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Saline Valley Hot Springs Apr '15

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That sounds pretty exciting, doesn't it?  It was!

 

Saline Valley Hot Springs is this way-out-of-the-way place in Death Valley National Park, yet fairly well known.  This New York Times article is one many people have seen before.  It's 52 miles off hwy 190 and 66 miles from the nearest gas at Panamint Springs.

 

Franco had invited me to come and I brought along two nice young ladies, Jessica Washburn and Kim Krause.  Jessica showed up at my place the night before and we ended up riding up there together on Friday and met Kim and two of the four (Franco and John) at Panamint Springs.  John is actually not Italian, but I'm just going to go with it.   :)

 

It was one of those hectic trip departures where everything seems to go wrong, you forget stuff and have to go back, etc... but we finally made it to PSR around 2:30.

 

I was a bit worried since I hadn't ridden with either Jessica or Kim before and while the road into Saline Valley isn't that bad anymore, you never know exactly what's going to happen.  Turns out they are both phenomenal riders!  :ride:

 

Here we are at the lookout right before the turn to go right up Hunter Mountain and left down Saline Valley Road.

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I'm really loving this new Arakis line from ICON Raiden.  I just posted a review of these.  Check it out!

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This was also my first real off road camping trip with my new Hemisphere soft panniers from AltRider.  I'll be doing a review of these shortly as well.

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Jessica is moving out here to CA from MI and I bet she's loving this weather and wide open space.

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The two ladies posing for the camera

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John and Franco were in a pickup truck following us and they made pretty good time too.  We didn't have to wait that long for them to catch up at each turn.  We made it to camp at 5:30 and had plenty of time to set up our tents, etc... in the beautiful evening light.

 

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Jessica giving a peace sign just above her tent

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Erik and Bruno were going to come out late and theoretically get there around 2 am, but when we woke up, they were no where to be found.  Great sunrise though.

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Franco and John and I suited up and planned to go ride back down Saline Valley to try to see if we could intercept Erik and Bruno on their way in and show them the way back to the springs.  We only had to go about 10 miles before we saw them driving towards us.  They ended up camping on the side of the road the night before.  They were very tired.

 

It was on our way back I realized my right rear lower bag with my tools slipped out of my soft panniers!  These bags are new-to-me and I hadn't secured them properly.  I looked for it on the way back but saw nothing.  It turns out Franco lost his phone too, so we both retraced our tracks very slowly.  We did end up finding Franco's phone but not my tool bag.   :(

 

Then when we got back to camp and gave the other guys time to set up, etc... it was already noon and there wasn't really that much time to do any of the rides we had talked about, so we just ended up hanging out and soaking in the springs and generally having a good time.

 

Nice ass!

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Now I know what you're thinking... the springs have lots of people with no clothes on and here we are with two lovely ladies.  We did see plenty of nudity, but not the kind you really want to.   :lol:   All of us were too modest and all wore swim suits.

 

Erik is a restaurateur and brought the really good food, some vintage smokes and some amazing cognac.

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Franco

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Bruno

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Erik and Kim making friends with the local wildlife

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Sunday was to be our day to ride.  I asked them what they wanted to do and most chose the "big loop."  John chose to see the Reward Mine but he was outvoted and probably regretted it as he was the only small bike there.  240 miles on a KTM 500 is no easy feat.

 

First it was a gourmet breakfast...

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Our route took us up Saline Valley road through the north pass

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A short stop to get a picture with Mt. Whitney in the back

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and then an early lunch in Big Pine at the Copper Top BBQ.  Mmmmm.

 

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Then it was back up and over the mountain to see Eureka Dunes.  It was kind of meh.  It was a 10 mile road in and out of the worst washboard I've ever ridden!  I found 70 mph was the best speed on the way back.  Bummed we couldn't ride in the sand but it's a fragile ecosystem with some rare plants and animal species that I guess are threatened by motorized vehicles.

 

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Then it was down past Crankshaft junction where Jessica had her first off.  Luckily she was fine.

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And then to Ubehebe Crater (I like to say Hebejebe.  Got that from  Slugdad)

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We made it down to Teakettle Junction but most were too tired to keep going a bit further south to the Racetrack.

 

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Kim was on her phone in the middle of nowhere

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We headed back up and over Hunter Mountain and then back to camp, but not before Kim ran out of gas and had to get some of our extra gas somebody was carrying.

 

We got back around 6:00, all had quick showers and then a soak in the hot spring.  Boy did that feel good!

 

We thought Bruno might have dinner going but he turned up later after having gone on what he said was an amazing hike.  Our dinner was another gourmet feast of lamb, chiken, paella, fine wine and Courvosier XO cognac!  That's right, I was sippin' on 'gnac!

 

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I had to head out early so I packed up at 6am and was kickstand up around 7:30 as folks were waking up and having their coffee.

 

And wouldn't you know, just as I was heading out the hot springs road back to Saline Valley road, what do I see?

 

As plain as day!  I passed by here five times and didn't see it!  Isn't it obvious?

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What is it?  My tool bag I lost two days earlier!  Looks like some coyote came by to sniff it a few times.

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Some miscellaneous pics...

 

I figured out that I need to thread that vertical strap through the dry bag clips next time to keep it from falling out.

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Kim Krause is a big bike adventure rider and advocate to stop child trafficking.  She's also sponsored by a few moto industry companies like ICON Raiden

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Great trip and report! 

I so want to go back to DV but it will take a few months until my busted knee at ToD heals enough to ride offroad :(

Still messed up from that dirt bike collision?  Better get it looked at.

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