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Racetrack, Saline, Eureka three night trip...

Been on a recent trip? Here is the place to share it.
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kwalsh
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Racetrack, Saline, Eureka three night trip...

Post by kwalsh » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:43 am

A quick report on this way too short trip last week.

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People: Me, my brother, my nephew
Vehicles: 1992 Toyota 4WD Pickup, 2003 Excursion

Coordinating our schedules was nearly impossible, we've failed on doing a trip multiple years in a row. So we were left with leaving Vegas Monday morning and being back in Vegas by Thursday evening. And they wanted an "adventure". I may have overdone it - way too much driving...

Monday was mostly getting to Racetrack Playa. I flew in early that morning, got my truck out of storage and met my brother and nephew. Drive to DV itself was uneventful and we headed to Ubehebe Crater to get on the road to Racetrack. Road was fine though in its standard very washboarded state. Looks like the rocks haven't moved in quite awhile, tracks getting worn down. Got out on the playa just after the sun dipped below Ubehebe and we stayed out into twilight.

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Tuesday we hiked Ubehebe Peak. Well, almost. The route up from the second saddle to the true peak was very nasty looking. My brother had already bailed at the first saddle and my nephew and I both decided to go for the slightly lower false peak with much easier approaches instead. I've named this "Maybehebe Peak" and the summit view was spectacular. After lunch we headed down Lippencott.

Lippencott - note vehicle list. My Toyota of course had no problems at all. I've done the top to the base in under 30 minutes before in that truck (and some more time going across the bumpy valley floor). No such luck this time - my brother's Excursion is insanely huge. We did make it to the bottom. It required extensive spotting, planning and careful execution in multiple spots to get a vehicle that big through. In more than one place we had to pass the front end through a narrow spot and then shimmy the vehicle multiple times back and forth to position the rear wheels to pass through. I would never repeat this with such a large vehicle. Someone had been up recently with a full size Dodge truck which is about the same wheelbase as the Excursion - the only reason we tried. Anyway it took us well over two hours to get down.

Spent the night at the springs. It was surprisingly uncrowded. I expected a lot more people there this time of year. It wasn't much more crowded than early December which shocked me. Maybe the poor road conditions? The next morning we were treated to the usual low level F-18 overflights. Oh, and someone came in for a short visit by helicopter on their way from LA to Las Vegas.

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Wednesday we did McElvoy Canyon on the way to North Pass. This was interesting, the canyon has suffered an extreme mud debris event recently. Maybe this past summer? I'll have to search around and if not post a question elsewhere. Between the first and second falls all has been wiped clean by the wrath of nature. The upper falls that once had trees and ferns and all sorts of brush is a total debris field. Rocks, trunks, and mud for a quarter mile below the second falls. It is a total wasteland now. Mud splatter up about 10 ft on the canyon walls at the *wide* parts. Amazingly first falls and below seems unaffected! It looks like a large jam formed up canyon of the first falls - I'd say nearly 20ft of fill there. Anyone have a clue when this happened? I was last up it in 2009. There was another group there and one of the members was fairly certain he'd done the canyon in the past two years and the damage was fresh since then.

From there we went over North Pass. Had planned Steel Pass but after going so dang slow with the Excursion on Lippencott I decided to go the longer route. Very washboarded but totally passable. There are some minor washouts that would give a low clearance vehicle fits. Big Pine-Death Valley road is in excellent condition. We got to Eureka in late afternoon. Winds had been blowing differently than all my previous visits over the years I guess. The NW approach which is usually pretty good was nearly all slip face. My stubborn nephew tackled it - which was insane - while my brother and I watched from a lower dune in the foreground. Camped that night at the dunes.

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Thursday was the trip out. Big Pine-Death Valley road in tip top recently graded condition. Air was dead still however and so it took forever for the dust to clear. Let my brother go first for a change and I hung back for fifteen minutes waiting for the dust to clear. Showers at Furnace Creek, lunch at Outback in Vegas and I was back on a plane by that evening.

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It was a very fun if grueling trip driving wise. Last time I did this loop I took over ten days to do it. This trip was slightly insane. Feel free to ask any questions!

Ken

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coastsider
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Post by coastsider » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:52 pm

Great trip report! Did you have a sense if Hunter Mountain was passable yet? I know the snow can hang there for a long time.

kwalsh
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Post by kwalsh » Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:39 pm

I would expect no snow on Hunter. There wasn't even a hint of snow anywhere on North Pass. We stopped near the top for lunch and it was over 60F outside. Not only was there no snow but the roads were bone dry as well. No snow in the shade of trees either. So I'm guessing all the snow is gone from Hunter - or at the very least most of it. There are some long sections up there that hold water and mud for a good long while so maybe you'll get your vehicle dirty - but I'm only guessing.

Ken

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:55 pm

Nice and thanks for the pix! Yes a lot of driving but you went to some of the good places. When I went up Ubehebe, we, too, bailed to the little summit, which I called "Babyhebe" at the time :) Still a darned nice view though!

Helo transport to the Saline? Wow. Someone has some dough.

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