Monday, April 13, 2015

Death Valley - Spring 2015 - Part Three

please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version 

We headed over to Homestake Dry Camp for the night. The spot we used before was empty and we settled in. After set up, hosing each other off, and chips and guacamole, the sun was dropping and warm light lit up the early evening.

The Lady and I went for a walk, our favorite way to relax. We headed over to the top of Lippincott Road. The Lady had asked if we could camp there if Homestake was crowded.

"I suspect it is legal to disperse camp but that's one place where we'd run the risk of a "Run" coming through in the middle of the night," I answered.

"Oh my god," the Lady said, "You are right."

As we neared the famous sign right before the drop off, we saw someone was already camped in the wide spot. A single woman had a small dome tent set up next to her new Ford Edge. The slim woman wore a form fitting red dress as she set her two burner propane stove on the ground in front of her vehicle, out of the warm breeze  funneling up the gap in the mountains. She smiled and waved when she spotted our approach. In the gorgeous evening light I thought a production company might be filming a car commercial.

The Lady introduced us and asked her name, "Somona," she told us.

"Did you drive your car up Lippincott or are you going to drive down in the morning?" the Lady asked with a smile. Somona smiled also, "No, I don't think so. I have friends who have driven it."

From our conversation it was evident Somona knew Death Valley well and was a frequent visitor. "I'm meeting friends and we are going to watch the lunar eclipse on Saturday out on the Racetrack Playa!"

After a short visit, we headed back to our camp and our own dinner.

Morning came with an odd haze. It made us think of smoke from a distant fire.

I walked in the pre dawn as the Lady fussed in the camper and I was greeted with morning reveille.

We all had breakfast back at camp as morning light washed over the mountain slopes.

This morning was for Mom Spider who is fascinated with the flora and fauna of Death Valley National Park. We were wandering up to the Lippincott Mine and exploring possibilities.

We were in a great place for an assortment of spring wildflowers and plants.

I enjoyed the purple stems of the Desert Trumpet.

Mojave Aster

Sticky Poppy

Deep red Indian Paintbrush

Notch-Leaf Phacelia

Golden Evening Primrose

Beavertail Cactus was almost ready to bloom.

A special treat was the rare endemic Panamint Daisy

We reached the Lippincott Mine with a bat gate protecting an entrance to an adit.

I found a small rusty spike sized for the small ore cart rail.

The ruins of a large ore bin is heading toward collapse.

Racetrack Playa

Although we had been close on another trip, this was the Spider's opportunity to see the Racetrack and its famous Grandstand and moving rocks. The Lady always has a map of some kind.

We found several nice trails that led to their signature rocks

Always a man of action, Barking Spider took charge. If he thought a rock was moving too slowly, he got it moving faster.

Action was also called for if a rock was speeding along too quickly.

The Spider's asked us how a place with moving rocks came to be called the Racetrack. The Lady and I filled them in.

The famous moving rock quickly took the lead.

Me? I was so happy just to be back on the playa.

Barking Spider Photo

Ubehebe Peak was above to the west.

Our next stop was the Grandstand. 

Bigfoot had been out here when it was wet.

The Lady beat us all to the top.

Mom Spider Photo

She was also last one down. We were spending the night at 360° Camp, a name we gave a spot along White Top Mountain Road because of the view. We knew we would be alone and have the wonderful vistas all to ourselves. We stopped at the famous Teakettle Junction so I could do a self portrait.

The temperatures had settled down and were perfect.

There is nothing like a peaceful night in the desert.  And, nothing like a cool desert morning.

Morning light down Burro Gap.

Across from us was the road to Lost Burro Mine with its mill high above.

We traveled back out the Racetrack Road toward Scotty's Castle.

We stopped once where we found Beavertails in bloom.

Time is going to kind of stop now in our story. There's a reason for this. We will give no hints as to the location of our next destination. A day and night will be missing. We will not reveal one of our campsites. There was a day built into our trip for me. The others were equally excited. This could just be the highlight of this trip, maybe even a highlight of all our travels. I had been researching a place off and on for a year. A secret place. A very special place. A place filled with magic and mystery. 

Continued in Part Four - please Click Here

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