Death Valley Hikers Association Hike  March 14 - 16, 2008
    Wow, what a trip.  I must give lots of background that occurred prior to our March, 2008 vacation. 

    First of all we have been trying to sell our home for almost two years, bummer.  We have had to  move most of our furniture, camping equipment and lots of other things into storage.  With an open house showing almost every weekend, it was killing us.

    The next major distraction would be Dorothy's parents, they are decling in mobility, health, but increasing in confusion and the need to have someone assist them.  Since November, Dorothy has spent most of her time with them.  { I love her for her love of her parents}.  Well, she spent 9 days home in December, 12 hours in January, 2 days in February, and now is home for a week in March.  To watch the animals while I journey on vacation in Death Valley.

     Third:  I tore my rotor cuff two years ago; it was a documented job injury.  I have been putting the repair off until a convenient time.  Well, the discomfort at night has been keeping me awake, so I decided not to put it off any longer.  I do not want to return to work after the operation which should be sometime in April which brings in another concern.

    Retirement;  I have been playing with projections of income and expenses.  Can we have enough money to live on before retirement from Social Security:  These thoughts can also keep one awake at night.  Right now you must be thinking what else can go wrong.

    Try to pack for a three week trip into the most desirable place this side of heaven and not  being able to find ones gear.  Plus I have friends that will be down for a week and then I plan a week with another old friend.  Finally my last week will be with 'me'.  That was my plan prior to the visit to the in-laws.  I felt that my wife could use me to help  her during my last week.  I cannot in good conscience leave her there and me having fun in the desert.   So I cancelled my second week in Death Valley.   To continue this thought, when we were in Johnson Canyon, Autumn was having a horrible time.  She said that I did not explain that there was no running water, flush toilets, and that the walk was "easy".  Also a little thing about the sand storm with gusts of up to 70 MPH.  My first week ended on Tuesday. 

    Here follows the good.

    We got to Stovepipe Wells around two thirty a.m. Friday morning.  The wind was blowing, the weather forecast said temperatures of 91 but WINDY.  It was blowing sand through the campground so we tried to make room in the suburban for Victoria and Autumn to sleep.  There was barely enough room for them.  I went out and laid down with my head inside the foot of my sleeping bad, it kept the sand out of my face.  That was the first time I had tried to sleep upside down in the bag.  No sand but I now know that my feet had left an impression within my bag over the years.  I woke up early in the morning, before sunrise and had to wait until the kids woke up.

    They slept late and our plans of Victoria swimming in the pool had to be postponed.  The wind was still increasing and the air was not very warm.  So I convinced a seven year old girl that we would have another day of swimming.  Off to Salt Creek to visit the pup fish.  Oh yeah, the sand dunes were moving as we drove past.  The wind was picking up.  The Desert Gold flowers were out in full force, a fantastic array of golden flowers thoughout the lower desert.  The water of Salt Creek was crystal clear but no fish.  We were too early in the year; the waters were not warm enough for large schools of the small fish.  At the northern most part of the boardwalk we did see a few schools of maybe 20 or so fish.   Nothing like another couple of weeks will show.

    We had an appointment to meet the Hoopers from New York at noon in the Visitors Center.  While waiting, Victoria started to watch the slide show the rangers have on display.  That girl was enthralled.  She never moved during the two times it showed.  The slide show was 17 minutes.  Victoria acted like she had fallen in love with Death Valley.  Doug and wife, Lorie, showed up and we left for Johnson Canyon.  Doug drove his rental car until the dirt and rocky road looked like it would get rough.  When we stopped to transport them, Andy appeared in his jeep.  Lorie went with us and Doug rode with Andy to the end of the road--Indian Tom's camp.

    It was there we made our camp.  Autumn and Doug cleaned out the old spring, cutting their hands in the process.  We had clean running water now coming out of the water pipe.  Great work.  We proceeded to set up our propane stove, propane BBQ grill, and propane fire pit.  We had 5 five gallon propane tanks in camp, life is no longer like it was in days of yore.  We found the bathroom, it was a wooden box with a toilet seat.  One could sit, do your business and watch everyone else watch you.

    Silvia came walking into camp; she had left her 2wd truck down the road, maybe a mile from camp.  We decided that some travelers might not drive to the end of the road especially after we had sent everyone e-mails that we would camp prior to dropping into the canyon.  So, Silvia and Chuck took the suburban and went back to the prior possible camp site to send the rest of the group onward.  Doug and Jim met us on the trail and shortly after came Karen, Don and Bryan, in a large white 4x4 van showed up after completely destroying a tire and rim.  And last but not least along came Stan and Gene.   On my return trip up the canyon I too sliced {2 inch} the sidewall of one rear tire.

    It was now time for our "Sausage Dinner"  and what a success!  We had cooked cabbage, some kind of dehydrated hash brown potatoes with cheese and other stuff, bbq rolls and I believe that was the night we had chocolate cream pie.  We ate very well; this has been a tradition for us on the Friday prior to our hike.  It started with a spaghetti and meat ball dinner.  It just grew into an international Friday night meal in the desert.  After a while we were sitting around the campfire talking about the upcoming trail and other Death Valley tales.  Doug H. was so excited to hear that other people  enjoyed talking about one of his favorite subjects,  Death Valley.   This was Doug's first outing with us, although he has been in the desert for years and attends our historical conferences and is a land owner, including a gold mine.

    Saturday morning we got up.  A breakfast of oatmeal and hot drinks.  Around 9 a.m. we took off uphill; the trail,  which in my mind had been fairly clear, did not exist.  Well, we wandered up hill and over hills for awhile until I realized that we had not gone high enough.  We chose to follow the stream however.  It also had changed; a trail had been developed within the brush.  I'm not saying that it was easy but it was passable.  We continued on for a ways when the "mantel of fatherhood"  became crystal clear.  Autumn was not having fun.  Wrong shoes, the walk was a major hike, not mentally prepared,  it was becoming drudgery.  I, at last realized that I had made a mistake.   We turned around, Autumn, Victoria and Chuck.  Bryan said the trail was putting more stress on his back than had been expected.  So he joined us back to camp.

    The other twelve continued and made many discoveries, arrastics, pictographs, farm equipment, the wipikup (Indian Shelter), and many more.  Doug, Jim, Don and Stan had left earlier than the rest of us; they were going to see if they could reach the summit, Panamint Pass.  The group returned in fragments.  Doug and Jim came in just before dark and that left only Don and Stan.

    Dinner preparation took a couple of hours, tri-tip, potatoes, vegetables, garlic bread, etc.  It was now dark when Don returned; he said that Stan was going on to the top.  Stan is very knowledgeable and we knew he would be OK, a little cold but he would survive.  Then Stan returned because of the tri-tip dinner, he said.  Not that it would be dangerous with only a small head lamp to guide his way in the snow, but he had thought of our dinner.

    Our camp was around 3800ft elevation and in the firelight it looked like wood ash falling.  Propane flames do not produce ash.  It must be snowflakes, it was.  The snow was grabble, that is when the flakes are blown into higher atmospere, reformed then return to earth like little round snowballs.  It snow for a couple of hours then the wind died down and snowing stopped.  It was a nice way to end the night.

    We had planned a rushed Sunday, to get the Hoopers out of the canyon and onto Chloride City and downhill to the Keane Wonder Mine, so they could get to Las Vegas by that night.  Eventually Doug and Lori thought the rush would not be pleasant so they decided to have a slow Sunday morning and forego the hike.

    Well we did have a nice Sunday morning with pancakes, bacon and eggs.  The wind was still blowing a little when we left.  As we got out of the canon and onto the fan the wind increased.  Journeying up towards Furnace Creek Ranch we could see a sand storm.  Karen and Andy had decided to go south on the Westside Road in order to take photos, we would meet at SPW.  Man, the wind was gusting up to 70 mph and it looked like it.  We had no room in our car to rest and when I tried to put up a tent for Autumn and Victoria I could not.  Autumn was not happy and I had decided to call it a trip.  Autumn was upset with me and told me to go with the rest to Monarch Canyon.  I could not leave her in the storm so we would return home.  Karen and Silvia who had been part of this conversation returned with motel reservations for Autumn and Victoria.  I broke down because of their genorosity and concern for my daughter and granddaughter.  This is one of the nicest things that had ever happened to me.  I was overwhelmed with their kindness.

    Monarch Canyon was out of the sand, the sky was clear, but the wind was still strong and the air was cold.  We stood around talking, trying to decide where the best camp would be.  We walked up to the end of "REI" canyon discovering a triple dry fall.  The first was about 8 feet; the second about 6 feet and the third about 20 feet.  It was a nice walk and we decided the wind was less near the entrance to REI canyon.  Silvia had set her tent up for her and Karen.   But before Silvia went to bed the tent collapsed on Karen.  Stan, Gene, and Chuck decided to sleep on the ground.  Andy had a small tent cot, and Don and Bryan were sleeping in the van.  Somehow in the sand storm we had lost Keven and Tara.  Doug and Jim had left for other places.

    Monday morning found us still in the wind and we decided that the ridge going to the Big Bell Mine and the one foot wide cliff trail below the Big Bell would be a likely spot for a major disaster due to the wind.  Don left for Pahrump for a new tire and rim, Andy and Karen left for Titus Canyon for photos and we would catch up with them and all meet at SPW in the evening.  Titus Canon was heavily  traveled but we stayed together with about 5 stops, for photos and relaxing.  After the canyon we decided to visit the old campground of Midway Wells.  With only a short walk we found an old picnic table (it had been abandon in 1973) and used it for a long break to enjoy the stillness of the desert. 

    Upon arriving at SPW we found Autumn and Victoria at the swimming pool.  Victoria had spent eight hours around the water.  That evening we had set up camp in the tent camping area and had another fantastic tri-tip dinner.  By the way, the weather had cleared up and the temperature was in the 80's.

    Tuesday morning we all said our goodbyes.  Don and Bryan headed for Saline Valley Warm Springs.  Stan and Gene were meadering towards SVWS by way of some "secret mine".

    Karen and Silvia took off for Darwin Falls.  Chuck, Autumn, and Victoria decided to clean up camp and visit Darwin Falls before we headed home.

           The trip was enjoyed by all and all have plans to return.....  Death Valley Chuck

Not to confuse you, but this is your webmaster flunkie, dustyfart.

I'm still trying to figure out a way to post about 158 pictures to this page....

And it's not going to happen....

Andy has been so kind to put togeather a photo CD, and your web flunkie is still trying to put it somewhere on Webshots.  But after 1 and a half bottles of a good red wine I'm still having technical problems.  Just don't know why.  But if you check back in about four and a half months I might be able to figure it out.  Until then enjoy a few teaser photos.

I think its Snowing?   But this is Death Valley!!!!!!
Somewhere in Johnson Canyon looking down stream.....
And yes,  if you stick around long enough you will end up in the pool with these two desertrats.