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  1. #1
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    Passion X-post: Death Valley

    Originally posted in Passion, X-posted here since majority of riders represented AZ!


    Not sure where best to put this....

    Not everyone carried full bikepack gear so it doesn't necessarily fit in the BP forum.

    Lots of folks came out from AZ but the ride was in CA/NV

    SoCal folk don't consider this SoCal, nor do NorCal folk Consider it NorCal.

    But I think it fits pretty well in Passion!


    Six of us turned out to do a multi-day ride in Death Valley this past weekend. A few others turned out to hang out, check out the sites, and ferry beer coolers and tired riders from place to place. Thanks to all the drivers, and thanks to Gilamonster (Phil) for setting this up!

    We started Saturday morning from the Exchange Club in Beatty NV. There was a few miles of pavement before turning off onto dirt.



    John and Ilya pause to rest at the top of the day's first climb



    Scenery starts to get interesting as we ride into the mountains



    Following a short descent there is some more climbing



    We finally top out, Phil finds a bit of singletrack to hit (this would be all the s/t on the trip!)



    Group shot before dropping Titus Canyon. John (Freeskier46), Sabina, Eszter, Ilya (Isignay), Phil (Gilamonster), Evan (evdog)



    John and Eszter lead off down the canyon



    There was 2/3" of rain the night before. A few puddles for now...



    The road would drop a full mile into Death Valley



    Mining remnants were everywhere



    We finally reach lower Titus Canyon and the rain damage becomes obvious.



    When Phil pre-rode the canyon in December it was nicely graded and fine to drive in a passenger car



    Not anymore! These folks (and us) started down before the park service closed the road



    Once we got to the lowest 2-3 miles it turned into a soupy mess.



    The brown middle is wet silty mud mixed with gravel



    It went from "this is cool" to "ok my bike is filthy but I don't care anymore" to "holy crap this is outrageous"



    Wet muck



    Having fun yet? Exiting Titus



    The bike, after scraping off excess muck. My cranks wouldn't even turn at first



    We scraped off what we could, and left the rest to dry which would make it easier to brush off. My drivetrain was fine by the time I descended the couple miles to Scotty's Castle Rd. Others had problems shifting. We had 30mi to go to Furnace Creek.

    Looking back up at the mountains we had crossed



    This was our view for the next couple hours



    We rode through some cool landscapes



    Map of the first half of our day at the Visitor Center



    From Furnace Cr to Camp 1 we had a 40 mile ride along the west side road, located at its junction with Warm Springs Canyon



    Leaving Furnace Creek



    By the time we departed for the final 40 miles we didn't have a lot of daylight left. John and Eszter were a bit ahead of us and took the dirt road. Since most would be in the dark, Phil Sabina and I opted for pavement thinking it would be faster. Wrong! It was exposed to wind, and skirting the edge of each alluvial fan made the distance longer plus the junction was beyond camp by a couple miles so we ended up with 113 miles for day 1. I have done plenty of hike a bike in my time but almost never on pavement and definitely never on FLAT pavement, but we did some of that this night. Butts were hurting! We did not get in til 10:45 or so, by which time everyone else was sleeping soundly. There were no congratulatory beers, we just ate quickly and got to sleep. Was a beautiful night, so all was good!

  2. #2
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    Excellent!! I'm glad you snapped that pic of the Titus Canyon damage by the 4x4's, not sure why I didn't. While most of Day 1 was downhill or flat, it was still 100+ miles and a big effort. Looking forward to the rest of your pics.
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  3. #3
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    Cool Stuff.
    Today's the day I eat bikes.

  4. #4
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    Bad-ass!!!!!

  5. #5
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    I'll piggy-back onto this.

    Here are some pre-ride touristy shots from Friday.

    Checking out the sights in the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV




    Joshua Tree






    The Last Supper & a vortex


    Ghost rider






    The Venus of Nevada


    Last Supper close up


    Saw my first ever bighorn sheep in the wild, counted 6 total.


    Looking south towards Badwater


    Badwater Basin


    -282 feet.






    Obligatory group shot




    Static electricity!! Rain started to fall, so we hit the road.




    As we drove back to Beatty, NV for the hotel the rain was steady and we watched small rivulets form in the small micro-canyons next to the road. A rare treat for sure in Death Valley. Furnace Creek ended up with 0.40" of rain that night.
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  6. #6
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    AWESOME! thanx for the TR's, looks fun!!!
    I dig dirt!

  7. #7
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    Day 2

    Waking up



    Nice view of snow capped peaks



    Day 2 would be the "big" day, and the one I was now worried about given how butt-hurt I became on day 1. We would be doing just under 80 miles but with double the climbing. The first 26miles or so would be pavement over a couple of passes, followed by a 40 mile traverse of the Greenwater Valley. Finally we would climb 9 miles and 3,000ft up Echo Canyon to camp.

    Overview shot of the first part of our days route. Camp 1 was near the spot marked Shoreline Butte. We would climb pavement over Jubilee Pass and Salsbury Pass.



    John, Eszter and Ilya took off up the road. I did a loop around camp and determined there was no way my butt would survive the pavement climb. Fortunately our route would also take us back within a couple miles of Furnace Creek, so I had the option to just ride back on the West Side Road rather than the big pavement detour to Greenwater Valley. Phil was preparing to push off and was warning us that if he didn't make it into camp 2 by midnight not to worry as he had all his camping gear. Kathleen, Doug and Michelle were planning to hit Dante's view today so at some point it was suggested they could shuttle us up the pavement rather than climb it, as distance this way would be similar and they'd be able to get cheap(er) gas at Shoshone. That would save us the pavement climb yet leave us the same 40 mile distance to bottom of Echo Canyon but with some new scenery. Win!

    So Phil and I loaded our bikes onto the 4 runners and we headed up the road. We passed the other riders near the top of the second pass and got dropped off at the turnoff to Greenwater Valley Rd.

    This would be our view the next couple hours



    The road climbed for 15 miles and then flattened out before descending another 10 or so.





    Dante's view is up a paved road to the left of these mountains. We wouldn't be going up there today



    We reached the paved road which heads up to Dante's, so it was a long pavement descent almost into Furnace Creek. Lots of mining history in the area and some cool rock





    Almost there



    We were caught by the 4 runner convoy who had secured some cold refreshing beverages for us (no, not that kind)



    Looking back up 20 Mule Team Canyon is somewhere on the right.



    We make the turnoff onto Echo Canyon Rd. Our route will take us up a narrow canyon in the middle



    We started pedalling and I got a little ahead of Phil. We were soon caught and passed by the 4 runners, who had checked out Zabriskie Point and Artist Drive. Well, passed by two of them. Phil apparently had a moment of weakness and was soon spotted sitting in the passenger seat of Michelle's 4 runner. This led to my moment of weakness when it was pointed out they had room for one more. It was the thought of 2 hrs pedalling in the dark vs having a beer now while getting a ride up to see the Echo Canyon in daylight, and getting to hang out with folks which sealed it for me.

    Looking back down before we get to the narrows





    Window



    Happy dog



    Most of my photos in the canyon were blurry as it was getting dark, but I did get one of a mine shaft next to our camp site. It didn't go further than what you can see but was still pretty cool.



    I missed out on some riding mileage this day but still got to see the whole route. And since my butt was saved from a lot of pain I would be able to ride day 3. We got to camp right at dusk and set up. It was not too much longer, maybe 7 when John and Eszter arrived. Ilya was last seen a couple miles back of them on the pavement, and arrived in camp only a half hour or so later. With everyone accounted for we had some food and some beers before hitting the sack.

  8. #8
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    Great recap Evan. I don't think I ever saw your camera out, but you took some pretty sweet pics!

  9. #9
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    awesome!!!
    must have more!

    though it makes some pics look dim, i think you guys lucked out with the overcast.
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  10. #10
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    Day 3

    Our third day broke to sunshine and nice temps. We had been warned during planning it could be down to the teens temp-wise but I think we camped a bit lower than expected, only 3200ft. So it was a nice night except for somehow being dive-bombed by mosquitos of all things in the middle of the night.



    We weren't in a super big hurry to get going, but we didn't waste a lot of time either. The sooner we finished, the sooner we could down some beers! Only John, Eszter and I would ride day 3. The other riders all bailed in favor of seeing some sights and camping at the Racetrack that night. This days ride was a bit of an unknown. Phil had not been able to scout it all by vehicle, and though the profile called for only a ~1,000ft climb out of Echo Canyon our lower camp would mean more climbing than that - I think we topped out around 5,000ft.



    The canyon was pretty cool to ride up, and there appears to be plenty of other road options to explore



    Cool geology as well



    Approaching the Waterfall



    From the 4x4 youtube video of Echo I was expecting a lot more HAB than this, but it was just a few steps up the waterfall otherwise almost the entire day could be ridden



    Nice view of Telescope Peak in the distance



    There were a few false summits but none of the climbing was bad



    Finally we got to the top which meant close to 20 miles of flat or descent down to US95 in NV. I don't think we were still in Echo when we topped out, as we had crossed a few ridgelines on the way up.



    Our descent led us through another cool canyon. Not very tall, but a lot of variety in the rock







    We exit the canyon and the views open up.



    Eventually we blow past a turn by 100 yards. No one had even seen the turnoff, but thankfully John's GPS let us know we had screwed up. A bit of backtracking led to a faint road marked by an easy to miss cairn. It was generally downhill and had a pretty raw surface. No idea how Phil found it, but it was pretty cool to ride. Eventually it merged with a more used road, and then again with an even more heavily used road.



    John passes the imaginary line to exit Death Valley



    We had a good 15 miles from the park to US95. Mostly downhill, but we eventually got on to a flatter, more used road that was a bit sandy/gravelly. At least the views were still good.



    Beyond US95 we had what was billed as a 10 mile climb along the east side of Bare Mountain. It was more like a 1-2 mile climb and then mostly flat. Or at least it seemed that way. There were a couple more climbs along the way, the final one being a climb into the northern part of the range. This one got steep at the end.



    Not sure which peak we saw is Bare Mountain, but it was nice to be back into some interesting geography



    We finally reach the top, and the end - Beatty - is in sight! All downhill from here....



    The descent down was pretty uneventful



    Not long and we were back on pavement for the last 1/2 mile back to the hotel.



    Start was around 830, finish was around 430, and we rode around 55miles and 5500ft or so elevation.

    Overall I think this was my favorite day riding. Minimal pavement and maximum remoteness. In fact, aside from 1 suv coming down Echo in the morning and traffic on US95 I don't think we saw anyone else during our ride. Big props to Phil for putting together such an off the map (literally) day. Beers tasted great and having showered up we headed across the street for some great pizza at KC's.

  11. #11
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    Again...awesome job! I wonder if that Death Valley Firepit BBQ on the L. in your last pic is any good. One would certainly hope so...

  12. #12
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    Wow. Both to DV and the journey. Thanks for sharing.

  13. #13
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    Fantastic pics Evan, really glad we were able to ride together on Day3.

    I'll add in my pics from the ride, trying not to overlap too much.

    Day1:
    Climbing up Red Pass


    Remnants of days gone by could be spotted everywhere.


    My trusted steed wasn't shifting for some reason??


    Eszter and I kept rolling ahead after Titus Canyon


    We were scolded by the Park Rangers for not riding single file along this stretch of pavement.




    Campground hose saved the day, although our bikes were running pretty well in spite of all the mud.


    We caught up to the caravan in the visitor center, then the rest of the group showed up as Ez and I were heading out for the last 40+ miles of the day.


    Good to be on a bike!!


    How low can you go?


    For almost $400 per night, you can stay here: Furnace Creek Inn.




    We weren't riding past the -282 overlook on this day, our route would take us on the gravel west side road to camp.


    It was getting more difficult to keep our eyes on the road.


    Lots & lots of rolling pics.


    Something to check out next time.


    A lone hiker walking out on the river of salt while we cross Badwater basin.


    Really cool salt formations


    Plenty of water too.


    This scene reminded me of a 3-day old east coast snowstorm.


    More POI's along the way. Ez & I arrived at camp1 just before 9:30p, guided in by green laser light. I think if we would have been carrying all our gear, we may have just camped out somewhere earlier along the west side road. It was a long day, 107 miles in 14 hours. After a warm dinner, the sleeping bag was unrolled and I fell asleep staring at a million stars. Perfect.
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  14. #14
    Kathleen in AZ
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    Great pics and fun adventure! Glad we could help out with some uphill transport of the sore-butt club. I will post up some adventure images from the 4Runner perspective soon

  15. #15
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    Day 2

    While this day was shorter than Day 1, it was still an 80 mile effort with something like 9000' of climbing ahead of us. Ez & I broke camp and tried to wake the legs up on the climb to Jubilee Pass.

    Snow on Telescope Peak.


    At least the grade wasn't killing us.


    A short downhill spurt, then onto the flanks of Salisbury Pass.


    Salisbury Pass proved difficult for me to match Eszter's cadence, I think she was secretly munching on her maple/bacon kettle chips for power.


    Our sag wagons passed on by a couple miles below the pass, but there were other reminders of how far we've come already.


    A quick snack & we were ready for a screamin' fun/fast downhill.


    A 36mph decent will put a smile on your face.


    We'd be riding 47 of the 48 miles towards Furnace Creek, 17 uphill on the dirt of Greenwater Valley rd, then 12 down on dirt followed by another 18 downhill paved miles to the Echo Canyon turnoff.


    The sky was almost as dark as the mountains, but no rain.


    Chocolate mountains were making me hungry.


    Constantly changing scenery around every turn.


    We hesitated for a moment, almost questioning the lefthand turn our track was making. It was getting late, should we continue on the fast pavement in hopes of making camp2 by nightfall or stick with the route? The correct decision was made, left we went. It was the highlight of the day by far. 20 Mule Team Canyon on hero dirt.


    It's mind boggling that we could ride through a place like this.


    We were riding the 'wrong way' on this one-way road, fully expecting car traffic at any turn. Down at the bottom, we found the gate closed across the road, we had the entire canyon to ourselves.


    Back on fast pavement we spotted a popular tourist pullout...


    We decided to ride up the overlook to see what the fuss was about.


    Zabriskie Point!!




    We made the Echo Canyon split and rode almost to the mouth of the canyon before putting on our lights once again. We rolled into camp around 8p, Ilya finished up 15 minutes later and all were accounted for.
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  16. #16
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    Day3

    Looking at the route profile we knew the last day would be the easiest, just under 50 miles. The nice thing about this day was the remoteness and all dirt routing.

    We continued up Echo Canyon, it was nice to see some of it during daylight hours.


    Evan spotted an opportunity for a quick freeride descent.


    A short HAB that we began to wonder if we'd ever see.


    We soon began topping out of the canyon.


    We were treated to an awesome view of Telescope Peak.


    Another canyon to roll through.


    Then onto that primitive 2-track.


    Then we made our trek across the flatlands towards the US95 crossing.


    Still gravel grinding our way downward.


    Circling the backside of Bare Mtn.


    We grunted our way up the final climb, steepest one of the route!!


    Our reward for the final summit: BBQ Kettle chips!!


    Evan blasting down the final few miles into Beatty, NV.


    The scenery never let up, right to the very end.


    Beatty, NV.


    Bare Mtn to the right & our final piece of dirt.


    Pizza & beer followed and the next morning we walked down the street for a hearty breakfast.
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  17. #17
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    And on day 2 we took a watercolor painting class...

    Wow, some of those don't even look real. Very nice.
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  18. #18
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    Now my turn for the touristy shots! There was talk of sleeping in Tuesday morning as the folks who camped at Racetrack weren't expected back til 10 or 11. But hunger struck shortly after 6am, so we were off for breakfast. Not long after getting back to the hotel Phil and Ilya arrived, which meant we could either get an early start on the drive home, or better yet check out a few sights on the way through. As John did I won't post the overlapping pics as lots of what we saw were things they saw.

    First stop for us was Rhyolite as well. For me a lot of the old ruins were not that interesting, but the house made out of bottles was. Lots of items in the back yard made of cement and broken glass



    And the house itself... it is hard to photograph, but you get the idea from this. All the walls were made of bottles set in mortar. Cool idea which probably made for interesting lighting inside



    Faces surrounding the metal sphere



    wood sculpture atop a pole. These latter things at the outdoor museum.



    We drove down past Furnace Creek and checked out a few things we had missed -

    Artists Drive


    Zabriskie Point


    Dante's View




    And a lap through 20 Mule Team Canyon (shuttled, of course!)


    Ilya needed to get back to town for work so we didn't hang around long but drove through the park to CA-395.

    Some sand dunes along the way


    Nice views heading up the far side of the canyon




    This trip has definitely got me stoked to go back and check out more of DV at some point, pretty awesome place and for a National Park it wasn't crowded at all except for the ultra touristy spots right on the highway. Fortunately the tour buses and motorhomes can't get to the best stuff!

    It was great meeting/riding with everyone, and thanks again for the rides Kathleen, Doug, Michelle!

  19. #19
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    Holy hell that is some great adventure!

  20. #20
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    What an amazing adventure! Thanks for posting all the great photos.

    I visited DV for the first time in January and had a great time. Some of the photos in this thread were of places we had been and brought back some good memories.

    A lot of what we did was off the beaten path for even bikes. It's a great place to visit with or without a bike.

    -db-

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