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Category: Trip Reports

All the trips - because every trip is an adventure!

Papoose Flat | Inyo West #4

After thoroughly enjoying the sunrise from the shoulder of Mazourka Peak, everything was packed up and I was on the road by 7:00am. Headed back to the summit and through Badger Flat, it didn't take long to discover that I was headed the right direction. Let's go ... there! Located just a few miles east - if you're coming from town - from the town of Big Pine - and nestled into the northern end of the Inyos off of Death Valley Road, is Papoose Flat. The Paiute occupied this area and most of the Inyo Mountains into the 1930’s.…

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Mazourka | Inyo West #3

Having thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Swansea to Cerro Gordo loop, I had two more areas - or at least, access points - in the Inyo Mountains that I wanted to explore. I didn't know much about either of them, but they centered around Mazourka Peak, which I thought would be a nice, high elevation - so cooler - place to spend the night. Getting there required a bit of pavement and a refuel in Independence, before heading up Mazourka Canyon road and my first decision of the morning. It's always hard for me to drive by Manzanar without…

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Swansea to Cerro Gordo | Inyo West #2

I've been wanting to run the Swansea to Cerro Gordo Road - to visit the uppermost control tower of the Saline Valley Salt Tram - ever since we attempted to hike to the lowest control tower on the Saline Valley side in 2019. While the road itself has its own reputation for a few dangerous and technical sections, it was only a matter of setting aside the time - and figuring out what else to explore in the surrounding area in order to make the trip worthwhile - that'd kept me from visiting. Today though, that would all change. I'd…

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Worth More Than Gold | Inyo West #1

I've done a lot of exploring in and around Death Valley National Park, and have spent many a morning watching the sun illuminate the Inyo Mountains from the east. But, I've spent almost no time exploring the Inyo Mountains from the west - Owen's Valley - side. I'm not sure exactly why this has been the case - there's a ton to experience - but I suppose it's due to the fact that it's nestled between the dramatic Sierra Nevada and my favorite National Park. Regardless, I've wanted to drive the Swansea to Cerro Gordo Road - up past the…

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Playing it Safe | Other Side #3

Having spent a bit of time dealing with the rear e-locker, we were running about two hours "behind schedule" as we barreled west along UT-163 towards Monument Valley. In reality, I'd somehow significantly underestimated the number of miles between Comb Ridge and the Muddy Mountains where we planned to setup camp for the night, so we were running more like five hours later than planned. That meant we'd need to alter our itinerary a bit - eating dinner rather than lunch in St. George, as well as finding a nearby spot to camp so we could complete our final hike…

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Another Swing-and-a-Miss | Other Side #2

I wouldn't say the wind was calm as we went to sleep overlooking John's Hole in the San Rafael Swell, but it was definitely tapering off. By midnight, only a gentle breeze blew past our camp before cascading down into the canyon. Until 3:00am. That's when we were sent scurrying for our earplugs. It's amazing how much difference a good set of these can make, and soon we were sleeping like babies, the flapping of the roof top tent muffled as our cliff-edge-cradle was rocked by the wind until just after sunrise. Wanting to catch the canyon before too many…

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Swing-and-a-Miss | Other Side #1

As temperatures have started to rise across the west, areas that were covered in snow or otherwise too cold to wander during the winter are once again opening up. And, while I have an endless list of desert destinations to explore, it's always an exciting time to venture beyond the confines of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts that we've recently called home. And so, we're headed to Utah. There, San Rafael Swell and Cedar Mesa will be our destinations. Like the desert, an infinite number of days could be consumed savoring the sandstone formations, deep canyons, and Native American Indian…

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After | Before and After #2

We'd wrapped up the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (AZBDR) in record time, a full day faster than even our most ambitious estimates. On the one hand, it was nice to relax a bit, knowing that we had plenty of time to make it from the Arizona-Utah border near Kanab to our flight out of Las Vegas. On the other, now we were faced with figuring out what to do with our spare time; I hadn't researched any backup plans should a situation like this occur! After a bit of "we could do this," and "we could go see that," we…

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Before | Before and After #1

Our Spirit Airlines flight touched down in Las Vegas at 11:32pm on Tuesday night. We'd chosen to take a late flight so we'd be able to drive the 10 hours from Las Vegas to the beginning of the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (AZBDR) at the Mexico border over the course of the following day, but that was when we assumed that we'd be picking up the Tacoma just before midnight. "Welcome to Las Vegas folks, this is your captain speaking. Looks like they don't have a gate ready for us, so until they can push back another plane, we're going…

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Underwhelming | AZBDR Epilogue

The Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR) is the eighth that we've completed in as many years. Through the experience of each one, @mrs.turbodb and I are - as you can imagine - regularly comparing the current BDR to those we've explored in the past and a few years ago I finally started writing some of these comparisons down. Now, naturally, I feel obligated to carry on that tradition into the future. TL;DR - the Arizona BDR is the least technical that we've run, and the vast majority of the route would rank near the bottom of our list of "best…

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Cameron to Utah - The Best for Last | AZBDR Stage 6

A quick recap... We knew even before starting the AZBDR that we'd need a permit to cross the Navajo Nation, and we knew we could conveniently pick up the permit just outside of Cameron, AZ just prior to entering Navajo land. What we didn't know for sure were the hours of the permit office. Knowing that we didn't know, we'd tried calling the permit office earlier in the day - just before visiting Waputki National Monument - thinking that we could pick up our permit well before the office closed for the day. However, when no one answered the phone,…

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Winona to Cameron - Volcanoes, Pueblos, and a Grand Canyon | AZBDR Stage 5

Having "wrapped up" (and by that I mean, essentially, skipped) Stage 4 of the AZBDR in a little under six hours, it was just after 3:30pm when we set out from Winona in search of open roads. The elevations here were nearly as high as those on the Mogollon Rim, so I was a little worried that we'd soon find ourselves blocked by snow, but @mrs.turbodb was reasonably confident that we'd be just fine. As usual, she was right. The snowy San Fransisco Mountains would provide a familiar - and beautiful - backdrop for much of this stage. For the…

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Young to Winona - The Mogollon Rim is Closed | AZBDR Stage 4

As our tires hit pavement in the outskirts of Young, it was time to start thinking about Stage 4. Climbing - and then traversing the Mogollon Rim - this was where satellite imagery, which I'd been watching on a daily basis for several weeks prior to our departure, suggested that 5-19" of snow still blanketed the ground. This didn't look promising. Still, my copilot - having spent the last half hour looking through the road conditions page for the Coconino National Forest - thought we stood a chance, at least in part. Though she confirmed closure of the Forest Service…

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Globe to Young - Take a Hike | AZBDR Stage 3

Globe definitely won the "best marketing" award of all the towns we passed through on this trip. It was fantastic to photograph. Rolling out of Globe early on our second day of running the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR), we were once again on - you guessed it - pavement! This was quickly getting old - as we sped north at speeds we rarely encounter on our adventures - and by now we were pretty sure that the AZBDR wouldn't be climbing to the top of our "favorite BDR" list unless something changed dramatically, and quickly. AZ-288 (the Globe-Young Highway)…

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Benson to Globe - Kinda Boring | AZBDR Stage 2

Having wrapped up Stage 1 of the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR) more quickly than we'd anticipated, it was early afternoon as we headed north out of Benson, toward Globe. Having just gorged ourselves on Wendy's, we weren't in any position to stop at the shop directly below this tantalizing sign as we left town. While unexpected, we were both glad that things were working out this way. We've found it much more pleasant to end a day halfway through a stage - rather than at the end/beginning of one - in order to find somewhere to setup camp and…

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Mexico to Benson - Unusual Encounters | AZBDR Stage 1

Prologue Running a BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route) this year is going to be a little different for us than it has been in years past, for several reasons. First, we'll be exploring a state that - due to its distance from home, or even Las Vegas where the Tacoma is now stored - we've done very little adventuring through. This should be a great thing, as one of the "problems" with the last couple of BDRs we've explored was that we were already reasonably familiar with what we'd encounter, making the trip less exciting. Second, we'll be running the route…

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The Perfect Day for Something Stupid

I love nearly every aspect of getting out to explore. The research when I'm at home. The anticipation of what will be found along the way. The unexpected discoveries along the journey. And, of course, the excitement of finding the destinations themselves. Usually. The Back Story Even the best-laid plans - of which mine rarely qualify - run into a snag every now and then. Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to find what we are looking for - if we ever find it at all - as I learned in the case of a singular rock along the Pahranagat Trail over…

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Searching for the Scallywag | Missing Death Valley #3

I slept soundly at the head of Ashford Canyon, two days of driving and hiking finally catching up to my aging body. Knowing that I'd have another long hike - and steep climb - ahead of me for the day, I spent a few minutes around camp, soaking in the sunrise and enjoying the shade that I knew I'd long for as the day went on. With the Tacoma still cool in the shade, a little glow on the Owlsheads, just as the sun is cresting the horizon. As I was eating my breakfast, I spotted this little guy near…

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In Over My Head | Missing Death Valley #2

Making my way south from Furnace Creek, I wasn't in any rush as I putzed along Badwater Road. With tourists swinging into the other lane to pass me by, I soaked in the ever-changing western face of the Black Mountains. Is it just me, or does it look like that guy is fishing in Lake Manley? No fish out there buddy! After passing the parking lot at Badwater, traffic thinned out significantly. Sure, there was still a bit - heading to or from Sidewinder Canyon or south towards Jubilee Pass and Las Vegas - but by and large I was…

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Mountains of Blue and Lakes of Green | Missing Death Valley #1

Driving Forever I don't know how we ever did it. Or why. Time after time, for five full years, we would spend nearly 24 hours in the Tacoma, making our way south - in a single shot - to the desert. At the behest of @mrs.turbodb, and following in the footsteps of Ken @DVExile - my Death Valley archetype - I wised up at the beginning of 2023 and haven't looked back. Still, every now and then the Tacoma has to come home for one reason or another. This time, it was to do some work on my rear leaf…

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