Death Valley North Side
Denis & Sandi Inman
Our plan for Tuesday morning was to top off our tanks just a little before the donut bakery that also serves breakfast biscuits, muffins and croissants opened at 6:00 AM. Unfortunately, after rising early and getting that chore accomplished, we were all standing around in the cold, drinking coffee and waiting for our morning bite. The pastry shop eventually opened on time and we had a quick snack before hitting the road.
As we headed back towards Death Valley, the resolute adventurers retraced a portion of our previous days path for a short distance until we passed the spot where Waucoba Saline Road meets Big Pine Road. We were surprised at how much of the route between Big Pine and Crankshaft Junction is paved or smooth graded gravel, so we ended up at the intersection hours sooner than expected.
Calling an audible, we decided to drive Southeast on Death Valley Road and take Oriental Wash Eastward towards Gold Point, then pass by Hardluck Castle on our way to Beatty. Along the way, our navigator (me) plotted a route that we had not previously scrutinized and led the group up into the forest to the vicinity of 8152′ Gold Mountain.
We discovered what appeared to be a portable microwave station and perused several diggings. Despite our diligent search, the trail from Oriental Mine past Courbet Mine, up to the ridge we were on, clearly visible on the GPS, could not be found. Disappointed, we had to go back downhill adjacent to the Empress mine in order to connect with the Hardluck Mine trail.
We had lunch at Bonnie Claire, then headed South on a road that starts out along the Western edge of an un-named dry lake. The route eventually took us West of Sawtooth Mountain to Rhyolite ghost town, home of the Goldwell Open Air Museum where we aired up at about 2:00 and headed for Pahrump via Beatty. All agreed that both days were quite an adventure and an excursion we won’t soon forget.