I'm planning a long weekend trip in late April (April 20-23) to southern Death Valley and looking for a small group of vehicles (less than or equal to 5). We will meet in Ballarat, CA on Friday morning (9am) and air down.
This is not an official TTORA event.
Thursday: Darwin Falls, Panamint Springs, Charcoal Kilns, Wildrose campground or Lake Hill primitive campsite
Friday: Meet at Ballarat at 9AM, east into Pleasant Canyon and check out the sights along the way (Clair Camp, Radcliff Mine, World Beater Mine, Cooper Mine, Middle Park, and Rogers Pass), Chicken Rock, Chicken Bridge, and Briggs Cabin. We will camp overnight at Briggs Cabin.
Saturday: We'll head out in the morning heading west out of South Park Canyon. We'll proceed south to Goler Wash and head east to the Newman Cabin, Barker Ranch (Charles Manson hideout), Myers Ranch, Mengel Pass, Geologist's Cabin, Mengel Cabin, Russel Camp, and Striped Butte). If we're lucky we can spend the night at the ultra clean Geologist's Cabin or one of the other cabins or we'll camp outside again.
Option #1 - Shorter route: We'll head back west over Mengel's Pass and Goler Wash before heading towards Trona via the Fish Canyon Escape Trail over the Slate Range. We'll air up at the end of the trail and either head home from there or head over to Trona Pinnacles first.
Option #2 - Longer route: We'll continue east along Warm Springs Road checking out Warm Springs cabin and the Talc Mine. We'll jump onto Harry Wade Road and take a quick jaunt to Ward's cabin. We'll then continue to Hwy 127. This route is about 60 miles of dirt.
FYI: I did Goler Wash, Mengel Pass, and the Fish Canyon Escape Route last April and these trails were moderately rated at best but I've heard the Pleasant Canyon road and South Park Canyon road are difficult, narrow shelf roads. If anyone knows a preferred direction to travel over Chicken Rock (from east to west or vice versa), I'm all ears. We can easily do the South Park Canyon route first and then do Pleasant Canyon the next day.
Video of Chicken Rock and Chicken Bridge from east to west.
Video of Chicken Rock from west to east
Attendees (Limit set at 5 trucks):
1. Boyfester (Marc)
2. JD914 (JD)
5. Sean K (Jeep friend from SCORE Meetup page)
UY simplex primary 146.430MHZ (2m Ham)
Cell service is spotty at best. You may have a chance to check in with family at some point, and are encouraged to do so, but don't count on it!
Vehicle in good working condition, with no known faults
1 spare tire within 2" of other tires
Working, suitable jack
Front and rear recovery points
Ham Radio in good working order
Note: Stock Vehicles are not recommended for Pleasant Canyon and South Park Canyon trails. The road conditions are dependent on the recent storms and how often volunteers repair it. At times it may be impassable. Prepare for a narrow, rocky trail, and very tippy in spots. Terrain will vary from rocky desert pavement, extremely soft sand, off camber sections, deep ruts and washes, and a riverbed. There will also be some water crossings that are easily crossed. All vehicles must be 4WD.
Required Equipment and Supplies:
Enough fuel to travel 225 miles in 4wd
Minimum 1/2 gallon water per person, per day
Well stocked, current first aid kit
Tow strap (no hooks!) & shackle
Method to refill tires, if you choose to air down (highly recommended)
Full size spare
Spares for common items
Still/Video camera with spare batteries and extra memory
This is by no means a complete list, but merely the high points of what should be considered for this trip.
For those uninitiated to expedition style desert travel: The best way to travel is to travel light but do not forget comfort items. Three days off pavement without a good night's sleep will be miserable!
At some point during this trip, you will have to use the bathroom. I've never been to the cabins in Pleasant Valley so there may be toilets but be prepared if there are none. What you bring is up to you.
We will be camping 2-3 nights. If everyone brings 1-2 bundles of firewood, we should have plenty for 3 nights of camping with a good fire.
Weather can be very unpredictable in the high deserts. This event is a rain or shine event, meaning we will be traversing the desert even if it is raining. Temperature can vary wildly but I expect the highs to be in the 80s and the lows in the 50s. Layers are suggested, as well as extra socks and gloves.