Panamints, August 12, 2000
By Robb Anderson
Alan promised us that at a higher elevation, there would be some relief from the heat of Death Valley. I really hoped he was right because at 8 a.m. in Ballarat the mercury was already warning us not to spend too much time outside our air conditioned 4x4’s. In attendance were Alan Romspert (our fearless leader), Linda Harris, Bill Ott (the rock counter), Ana Romero, Mike and Phyllis Aguilar, Reda Anderson, Steve Bein, Leonard and Rebecca Friedman, and myself.
We aired down and right outta the gate the trail got challenging. There was slimy water trickling down over the sand covered rocks as we attempted to motor up the hill toward the first of several mines we were to explore. Steve got his Infinity QX3 stuck in a hole and needed to be pulled out by Reda’s Jeep. It was then noticed that the Infinity had a severe toe-in problem. The steering tie rod was now bent at a 90 degree angle. Alan and I proceeded to do our best to straighten it out while the others held a tarp over our heads shielding us from the scorching rays of the sun. After getting the rod fairly straight it was decided to leave the Infinity there and proceed with the trip. Steve rode the rest of the way with Reda.
Without any further mishaps, we had lunch in the shade of an abandoned building near a mine. After lunch we progressed up to higher elevations in an attempt to beat the 100 degree heat. Along the way we spotted several wild asses.
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We made camp near the top of the Panamints at South Park, and Alan was right about the coolness of the higher elevation. It was still quite warm but not unbearable like the valley below. We had a great campfire and lots of stories were shared among our new found friends.
The next morning found us driving to more abandoned mines and rummaging through junkyards of mining equipment. We also found time to fill the bathtub with water running down the trail so the wild asses could have a cool drink. Three of them stood there watching and waiting for the tub to fill and gave us a look as if they were saying “It’s about time you Desert Explorers got here to help us out”. As we descended the same canyon we drove up, we recovered Steve’s Infinity and drove out. The temperature back in Ballarat was now 115 degrees. We quickly aired up and got back into our air conditioned 4x4’s. We kept a close watch on Steve’s vehicle to make sure he was tracking all right.
Thanks to all for making this trip successful and fun.