Death Valley Rally Jan 2009 - The DD Report

DirtyDog

Captain Leisure
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Nov 10, 2005
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Location
Eugene, Oregon
I didn't know what to expect out of this trip. I've never been to Death Valley and you all are just a bunch of strangers from the Internet so this really could have been Death Valley :D

Result: awesome group of people, epic trip in every way. Near perfect weather, great camping, great food, plenty of brew, and endless terrain to explore. This is easily the best trip I have taken. Thanks to everyone who made it!

At our peak we had 10 trucks.

I'm going to post one photo out of order to get this started - Most of the crew:

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Pictured: Dick (Camelracer), Carol, Patrick (pvstoy), Ted (Ted), Suni (Sunman), Jessica, Marc (Marc), Pam, Bob (Deltarat), Russ (Lawnmowerman), Aaron (Dirtydog)

Missing: Mike (Simimike), Craig (Craig333)
 
Day 1 (day 2 for me but first day I ran into WTW peeps so I'll start there)

I had camped at an RV park in Minden and started the drive south on 395 in the morning. Not long after the agricultural shakedown station I looked in my rearview mirror and I was being stalked by three FWC campers! I pulled over and met Ted, Craig, and Bob from Sacramento. We drove part of the way to Ballarat together but separated in Bishop as I had to do some shopping.

Sneak attack by the Sacramento boys:
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Great views in Lone Pine:
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View of Panamint Valley:
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The Dirty Dog himself - Diego:
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Our plan was to meet at Ballarat. Unfortunately when we rolled into Ballarat there was a big group of "Clampers" (some lodge/fraternity type group) raising hell at the Ballarat site. After searching the camp for our boys, I headed south to see if they setup nearby. No luck. I returned to the clamper party and decided to setup there and wait for other members to show up. What a nightmare, this group was loud and very obnoxious. Just as the sun started to go down I looked south and just made out the shape of an illuminated FWC popup window - there's our group! Phew!

Met up with those guys and Sunman and Camelracer joined us as well.

Morning shot at Ballarat:
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Moving out - at the Ballarat "store":
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Ballarat info:
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Ballarat Cemetary
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There was also a truck in Ballarat that had belonged to the Manson gang. Check Teds report for a pic of the truck and more Ballarat photos: http://www.wanderthewest.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1720
 
The days route: Emigrant Pass to Stovepipe Wells to meet the second half of our group. Emigrant Pass is an easy dirt road with some side roads and various points of interest:

Charcoal Kilns:
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Eureka Mine:
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We rolled into Stovepipe Wells about 4:00. It was a pretty comical scene. The last four trucks to join us were sitting in the lot when we rolled in triumphantly in six rigs - looking pretty awesome. Then when we got to the parking spots there was some indecision as to how we should park - back in or forwards - and our triumphant arrival turned into a scene from National Lampoons vacation as we all got confused and in eachothers way as we moved back forward, turn around, no forward again....... LOL. Maybe next year we can nail our arrival :D

Stovepipe Wells is a pretty crappy campsite - we'll avoid that next time.

Stovepipe Wells:
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Tow Missile Jr:
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We had been watching the DV morning reports the week prior to the trip and unfortunately almost all of the interesting routes were closed due to snow and ice. The morning after our Stovepipe Wells stay, we were a little bummed at our lack of options when we learned that the new morning report listed Titus Canyon as open - the route that everyone was most keen on doing. Score!

Airing Down:
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Titus Canyon:
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WTW takes over the Titus Canyon parking area:
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Titus Canyon was a great drive that everyone enjoyed a lot. This is probably going to be the warm up run for future trips.
 
After Ubehebe we headed in the direction of Teakettle Junction to setup camp. The plan was to camp near Teakettle and hit the Racetrack in the morning. The drive to Teakettle Junction was the low point of the trip - around 20 miles of the worst washboard many of us had seen. Tempers were a bit short but we made it eventually:

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FWC style:
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Patrick never made it to the junction. I agreed to stay behind and wait longer for him - an opportunity to hike a nearby butte:

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Pat and Carol never showed, so I went ahead and joined the others at our camp. We decided Pat would be a WTW sacrifice to the Coyotes but he ended up showing up at the camp later so the Coyotes went hungry. He had a somewhat minor mechanical but everything was good.

Our camp near Teakettle Junction:
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Next stop: The Racetrack. This is a playa where the rocks mysteriously move and nobody knows why.

Looking towards the Playa:
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Look at this little fella go!
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Collision imminent!
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Stampede (almost got trampled here):
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And one more:
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At this point we had really started losing people - some had to go home for something called "work" - not sure what that is but oh well. At the racetrack we had to choose enduring washboard hell again or chancing unknown conditions on Lippincott pass. Lippincott is more of a true 4wd road than other we have done and some had concerns about taking our big trucks with campers over the pass. Sunman and Lawnmowerman had taken Lippincott earlier in the day. The final decsion with the remaining crew was to go ahead and try it so Camelracer, pvstoy, Marc, and myself threw caution to the wind and prepared for some true off-road action:

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There were definitely some oh **** moments but I am happy to report that we didn't lose anyone :)
 

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