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Should I visit in June?

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AlexHolt
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Should I visit in June?

Post by AlexHolt » Tue May 14, 2013 2:25 pm

I'm over from England in June, on a kind of road trip from Flagstaff AZ to Lake Tahoe area.

I'd love to see some of Death Valley on the way, and I've got a couple of days to spare. I'm thinking of hiring a Jeep from Farabee and exploring a little.

If I plan ahead, and am sensible is this a crazy idea?

- with sensible precautions (good map, gps, hat, gallons of water, electrolyte drinks etc) is it manageable or just too hot?
- any roads recommended? I've looked at http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/u ... 0Roads.pdf

Hoping kind people on here can give a bit of advice!

thanks

Alex

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Gowergulch42
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Post by Gowergulch42 » Tue May 14, 2013 4:03 pm

It really depends. If you want to see the Death Valley everyone thinks is there, stay in the valley. I did that last year after a failed attempt at climbing Telescope Peak (it was dangerously windy). We went to some of the touristy parts of the park just because we had nothing better to do and didn't have our jeep. If you want to do some exploring of the less familiar Death Valley, go to the higher elevations. The Wildrose Area (Skidoo, Charcoal Kilns, Mahogany Flats, Wood Canyon, etc) is really nice in the summer. On can do most of that area in one day though, and it's one of my favorite places in the park. Another good full day would be Hunter Mountain and White Top Mountain. There's lots of neat stuff up there, though I haven't extensively explored it. The ghost town of Goldbelt is up there, and some say it is a great place to be in the summer. If you're heading out the 190 from Furnace Creek, I would recommend Jail Canyon. It's a really nice spring area with well-kept cabin. However this might not be great unless you are an experienced off road driver, as the last time I was up there it was quite difficult, and definitely needs high clearance.
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Kukulcan
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Post by Kukulcan » Wed May 15, 2013 12:41 am

The best That I can tell DV is more popular for the Germans in the summer than for the Brits. Come on over and we'll tally one up for the Brits...........If you come please, please-- "That Pierce Morgan back home with you" .....Thanks in advance.

BTW is you are successful removing Mr. Morgan than the trip is on me. I'll reimburse all of it...

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Morrie
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Post by Morrie » Wed May 15, 2013 10:18 am

You are doing the right thing by renting a jeep from Farabee's. But I thought they didn't rent in June. You actually got a reservation?

But if you get one, their jeep should be capable of going on any of the roads on that map. However you will need a GPS with USGS topo maps to find and stay on some of them. Unless you are with 2 vehicles, I wouldn't venture too many miles from a highway -- say 10 miles, the distance you could walk carrying enough water to get help if your jeep breaks down.

All that said, if you've never been to DV and just want to see the main tourist sights (all of which are well worth it), you don't need a jeep. There's plenty to see in 2 days in a rental car without even venturing onto a jeep road. Alas those places are mostly going to be very hot, as they tend to be at lower elevations.

Yes, it will be very hot, but everyone has different tolerances for temperature. The places Gowergluch mentions should be far more comfortable than the valley, but those are mostly 4x4 destinations.

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Post by kwalsh » Sun May 19, 2013 3:10 pm

I don't want to start an argument but I'm going to strongly disagree with Morrie. Never try to hike out from a broken down vehicle in the summer. You will likely die. Make sure you have water and food to last a few days in the vehicle and stay with it - that is enough to last until some one comes to get you. Combine this with a reliable way to get someone to get you - satellite, loved one who knows your route and when to expect you or file a backcountry permit with the park rangers. Absolute worst case if you fail to plan for someone to expect you set the spare tire on fire (use your motor oil to get it going). Military air traffic in the area will see it and send help.

Bottom line - in the summer if you break down stay with the vehicle - and that means provision the vehicle well.

Last if you have a short way to travel and you have failed in all the above planning only walk on roads and only at night.

Stay safe!

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Gowergulch42
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Post by Gowergulch42 » Sun May 19, 2013 4:12 pm

Morrie wrote:The places Gowergluch mentions should be far more comfortable than the valley, but those are mostly 4x4 destinations.
The places I mentioned (Wildrose areas, at least) are by no means 4x4 destinations. I wouldn't take a Ferrari up there but most stock cars could make most of those roads, as they are often graded. If you have a Farabee's Jeep then you could go up the VERY infrequently visited Wood and Nemo Canyon roads. I went there in early Abril. Very quiet and pristine up there. However they are hard to find. As for Hunter Mountain, i'm going up there and White Top next weekend, so I'll be able to give an accurate account.
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Morrie
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Post by Morrie » Mon May 20, 2013 4:03 am

kwalsh wrote:I don't want to start an argument but I'm going to strongly disagree with Morrie. Never try to hike out from a broken down vehicle in the summer. You will likely die. Make sure you have water and food to last a few days in the vehicle and stay with it - that is enough to last until some one comes to get you. Combine this with a reliable way to get someone to get you - satellite, loved one who knows your route and when to expect you or file a backcountry permit with the park rangers. Absolute worst case if you fail to plan for someone to expect you set the spare tire on fire (use your motor oil to get it going). Military air traffic in the area will see it and send help.
I should have qualified what I said by giving the above advice first, the first rule for what to do when stuck in desert. But someone has to know you are missing so that a search is started, because in the summer you might have to wait for weeks before someone just happens to show up.

If you start at night and can carry a gallon or two of water, I think it's practical to start at midnight and hike 10 miles before it gets too hot in the morning, assuming you go back down the road you came.

I hadn't thought about military air traffic. Do they really pay attention to smoke signals?

All that said, I think Farabee's does give you a SPOT tracker and they ask you to check in every day. I still don't think that should be a "license" to venture too far off the beaten path in one vehicle though.

AlexHolt
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Post by AlexHolt » Mon May 20, 2013 4:14 am

Thanks for all the tips.

Sadly, Farabees are closed for June so no Jeep rental. That's a real shame as I was looking forward to some 4x4 adventure.

I'll stick to the graded roads.

Would it be practical to camp overnight at Wildrose campground?

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Morrie
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Post by Morrie » Mon May 20, 2013 4:48 am

AlexHolt wrote:Would it be practical to camp overnight at Wildrose campground?
Yes, that should be fine in any vehicle.

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Mon May 20, 2013 4:45 pm

Morrie wrote: I hadn't thought about military air traffic. Do they really pay attention to smoke signals?
Many years ago I ran into someone from China Lake and asked a similar question, specifically about small flares you can shoot up from the ground. The answer was that pilots would definitely report if they saw something like that.

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Kukulcan
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Post by Kukulcan » Mon May 20, 2013 10:49 pm

MojaveGeek wrote:
Morrie wrote: I hadn't thought about military air traffic. Do they really pay attention to smoke signals?
Many years ago I ran into someone from China Lake and asked a similar question, specifically about small flares you can shoot up from the ground. The answer was that pilots would definitely report if they saw something like that.
You were lied to!

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Post by stan » Mon May 20, 2013 11:22 pm

Sure, but it will be HOT, very HOT.. Take lots of water, and don't hike too far in the heat, as others have said here, folks have fallen out (died) after hiking very short distances in the heat....
The higher you go, the cooler (and nicer) it will be.
Personally, I would not go in the summer, but if that's your only chance, go for it, just be careful!!!!
A few years ago my daughter and I hiked Telescope Peak in June, stayed the night at Arcane meadows. Was 120+ in the valley but comfy 60 -70 degrees at altitude. The hardest part was the drive thru the valley heat to get to the trailhead!!
And yes, take that Pierce (what a name) dude back with you, please!!! thanks in advance.... s
P.S. Wildrose is really neat, plus they have water there and everythang.....

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Tue May 21, 2013 6:06 am

Kukulcan wrote:
You were lied to!
Well, the guy who told me was a civilian who had worked there for many years in their fire department, and he was certain. What is your contrary source of info?

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Post by kwalsh » Tue May 21, 2013 7:35 am

Morrie wrote: I hadn't thought about military air traffic. Do they really pay attention to smoke signals?

All that said, I think Farabee's does give you a SPOT tracker and they ask you to check in every day. I still don't think that should be a "license" to venture too far off the beaten path in one vehicle though.
Yes, the military pilots are fairly good about examining "odd" things like a tire on fire sending up smudgy smoke - but they have to be around to see it. In the central NP itself they are often at higher altitude and might not be focused on the ground at all. In some parts of the park they are on high-speed low-altitude training routes. I've talked with these pilots and they point out that at those speeds and altitudes they are looking a few miles in front of the aircraft and paying close attention to where they are going rather than looking around. In the valleys (Saline and Panamint) there are more general MOA's where you will see single planes or pairs out doing slower (relatively slower) maneuvers near the ground. In my experience these are the ones that have the most situational awareness - they will intentionally overfly and circle vehicles. If you wave or constantly point a camera at them they might even give you a nice hot pass right over the top. Anyway, a very last resort to depend on them if you've failed at every other bit of planning!

And yes, I agree at night with water you can get a fair distance walking. If you are close enough to a spot with reliable traffic that is another practical last resort. Unfortunately not a lot of people perceive distance properly or bring enough water - but I guess that just falls into another category of not planning ahead!

Glad to hear Farabee's has sensible recommendations for safety! In all cases, the best plan is for someone reliable to know your route and when to expect you and for you to be prepared to be stranded up to and a bit past that time. Anything else - walking, signalling aircraft, even satellite comms - is a secondary measure. Having a fail safe for someone to look for you and a way to survive until then should always be the primary plan.

Oh - and yes, a night at Wildrose that time of year should be just fine and easy to get to in most any vehicle. Also, if you start in the morning Wildrose Peak can be a nice hike in the summer that is usually accessible by most vehicles. The bottom of the trail is going to be warm later in the day, fine when coming down but I'd prefer to do the climbing part in the cooler morning hours.

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Kukulcan
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Post by Kukulcan » Tue May 21, 2013 10:20 pm

MojaveGeek wrote:
Kukulcan wrote:
You were lied to!
Well, the guy who told me was a civilian who had worked there for many years in their fire department, and he was certain. What is your contrary source of info?
I gave my friend Doug whom rolled his rental in the SV ( late 1990's) a ride to pick his stuff up from the vehicle after his ordeal.

He rolled the thing leaving the springs a couple miles passed where the the salt tram crossed the road. He spent the next 3 days trying to signal the jets by burning all 5 tires and he waving towels to try and get their attention. ...........well he explained he did everything he could think of to get noticed. My point of view comes from his experience and mine seeing the site where this happened. He repeatedly expresses that he thought, they would have noticed him and was as you could imagine he was pretty annoyed about no being noticed and no call for help. A car passing from the north pass to the south pass found him and the gal he was with. They helped them out of the valley.............it was mid summer when this happened.
That is why I say they lied.

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