Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Trip To The Rinkle Ranch, Valley of Fire, Zion

So my wife says" Where can we go thats got sun, warmth, romance, adventure so we can get away from these winter routines, hockey,skiing,etc.," and I said,"The Rinkle Ranch". Where is this magical place? California, I says. The dryest, lowest, hottest spot in North America. You know on those old dusters where there is a cow skull half buried in the sand and some dried up dude with bleeding lips is crawling along some sand under a relentless sun, and then tries to drink out of his canteen and all he gets is a mouthfull of sand?
Its called Death Valley. 20 Mule Team Borax. Always wanted to go there ever since seeing it on TV. She gave me that look.

Washed the truck, threw on the Outfitter TC, loaded some camping stuff,left Coldstream, BC at 5:30AM and headed for Las Vegas Friday, Feb.3, 1600+ miles away . 5F was the lowest temp before crossing the border near Grand Forks, BC and it got up to 8F somewhere near Upper Elkgroin, Montana, or some name like that. Glad I had no water on board. Stayed overnight just before Salt Lake City so I got into LV early enough to drive the strip, buy some supplies and meet my wife at the airport at 5PM.
Pick up 2 shopping carts of food and refreshments and headed out on #95. I think we counted at least 4 accidents on the main freeway as we headed out of town. That place is crazy.
Spent the night at Indian Springs, a wonderful, gravel truck stop being lulled to sleep by the melodic sounds of truck reefers. After 26 hours of driving,a crushing plant couldn't keep us awake.

Guess what? The morning is sunny.
Drove to Beattie and headed to Furnace Springs CG which is just a parking lot as they are renovating the regular one.
Mrs. Crosscheck says, "This is so beautiful. When is happy hour?" It's only 11:00 am.

It wasn't long before we were on our way, checking out the surroundings.
Old cemetary just above CG.Its so dry here that if you dug up some of these wrinkled corpses and sat them on some lounge chairs in the CG, they would fit right in. HaHaHa.

Furnace Creek from hilltop Gezebo.

Walked the back way to the Borax works and came across a dump that had no plastics, just tin,glass,ceramics. Remember those days? If you do, you must be old.

20 mule team borax wagons just like the TV show. It seems only yesterday. Ya right, 55 years ago, ya fossil.

We take a break before our first hike which is at Hole in the Wall.Can't get enough of that sun.

You just start walking. No trees, no bush to thrash through,no rivers to cross. You know how many shades of brown there is out there? Eventually, you end up in Las Vegas.
We drive to Stove Pipe CG as it is central in Death Valley and drop the Outfitter. Now I can try out the new Michelin XDS-2 boots on the rocks.

Head up to Mosaic Canyon which is a popular tourist hangout. What we didn't know is that by hiking 1/2 hour from trailhead, you've got the place to yourself.
Most of the time I let Mrs. Crosscheck go ahead. If she falls off a ledge going up then it is not safe to go. Remember kids, safety first.

We are trying to get around some dryfalls.

We leave the canyon below us. This is where people belay down the dryfalls.

Crosscheck is raven about these wild canyons.

Things start getting a little tight. Didn't they predict some rain in the mountains that day. We might have to body surf out.

Have you seen Iggy lately? No,Walley. Last time I seen him he was following a coupla those dumb tourist up the canyon hopeing for some hand outs.

Hike into Fall Canyon, trailhead at Titus Canyon south. Crosscheck arrives at a dead end.

We scramble around the dryfall and head up into a narrows.

Smooth rock sculpted by gravels during floods, maybe water and debris can be 10ft high.

The blue/grey tinted walls go on forever.

Heading to Marble Canyon on sand road.Bet when they get big winds, the sand acts like snow and covers the roadway.

Crosscheck removing chokestone before we can proceed up the canyon.

Found some ancient inter-galactic writing which roughly translated says,"Things are dead around here, can't get good food, hope we have enough fuel to get back home,wish you were here, Love, Thag.

We are passing through Zebra Canyon.

Don't know why they call it Marble Canyon except after all these turns, a guy kinda looses his marbles.

You know you've sunk real low when you find yourself at Badwater Basin( -282ft below sea level)

Mrs Crosscheck talking to a Korean tourist telling her that when she was young and it was much colder in those days, she would come here and skate on the lake. Global warming has sure wrecked that option unless you are into table salt, a lot of table salt

Left Stovepipe and drove to Darwin Falls. After a short hike we came to the Falls which in the land of little water, this pour over is king.

There is an upper falls so we had to scramble up to see it.

Upper Darwin Falls

Mrs Crosscheck retreating on the softest part of her body.

Almost down.

Must be OK cuz she never fell.

A little picnic on the road up to the charcoal kilns. Soak up the sun now sweety because you don't know it yet but it's going to get cooler, much cooler.

Charcoal kilns from 1870's used to burn pine for charcoal for the miners. Must of had some big BBQ's.

Oh Oh, as my daddy used to say, this could end in tears. 1800 miles south and we hit snow. Mrs. Crosscheck is not happy and said I can go and sleep in the kilns tonight and she locked the door.

I made a nice fire and watched the stars. At 7600ft, it dropped down in the 20's that night and when we woke it ws 42f in the TC. We have been using the toaster every morning, the micro off and on and My DW uses her hairdryer after the daily shower plus the Feb sun is low in the sky and it is currently snowing so I have to make a confession. I had to run George the Generator for an hour before going to bed. Telescope peak seems to attract the clouds if there are any around meaning my panels were not replaceing the juice that we were using.This will be the only time that we had to use our genny.

8:30AM and we are ready to hike up the mountain from Thorndike camp.

Crosscheck at Mahogany Flats CG, 8100ft, the end of the road.

Why would anyone want to peak at a telescope?

Crosscheck getting to know Mr. Brislecone Pine.

Mt. Whitney is over there somewhere.(14,494')

Badwater Basin(-282')

Mrs. Crosscheck signing the guest register on Telescope Peak (11,049')

From here we dropped down to Stovepipe and stayed the night. Heard a storm was brewing and after a week of fairly calm winds, except up on Telescope, we witnessed our first 50 mph, desert wind storm in Furnace Creek. A big brown cloud shook our Outfitter as dust got into everything. Then it started to drissle. Our time at the Rinkle Ranch was over. Time to head out to LV and Lake Mead. Amazing country. I wonder what it is like   in  July?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Stayed the night at Lake Mead under a drizzle. Walked up in the hills above a boat basin but the place was quiet. Day was starting to clear up so we headed up the road to the Valley of Fire SP.Took a short hike to the wave. Crosscheck thinking he would like to fly off the lookout.
Mrs. Crosscheck taking in some rays on the curvy rock chair with such fine coloured layers.

The smooth, pastel coloured canyon walls go on forever.

It's quite chilly in the evenings with always some sort of a wind blowing. The sunsets on the red rock are very special. Lots of tourists drive up for the day from LV after loseing their cash as well as school groups.
Come back next day to do a hike along a little more less travelled area. We see no one on this day even though the country is fairly mellow.

Valley of Fire colours the rock as we stroll along the small back canyons. In the desert which has lots of shades of brown, the multicoloured red, pinks, peach and other pastels realy get ya going

Heading up through one of the many little narrowings. Sometimes it is like a maze. Easy to get lost as everything looks the same.

We drive to Zion National Park and arrive in the campsite in the pouring rain. Lots of spots to camp at this time of the year. We wake up in the morning to sunshine and snow on the ground. As we only have a day for exploring, we decide to head up to the narrows which we never saw last year. At this time, you can drive your own vehicles to the parking areas where they normally will have shuttle buses running

We walk up to as far as you can go without walking in 3' of water and turn back. Walls are vertical and it is surprisingly cold  in the shade of the canyon.

Wanted to see what Angels Landing would be with snow so we set off up the steep trail that was constructed in the 30's, hacked out of the solid rock. Met a coupla of the local wildlife, I think Frosty was one of the fellas and I forgot the other guys name. This is just on the way to Angels Landing. Decided not to venture out on the Landing as the snow was melting and conditions were a bit slippery.No one had been up to the Landing that morning.

Mrs. Crosscheck enjoying a snack at lunchtime, 15 min. above the landing. We looked across to the hiking area we were at last year(cable mountain). Fair bit of snow on the ground.
Time to head down. You can look around at the parking areas which are 2000' directly below. Amazingly steep country. Like a mini Grand Canyon.

Theres the roadway down below with Dinky Toy cars rolling along.

One small slip in the snow on the edge looking down gives you a free ride all the way to the roadway below. Splat!!!

We start to head back down the switchbacks that look like Crosschecks intestines from pictures of his last medical checkup.Time to header home. We are getting closer to the border now. Lookout Pass in northern Idaho. Snow was late coming this year but the ski areas ended up doing ok. Gotta love those cold fronts from Canada.

Back home. Time to get the plow truck rollin. We saw some pretty wild country on this trip. Temperatures in Death Valley in Feb. were quite pleasant as long as you stayed in the valley. Hit some cool weather in Montana(17F) overnight at a truckstop on the way home . Nothing froze.Had the heater on for awhile before turning in for the night and on for 15 min. in the morning. Other than that, we just snuggled underneith our warm down duvet.

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