I arrived at Stove Pipe Wells at midnight on Thursday, March 17 2005. The campground was full and I went over to the airstrip and slept in a field (not on the run way) across from the airstrip!!! The next morning I went back to SPW and people were milling around and I talked to Pat and she said that people were moving in and out. She had found one that she was sharing with someone else. Bryan and Suzanne saw me and yelled (they recognized the red Geo). We chatted (they were squatting in someone elses property as they didn't have a site either). I found site #8 was going to be available so I bought a ticket and posted it quickly. I spent time talking to Pat and Bryan while waiting for other people to arrive. Stan arrived in the afternoon on Friday. More people started arriving. Jim, Sylvia, Karen, Don and Dave, then Don and Sue Chesterman and Gene (did I leave anyone out)?
We started on dinner in site #8 just after dark. Spaghetti and meatballs, french bread, oranges, cookies, grapefruit and berry cobbler and enough wine to make everyone happy. You were allowed eight people in a camp site but we couldn't count well obviously! The next morning we were slow getting going. Don fixed an excellant breakfast starting with hot coffee and chocolate. Just as we were leaving for Lemoigne Canyon, two girls came up and asked about our campsite. We told them "Sure". I proceeded to invite them along for the hike. They talked it over and decided to go with us, they are graduate students at Flagstaff, Arizona on spring break. Bryan called his brother in Ireland and found out that he was not doing well. He decided that he needed some time by himself and did not go on the hike. Don and Dave did not hike but decided to nap the day away. Lucky guys. Jim led us to Lemoignes wagon and we looked around and took plenty of pictures. On up the canyon we found and old car frame, we oohed and aahed over that and continued on. The weather at this time was still nice. As we continued on up hill the clouds were coming in and eventually we were enclosed in cold, wet clouds with visibility down to about 30 feet. Stan as generally in front of the crowd and we eventually lost him. Jim went ahead and located the cabin and Gene continued onwards to find Stan. We all ended up at the cabin. The cabin was in horrible condition and being gradually vandalized. It was depressing to see a once fine cabin in such a shape. It was too cold to stay there, so we put on what waterproof gear we had and started back down the hill. When we arrived back down, we set up camp, started a fire and had dinner. The weather cleared up but it was still cool. Before dark Stan found an old vandalized water mark pole (only the pole and a bracket were left). We set around the camp fire eating and talking for hours, then to bed. The two girls from Arizona left for SPW and we did not expect to see them again. While we were sitting around the camp fire we discovered that Jim, Don Chesterman, and I were all introduced to Death Valley at San Jose State (now the University of California at San Jose) by a one half unit science class at Death Valley. Jim was there in the early 60's, Chuck in the early 70"s and Don some time later in the 70's.
The next morning (Sunday) we got up, ate breakfast (Don cooked again and we all loved it, thanks Don. We drove down the dirt road, got on the highway and stopped by the entrance to the Indian trail that leads to the Indian trail shrine. Once at the shrine we talked about the meaning of it (sacred), we all threw a rock or two on the shrine for good luck, then while wandering (I think Stan found it) we found whaat I think was a geoglyph. It was maybe fifteen feet long with two oval rock alignments (one smaller inside the other). My GPS would not work within the area of the shrine and the rock alignment. I had to step on the opposite side of the alignment, slightly away from it, to get a reading. We continued down the trail and came to the water sign (Cottonwood 12 miles). From there it was .28 miles to the W. B. Roode rock. All this time we were talking about the area and different things. The weather was very nice, sunny and warm.
Alot of our group departed the hike. Stan, Jim, Gene, Sylvia and I were left. Back to the cars we drove approximately two miles up the hill to 3000' elevation (trailhead for Jayhawker Canyon). At that point we were talking by the cars and Jim said look, "There goes my brother". He waved but his brother didn't see him, (he was meeting Jim at SPW later in the day). We took off hiking towards Jayhawker Canyon, (there were three canyons up ahead) I kept thinking "the second canyon is Jayhawker Canyon, but I knew it wasn't. I though it was the one further to the left, but it wasn't. I made a mistake and we had to backtrack. Everyone forgave me, I think. We arrived at Jayhawker Spring and the Higgins signature rock. It use to be called Higgens Spring, and then it turned out that the Jayhawkers were there first so it was renamed. We found the WBR rock and took pictures of it. We explored around the spring and there was a pool of surface water. We went back to the cars and as we were standing around talking and separating Sunday afternoon. Jim saw his wife drive by going to SPW (meeting her later that day), he waved but she didn't see him either (he's batting zero for waves). Stan drove Jim into SPW and dropped him off. While we were saying goodbyes to Jim, the two girls drove by that had hiked with us on Saturday. They were looking for a place to camp (they had stayed at Site #8 then left and lost it.) Stan and I decided we would forgo our shower (since we hadn't bathed since Wednesday) what was one more day or so. We couldn't smell ourselves. Instead we drove to Furnace Creek to get a hamburger. We were sitting in the waiting area and shortly there after all the standing people were usher out (something had happened, but we were told we could stay). Turned out it was a small fire and the fire extinguisher had messed up the stove. Eventually they reopened and after a three hour total wait, we got our hamburgers. The waiter enticed us with hot cherry pie and ice cream for a mere $14.00 for two pieces of pie. While we were waiting, two older men came out. One was an 80 year old from Florida, he had moved there fronm California. Turns out he had lived across the street from where Jim now lives. What a coincidence. After we left we drove to Rhoades Spring to meet Bob Greenawalt. He was not at Rhoades Spring so we went to Virgin Spring and at the end of the road we saw his car. Bob yelled at us and we talked. He introduced us to Josh. Josh was in Death Valley in his dad's car and started talking to Bob. Bob said "Stay with us and we'll show you a good time" or some other lie like that. Josh did stay and he was a good hiker and an all around good person and he enjoyed himself. So Sunday night was spent on the Virgin Spring road with Josh and Bob.
Monday morning we decided that we would leave two vehicles there and take the other two and hike up the Ashford Mine then over to the Desert Hound Mine, including the Rock Ruins and Virgin Spring (none were found). The hike had a fork to start with, Bob and Chuck took the road and Stan and Josh went up the canyon, which meant they must clim up a 15 foot vertical waterless fall. Bob and I watched them climb, good photos. The walk up the canyon was enjoyable with its many flowers, rock formations and its dead bat. We had to explore a wood anchor, some type of frame, check out the early mine before heading into camp. There are three standing cabins and lots of ruins. It looks like they had a "u" shaped cellar behind the main cabin, it was on the northern slope and was cool. After kicking back for a while (lying on the beds) we looked over our "trail" to the ridge line of the mountains and ..... took off. There were no sign of any trail and we followed Stan complaining thahe couldn't find the trail. It was steep with loose rocks, an interesting cross country route to say the least. Finally we made it to the summit of a saddle and saw that we would have to hike right on the ridgeline. There was no going around the peaks in front of us, we had to go up and down every one. The one we dreaded was what we called the 45 degree one. All of us were feeling the strain of elevation gain, Chuck was almost dying. He heard that a study said if you take 25 milligrams of Viagra it would help one get up, up the mountains. There was alot of kidding for the rest of the day. Stan went adead and found a spot for that nights camp. He dropped his pack and came back. Chuck took him up on the offer to carry his pack. At that point it was all down hill to the mouth of the Desert Hound mine shaft. We spread out our sleeping gear and planned on enjoying a good nights sleep. Yes, you guessed it. At 3:30 am it started to rain. We just covered up with our ground tars and enjoyed the weather.
Tuesday morning was great, a good breakfast and off downhill (and a little up) we took the upper and logner trail to Virgin Canyon. The flowers were all over and after a while we made it to the Rock Ruins. After a break it was to the Virgin Spring. It was in horrible condition, the guzzler was full of dirt and the hose leading from the spring was dry. It was probably broken, and the guzzler was positioned to be filled by the hose and not run off, sounds like a government job. After a long day we were back to ur cars. After talking it over we decided on doing Scotty's Canyon and the Hold Out Cave. We got to our other vehicles and set up camp. It was quite nice, a very safe camp fire and Bob's tapes from Stuart Hamblen were nice to listen to. If you can try to get some of the guys music, it's great. Anyway, after the campfire died out (remember we are safe experienced back country men) we went to bed. Stan and Chuck were in tents, Bob and Josh were in the back of vehicles. At 11:30 a steady stream of 45-60 mph wind came up the canyon and reignited the fire. It was like being on the down side of a volcano during the eruption. Fire was bouncing off my tent while rain sprinkles were falling. I was inside trying to hold down the tent. I could not get out. After about fifteen minutes the wind stopped. We left the canyon floor and remade our camp.
Wednesday morning we headed up Scotty's Canyon and it is a remarkable canyon. The walk was easy and there is no problem finding Scotty's Hold Out Cave. It's in the shade and all the water you would want. We explored up canyon from there and enjoyed the whole morning. Back at the cars we said our good-byes and split.
Chuck headed for SPW and called his wife and then off to Panamint Springs Resort for a hamburger and fries. I was 15 minutes to late. Oh well, on to Saline Valley Warm Springs for my first shower since last Wednesday. On the road I me up with a young couple that had a flat. With my air compressor he made it to camp. His two flat tires were later repaired by Lizard Lee. Don Brown and Dave had camp and leftovers for me. After eating in the dark I went to bed.
Thursday morning found me in the hot showers. I nearly used a full bar of soap. It was soaking time and kick back for 36 hours. I did take lots of pictures and even got some good ones of some of the jets. Friday noon was my time to leave. It was a great week and I am looking forward to another trip again soon.
Thanks to all that joined us in Death Valley,
Death Valley Chuck