Death Valley Hiker Association
3rd Section of the Desert Trail
           November 2006
                    
    The Death Valley Hikers converged on Stovepipe Wells for their Friday night Spaghetti feed.  As always it was great to see old friends and some new ones too.  We had two new hikers join us this time, Jim and Doug from southern California made a welcomed addition to our group.   The weather for the first part of November was in the mid eighties during the day. 
    I advised the group that we would need to start early in order to set up the vehicle shuttle because of the distance that we would need to travel.   The plan was to leave one vehicle on Hwy 190 north of the Devils Cornfield.  Another two vehicles at Salt Creek with extra water and supplies plus two very full vans to transport hikers down to the north end of the Westside Road.
    Saturday morning at six o'clock the group was up and preparing to go.  Scrambling around with last minute details, finally by seven we were on the road.  This would to be a 28 mile overnight hike from the Westside Road to Shoveltown with a resupply at Salt Creek.
    With the Panamint Mountains in the background and smiles all around who could ask for anything more.  By eight o'clock in the morning the sun was already warming the valley up.
  The salt playa terrain under goes many changes in the valley; from wet mud, crusty salt covered shields, to my least favorite, irregular dried mud.
Jim and Dusty navigate the minefields of dried out mud bumps.  After about five miles of this terrain our ankles are worn out..
Our first shade break came after about six miles and was a welcome sight, as the air temperature climbed above 85 degrees.  Thanks Abe for reminding us to take the much needed rest stops.  At about this point Chuck let us know that he was going to call it a day because of foot blisters.  So as we started north he made the easterly hike towards Furnace Creek Ranch about two miles away.
The group takes in the shade of a power pole west of the Corduroy Crossing.  Great view of Blackwater Wash behind us.  It was about this time that Grubstake took a reading of 88 degrees
Towards the late afternoon with miles to go,your thoughts start to wander and your feet start to scream out.  Finally, we make our way to higher ground.  One of the rules of the NPS is that you can not camp below sea level in the main valley.  Only in designated sites like Furnace Creek Campground, Texas Springs, Stovepipe Wells and Sunset parking lot.  We do the best we can. 
Thanks Andy for taking this great shot of the moonrise over the Funeral Mountains.  Cow Creek off in the distance.  Very few people will ever experience this view from this angle.  With only a few hours to go before camp.  
Sunday morning we awoke to clear skies and mid fifty temperatures. Enjoyed a relaxed breakfast and packed up our gear and headed north to Salt Creek.  Eight years ago Grubstake led a hike from Furnace Creek Ranch to Salt Creek.  This was one of my first hikes with the group and I'd remember a good spot to leave a memorial for Darrel "Ol Creosote" Tomer.  Grubstake and Dusty placed a water tight container that contained articles written by OC, a copy of the Hiking The Desert Trail; A Guided Route Covering the Length of Death Valley by George "Grubstake" Huxtable and other memories.  Its not our wishes to give out an exact location of this spot.  But if your up to a short hike from Salt Creek just look for this spot north of Shoveltown.   
The group taking one last break on a spot a desert pavement south of Salt Creek.  Just the perfect sunny sunday afternoon, temps in the mid eighties and no wind.  Our backdrop is the Funeral Mountains.  Keane Wonder mine in the foothills to the left of the group.  
When we arrived at Salt Creek around mid day we were welcomed my Drycamp and two other hikers that would be doing the tailgater hike on Monday in Hole in the Wall Canyon..
Drycamp would be leading a group to summit Schwab Peak between Echo Canyon and Hole in the Wall Canyon.
With six diehard desertrats left we head north up Salt Creek.  So if  your ever out walking the boardwalk at Salt Creek looking for those pupfish and see a well worn trail its worth the effort to view the rest of this lush marsh land.  I for one will take my wife on this beautiful walk some spring afternoon.  Maybe a small day pack with a picnic lunch, camera, a good pair of binoculars to view the birds and hell why not throw in a bottle of wine. 
Steve and Skip coming down off the mud hills.  Heading for McLean Springs.
Grubstake taking the lead and heading for the Stovepipe Wells Sand Dunes and our final destination.  Our camp at Stovepipe Wells and a cold beer.
Will leave this as the parting photo of the hike from the Westside Road to Stovepipe Wells.  This was a memorable hike with a wonderful group of people.  What can I say but thank you all for making this one of the best.      Happy Trails thru Life,  dusty

A special thanks go to Andy Cominos and Karen "Panamint Red" James for the wonderful photos.  Without them this page would be just a bunch of words.