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 > Death Valley Caravan Report pics & postmorti by jefe & Rick

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jefe 4x4

West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada

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Posted: 04/06/08 12:03am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's history. The sand, the rocks, the salt flats, the mountains, the wild flowers, the wind, they were all there.
The trail up Hanaupah Canyon, at the 2500 ft. elev., with 11,049 ft. Telescope Peak looming large up canyon.
[image]

Jeanie and I left our home in the Sierra Nevada on a cool and snowy Saturday morning, driving east over Donner Pass, south from Reno on Hwy. 395 to Bishop where we stopped and had a late lunch. We pressed on and camped at Eureka Dunes in the very northern end of Death Valley. It was cold and windy. No matter. We were buttoned up in our little Lance for the night.
[image]

Rick Wiesner was about 6 hours behind us and would catch up the next day at Scotty's Castle. We started down the Death Valley Road. The washboard was bone jarring. Pulled over and lowered the tire pressure to 30 lbs. all around. A big help. As it worked out, this was only the beginning of low pressure running over hundreds of miles of back roads and jeep trails. We arrived Scotty's Castle, took a tour and came out to find Rick's rig parked next to ours. He arrived shortly after having taken a guided tour himself.
We then set out for a place to camp for the night. The closest seemed to be a jeep trail off the Daylight Pass road to Cloride Cliffs. So it was. Brush was dragging on both sides of the campers, and big rocks dotted the road like so many bowling balls. We found a flat spot of gravel a couple miles in and set up camp in the wanning minutes of Sunday light. I set up our campfire barrel, screwing on the legs and getting the fuego going. No wind. We retired and the wind picked right up and howled all night. Our chairs and lighter camp stuff were strewn all around. No matter, we ground toward Cloride Cliffs on a "not for the faint of heart" jeep road.
[image]

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We got very close to the Cloride Cliffs, but decided not to go the extra 1/2 mile of VERY bad road in. Instead we drove north over endless miles of cross washes through the Amargosa Desert to get in a trajectory for Titus Cyn.
[image]
Our plan was to drive the Titus Cyn. road downgrade to Death Valley.
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A Rover 110 from Austria with a camper on at the trailhead.
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A rare '5 spot' and cactus in bloom.
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Our camp spot up Echo Cyn. view to the west.
[image]
The 'tilton hiltons' going up Hanaupah Cyn. We're below or about at sea level here,
with that dark rock to the right, just above the salt flats being Badwater, the lowest place in the western hemisphere. 282 feet below sea level.
[image]
[image]
Endless sand heading toward Cottonwood Cyn.
[image]
There's a road there somewhere while the canyon swallows our rigs.
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Profussion of flowers heading into Saline Valley:
[image]
A coyote gets a drink next to our campsite at Warm Springs, Saline Valley
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[image]
the 'north road' out of Saline Valley and the end of our trip. If you squint, you can see Rick's rig in a cloud of dust coming up the road.
The big downside of the trip was missing AKphotoBob. After two weeks of PM-ing him of the date and time changes, we somehow missed him altogether. He finally did call my cell which had no reception in Death Valley so I didn't get his message until Friday as we were already out of the area.
I suspect Rick will have a little spiel about the trip too. God knows he took enough pics.
********
I guess I should do a postmortem of the trip.
What worked and what didn't:
I was very happy with the way my Lance Centering brackets worked. Four triangular shaped metal brackets that bolt to the bed. Since they don't allow the camper to shift position, it stands to reason that there is actually less stress on the tie-downs and more transmitted to the brackets.
Good tires were especially important. I bought 2 new front tires just before the trip after checking out the old ones. They had cracks all the way around the sidewall. Rick's tires looked good from far, but were far from good. They still had lots of tread, but were 'P' series, not up for the beating they were to take. We plugged two flats he had on the trip. Looked like sharp rocks right through the steel belts. We used Safety Seal plugs, the best there are. We used my 20 lb CO2 tank to pump tires back up when we reached pavement. I also had my high volume air compressor which Rick used, so we had the tires back up in no time. I would say we went 150 miles on dirt/gravel/jeep roads, and had to air up 5 or 6 times.
I installed new front shocks (Pro Comp 3000). They're non adjustable, which is fine as the front axle load doesn't change much. I checked out the rear rancho 9000's, and they were worthless. So, I got new ones on warranty. I knew there would be a lot of side-to-side rocking on the roads we're to travel, and adjusted my tie-downs a little looser. Yes, looser. With as much as the frame was going to be tweeked, I wanted some wiggle room for the tiedowns. I was prepared to disconnect the rear stablizer bar, but it was not bad enough to do so. There was some side to side motion, but not nearly as much as I was bracing for. There was a speed at which to travel that would reduce the sway and debilitating effects of washboard. This was more a Zen-like thing to read the trail as you motor over it.
Speaking of that, driving heavily washboarded roads was an art in itself. Deflating down the tires helped the most. The sidewalls were now taking the heat, so the speak.
Trying to find the optimum sweet spot on the road, I found myself on the wrong side of the road most of the time, with the left tires on the smoothest part at the very edge of the road. Something about the shape of the washboard coming the other way. Very occasionally, The right side of the road, way to the right was better, especially if there was a buildup of blowsand (because of the prevailing winds). Almost never down the center where everyone else drives. I found myself strattling protruding rocks instead of around, if they would clear. Low pressure gives you a great traction and floatation advantage, which means we used 4WD less. The other side of the coin is a reduction in axle clearance. It took big rocks to use the very low gears in the transfer case and go into creep mode.

I took my Honda 2K genset, 3 gals. of gas, and a high end charger, all of which went unused. Since we drove every day from a to b, the alternator was sufficient to keep the batts up. Every time we set up camp I had unload and then reload the above into the back seat area.
Our miniscule 14 gal. black water tank lasted 6 days. Besides using the great outdoors when possible, we used a plastic tub on the floor of the shower to capture runoff and dumped it outside. This saved a lot of shower water from filling the black tank.
Ground clearance was never a problem. Once I hit a big rock on the rr pig with a resounding 'clanggggg', but the racks on the rear didn't drag (like I figured they would).
Rick did have an issue with his r.rear jack. It snagged on something and has a few degrees of tweak now. Rick's 4 X 4 X 4 (4WD, 4W steering) was a wonder to behold on tight trails. With rear steer, he never had to double pump anything that was too acute.
The Cummins just sipped fuel at low speeds. So I just dumped my 10 gals of extra #2 into the main tank once it finally got down low enough. Didn't really need extra fuel for this trip. Those 10 gals cost $1.26, per gal. less in Carson City ($3.89) than Panamint Springs ($5.15 per g.!). So i guess you could say I didn't pay $12.60 for those extra 10. Furnace Creek was a bargain @ $4.92 per.
That's enough for now,
regards, as always, jefe

* This post was last edited 04/08/08 08:02pm by jefe 4x4 *   View edit history


'01.5 Dodge 2500 4x4, CTD, Qcab, SB, NV5600, 241HD, 4.10's, Dana 70/TruTrac; Dana 80/ TruTrac, Spintec hub conversion, H.D. susp, 315/75R16's on 7.5" and 10" wide steel wheels, Vulcan big line, Warn M15K winch '98 Lance Lite 165s, 8' 6" X-cab, 200w Solar

Raiders5

Morgan Hill, CA

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Posted: 04/06/08 12:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jefe,
Great pics. Looks like your truck and tie-downs got a work out.
Thanks for posting.

Scott


Raiders5
2005 F-350 PSD, Crew Cab, 2WD Dually, Lariat, ARP Head Studs, Bulletproof EGR Cooler, Dieselsite Coolant Filter, Edge Insight, Air Bags, Rancho 9000's w/in Cab Control, Torklift Stable Loads
2005 Lance Max 1181 All Options


DonCurley

La Sal, Utah

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Posted: 04/06/08 01:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jefe,

Great pics and a great write-up! All of this brought back some really wonderful memories for my wife and I. When we lived in California, we must have gone to Death Valley well over twenty times in a variety of 4x4 vehicles over a 30 year period and always loved it (and we went into some pretty isolated spots in the park and surrounding areas). And while its not all that challenging, it was always a treat to go down that scenic and striking drive through Titus Canyon (when it was open). And I do remember some major washboard conditions in places. We didn't have to air down on our White Rim Trail trip last month, but I can definitely see why you did for that washboard stuff, as that can jar your brains out. It looks like you all had a great time (and here's definitely another write-up that Silversand can add to his new trip report sticky).

One of these days, we'll have to make a trek out that way and do the area in our rig (which will definitely be an improvement over the tent on the ground thing we always used to do there).

Thanks,
Don


-'07 Dodge 3500/QC/SB/SRW/4x4/6.7L CTD/6-spd auto/35" Toyo MT's/Ride-Rite air bags/RS9000XL shocks
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trails2004

Outside

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Posted: 04/06/08 03:40am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great pictures and write up! -there seems to be theme of Dodge trucks leading these expedtions [emoticon]

Thanks

c.traveler2

Moreno Valley,Ca.

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Posted: 04/06/08 05:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for posting your DV trip, the pictures are really good.


2007 F-250 4x4 /6.0 PSD/ext cab/ 2020 Bunduvry

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silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 04/06/08 05:48am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

....Jefe:

Your excellent expedition report is now in the Trip Reports sticky...

Nice write-up and nice expedition!

Cheers,
Silver-


Silver
2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD 4x4 6.0L Ext/LB Tow Package 4L80E Michelin AT2s| Outfitter Caribou

Wasatch Lance

Park City, Utah

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Posted: 04/06/08 07:32am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jefe,

That's a fantastic trip!

Thanks for sharing.


2002 F-350 CC 4X4 PSD, Stage II Injectors, Garrett BB Turbo, AFE Air Cleaner, Chip, 4" Exhaust, Gauges, Extra Leaf Springs, Air Lift Bags, Hellwig Sway Bars, Rancho RS9000XL shocks, American Racing Wheels, Toyo M/T Tires (4,300 lb rating),
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whazoo

Idahome

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Posted: 04/06/08 07:50am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well now Jefe, you had a great time in a great place...what more can one ask for. With my little ol 26 gal fuel tank I would certainly carry some extra by the looks of all that wide open space. I mean it looks like you're a gazillion miles from nowhere. Stunning views! Guess I'll have to wait till there's mud before I go.LOL
Thanks for all the info and pix. And now you'll be on file for me to check when I go the Valley De Muerte![image]





Big Redneck

Waynesburg,Pa.

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Posted: 04/06/08 09:03am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Love your pictures of Death Valley. Would like to see more if you have them. We were there about 30 years ago with the kids. It was in the 70's. Scotty's Castle was nice to see. Would like to go back but getting to old my wife says plus we now have 4 dogs that we did not plan to have. They are rescue dogs. I think they rscued us?


We don't travel as much as we use to. I guess we are getting old.I want to go out west one more time.

bigfootford

Fair Oaks, California

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Posted: 04/06/08 09:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You stinkers.....done went and had a great trip without us!!! Boo Hoo!
Thanks for the write up and pix.....

Jim


2000 2500 9.6 Bigfoot,94 F250, Vision 19.5, Mich 245/70XDS2's, Bilstein shocks, air bags/pump, EU2000, PD 9260,Lifeline 100ah, 200W. solar, Morningstar Sunsaver 15A/ display panel, Trimetric, Delorme/laptop, Holux gps rec,led lights, Wave-3 heat.

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