Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Adventures in camping

Well, Texas Gal (excellent 4x4 driver), Hot Hands, E-marathoner and I went camping near Death Valley over this long weekend (presidents' b-days - gotta take advantage of them!)
I have tried to narrow down the photos, of which I took many, to a few of the gems we adventured to.

First, here is our camp (location: Tecopa). Note the creek. And the tree. Both tend to be rare commodities in the desert, and therefore I ranked our campsite as excellent. Texas Gal and I hunted it out after arriving and finding our reserved accomodations to be unsatisfactory. I love that we're looking at the Amargosa range in the background and one of many salt flats at the foot of them. Our creek was deliciously hot (and it dawned on me where the name "Furnace Creek" might have come from), and truly the only drawback was the incredible winds we endured the first and last nights (no campfire, alas).

In the immediate vicinity of Tecopa is "Delights Hot Springs Resort" - this is the scene as you enter. Evidently there was once a laundry service offered as part of this resort. Shockingly, the "cabins" (read: run down one-room shacks) that you can stay in at this "resort" run at $60/night!!! Perhaps this is because you are being protected by the shotgun-carrying neighbours from the trailer behind the resort who rose frighteningly from behind their gate of cast iron frying pans (yes, really) as we neared... causing us to turn quickly and retreat.

Also nearby is the Village of Shoshone. We decided not to stay there, although it is a quaint place for sure, the campsite (read: RV park) left something to be desired. We did, however, venture up to visit the first house built in the area, decorated with fabulous wallpaper (picture is an illustration of one of the many examples seen in the house), and checked out a number of fascinating sites in the vicinity.

For example, this is one of the multitudes of piles of tin cans as far as the eye can see marking the locations of where miners used to live in the early 1900's. This pile is outside of "Dublin City".

China Ranch is one of the nearby sites that is absolutely worth visiting. They are a date farm/oasis located down an unsuspecting rough road that is lined with old gypsum mines. There are a number of hikes that one can do out there (not sure what that sign meant - but that was on a hike) and you can also fill your gullet with delicious dates and date products (date bread, date cookies, date shakes, etc.). This area has been in use for quite a long while and only with the recent owners has it become profitable in the date-farming business. But, because of the history, there are all sorts of ruins on the property that are fun to explore, I selected this old car to represent some of this scenery.

Between Tecopa and Shoshone, along Furnace Creek dirt road, lies "Hepatitis Hot Springs". Naturally, I desperately needed to go there. Unfortunately there were again signs of vandalism (including the sign with the name of the place being stolen, although that was not wholely unexpected), but it was fun to see this little square pool of natural hot mineral water in the middle of absolutely nowhere. This is one of those places that you have to know is there in order to find it.

We also ventured out to try and find the ghost town of Ibex Springs - we never made it, due to the "road" being so badly washed out it no longer resembled road at all. We did, however, make it up to one of many many talc mines in the area, the Mammoth Mine. This was really fun - still had the loading ramp (built out of wood), and a talc pile down the road where it would have been stored. It was so soft!!! We climbed it and jumped on it, and freely explored while also enjoying the scenery.

On the road back, Texas Gal and I decided to forego the inevitable Vegas traffic and take a much much MUCH longer road back through Death Valley. I was inappropriately dressed for the day's adventures. Death Valley was unseasonably cold, windy and wet - and here Texas Gal and I huddled in one of the remaining corners of the Ashford Mill (built by the Ashford brothers, who were also inhabitants of Dublin City).

We also made a stop at the lowest point of elevation in the USA, Badwater Basin... To prove the unseasonable wetness, note the water in the basin - which is normally bone dry. Here Texas Gal is reaching up towards sea level... it's quite a ways off!

Continuing to places for which I was inappropriately dressed, we ventured up to Skidoo townsite. It's way up there in the Panamint Range on the west side of Death Valley, and was once a populated gold mining town. In the 10 years that it was in use, the resident miners dug 1000 tunnels and shafts into the mountains... this site is some 5000 feet up (hence the snow) - I just can't even imagine back in the early 1900's carting the equipment they needed to mine, to build, and to live up there. It's mind-boggling. Note to the left of the sign you can see an adit in the hillside.


Kilometres said...

That sign should read:

Notice - Invitation.
There are innumerable cool things to crawl into here. Just be careful, we'll not be responsible for you getting caught in a mining shaft if you decide to enter. People that enter abandoned mine shafts are doing so at their highly probable peril.

I sure wish they had put up a sign like that for me...

Kilometres said...

You know, your adventures make me think that you live near a time vortex. I mean seriously. Look at the photos you took in California and tell me they don't look like they belong some 40 years ago in the past. Spooky.

gnat said...

Besides that in many ways moving to California was like moving back in time (like cheques are accepted in more places than credit cards), I really do go out of my way to "time travel" on my adventures. It's WAY fun. But makes it a little miserable returning to the real world from a time more simple...

gnat said...

Oh yeah... and I agree about the sign comment!!!

Cam said...


I've had a few e-marathons. It's been awhile though. . .

Anonymous said...

about tecopa hot springs-it didnt aways used to be vandalised i remeber going there it was really nice though i dont know exactly what happend-i can tell you this-there are no such thing as mud mites-