Sat, Mar 25, 2023
It had been 8yrs since my last visit up Goler Wash, taking Tom's old 2-door Jeep. There had been a 3-foot step in the canyon that folks had piled rocks up against, barely adequate to get the Jeep up on that visit. We were happy to find that the wash has had some improvements since then, making it a much easier effort to get all the way up to Barker Ranch. There had been no improvements to the section going to Mengel Pass, now no longer suitable for the likes of Matthew's Subaru that we we had used on our first visit to the area back in 2009.
We had spent the night at the junction of Goler Wash and Windgate Rd, choosing the location so that we could more easily return to Matthew's car should the Jeep run into problems in the wash. We did manage to re-break the swaybar bracket that I'd just had welded, but it wouldn't cause any serious harm. We left camp at 7a, heading up Goler Wash shortly before sunrise. It would take us almost an hour and a half (with a few stops to check out some of the sights) to reach Mengel Pass inside Death Valley NP.
We left a register here while I brought up several options to our planned course. Myers BM, a summit we were both interested in, was about a mile and half to the southwest along a ridgeline that looked pretty decent. Matthew said he'd be fine with that. I then brought up there's a Peak 4,793ft with more than 750ft of prominence about the same distance to the southeast. Matthew was fine with that, too. I figured we could always do Myers BM from Panamint Valley another time, but Peak 4,793ft would be better done now, so we went with the second option. The hike along the connecting ridgeline to Peak 4,793ft was fairly pleasant, especially after the climb of the previous peak. Peak 4,793ft is a rounded bump that lies at the eastern end of a high plateau, Matthew commenting that it's hard to make this one look good in a photo. We spent about an hour getting between the two. The summit offers some pretty wide-ranging views across the southwest corner of the park and south into the China Lake military base. Brown Mtn rises prominently to the south across Wingate Wash and Long Valley. While leaving another register, I noticed there was yet another peak, this one to the northeast and less than a mile away. It was just after 3:30p, with sufficient daylight remaining, so I asked Matthew if he'd like to add one more - he would.
I misread the landscape between Peak 4,793ft and Peak 4,632ft as I eagerly headed off to the east, thinking there was a saddle to cross in that direction. In fact, the connecting saddle was well to the north and our route to the east would have us dropping into a canyon draining to the south. It wasn't a big mistake, since it was a shorter route, Matthew commenting that it might even have been faster than the out-of-the-way route going north. The drop into the canyon and the climb out weren't too bad, and the net result was another hour spent getting between two summits, even though these two were a lot closer. It was now after 4:30p and a check of the GPSr showed we had almost 4mi as the crow flies to return to the Jeep. We looked a bit askew at each other, knowing this could be a long return.
It would prove to be much better than we had initially believed. There was very little elevation gain on the return as we headed northwest, finding a whole collection of burro trails that would leave us with very little cross-country travel. It was a delightfully easy romp, dropping into a wash system with green grasses and a red sandstone outcrop coloring the landscape. The wash would take us out to the road and Myers Ranch, a private inholding in the park just east of Barker Ranch. We took a few pictures before following the road out, past two gates with dozens of signs along the way to dissuade curious visitors. Barker Ranch, the site of the infamous Manson Family hideout, is now a shell of what it once was. A stone ranchhouse has been reduced to wall fragments, a rough-hewn wood shack just an empty room, and several other smaller building in long-term decay. Yet the place was alive with two large groups of overlanders who'd brought families and civilization with them to camp here for the weekend. Gas grills were alight with BBQ dinners in the works, children and dogs playing and menfolk standing around talking important matters. It seemed a bit overwhelming and we were quick to make our exit after snapping our photos. We hiked the remaining mile of road back down to the Jeep, returning not long after 6p - pretty good time for four miles, we thought. We would see the last of the sun as we drove the 4-5mi back out of Goler Wash to our camp down in Panamint Valley. A very long day, but a good one...
This page last updated: Fri Oct 20 08:24:57 2023
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org