By Denis & Sandi Inman
Now that the temperatures are more moderate, we decided it would be a good time to take a trip through Death Valley. After meeting at Ashford Mill a little before 7:00 on Tuesday morning and airing down, we got off the highway onto West Side Road, heading North until we reached Warm Springs Road where our group turned left. The Adventurers on this leg of the journey were me, Jeremy & Deanna, Vic & Janice, and Brian & Mike rode in the dustiest position.
We made the obligatory stop at Warm Springs Camp, then because we drove up to Gold Hill on the previous 2 years, we decided to go to Arrastra Spring this trip. Back on the main road, we continued on into Butte Valley. There was a BLM burro round up going on at the Geologist’s Cabin and the contractors had already captured a few of the wild asses to take to the Adoption Center.
Our next stop was at Hatchet Spring, we then circled around Manley Peak through Redlands Canyon on our way to an un-named spring and mining camp. Once we made it back to Butte Valley Road, we headed Southwest towards Mengel Pass. After some photos, our quartet of Jeeps headed towards Barker Ranch where we had a sit-down lunch.
Brian & Mike needed to get back to Pahrump, so they said their goodbyes and took off for Ballarat and the highway to take them home. The remaining 3 vehicles continued down Coyote Canyon to the switchbacks at Keystone Mine Camp and took electronic images along the way and especially from the top. After a while, Coyote Canyon becomes the World famous Goler Wash, with narrow canyons and steep, rocky walls, it is a good place for spotting big horns high above. Just make sure you don’t run over any wild sheep in the road while you’re looking up.
After exiting the canyon, I lead us on a reconnaissance mission, looking for a road that I thought went over Manley Pass and was a short-cut to Trona. We drove to where I could see the boundary of the Naval Weapons area for China Lake NAS in front of us on the GPS before admitting defeat and heading to Ballarat to air up. We had made reservations at a motel in Ridgecrest and those beds appeared mighty inviting by now. The sun was just beginning to set by the time we reached or destination for the evening. Stay tuned for Day 2.