Terry Johnson's 9th Annual Death Valley Run Trip Report

People gather in front of the Econolodge Inn in Ridgecrest for the start of the Death Valley run. About 38 trucks showed up.

First major obstacle of the day is a ditch in the trail. Brett above going thru with his Bronco.

"Zamboni" man going thru the ditch in his taco. He was nicknamed "Zamboni man" because last year, he had a stock jeep with very low clearance. When it was driving thru the snow, the low hanging gas tank made a nice flat surface for others behind to travel through. This year, he bough a TRD Tacoma with locking differential. Is one step in the right direction, but he thinks he will need bigger tires next. Might be good to get rid of the running boards too while he is at it.

VW truck made it up the snow.

Terry had a broken front drive, and was running in 2wd with locker and crawler. His 2wd with locker is probably just as good as most other people's open diff. 4wd. Roger had a failure on his truck, so he took the VW. But wait, the VW does have a limited slip. The thinking was that if 2wd Toyota can make it, VW should be able to too. Unfortunately, not all 2wd are created equal. The VW could not make it up Jailhouse canyon partly due to ground clearance issues. The VW did make it up Skidoo after a second try.

The next morning, we gathered at the Stagecoach Inn's parking lot. As seen in picture above, all the jeepers had their hood up for repair. None of the Toyota had any mechanical issues. But is a Jeep thing.

We visited the Ryholite ghost town. It was a paved road to the town. No need for 4wd there. The ghosts were made with plaster. Barbara does a Fandango poise infront of the ghosts.

Here is an interesting old Ford truck found in the back of the Ryholite ghost town. The rear differential in the right picture had an vacuum actuator that operates a lever in the differential housing. Looks like is a locking differential! I traced the vacuum line all the way to a valve in the engine compartment that is operated by a cable connected to a pull lever in the dash board. Manual locking differential, what a deal. Guess they had locking differentail way before ARB and Toyota.

The Cottonwood canyon trail was next. People were curious how well a stock Acura can tackle a trail. They guy in the right, who was not in our group, had a stock Pathfinder, and was gauging whether he can do this part of the trail.

Barbara surveys the same part of the trail before driving through it. It does not look hard in this picture, but the rocks are loose, and there is a foot of drop on the right after the dirt hardpack ends. When we were coming back, a guy was stacking rocks trying to climb up the step with his very low 2wd truck.

Off camber sections make the trail intersting.

Vehicle behind the bush is at a section of the trail where it drops down with a off camber left turn. You can't see where the trail is going. There was a moment of tension as you hope a wheel on the truck would not drop into some hole you did not see. Of course, I could have took the time to stop and surveyed the trail, but nah... what do you think this is, the Rubicon?

This off-roading trip was relatively mild, but each trip had to have some excitement. This time, is two bent front rims. As the rest of the group caught up to the Jeep, each person had the same expression:

What happened?---Oh, my--- How fast were you going?----Oh man, I would not drive that fast...

Attempts to hammer the wheel back into shape resulted in a cracked rim. There was a spare tire, but it is of different size. They patched up one wheel and used a spare for the other.

This is what I expect Death Valley to look like. It is just a small area that had the sand dunes. We walked on the dunes before driving North back home.

Once again, thanks to Terry for organizing a great trip.


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