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Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:49 pm
by kayaker77
Hi Everybody,

I'm still very new to backpacking/backcountry camping and was wondering - has anyone ever "cached" or buried supplies out east of the Saline Valley area for an extended hike of several days or more? Or in any other part of the park? If so, how did it work? I was there in February and my pack was too heavy with all the water and snacks I loaded up. I was wondering if animals would get to the supplies. And where do you do it, do you bury it, stash it in between rocks, etc.?

Thank you!

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:37 pm
by D.A. Wright
I’ve met long distance hikers who cached supplies at strategic locations, but don’t know the details of their teqniques.

Logic tells me that sealed stainless metal containers would protect contents. GPS coordinates a must, both on maps (for backup in case of dead batteries at the wrong time) and programmed into your GPS device. Sort of like geocasching. Burying your supplies in remote areas make sense to me to reduce chances of animal/human theft.

Just my thoughts if I was going to try it. There’s a lot of seasoned hikers on this board who will have far better advise.

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:16 am
by TacoLand
Never stashed food before ... when I'm backpacking it's all dehydrated & lightweight enough that there's always room in the pack. For me the killer is water (especially in Death Valley) in which case I've personally used MSR Dromedary Bags -- -- to leave water for out and backs. Never bothered to go to great lengths to "hide" these as the areas I've backpacked are extremely untraveled and I've never worried about animals in DV getting to them. I just try to find somewhere shaded for the water, and it's not a bad idea to leave a note on them giving your itinerary and asking people politely to leave them be. This system of not caching food usually gets me by five or six days, but it all depends on pack size, how much weight you can personally carry, and how much you like snacks.

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:52 am
Depending on where you're going springs might be of some use. I know in the Argus Range there are springs in pretty much every canyon. The same goes for the Panamint Range. It seems that there are lots of springs within DVNP and that it might be possible to create a hiking route that is like a connect-the-dots between springs. Of course, some springs are more or less reliable and other springs could contain arsenic. A list of all safe and reliable springs would be interesting and useful. (Obviously a water filter would be necessary to utilize water from such springs.)

BTW, I have located tons of donkey trails in the Argus Range and use them as hiking routes on my weekly hikes. Part of the Argus Range is within DVNP, but the reason I mention this is that donkey trails generally link springs for the most part. I'd imagine that there are networks of donkey trails throughout DVNP that could provide the basis for some fairly interesting hikes.

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:22 pm
by TacoLand
Phew ... you'd have to do a lot of research on springs, especially water flow / seasons, and mineral content, if you're linking multiple spots together. Lot of risks there with water that literally could turn life or death on you. And based upon what I saw at Owl Hole Springs, sure there's water there that the donkeys drink from ... but no way I'm drinking that even with my gravity filter and throwing Aquamira in after that unless it's absolutely mission critical. I have come across other springs and flowing water in DV and the Inyos (though worry about mining operation leftovers) that I would filter from.

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:33 pm
by wbdeford
I have cached food and water before and always found it undisturbed. I try to keep it out of obvious sight, more to avoid disturbing the pristine views other hikers might have than to prevent theft.

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:13 am
by kayaker77
Thank you everyone for the info, it's greatly appreciated! Yeah, it was definitely the water that was so heavy. I have a 65 liter pack and am quite thin & petite, and I need to train more with it full of water before the next time I try. I spoke with a ranger in February about springs, and she said not to get water from them because of the pot farms in the area. I guess the farmers spray some pretty nasty stuff on the plants close to the springs to make them grow. I did see a small amount of water in Quail Canyon, and it sounded like it was dripping out of a rock a little further down. Yeah, I had doubts about the springs in the park, and wasn't sure if they were safe to drink from. I didn't realize that there could be arsenic in the water, thank you for mentioning that. There were lots of game trails around the springs in Quail Canyon, too. And the Dromedary bags sound like a good idea, glad you brought those up.

I agree, a list of reliable springs would be wonderful!

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:56 pm
by bbb
I've cached water on out-and-back backpack trips. I usually pick a prominent landmark that I can spot from a couple hundred yards away. And set a GPS app waypoint for it too, of course, as a backup. The time between cache dropoff and pickup was only a matter of days, though. Longer treks would obviously be riskier for caching. Along well-trafficked trails, like the John Muir Trail, that see a lot of thru hikers, I've definitely read about caches being stolen or vandalized -- but no one would likely have to worry about such things in Death Valley. It's more about remembering where you stashed your stuff.

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:21 pm
by MojaveGeek
I would use fairly heavy duty plastic water bottles, like soda bottles, and at least partially bury them. I always cache near some sort of distinctive landmark - rock, dead tree, whatever and of course I make a waypoint on the GPS. If I'm caching near a trail where I will follow the same route out (I often cache water during dayhikes so I don't carry all my supply to the top of whatever peak I am bagging) I also make a duck (small pile or rocks) in a place where I'll have to stumble over it, but not right next to the cache. I am concerned about two-legged critters doing bad things.

Note that once (not in DV, in Montana) I cached some cheap thin half liter water bottles, and one of them was gnawed through, presumably by a rodent.

If you are caching food in the desert, you can use canned food. The packaging and price are right, and as others have pointed out, water weight is the limiting factor out there.

Re: Caching supplies east of Saline Valley Area

Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:48 pm
by kayaker77
Those are some good points, about burying it near a distinctive landmark, and maybe having a marker nearby but not right next to the stash. It would most likely be in very remote parts of the park if I would ever do it, so hopefully little to no traffic near the cache. I think canned food is a good idea, as well as GPS coordinates.

Thank you all for the great tips, they will come in handy!