Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

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Death Valley Dazed
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Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:58 pm

Walk from The Devil's Cornfield south across the Death Valley Westside Drainage, top three small knolls, follow the vintage road from Furnace Creek to Stove Pipe Wells for part of the way, cross over Upper Salt Creek Marshland to the highest knoll on the east side, locate the McClean Spring, follow the creek upstream until it disappears into the sand and then cut back through the cornfield to the carpark. A great way to spend half a February 2020 day even it was gusting wind. I misspelled McClean rather than McLean Spring in the video caption. Oops.

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

Post by MojaveGeek » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:13 pm

That looks pretty nice. I've got traces of that SPW-FC road on my GPS but haven't been out there on a cool year when I wanted to be on the valley floor for a while. I was planning on going in that road, crossing over to McLean spring - there's some old wooden bridge work some place in there, and a former store site - and then back north on the east side.

I also like to do a shuttle hike from the Salt Creek parking area to 190. There is an old road on the east side, that is right lined up with the former Sand Dunes Road (that ran over from 190 to the real stovepipe well).

I guess I haven't been there for a while as McLean spring didn't have a sign the last time. It looks like you followed the creek instead of the road. If you'd followed the road you might have passed the "Burned Wagons Point" where, supposedly, wagons were burned for wood to smoke their oxen by the 49ers.

Looks like there was some wind / haze on the day you did it?

Nice video, thanks!

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JesPortland
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Re: Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

Post by JesPortland » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:37 pm

We try to do the hike from Salt Creek parking lot to the springs at least once per year. Love valley floor hikes. It's a bit risky as you climb over those soft mud hills as there are steep drop offs to the creek. Last late March we arrived just after the heavy rains and much of the trail along and above the creek was altered. We just walk to the springs and back. There are often a lot of coyotes out there in the brush. A neat, eerie area. I'll have to explore what you two have described.

In late March 2013 when my then 87 year old mother and a sister came with us I parked my Tundra at the Salt Creek parking lot early morning and hiked past the springs over to Devils Cornfield where I was picked up a few hours later. I was a bit nervous heading out across the flats and felt like a pioneer! Just kept to my map and easy to spot vehicles off 190 for bearings.

Now I just need to find the trail that takes off from the SC parking lot and heads out along Cottonball Marsh.

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Kauri
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Re: Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

Post by Kauri » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:43 pm

JesPortland wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:37 pm
Now I just need to find the trail that takes off from the SC parking lot and heads out along Cottonball Marsh.
FYI, be careful on that hike, we've done it twice and coming back the second time after dark we almost got lost in the hills south of Salt Creek. It's longer than cutting across the hills, but the "safest" route is to go south, around the hills, then turn west once you're past them, and try to catch the old road, which is much easier walking.
JesPortland wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:37 pm
We try to do the hike from Salt Creek parking lot to the springs at least once per year. Love valley floor hikes. It's a bit risky as you climb over those soft mud hills as there are steep drop offs to the creek. Last late March we arrived just after the heavy rains and much of the trail along and above the creek was altered. We just walk to the springs and back. There are often a lot of coyotes out there in the brush. A neat, eerie area. I'll have to explore what you two have described.
The only time I've done that walk was right after heavy rains, and I think I was only about 10 years old then. I remember the mud stuck to our shoes, over an inch thick, and made it difficult to get traction on the trail!
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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue Feb 18, 2020 6:48 am

MojaveGeek wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:13 pm
I was planning on going in that road, crossing over to McLean spring - there's some old wooden bridgework someplace in there, and a former store site. There is an old road on the east side, that is right lined up with the former Sand Dunes Road (that ran over from 190 to the real stovepipe well). If you'd followed the road you might have passed the "Burned Wagons Point" where, supposedly, wagons were burned for wood to smoke their oxen by the 49ers. Looks like there was some wind/haze on the day you did it?
Your detailed comments always add to my bucket list so stop it! :lol: No, really, so now I'd like to hike that old SPW-FC road and see if any of those old historic sites have evidence remaining. On a cool clear day, this would be heaps of fun. And that east side road to and from the real stove pipe would make another great day hike.

It was dusty and windy on the day of this video but not unbearable. BTW those devil cornstalks are much larger on the south side of Highway 190 than the north side. They are amazing!

Glad you enjoyed the vid.
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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue Feb 18, 2020 8:18 am

Kauri wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:43 pm
It's longer than cutting across the hills, but the "safest" route is to go south, around the hills, then turn west once you're past them, and try to catch the old road, which is much easier walking.
Catching "the old road" has been my frustration. I've hiked from Salt Creek Parking out to The Cottonball Marsh twice and to Trellis Canyon twice from four different routes and have yet to locate, find or cross over "the old road" which I presume leads to the vintage "Shovel Town aka Borax Camp" where borax workers on the marsh lived. I have crossed the power line and poles which has a washed-out road that follows the poles. Is this the same path as the old road? On Google Earth, I may have located the camp and power poles?

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Steve Hall has this topo marking the Borax Camp in the lower right corner.
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Candace_66
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Re: Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

Post by Candace_66 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:15 am

IIRC, that old road out to Shoveltown is fairly obscure. I used the old TOPO software to set up a series of WP's along it.

I also recall I found a decent shortcut through the hills which I used coming and going. I most likely marked some WP's during the outbound trip to facilitate finding that same route during my return. I'll look around and see if I still have any of that information.

I further recall that Shoveltown was a bit of letdown when I actually got there. There was more to see in the satellite images, than on the ground. The pools farther out, however, did not disappoint. :cool:

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Salt Creek Source - McLean Spring

Post by MojaveGeek » Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:12 am

I think there's a couple of "old roads" being discussed here :) The one from the south end of the Salt Creek hills over to the Shovelton site is quite obscure. I've found pieces of it but I've also done routes that should have crossed it and did not find it. The parts that I have found are near the north end of the Cottonball Marsh and just contour a little bit above the loose soil of the marsh. Once you get over to the power lines there's a bit of a trace along the lines but that may be modern.

Another section of "old road" and the one I mentioned goes from 190 a bit west of the Cornfield, relatively near the AT&T site on the hill, and runs along the west side of Salt Creek, more or less. DVDazed was definitely on this route in part judging by his videos. It appears from the sat images to have pretty much disappeared crossing all the many washes. Then opposite MaClean Spring there is a sharp left turn and some evidence of a route over to the spring. This conforms with a description in Gephardt's old book. I am not clear if at the fork there is a section which continues south to pick up the other road just mentioned above.

There is a third "old road" which runs pretty straight from 190 just east of the Cornfield, from where the more recently maintained (but closed for at least a decade) road to the old Sand Dunes picnic area and the real Stovepipe Well site took off to the north. This road was the southern continuation of that, and probably ran to FC more or less, via Salt Creek. It is not clear what happens to it in the hills to the NE of Salt Creek (maybe it diverges east) but you can follow it more or less to McLean spring; at least there was some evidence of old vehicle tracks when I was there at least a decade ago.

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