Monday, November 19, 2018

Blue Lake

Mary and I took a nice stroll up to Blue Lake from Lake Sabrina just above our hometown of Bishop.

Reflections on Lake Sabrina early in the hike.

Creek crossings are now ice crossings!


 Mary and Bristle pose on a slab.

Zoom shot of Mt Emerson (left) and the Piute Crags.

Slabs and Sabrina with smokey haze in the valley below.

Mary and B hike a curving slab.

Blue Lake. Looking decidedly green.

The highlight of the trip for Bristle was hearing a Pika chirp!

Nice to get up in the mountains before the forecasted return of winter!

Death Valley Bike Tour: Confidence Wash to Ashford Junction

I had just a short stretch to finish the tour. 

My bivy in the sand.

Up and rolling under early light.


In a little less than two hours I was back at the truck.
Super trip!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Death Valley Bikepacking: Ibex Dunes to Confidence Wash

I had no set plan for my second day out, but with a limited water supply I thought it prudent to head back instead of spending a full day exploring up the Ibex Wash.

This was my campsite near the dunes. Sparse!

I love the feeling of rolling out in the morning, packed up and looking forward to a day of exploration!

I enjoyed soft light late into the morning thanks to wispy high clouds.

Looking back to the dunes and the Saddle Peak Hills.

The Harry Wade Road was well graded in this silty trough north to the junction of the Owl Hole Springs Road. I noticed a fair bit of traffic out there too. Seemed curious.

I talked to a nice Jeeper fellow who told me that this is the back entrance to Fort Irwin and the military hauls old vehicles to the range for aerial bombardment practice. Sure enough I saw this flatbed heading out.

North of the Owl Hole Springs Road I pulled off, parked the bike, and walked down a wide wash to the Amargosa River.

Plenty of water here provides for nice meadows and thickets.

Mid day proved to be a bit warm, almost hot even, so I found respite under this Creosote Bush.

That's when I notice my pedal was damaged.

I figured it was best to make some miles during the late afternoon. If the pedal failed and I had to resort to walking at least I'd be doing it in the cool of the next morning.

Good riding.

No shortage of starkness here!

The evening light is magic out in the desert.

From my camp near the Confidence Wash I walked down to the Confidence Mill site. There's not much left, but apparently it was one of the earliest mills in Death Valley, established in the late 1800's. A lack of water and high transportation costs doomed the operation.

My pedal held up and so did my spirits as I tucked in for another night sleeping beneath the stars.

Death Valley Bikepacking: Ashford Junction to Ibex Dunes

Next up on the adventure merry go round was a bikepacking trip to southern Death Valley. I started about thirty miles south of Badwater, just beyond Ashford Junction, where the Harry Wade Road leaves State Route 178.

The plan was to ride south to the Saratoga Springs Road, visit the spring, then set up camp near the Ibex Dunes.

There's something special about big desert peaks. They preside! Jubilee Mountain.

The road was in good shape. There is, however, plenty of washboard which can usually be avoided by riding on the edge but that often involves soft sand and/or loose gravel.  Glad I had the fat bike!

Stark views across Death Valley to the Owlshead Mountains in the west.

and the Black Mountains in the east.

The Harry Wade Road crosses the Amargosa River here.

 The camera went rogue on me and auto switched to a funky setting. Gotta have a bike shot though!

Nearing the springs.

The springs give life to an amazing desert wetland.

Got the camera straightened out!

The Saratoga Springs Pupfish is a unique species only found here. Very rare snails and insects live here too. These species are descendants of those which inhabited the enormous lakes that filled Death Valley 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. As the lakes dried the habitat which could support these species shrunk to these isolated springs.

The higher water table in this area supports small salt grass meadows.

Nice formations nearby at the southern tip of the Black Mountains.

From the springs it is only a couple of miles to the access point for the Ibex Dunes.

It's about a mile walk from the parking spots, where I camped, to the dunes. I grabbed my camera and a water bottle and set out for a nice evening stroll. 

Warm and absolutely calm. The peace and serenity penetrate to your core out here!