2001 Terry Johnson's Death Valley Trip

This year is the 8th annual Death Valley run organized by Terry Johnson.

On Saturday, the group split. Roger led a group throughFish Canyon while the main group stopped at Ballarad.

The splintered group coming up to rejoined the main group at Roger's pass.

A full size Bronco making its way thru the rocks

Barbara driving up the pass. This was her first time driving a 4wheel drive up a hill. It was quite a nerve wrecking experience for her. By the end of the trip, she would not even have to think twice about going up the same hill.

Awsome view of Panamint Vally midway up on Roger Pass.

Roger on Roger Pass. The front suspension with the two stage shocks was quite flexible.

A steep drop-off coming down Roger Pass

This is the start of second day. Little did we know of the adventure ahead of us.

Snow in Death Valley? I will believe it when there are cows in Berkley :)

The first sign of trouble was a abandoned van in the middle of the path.

There was just enough room to get by carving through the snow on the outside of the van.

Barbara doing a snow angel in the fresh powder snow.

After the van incident, snow got deeper, and we had to do some digging. Eventually, we got to bottom of Saline Valley.

360 degree view of Saline valley. As you can see, with the recent bad weather, all four sides of the valley are surrounded by snow capped mountains.

After driving 30 desolate miles on the valley floor, we come to Saline Hot Springs. In the middle of no where, a group of people in shorts were playing softball in a flat sandy area. A single engine plane was in the background. A new looking 70's era motorcycle was parked to the side. It was a puzzling scene. It was like a time warp to the 70's where people played at the beach. But this is a desert. It was getting dark. Where are they going to stay. How are they going to get out. They seemed to be without a care.

An middle aged man in blue coveralls greeted us. He told us our plight. There was no way out of the valley. North pass is snowed in. Steel pass is snowed in. Lupricon trail is muddy. People there tried to get out before, but had to turn back, and many of them are out of gas. He was surprised to hear that we came through Saline pass. The local weather man said there will be another storm coming which will dump more snow on the mountains. All this talk of getting trapped in Saline valley got some of us nervous.

We hight tailed out of there as quick as we could. By now, is already around 5:00 pm. Sun sets in 45 min. On the way out of Saline pass, we met up with the abandoned van again. Only this time, there was a driver in it. He, Bubba, was trying to drive down the mountain in two wheel drive followed by his wife in a rented Cherokee. After some heated discussions, we decided to push both his rented van and rented Jeep to the outside while we pass on the inside. Most of the cars in our pack scraped his rented Jeep as we passed by. There was simply not enough room, and we had to pass on a sloped side of the mountain. The story was he came from Minnesota, and not snow nor storm was going to stop him from going to the naked hot springs. What he did not realize was there were people trapped in the valley partly because of his abandoned van blocking the exit. Lets just say he would not be the life of the party when they know who he is. He would be inside the hot springs for a long time :)

It was quite late after the passing the van, but it was smooth sailing from there on.

Big thanks to Terry for organizing the trip. The van and the snow made the trip quite exciting. You know people are worried about having to stay over night when even the girlfriends of some of the guys started to dig in the snow. One girl asked me how to use the adjustable military shovel. Obviously, she had not done much digging before. I could see she was worried. However, the perils of outdoor life in Death Valley is all "character building" as my girlfriend would say.

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