Daylight Pass To Chloride CliffThis December morning would find me back in the Funerals for some desert sight seeing. This 28 mile loop starts at a gap dividing the Funeral Range from the Grapevine Mts. Casting off from Day light Pass(4317') it was a short but cold paved ride down into the Armagosa. Shortly after leaving the pass I technically cross into the Silver State, but I will find the welcome mat further along the road upon leaving the National Prak(aprox. 3,600'). Just beyond this point and across the road is the east end of the Titus Canyon Rd.
At the State line I turn onto dirt and head south. The road(don't know the name or number) heading south traverses the foot of the Funerals on the east side of the range. Unless one really likes desert scenery though, this little valley isn't very exciting. If not for the Beatty airport to the north, it would be just an sun baked expanse of rock and brush. Like most of Death Valley's roads, there's much washboard and gravel. The traverse is eventually broken by the Chloride Cliff Rd. Here I turn up and west.
The Chloride Cliff Rd starts out as a gentle slope, still the same old washboard and rocks. I climbed up the alluvium as I worked my way back to the park boundry. the previous section had skirted the borderon the Nevada side. Gadually, Chloride Cliff Rd. gets a little steeper about the time I enter rolling hills that are the backstage to the Funerals. Slowly but surely I make my way to the first mine sites.
Chloride Cliff and the mining town, Chloride City have some impressive ruins but I had little time to explore. Which is for the best. I'd rather not contract Huanta. a very real possibility when poking around the old buildings. The mines in the are were some of the most prospurous and famous in the Park's history. (I'll haveto re-research the history and make additions to this report)
Along the the climb to the summit I come across a fork. The north branch leads back to the Daylight Pass Road. Continuing west, the road gets ever steeper as it passes through Chloride City. There are really ruins here but you have to get off the main road to get to them. Sticking to the main road I make my way to the summit(5,276') The road gets so steep that the last 150 feet or so must be hike-o-biked. The ride down this section is scary fun.
The payoff is more than evident . Even looking into the hazy afternoon sun, the view of Death Valley was stunning. To the southwest is the heart of death; the lowest spot in the western hemisphere, Badwater. Standing more than 11,000 feet above the salty valley floor is Telescope Peak. What is truely amazind is how many different mountain ranges can be seen from this Point. The Sierras, the Panamints, the Last Chance Range, the Bare Mts. and many other. All can be seen from this seemingly low peak.
I had a late start and frequently stopping to dazzle at the wildernees ate up time. Sooner than I wished I had to start down. I followed the Chloride Cliff road back to the junction and headed north back to the highway. This section is the fun downhill portion of the ride. The strech back to the Daylight Pass Rd is a steep and rocky jeep trail. This section draws some 4x4 traffic so caution must be used around blind corners.
The late Fall days are short and by the time I got down to the highway, the sun was setting. I had to dig the lights out of my pack. The lights were for the sake of being seen rather than to see. The Sun left the sky and the Moon replaced it. By the time I got back to Daylight Pass it was bright as day.
This was a beautifull liesurely ride. Some might consider the lack of "real" trail riding in Death Valley boring. I certainly don't. The wildlife, the history and the geology far outweigh the need for a big adrenoline rush.
This ride capped off a weekend of desert fun. I had started off with my second stab at the Borax Half Marathon. It and the full marathon are run from Furnace Creek, north along Hwy 190 and back. Runners, this is a fun small race. Between the 1/2 and the Chloride Cliff ride, I'd taken a stab at climbing Dry Mt in the Last Chance Range. So much to do in a place so many would labe empty.