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Motorcycle trip to Death Valley – Day 3

Our agenda on our second day in Death Valley was to cross the center of the park and head up and over Emigrant Pass and down Wildrose Canyon.

We geared up and headed out of Beatty at around 8:00 am heading down hwy 374 towards Death Valley. Just like the day before the temperature was hovering around 30 degrees… pretty cold.

We passed through Stovepipe Wells and headed south towards Wildrose Canyon and Emigrant Pass.

Prior to Emigrant pass we peeled off and headed down a dirt road toward the abandoned mining town of Skidoo. The road to Skidoo still had a spattering of snow cover due to the recent snow/rain that had fallen a few days prior to our arrival.

It turnes out that the town of Skidoo has no structures at all.. we were expecting at least a few structures.. oh well. We doubled back towards Emigrant pass and continued south until we saw a dirt road heading up to Aguereberry Point. We peeled off the pavement and headed down the road.

We had our hands full climbing up to Aguereberry point. As we ascended higher into the mountains, the snow/ice cover on the road increased to the point where the entire road was covered.  A few miles before the summit we encountered a section of road where Noah’s rear tire spun out causing his bike to slide and top over onto his leg.  Fortunately for Noah, the tip over was at low speed so he didn’t sustain any serious injury.

When we finally reached Augerberry Point the view was spectacular. Aguereberry point sits at an elevation of 6433 feet looking down into the lowest part of Death Valley at an elevation of 282 ft below sea level.

After relaxing for a bit at Augerberry point, we headed back down to the pavement and up and over Emigrant Pass.

A short while later we found ourselves descending into Wildrose Canyon.

At the bottom of Wildrose Canyon we headed north and then west up hwy 190 to Father Crowly Vista where one can overlook a vast portion of the Panamint valley. The paved road that leads up to the lookout point is a motorcycle riders dream consisting of endless sweeping 40-50 mph meandering turns.

Had it not been 35 degrees and incredibly windy, we would have stayed at the view point for quite a while, but the massive gusting winds were threatening to knock over our motorcycles so we continued west on hwy 190, up and over more awesome scenery towards Lone Pine. This section of the ride was absolutely freezing!

30 minutes later we descended down into the Owens valley towards Lone Pine where the temps heated up a bit.

We arrived in Lone Pine and headed west up Whitney Portal rd into the Alabama Hills where we monkeyed around a bit and soaked in the view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance.

As the sun set over the Sierras, we headed back into Lone Pine and checked into the Dow Villa motel where we stayed the night.

Motorcycle trip to Death Valley – Day 2

Day 2 started at around 2:30 AM when we woke up to the sound of breaking glass. Somewhere in the motel somebody was either trashing the inside of a motel room or throwing something, or someone, through a window. Over the next 10 minutes we heard shattering glass time and time again followed by someone yelling “I’m calling the cops”. The shattering glass sound continued for a long enough period of time that Noah and I both though that someone was going down the row of motel rooms and breaking the windows of each room.

We were quite startled and debated staying in our room and letting the glass breaking nut job come to us, or heading outside and get the hell out of our room before trouble arrived through our motel window. We decided to head outside, in the sub 30 degree temps to see what was going on.

Once outside our room we saw the shattered window of the motel room two doors down. A few moments later the police arrived, calmly exiting their vehicles mentioning something to the effect of “Oh.. it’s just Doug.. he got cold again”. It turns out that all the commotion was from “Doug”, a local town bum who was cold and tried to break into a motel room to get warm. According to the Police this wasn’t the first time Doug had done this.

Doug had taken the contents from the bed of a pickup truck in the parking lot, and proceeded to throw the contents of the truck bed (mostly camping gear) through a motel window, thus the continuous racket for 10+ minutes. The poor guy who owned the pickup had to later retrieve his camping gear from among the shattered glass.

Doug's handy work

Doug eventually made his way to the motel lobby where he found heat and sat calmly in a chair until the police arrived.

A few hours later we mounted up and headed out to Titus Canyon for some riding. The temperature was hovering at around 30 degrees when we headed out so we were pretty bundled up.

The ride started out on a long flat fire road that continues for 10-15 miles.

Noah give the ride a thumbs up

The route then transitioned into taller foothills

A few miles later the route ascended up and over a range of mountains.

After ascending an descending over the first range of mountains we stumbled upon the remains of Leadfield.

Noah doing his best Zoolander impression

Beyond Leadfield we entered into the mouth of Titus Canyon, an beautiful canyon with towering walls that continues for 7-10 miles.

We had an absolute blast riding through the canyon. Because it was December, and the temps were in the 30’s, we had the canyon completely to ourselves which was ideal.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Death Valley National park you must put Titus Canyon on your agenda.

Death Valley Motorcycle Trip – Day 1

The best time of year to visit Death Valley is in late fall/early winter when the temperatures drop to tolerable levels, so my buddy Noah and I headed out in December of 2011 for a couple days of dual sport motorcycle riding.

We rolled out of Southern California, headed up hwy 15 and peeled off hwy 15 in Baker California heading towards Death Valley.

The hwy from Baker into Death Valley is pretty desolate, even more so in December when it’s really cold.

And hour and change later we rolled into Amargosa Junction and stopped to take a few photos next to the once famous Amargosa Opera house.

We entered into Death Valley just as the sun was setting into the deeper parts of the valley which made for some spectacular lighting.

We rolled into our destination, the small town of Beatty Nevada a short while later. Beatty is just inside the Nevada border on the eastern side of Death Valley National Park.

We unloaded our gear into our room at the Exchange club motel, one of the few motels in town. From the outside the motel looks like a bit of dump, but it’s actually pretty decent once you get inside.

After unloading our gear and grabbing some food across the street at the local greasy spoon, we returned to the motel and hit the sack planning for an early start the next day.

March 2011 Winter Trip to Tahoe – Paige’s Birthday

On Paige’s birthday we headed over to cold creek once again to do more snowshoeing. We had not set destination for the day, we just wanted to goof around, take some pictures and have a good time.. and we did just that!

Paige spent some time taking pictures with her new camera.

We spent a good deal of time just kind of monkeying around which was a lot of fun!

Look out.. Snowball!

Happy Birthday Paige!!!!!!

March 2011 Winter Trip to Tahoe – Snowshoeing to Fallen Leaf Lake

Continuing with our newly found addiction, Paige and I loaded up our snowshoes and headed to the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe to head up to Fallen Leaf Lake. Fallen Leaf lake is fed by drainage from the desolation wilderness, the most visited wilderness area in the US. The lake itself is pretty large lake measuring almost 3 miles in length.

Once again the prior night brought another 8″ of snow so we made fresh tracks on our way to the lake.

When we reached the lake shore, the view was incredible!

After soaking in the view for a while we headed back toward the truck, taking a different route than we took on the way up. Our new route took us along a small creek that was fighting to avoid being overcome with snow pack.

There were a few spots where the snow created a small bridge over the creek. We weren’t 100% sure if the snow would hold our weight as we crossed the creek but it turns out it was no issue at all.

March 2011 Winter Trip to Tahoe – Cold Creek Snowshoe

The next few days were focused on more snowshoeing. We were officially hooked and just couldn’t get enough of it.

We hopped in the truck and went for a 3 mile loop near cold creek. Once again mother nature blessed us with several inches of fresh snow the night before. This time a snowmobile beat us to the fresh snow 🙂

The short bridge that crosses cold creek was completely burried in snow. It was a bit odd walking across the snow covering the bridge because the snow pack elevated us high above the hand rails.

The snow frosted vegetation was incredible!

Without question one of the most “magical” winter experiences of our lives.

March 2011 Winter Trip to Tahoe – Snowshoe addiction confirmed

During our winter trip to Lake Tahoe, Paige and I had been snowshoeing pretty much every day and realized it was time to purchase our own snowshoes so we headed down to Carson City and each purchased our own pair of Tubbs cross country showshoes.

It turns out that this was one of the best purchases Paige and I have ever made. We ended up using them almost every day for the rest of the trip. (And many, many times in subsequent years)

Our snowshoe adventures so far were primarily in the meadow behind the cabin, but it was time for us to branch out to new territory so we did a bit of internet research and found out about a snowshoe trail up to Meiss meadow about 15 miles out of town that sounded like fun.

We had a hard time finding the trailhead however. Turns out it was covered in several feet of snow 🙂 The only way we found the trailhead was by spotting the very top of the trail entry kiosk poking out of the snow.

The first mile of the trail was all uphill. The steep grade and the soft fresh snow combined for quite a workout.

The deep snow covered up any sign of the trail, but we were able to estimate where the trail should as we climbed higher towards Meiss Meadow.

After about 20 minutes of climbing we popped out into a large flat expanse flanked on all sides by mountains.

We had no clue where the “trail” was supposed to be but it really didn’t matter so we headed out across the meadow to blaze our own trail in the soft fresh powder

Looking back at our tracks across the meadow

After crossing the meadow we headed higher into the surrounding mountains. At this point we spotted what looked like the remnants of snowshoe tracks so Paige led the way uphill following the tracks.

Without a question.. one of the best purchases in many years 🙂

After another 30 minutes, we doubled back downhill, across the meadow and downhill towards the truck

This was our first mini adventure with our new snow shoes and our first taste of winter exploration. We both had an absolute blast and knew we would be doing a lot more snowshoeing in the future.

March 2011 Winter Trip to Tahoe – More Meadow Snow Shoeing

One afternoon Paige, Jamie, Jamie’s neighbor Alexis and her daughter Celeste headed out to the meadow with Izzie in tow to for more showshoeing.

Celeste got a free ride via the courtesy of Alexis’ hard work.

The happiest pooch around..

March 2011 Winter Trip to Tahoe – Heavenly Ski Resort

Paige’s sister, husband and brother joined us on the weekend and we all headed over to Heavenly Ski Resort for some snowboarding and skiing. Snow conditions were incredible!! There was a 10-12ft base on the upper slopes of the mountain.. EPIC!!!

Paige, Paul and Jamie at the top of Heavenly

Paige, Jamie and Paul heading down the slopes

March 2011 Winter Trip to Tahoe – Getting addicted to Snow Shoes

Over the next few days an additional foot of snow fell in Lake Tahoe. The snowfall for the month of March (the month of our visit) was a record breaker and we were lucky enough to be there when it all came down. Once again we grabbed snow shoes from the cabin and headed out for an early morning walk in the meadow between our neighborhood and the lake.

The experience of walking through a vast, serene meadow on several feet of untouched powder was absolutely surreal. The views of the surrounding snow covered mountains framed by and endless horizon of snow frosted meadow and vegetation was absolutely amazing.

Over the next several days we took several more snow shoe trips out to the meadow with Izzie.