When I awoke the next morning my tent was full of sand. The wind blew the sand up under the fly and through the mesh to coat just about everything I had inside of the tent with a layer of grit. I mean we were out in the desert, but I’ve not seen the wind like this before. Oh well, it adds to the fun. A shower felt so good that morning.
On the way out we were looking for some new things we’d not seen before. One of the dots on the maps that looked cool was Darwin. It appeared to be a ghost town much like Rhyolite. It was a one lane road to a no horse town.
One thing that differed from Rholyte is that this town wasn’t all ghost. There were people living there and it appeared that they didn’t so much like visitors. No one said anything to us, but both John and I had the feeling that we didn’t need to stay long. We got a quick photo at the post office and kept rolling.
I’d been doing a lot of thinking about the ride out to Eureka Dunes. I’d not had much dirt experience and really didn’t know how my gas mileage would change going at a slower pace over an extended period of time. I picked up a spare gas can in Lone Pine and the plan was to fill it in Big Pine before heading out to the dunes. There were a number of ways to the dunes. After taking to the rangers and locals last night John and I agreed it would be most prudent to go via Big Pine rather than through the Saline Valley. The road was better and the gas was more frequent. Since it was only 100 miles between gas stops on this route I didn’t need the gas can. Oh well.
We made good time back out of the park (see below).
John had suggested we dump our gear before doing the dirt part. I didn’t want to camp at Stovepipe again and deal with with wind and neither of us were prepared to camp at altitude. We figured we could snag a room in Big Pine. When we got to town the three motels were booked solid. Another 15 miles up the road things didn’t look too much better in Bishop. I guess the Easter holiday was making the lodging full. We finally snagged a room at a decent price and unloaded the bikes.
Another 15 miles back to Big Pine and we started up Death Valley Road!
The pavement is pretty good on Death Valley Road and it’s a quite a bit of altitude so I’m thinking this might be a good ride in the autumn as well. As we got closer to the dunes things got lonelier….
We both just stopped. The environment was so quiet. Our phones didn’t work. We didn’t see anyone. We couldn’t hear anything. It was sort of an uncanny feeling. On one hand it was freeing to have none of the normal tethers of modern life but on the other hand it was a bit unnerving not having any of the securities of modern life. In all honesty we weren’t that far from modern life, but it sure felt that way.
Pavement then went… onto a new adventure!
Neither of us were really good at riding in the dirt. The road was pretty washboard ridden but firm. I was a very cautious at first running about 15-20 mph. It took a bit of experimentation and confidence but I found that if the bike was going about 40 mph things got really stable. The suspension did it’s thing and the bike was much happier. I’d hit a deep patch of gravel and then lose that confidence but by the end of the 20 miles I had a new found confidence!
The Eureka Dunes are the tallest sand dunes in the US. Driving up to them you can see that it’s a big pile of sand!
We hiked to the top of the dunes and it was pretty cool (and tiring) to climb that much sand. The wind had made it’s mark in the sand making for some very interesting photography!
This photo is one of my favorites from the trip. The wind throwing sand up in the air softens the photo, yet the slope and form of the dunes is still very apparent.
Once at the top of the dunes one can see the Eureka Valley below
Yep… the wind is still at it!
We were beginning to lose the sun so it was time to head back west…
And just over 250 miles for the day. No dirt naps nor dry tanks!