Dunes & Deserts

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Making our way over the pass we were greeted with a few snow flakes. A storm was coming in as we headed down to Baker Ranch, made famous as the place Charles Manson was found hiding out. The once still maintained ranch house was burnt down in May 2009 for unknown reasons. It was sad that vandals felt the need to destroy a piece of American history regardless of who was caught there. It was a beautiful spot and you can see why someone would want to build there. From there, we headed out of Goler Wash with towering vertical walls and onto Ballarat. This is basically a ghost town, left over from the many mining operations of years past. A few people still call it home and let’s just say they are some interesting folks.

After a short visit and some pictures, we headed over to CA 178 on the Panamint Valley side. What was an amazing site to see, all of the surrounding mountains were covered in snow. Though we only got a little rain up to this point, the storm dumped a large amount of snow at higher elevations. As it was, just cresting Mengel Pass, we got a few snow flakes falling on us. Driving north towards Panamint Springs, you get a real sense for the size of the park. It just seems to go on forever.

We arrived at Panamint Springs for some needed gas and a late lunch. At this point the weather was becoming very unpredictable as looking out the window of the Café, the valley would disappear in rain or clouds. After eating, we decided to head up to the last camp spot on the trip, China Garden Springs via Darwin Falls trail. We got there just before dusk and the stop was a great location but looking at the weather, it could make for a very bad escape route, as it was one way in and out, should the weather really turn bad. At this point the decision was made to call it a trip and everyone head back home. Disappointed but knowing it was most likely the best call, we headed back to San Diego.

Reflecting back on this trip, a few things really stuck out. First and foremost, the great people we traveled with, many having never met face to face before. There were no egos, complaining or issues. Everyone worked together for the common good of everyone else. It didn’t matter what your rig was or how much money you spent on it, it was about getting out and experiencing what life has to offer. That brings up the second thing, how amazing Death Valley is. So many look at the desert and see nothing but a bunch of sand and rocks. There is so much more if you really start looking around. There are things out here that you will not see anywhere else in the world.

Overland travel gives you the freedom to see these sites that so many, who never travel off the pavement, will never see. As a group, we tried to follow the principals of TreadLightly! and Leave No Trace, to minimize our impact on this sensitive area. If we all follow these guidelines, places like this will be open for generations to see and cherish. Enjoy, get out and explore. Until next time…

Related – Amputee Adventures

* Published by JPFreek Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.

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