For the last four months, my sole destination has been Death Valley. This would be my sixth trip to the National Park, and with temperatures warming up elsewhere, likely the last visit of the season.
I couldn't wait. Ever since December, when I'd ventured up Pleasant Canyon and South Park on the Back for More trip with my buddies Mike @Digiratus, Zane @Speedytech7, and Monte @Blackdawg, I'd been trying to get back. I'd planned an entire trip around that loop in early January, but snow levels turned out to be low at the time, and we were forced to change our plans at the last moment - not that exploring a series of talc mines at the southern end of the park was any sort of travesty!
Still, the draw of spending a couple days wandering through the Panamints, following side roads, and exploring the mines more fully continued to simmer in the back of my mind. And so, for the third time, we set out to finish what we'd started. A trip up South Park Canyon - driving the narrows, navigating Chicken Rock, exploring the old Honolulu Tunnel and the Big Horn Workings of the Thorndike Mine, and checking out Briggs Camp along the way. Then, down through Pleasant Canyon and its maze of side roads leading to the remains and workings of the World Beater, Ratcliff Mine, Porter, and Cooper mines.
Alas, the third time isn't always the charm. Quite the contrary - we were Almost Stranded!