Southern California Glider Landout Database
5-Inch Sky Robot
FDM in Vacuum
Custom Discovery Roof Rack
August, 2012 - Sierra Backpacking
July 22nd, 2012 - Hiking in Santa Barbara
July 15th, 2012 - Valley of Fire
May 5th, 2012 - Afton Canyon
April 28th, 2012 - Devils Playground
Convict Creek Trail
January 2012 - Mustangs
January 3rd, 2012 - Heart Lake
August 7th, 2011 - Kelso Dunes
August 5th, 2011 - Lundy Canyon Hike
August 2011, Mammoth Archery
Birds in the garden
June 4th, 2011 - San Gorgonio
May 29th, 2011 - Sequoia National Forest
April 23rd, 2011 - Living Desert
April 2nd, 2011 - Death Valley
March 8th, 2011 - Mountain Palm Springs
February 13th, 2011 - Iron Smelt
November 13th, 2010 - Mojave
October, 2010 - Mammoth
September, 2010 - Mammoth
September, 2010 - Duck Lake Trail Backpacking
Iron bloom forging
August 28th, 2010 - Mt. San Jacinto
OSM Import: US Designated Wilderness
July 25th, 2010 - Mojave Mustangs
July 17th, 2010 - Mojave Exploration
Bloomery furnace iron smelting
Open Street Map: Mojave Project
June 13th, 2010 - Mojave
June 6th, 2010 - El Cajon Trails
Wolf Mountain Sanctuary
March 28th, 2010 - Salton Sea
March 21st, 2010 - South Main Divide
March 13th, 2010 - Anza Borrego Wildflowers
March 7th, 2010 - CSULB Japanese Garden
February 2010 - Mammoth
Dakota and Asha Celebrate Christmas, 2009
November 21st, 2009 - Mojave Road
November 14th, 2009 - Anza Borrego
Exploring The East Mojave: The Afton Canyon Area
Broken flex plate
Remote Image Serving
Astro/night photography in Inyo National Forest
Wild Mustang Sightings
September 26th, 2009 - Night Photography In Frazier Park
August 15th, 2009 - Catalina dive trip
January 24th, 2009 - Mojave Exploration
July 2008 Mammoth Vacation
President Barack Obama!
April 12th, 2008 - Wildflowers and Landmarks
My Grandfather's Alfa Romeo Spider
March 8th, 2008 - Carrizo Plain
Bridge To Nowhere
October 20th, 2007 - Big Bear Camping
October 22nd, 2007 - Fire
Scottish Highlands, Aug 7th, 2006
Scottish Highlands, Aug 6th, 2006
August 5th, 2007 - Duck Lake Trail
May 26th, 2007 - Kelso Dunes
Culloden Battlefield, Aug 5th, 2006
May 20th, 2006 - Irwindale Renaissance Faire
Edinburgh, Aug 4th, 2006
The Clifs of Moher, Aug 3rd, 2006
The Burren, Aug 2nd, 2006
Bunratty Castle, Aug 1st, 2006
May 5th, 2007 - Mojave
Truck Audio/Data Network
2007 - Master Bath Remodel
The Ring of Kerry, Jul 31st, 2006
Victory in 2006!
Blarney and Killarney, Jul 30th, 2006
Dublin and Cork, Jul 29th, 2006
Dublin, Jul 27th & 28th, 2006
What Can I Do?
April 30th, 2006 - Anza Borrego
New desktop: Intel 805 D
Jan 7th and 14th, 2006 - Hiking
Whiting Ranch Hiking
Digital Photography with Linux
September 5th, 2005 - Living Desert
August 19th, 2005 - Mammoth
Hiking and Photography
July 30th, 2005 - Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary
Death, Fright and Photography
May 14th, 2005 - Red Rock
April 2nd, 2005 - Death Valley
Count Every Vote Act of 2005
Linear Logic ScanGuage
November 6, 2004 - Mojave
Super Tuesday, 2004
Canon A80 Camera
Jul 25, 2004 - Death Valley
May 4th, 2004
Landscaping - My Front Slope
Stump Pullin' Yeeee Haw!
Feb 22nd, 2004
Feb 16th, 2004
PostgreSQL Logfile Analysis
Mountains? Desert? Jan 30th, 2004
Jan 28th, 2004
Ceiling Cargo Basket
Front Bumper Version 2
Land Rover Valve Jobs
The Matrix: Revolutions
Greg Davis CDL Linkage
Mom's Turkey Gravy
Julian Pie Company
The KB1DIG 2-meter Halo Antenna
Gardening is hard!
Aug 13th, 2003
SQL and Perl
Jul 9th, 2003
Jun 17th, 2003
Some People's Comments
Dakota is a silly dog
The Matrix: Reloaded
Chris' Stage Bottle Harness
April 23rd, 2003
DVD Burning Under Linux
My Satellite Phone
My Near-Death Experience
Laser Cannon Revival
Front Bumper, Version 2
KPC 3 Plus and HTX-252
Moving, moving moving...
New new house
In Truck Dr. Pepper
My Favorite Toilet
Late Thoughts: Dr. Pepper Cooler
265/75-R16 Tires on a DII
George W. Bush
Horses Sep 14 2002
August 17th Yukon Dives
My Custom Front Bumper
Bracketless, Renamable Links
Jul 28 2002 Day Trip
Jedi Group, my T1 and money
A Bumperless Discovery!
My Custom Rear Bumper
Vanessa's 24th Birthday
Jun 30th Dive to Long Beach Canyon
PHP/PostgreSQL String Quoting
Tonsillectomy, Uvulaectomy and Turbinite Reduction
240 Watt CO2 Laser Cannon
The Tulsa Rib Company
The quality of hard disks these days
Email notification of articles
Email notification of comments
erikburrows.com source code
Renisance Faire Jun 9, 2002
Computers hate me, and it is mutual.
Star Wars Sucks!
Horses, Jun 1, 2002
Land Rover Mileage
Insomnia, Robin goes evil.
100 Watt Diode Laser Test Firing 1
2001: A Space Odyssey
TDI Deco Class
Horses, Apr 30, 2002
My Truck Batteries
The Zope Bible
100 Watt Diode Laser
The New www.erikburrows.com
Hunter the Kitty
Matts Desert Pics
|Jul 25, 2004 - Death Valley -   2004/07/25||Viewed 87 times this month, last update: 2004/11/15|
|Yesterday I took a day trip out to Death Valley, to look around, and to go to the Racetrack Playa, where rocks move about on the surface of a dry lakebed (playa) for no apparent reason. |
Yes, it was hot, but the temperature was strongly tied to elevation, so I had a range of temperatures, from 87 degrees, to 116.
My trip started in Big Pine, where I took Death Valley road for for about 60 miles to the trailhead of Racetrack Playa. Death Valley road used to be paved, and still is in some parts, for is mostly gravel and "washboard". It is the only way to get to Eurika Dunes, and if I go there someday I'll use it, but otherwise not. It's very long, and pretty, don't get me wrong, but very, very long and quite hard on your brain, all that bouncing around. (Not to mention your suspension, or the hard disk in your laptop!)
The road from Ubehebe Crater (which is spectacular, even at night!) to the Playa is equally hard on anything that rattles (like kidneys), but is mercifully shorter, (sarcasm) only (end sarcasm) 27 miles.
Racetrack Playa is amazing. I actually got chills being in the presence of such a cool thing. It's gorgeous, huge, and flat. I had to lie down and take it all in. At 1200 feet, it's not all that terribly hot either. It was 102 when I was there, at about 2:00pm.
See below for commentary about the racing rocks. They're just too cool for words.
Cranshaft crossing. I have no doubt this trail has killed many an engine. my truck had no problems. If there's one thing it does well, it's deal with heat. The temperature gauge never twitched, even though the air being blown out of the engine compartment was unbarably hot.
After fourty-odd miles, of washboard, I was almost brought to tears by this tiny piece of old, but flat asphalt.
On the way to Racetrack Playa
Teakettle crossing, yet another trail for another day.
Racetrack Playa, from the road, comming from the north.
The grandstand, the only disturbance in the lakebed.
The dried mud of Racetrack Playa. Notice the skin on the tiles. I poured some water onto the tiles, and noticed that the top skin resists absorbing the water, while the mud underneath quickly becomes wet and very slippery.
As far as I know, no one knows what exactly is going on here. I think it has somerhing to do with the slippery mud under the upper skin, and lots of wind, but I have lots of questions, and a lot of wonder. Why don't they sink in? Wouldn't it take a tornado force wind to move those large rocks?
But as much as they don't make sense, they still exist. And they move. Not all in the same direction either, and from the look of the tracks, they have been doing it for a very long time. I just loved wandering around looking at these rocks. They're very much an enigma.
The Playa is just beautiful, I have to go back.
The salt flats in Saline Valley.
Lippincott mine road.
I mentioned above the insane amount of washboard road on this trip. Well, since the trip, I've been finding problem after problem with my truck due to the endless vibration. Here's the list:
The solution for future washboard-road-rich trips? Air way down, drive even slower, tie down batteries with steel bracket (done) and use some lock-tite on radio cable nuts.
- Broken battery tie-down strap
- Broken driver's seat bracket, causing driver's seat to wobble. Had to weld back together.
- Nearly every radio cable nut vibrated right off.
- Spare tire carrier bolts torn partially loose from bracket:
Click Here to view the first 2 comments to this article!
Jon (2004-07-28): Be sure to invite us again. We want to go back sometime soon.
Erik (2004-07-28): You got it. After I get back from Ireland (I'm leaving for 10 days Saturday) and need a vacation again.
david scrarlett (2005-05-06): we're going to assault the Playa in two weeks..we drove through death valley three years ago,on a daytrip from a vegas trip,and we fell in love with the place(death valley)and can't wait to get back.we(wife,elizabeth and I)are going to spend he better part of a week just checking out as much of the valley as we can...I've bought coyote calls,and am taking my telescope for the hopefully clear nights.I'm like a child about those moving rocks...since first reading about them,they're on my mind constantly..and can't wait to walk right up to them and check them out first hand....this website and account of death valley has really whetted our appetites and we can't wait to spend time in this strange and beautiful place...we likened it to going on a trip to the moon...thanks to the photographer and poppa of this website....we've really enjoyed your views and descriptions....
Erik (2005-05-06): David, I'm very glad you enjoyed this article and my photographs. I to am eager to get back there. It's a magical place. For more photos, check out my friend's site, at JonSullivan.com
Eric (2005-08-28): That 'road' to teakettle junction (more a dry streambed than a road), was so much fun to drive on! I drove it in my old Toyota 4x4 at about 55 to 60mph. Of course I paid the price, when I got back home (San Diego), I had a broken motor mount! But it was still worth it.
Erik (2005-08-29): Yeah, that road has a heavy toll!
Donis (2006-04-13): Hi Erik ~ Loved your website, pictures and suggesstions for future travel to the playa. My husband and I JUST got back a couple of days ago. Went to the playa on Sunday, April 9, 2006. It was amazing. The road sucked!! We went in from Ubehebe Crater, but the trip on that awful road was worth it. We were wondering what the road was like coming from Saline Valley/Lippincott Mine? Is it the same washboard type? When we go back to DV, we would really like to try that road, just want to be prepared. Thanks for your insight. Donis
Erik (2006-04-13): Hi Donis! I'm glad you liked the Racetrack as much as I did! It's a very special place, and though the road does suck, it's probably best that it's there, otherwise the playa would get too much traffic.
Regarding Lippincott mine road: I don't know what kind of vehicle you and your husband drive, but unless you've built it up specially for off-road use, Lippincott mine will be unusable for you. It's heavy-duty off-roading, and goes almost straight down into Saline valey. I plan to use Lippincott mine road next time, but even in my built-up truck, I'll only do that with a companion vehicle.
Tim Howells (2006-05-10): Enjoyed looking at your pics Erik, made us go back to DV for a second time in 8 months, and we're from the UK! :) Did it this time in a Buick Rainer, so we were able to do The Racetrack and several of the mines up in the hills and canyons. One of the best trips I've done - truely a magical sight at he end of it all. Unfortuantely we blew a shock absorber with about 9 miles to go on the return trip form The Racetrack, which was removed the next day after borrowing some spanners from the guy who owns the petrol station at Furnace Creek. The shock absorber was last seen entering a bin, outside a garage not too far from Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, about 15 mile from Alamo Rentals... :) Well worth it though, and at least the horrendous washboard and lengh of the drive will stop 99.99 percent of DV visiters from going to The Racetrack and making it less of a special place.
The Racetrack and Aguereberrys camp will stay with me forever! :)
Erik (2006-05-19): Thanks for the tip on Aguereberry's. I'll have to check that out!
Jared Woods (2006-07-25): Me and my brother did Lippincoot Road with a Toyota Tundra no Problem, any 4- wheel drive should make it.
Heather (2007-01-10): Just came back from my 9th trip to DV (from Canada!). It is not only magical, it's addictive. I finally got to the racetrack - the lack of order of the rock/mud tracks is truly mind-boggling. Stayed the night out there despite the cold this time of year. The roads were all in better shape this year than I've seen them in awhile - as long as you don't go 55-60 mph! ;-) A tip for those who travel through DV with little time: Desolation Canyon is a beautiful small example of what some of tha larger canyons look like, and it can be hiked in a couple of hours tops.
Erik (2007-01-15): Heather, thanks for the tip about Desolation Canyon! I'm glad you had fun!
Vincent (2007-12-07): Hi Erik, thanks for sharing nice pictures. we like to visit racetrack via Ubehebe Crater. do you think 7-passenger van can do the job? Thank you in advance.
Erik (2007-12-08): Vincent, yes, I think a normal van or even car could make it, but you need to take it very slow, and be very careful of ruts that could bottom out, or high-center your car.
I'd also recommend not going after a recent rain, as that would rut the road more.
Lastly, take a second vehicle. If your van doesn't make it, you'll want some way to go get help. (A small pickup truck should do.)
Remember, they call it "Death Valley" for a reason.
T_Rex (2008-02-27): I'd love to come to such a magical place but from all the comments I read I think I'll wait until I can afford to buy a helicopter !
Sierra_Slima (2008-03-18): I drove up Lippincott last week and 4x4 is a must going up. High clearance is also important. I scraped the skid plate on my 4-runner once, not badly though. I advise having good tires and a patch kit and pump. I've got BFGoodrich All Terrain (triple sidewalls came in handy)with all the very sharp rocks on the trail. Some fool in a Chevy Astro van had left a trail of oil for a few miles down the grade (No doubt from a rock he didn't clear) and it was apparently abandoned at the bottem of the grade with a seized engine. A note left at the top of the grade and dated a week prior mentioned the van. Don't do it in a low clearance vehicle you won't make it! 4x4 low is a must going up and low range is recommended going down. 4x4 would be handy going down too. It's a great drive but not for the novice in a passenger car for sure.
Erik (2008-03-21): Thanks for the trail report Sierra_Slima, I've been recently thinking about going back.
halee izzu (2008-09-30): hey why do they call it death valley?
Erik (2008-10-04): Halee,
See wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_valley
See also: Canon A80 Camera, KPC 3 Plus and HTX-252, Canon A80 Camera, My Truck Batteries, Death, Fright and Photography, Death, Fright and Photography