XEROX Mountaineering & Backpacking Club

Owens Valley/ Eureka Valley Hikes & car camp 18-20 August 1989

What: Moonlight hike on Eureka Valley sand dunes; day hikes in bristlecones and Big Pine Creek; trip to Keough Hot Springs; car camp along Big Pine Creek.

When: Friday-Sunday 18-20 August 1989. Leave town around noon Friday.

Routes and highlights: This is not a "family car camp" a la Joshua Tree. This is a group of three moderate hikes ,each offering spectacularly different scenery, separated by a campground with hot showers and pine trees.

Take Friday off. The highlight of the trip is a sand-diving expedition to Eureka Valley Friday night (just a few days after a full moon). From Big Pine, go north 1/2 mile on 395. Then take 168 east toward the Bristlecones for just a mile or two before turning right on the Death Valley Road. The highway is paved except for the last 15 miles or so; then it's good dirt/gravel. Take an obvious right turn toward the dunes, which you'll see looming to the southeast shortly after you enter Eureka Valley. Be sure to bring lots of water and a spare tire. We'll arrive at the dunes around 8:30pm, spend about 2 hours there, then get back to Big Pine around midnight.

The dunes are 3K' above sea level at the base and over 1000' high. The night air is pleasant -- around 70 degrees with maybe a tiny breeze. The sand is warm as you dig your feet in. The sand is all very fine and easy on bare feet. Mostly it's moderately soft. In a few places it's harder so you tread a little more lightly. You run a couple of miles along the ridge to the top and enjoy the moon-lit view of the desolate valley -- no water or inhabitants. Then you jump, dive, swim, etc, crawl back to the top, & repeat until exhausted. Remember videos of the astronauts hopping around on the moon? You can do that here! I've done this at least half a dozen times over the past 18 years -- it's INCREDIBLE!!! Also, almost nobody knows about it except a few of us from Deep Springs College.

Clothing is optional on the dunes and in the hot springs. Sand-diving doesn't work too well if you're wearing clothing.

Saturday we'll do a day hike in the Bristlecones. We'll take the "Methuselah Walk" trail, which is a loop nature trail 4.25 miles long with 800' total vertical gain. This is relatively flat but high-altitude (10,000' elevation) open country, with spectacular views across Owens Valley to the Sierras and across Deep Springs Valley to the south.

Saturday night, we'll visit Keogh Hot Springs, which is less than 10 miles up 395 from Big Pine, just west of the highway, and indicated by a sign. We will not go to the commercially developed area, but rather to a spot downstream (right, north). There are a number of pools. It's semi-maintained by various locals, and is fairly popular. Expect to see a couple of dozen people.

Sunday we'll do a day hike up Big Pine Creek. Details TBD after consulting with hikers. Most likely hike is from Glacier Lodge (7800') up to Third Lake (10,000') ; 8 miles round trip; take the "north fork" when the trail branches.

Topo Maps: USGS 15': Dunes: probably Waucoba Spring, but there's no reason to use one. I recommend the DeLorme "Northern California Atlas and Gazeteer", which is nearly as detailed as a topo and covers half the state. Bristlecones: Blanco Mt. and Mt. Barcroft. Big Pine Creek: Big Pine and Mt. Goddard.

Bring: "Ten essentials", jackets, food, sleeping gear.

Driving Details: From El Segundo, take 405 north about 20 miles until it becomes the 5 north for a couple of miles, then 14 north through Palmdale to Mohave. Make a quick food stop in Mohave. Continue north on 14 until it becomes 395 north. Continue to Big Pine, where you should gas up. Take a left in the center of town at the blinking orange light on the north side of the Chevron station. This leads you up the Big Pine Creek road toward Glacier Lodge for 8 miles to about the 7,000' level. Look for a small sign "Big Pine Trailer Rental, Travel Trailer & Mobile Home Park" on the left. Their phone number is 619/938-2256 (but you'll probably just get an answering machine if you call). Address is "1 Hinds Road". Campground fee: $6 per vehicle plus $1 per person, per day. Reservations are already made.

Allow 5 hours minimum driving time from the South Bay, and add any meal stops. Please be at campground by 6:30pm Friday.

Leader: Bruce Hamilton: W:(213)333-8075, H:(213)322-4602, E-Mail: Hamilton:OSBU South:Xerox

Miscellany: Write or call the leader if you plan to come; then you can be kept informed of last minute changes. Let us help if you need a ride or can offer a ride. Bad weather will cancel. Not recommended for children under 12. Dogs should be ok, but leashed in the campground.