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[*] posted on 1-2-2017 at 12:11 PM


Quote: Originally posted by TMW  
Quote: Originally posted by Fernweh  


Have you ever taken the road/trail from Swansea (CA-136) up to Cerro Gordo?



No I haven't, I'm waiting for you to take me there. I've only been to Cerro Gordo twice, from opposite directions, both times with Phil.


That's a hugely fun road. It also takes you past the Salt Tram top station, nicely restored. The bottom of the Salt Tram on the west side is at Swansea and in Saline Valley on the east side (you passed it driving on the Saline Valley Rd.).




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