Death Valley West Side
Denis & Sandi Inman
In the first part of the Summer, my buddy Jeremy mentioned that he would like to do the Lippencott Trail into Saline Valley on the West side of Death Valley. I had a desire to reconnoiter that area as well, with the addition of Teakettle Junction and the Racetrack in order to cross those locations off of my Bucket List, but we waited until the weather turned cooler in order to start the trip. Jeremy brought his wife Deanna and we also invited Jim and Brian. This group had the components to make an extraordinary trail run; capable rigs, competent drivers and compatible people.
On Monday, September 30th, most of us met in Smith’s parking lot at 4:00 AM. Jim went up to Beatty earlier to join us there as his 4 cylinder YJ is a capable trail vehicle, but cannot get up to highway speed downhill with a tail wind. After topping off our tanks at Eddy World, our group of adventurers headed West on the 190, stopping at Stovepipe Wells, Towne Pass and Panamint Springs. We aired down at Father Crowley Overlook, just a handful of miles from our jump-off point.
Upon arriving at Saline Valley Road, we headed North Northeast to Hunter Mountain Road and followed that to Hidden Valley Road. We took a trail to Goldbelt Spring then North on Quakenbush Mine Road until it rejoined Hidden Valley Road that we followed to Racetrack Valley Road at Teakettle Junction.
After our obligatory
photos of the World famous landmark, the stalwart explorers traversed the trail
leading to the Racetrack and the Grandstand attractions. Deanna and I wandered
the playa looking for self propelled rocks to no avail. The area had received
almost no rain in quite a while and disappointingly, a few people had
vandalized the area in wetter times with bikes, cars and even baby strollers.
When we reached Lippencott Pass, the voyagers
negotiated the trail down to Saline Valley, where we found a place to have
lunch. Moving on, our quartet of Jeeps headed North on Saline Valley Road,
stopping occasionally along the way for more photos and to enjoy the awesome
scenery. At Waucoba Saline Road, we maintained our advance towards Big Pine,
arriving at our motel after 11 hours on the road at around 3:00. Subsequent to
a light dinner, we retired to our rooms for some much needed rest.