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The wind built throughout the night coming down canyon from the east. When we dropped into Death Valley it was shrouded in windblown dust. Not a good day to head south on the West Side Road. We decided on an experiment. We wondered if the winds were accelerated down the long valley troughs. Perhaps the wind would be more bearable up country?
We have long wanted to explore the Chloride City area and find the old trail that connects to the top of the Keane Wonder Mine. We headed up Daylight Pass and turned onto the Monarch Canyon Road and took a left to head to Chloride City. I suspect that the road condition has deteriorated since the last edition of Mitchell's Death Valley SUV Trails book.
The winds were not too bad up high but dark low clouds were moving in from the north.
We parked at the intersection with the Chloride Cliff Road that comes in from Beatty. We wanted to stretch the legs and scout out the climb ahead. The clouds had built to a towering black wall that was fast approaching. We still stood in sunlight but were pelted with wind driven sheets of rain. It was marvelously dramatic! But, probably not the best idea to venture into new terrain.
We decided to check out the much easier route in from Beatty and dropped onto the edge of the Armargosa Valley. The storm winds were roaring through the valley from the north, dark clouds above and occasional short blasts of rain.
We filled up with gas in Beatty and had lunch. The clouds were clearing and moving fast so we decided to see if weather and wind were calming some over in Death Valley.
We were correct. Death Valley had cleared and winds were tolerable. We headed to our next destination - up Trail Canyon Road on the east side of the Panamint Range.
We were alone as we picked out a campsite high on the alluvial fan before the road drops into the wash. Although the sun leaves here around 3:30 pm, the vistas are spectacular.
We walked up the canyon at night. The moon was a waxing half and directly overhead; a brightly lit night.
Our high spot received early sunlight the next morning.
Perhaps because of my recent bout of flu and the Lady's "touch of a cold", we were feeling lazy. We wanted the luxury of leaving camp all set up, a cozy refuge for whenever we returned. So we decided to do all our exploring on foot. Besides, there were things we were looking for along the canyon that could be easily missed while trapped in a vehicle.
There are two side canyons that look quite interesting for future explorations.
Ascending Trail Canyon is a geologic trip back in time. Because the layers in the rock dip into Death Valley, you encounter older and older rock as you climb. I believe one of the guide books mentions that we would cross a time period of 250 million years.
A little over five miles up was the confluence of the North, Middle, and South fork of the canyon. Visible up the North Fork was the top of the long abandoned - washed out, slide prone - road that once climbed up to Aguereberry Point
This road was constructed in the 1950's as a transport route for tungsten ore from the mines in Trail Canyon. It was last passable in the early 1970's.
Climbing up the South Fork, the Lady stopped to remove a stone from her boot.
The road ends at the McBride Camp. This is a more recent mining camp, similar to Uncle Erv's place.
The buildings boasted flush toilets and showers and got me wondering where the plumbing drains went. I did not go looking.
We were surprised that we just missed SunMan. With the Teds, that would have been an unprecedented two Truck Camper Magazine celebrities in one trip!
The McBride Camp was a bit over seven miles from our camp and a gain of 3200 vertical feet - not counting the 250 million years.
On our hike up the South Fork I noticed a faint trail that could be a shortcut over to the Broken Pick Millsite. It worked out great as we crested a saddle and dropped into these ruins.
The quartz samples lying about were beautiful.
The old Willys was the centerpiece of the junkyard.
We found the large trailer intriguing.
Since it had a bathroom complete with a small bath tub, I was wondering if it may have been hauled up here by an enterprising madam, a mobile bordello, to harvest money from these miners with long lonely nights with only the coyote's song for company.
Others had questions about the trailer also.
Me? I would have liked to watch it come down the road from Aguereberry Point.
We headed back down after exploring a couple other spots and enjoyed the solitude and lengthening shadows.
The views were amazing from our perch above Death Valley. Across from us was Artist Palette..........
..................Badwater and Dante's View
....................and Manley Beacon.
This was a fine place to immerse ourselves in a desert night.
We packed up and headed back toward home Wednesday morning. The day ended up kind of like déjà vu all over again.
"It doesn't hurt to check!" the Lady said as we walked into the office at Benton Hot Springs.
"Are we going to get lucky again?" the Lady asked.
"I'm looking out the window at this beautiful weather. The board's behind me. What do you see?" the fellow sitting at the desk asked.
"That we'll have the whole campground to ourselves unless you get another walk in!" the Lady replied.
This was pure decadence. The waters, sky, surroundings, and company were perfect.
It dropped to 30° overnight, 29° colder than the previous night in Trail Canyon. It was hard to leave the tub of hot spring water in the morning. Again we were lazy. The Lady suggested breakfast at the Hays Street in Bridgeport on our way home.
It is open again as a Mexican restaurant after being closed for three years. No more cinnamon rolls but the breakfasts were good. We'll stop again.
This was our return to Death Valley. Looking at the Lady's list of places she wants to visit, I believe we will be back to Death Valley again................................