Death Valley '19
[Day 1: Friday - April 26, 2019 ]
Time: ~7 hours
A blink of an eye, a flick of the wrist, a drop of a hat ... so on
and so forth. With those anecdotes, 5 years have passed since
the last visit to Death Valley. A sign that we're all aging a
lot faster than we would like to think or want. To me, it felt
like it was just yesterday that we rested at Beatty, NV to get a
small respite from the oppressing 126F degrees Death Valley
heat. Amazing, five years.
This is the first long trip on the GSW after the transmission
correction. With 3 months riding the Scooter (F800R), I have
forgotten how the GSW is suppose to feel. The last curry run
had the GSW being really vibey at 70-75MPH on the freeway. I
don't recall feeling this much vibration but then again I'm not sure
this is how things are suppose to be. Perhaps the GSW needs a
Having been to Death Valley so many times, I have a good sense of
what routes we want to take. 210 to 15 to 395 to Trona road
onto Panamint Springs and Death Valley. Let's just hope that
Trona road is finished with the repaving. 5 years ago the
tarmac was all pulled up. It was all dirt with a lot of tire
tracks. I think 5 years is long enough for a road to be
fixed. Scanning Google maps shows it's fixed, but one can
never be too sure. Google doesn't have all of the answers
So we set out at 8:00am on a Friday.
Proverbial bike loadout picture.
It's a beautiful day. The sky is blue and the temperature is a
mild 70F+ degrees in the morning. Traffic is present but not
oppressive. Things are going well until we near Kramer
junction (58 & 395). Construction. Agonizing
constructions. We were routed from the right side of the HWY
to the left side of the HWY while heading north. It's like
driving in New Zealand. I guess I shouldn't complain because
we're moving and the people heading south are a dead stop. I
can only guess as to how long they've been stopped. I see
drivers reading books as I pass them ever slowly.
Once we're pass the junction, things started moving again.
It's not bad but there's traffic on the 395. Once we make that
right turn onto Trona road, we're no longer in southern
California. We're alone.
As far as the eye can see, there are no cars in front nor
behind. At long last, this is the way it's meant to be.
The weather is beautiful and the road is smooth. For miles
upon miles, I was riding in New Zealand. Ninth heaven.
The small town of Trona. A U-turn to get back on the right
track. Amazingly, when we got to Panamint Springs, the fuel
light finally came on. I has 47 miles left and had already
covered 200 miles. All this with side bags and a trunk.
Fueling up was 4.2 gallons. Later Minh said he was wondering
if I was going to stop. We just kept going and going.
Once again, a 12 that behaves like an 8.
We get into the park. Even did a little bit of off road on the
190 HWY due to road construction. I was proud of Minh.
Going off road on an FJR. Of course the GS didn't care.
We checked into the motel and ended the ride for the day. We
didn't feel tired at first, but eventually the fatigue caught up to
us. We were snoring loudly that night.
[ Day 2: Saturday - 27, 2019 ]
The next day, we got breakfast at the Denny's in the Stage Coach
Casino Hotel and then set off. I lighten my load
drastically. Both bags stayed at the motel. I only took
the tools and what was needed for the roundabout trip within the
park. We head west towards DV. Minh signaled he needed
to pull over. He forgot to strap on hist helmet. No
problem, this also give us an opportunity to stop and take some
... being tourists
The desert is so green. A we head back into the park, we're
confronted with an ocean of butterflies. I'm surprise my suit
isn't as yellow as it should be. Then again, the GS turned
yellow and brown.
Badwater is down there somewhere among the white stuff.
East entrance and kiosk.
This year's DV weather has been extremely mild. Even yesterday
it was only 104F at Stovepipe Wells. Given the mild weather, I
decided that we go to Badwater (-280 feet below sea level) and hike
out the the salt flats. It's only 10:30am. It's won't be
that hot at Badwater. By the time we get to Badwater, it's
almost 11:00am. It was 97F. Not too bad. Minh
wasn't joyed about the hike so he stayed behind. As for me, I
didn't bother taking the suit off because I need the hydration bag
on the suit. Plus, the suit does an excellent job of holding
moisture and cooling me off.
Minh's trying to keep cool.
It's funny on the way out, people were in shorts and T-shirts or
were simply shirtless. To them I'm the only nut case crazy
enough to walk out with the full suit on. Well, I probably
should have taken the sleeves off but I didn't think to do so at the
time. On the way out, there was a fairly stead breeze so I was
very comfortable. The suit did it's job by capturing the 97F+
breeze and cooled me off inside. Here's what it looks like:
Look at the snow covered caps of Telescope Peak (the highest
location in DV, 10K+ feet).
If you zoom in enough, you'll see all the people.
It was easy going out, it was hard coming back. As it turns
out, the pace at which I was walking back in, it roughly the same
speed at which the breeze was blowing. So there was no air
flow to cool be off on the way back. Fortunately I'm an
experience enough hiker that I can recognize when I'm starting to
over heat. I slowed down my pace even further and turn around
to face the salt flats, occasionally. Cooling down ever so
little with breeze. Eventually, I took my cap and bike coat
off. I make it back to the bike with very little water
left. It's time to head toward Furnace Creek to cool off, and
get some lunch.
Over lunch we talked about how dangerous DV is. How a small
family from Europe was here to experience DV. They rented a
minivan and went into the back country somewhere. They didn't
notify anybody where they were headed. After several days with
the rented minivan still missing, the car rental company notified
the park rangers. The search was on but they were never to be
found. Only by happenstance the following year, an experienced
DV hiker discovered the minivan. Long story short, the vehicle
was found with a flat tire. The skeletal remains were
eventually discovered not to far from the van. I myself have
attempted to back country camp at DV a couple of times. The
problem with DV is that, you have to carry all of your water.
Any water found in DV is so tainted with heavy metals from all the
mining that water filtration can't be used. The rangers regard
2+ miles from the roads as back country and they will not go after
you. They are short staffed and the park is so big.
While we're on this topic, I didn't even see one park ranger when
we're in the park. Only the ranger that we paid the park fees
to the previous day.
Stovepipe Wells dunes. Ugh too many tourist. So we
decided to go to the crater near Scotty's castle. Most of the
way out to the crater, the bike hit three bars left of fuel.
Crud. There are no gas stations at Scotty's castle. Not
to mention Scotty's castle is closed due to flash flood
damage. So we make another U-turn and to head back to Beatty.
When all is said an done, just outside Beatty, my gas light comes
Holy cow! 54.7 miles to the gallon. 237 miles to the
tank. 4.5gallons to fill the tank.
We spent the rest of the day at Beatty. Eating ice cream and
[ Day 3: Sunday - April 28, 2019 ]
I generally don't like freeways, but there is little choice since we
decided to avoid the 395 construction at Kramer junction. The
other alternative is the 14 freeway. It's a longer ride, but
The 190 HWY is a beautiful or more beautiful. If only the rest
of the way back was like this.
On our to merge onto the 395 HWY, I can't help but notice the peaks
of the Sierra Nevada's. The mountain tops are completely
snowed over. It's all white from north to south.
Amazing. I haven't seen the mountains like this in ages.
Fueling up one last time at Mojave before reaching home.
We avoided the construction, but we forgot how bad the wind can be
on the 14 freeway. This is especially bad between Mojave and
Rosamond. We eventually diverted onto Sierra HWY, until we
pass the bad sections and then get back on the 14 again.
In the end short trip end at around 4:30pm as I pull into the house
Written on: May 4, 2019 (May the 4th be
Last modified: May 9, 2019