Our third and last day in Death Valley NP had an easier agenda than the
previous two, making for a more relaxed pace. I had two hikes planned - one to
the highpoint of the Talc Hills south of Salsberry Pass, the other a P900 and
second highest summit in the Greenwater Range. We had enough time at the end
of the day to tackle the highpoint of the Dublin Hills just outside Death
Valley, an easy bonus. Tom and Karl decided to climb the DPS's Smith Peak
in the morning but would join us for the last summit in the afternoon.
Talc Hills HP
We left our campsite along Badwater Rd around 7a, heading south
to SR178 and then east to the upper end of Bradbury Wash. There is a side
road forking south that one can use to get a little closer. We didn't find it
at first and simply parked along SR178 (Jubilee Pass Rd), but after finding
it with tread marks and in decent shape, we retrieved the Matt's Forester and
drove it to the Wilderness boundary about 3/4mi from the highway. From
we were about 2.5mi from our summit. The Talc Hills are oddly defined as a
subrange of the Black Mtns which themselves are a subrange of the Amargosa
Range. As such, the "highpoint" isn't all that high and has little prominence.
In fact, it was necessary to first hike to a point higher still, then drop
down before climbing to the summit. The first half of the route was made
easier by the continuing road that ran southeast up the drainage. It was no
longer driveable, but readily followed on foot. We then turned south and
southwest to climb up to a saddle, about 50ft higher than our summit which we
could now see another 3/4mi to the southwest.
Matt suggested we follow the
connecting ridgeline between the two, which we did, but it didn't turn out to
be the easiest way. We had to climb up higher still before then dropping to
a low saddle on the east side of the highpoint which didn't save much elevation
loss. On the way back we would take the more direct route
between the summit
and the first saddle which I think went a little faster. Both routes were
standard class 2 desert terrain, easily negotiated. Sue & Vic Henney had left
a register here in 2011. I recognized the other entries as
the usual suspects with Bob Sumner making the last visit only
a few months earlier. The whole outing took us a little over 2.5hrs, getting us
back to the car by 10:30a.
Matthew and Nga decided to get an early start for the long drive back to the
Bay Area, leaving just three of us for the second peak.
We continued east on SR178 over Salsberry Pass towards Shoshone, to the
junction with Furnace Creek Wash Rd. Iris and I left our cars here and once
again drove with Matt in his Suburu, this time heading north through Greenwater
Valley. The road here is in decent shape that any vehicle can drive, but it's
quite long and washboarded in places. It was nice to have decent clearance and
suitable suspension for driving it at a higher speed than the van would have
been able to. It was noon before we had driven the 17mi up Greenwater Valley,
eventually parking alongside the roadway about 2mi WSW of Peak 4,980ft. Our
summit was easily visible to the east,
an unimpressive rise in the distance in
the middle of the range, occupying space between the range highpoint to the
north and Brown Peak to the southeast. We spent an hour hiking the distance
across the flats and then up the West Ridge to the summit.
The Greenwater Range
is not as high or impressive as other Death Valley ranges, but the highpoints
do provide nice views to the east overlooking the huge Amargosa Valley.
Finding no register at the top, we left one before heading back via an
alternate route along the SW Ridge before crossing the flats a second
time. Iris and I had some amusement at Matt's expense as we followed him on the
return. He had been carrying his GPSr in his upturned palm for most of the
way and we naturally assumed he was leading us back to the car. It turns out
he wasn't paying much attention to it at all and simply navigating by dead
reckoning, so when we got closer to the roadway and I happened to check my
own GPSr, we had to ask where he was taking us. With only a modest detour as
a result, we were back to the car by 2:20p.
Dublin Hills HP
We drove back out to SR178 where we found Karl and Tom relaxing by their
vehicles, parked near ours. They seemed almost annoyed that we disturbed their
tranquil scene but readily agreed to join us for the Dublin Hills HP when I
suggested it. This small set of hills is located west of Shoshone just outside
Death Valley NP. We drove all our vehicles a few miles east on SR178, parked
alongside the roadway and hoofed it from there. The climb
is fairly easy, a little over a mile each way with about 800ft of gain,
good footing over mostly limestone rock. We encountered a short section of
steep but easy class 3 on the way up and the way down.
We took about half an hour to reach the highpoint by 4p, the air
growing cooler towards the end of the day with high clouds moving over the
region. There was a benchmark from 1926, one of the oldest I've seen
in the desert. Finding no register again, we left one of ours to give
future visitors something to scrawl their names on. The town of Shoshone can be
seen from the summit to the east and it was to there we headed for
dinner at the Crowbar Cafe,
the second time in a week we'd dined there. Afterwards we found a place on the
south side of town to spend the night with plans to tag some summits around
the area the next morning...