Editor’s Note: Hopefully you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving Holiday! On this “Cyber Monday”, we continue to take a look back at our Death Valley Adventure as we continue to plan for the next one! Enjoy!
After a night of cold temperatures, some rain and some snow…it was time to hit the trail! As we headed out under clear blue skies, our rugged radios became our information link as Del Albright provided us with in depth history of what we were seeing as we drove.
Because of the recent snowfall over the past couple of days, our Adventure had to change it’s plans a little bit. The original itinerary had us headed up to Cerro Gordo on our first day, but the most awesome thing about this area is that there is SO much to see, our fearless leader Mr. Del Albright, had some very cool other plans! He said “no problem, we will just run it all backwards”! I’m glad he meant in just a reverse order rather than in actual “Reverse”…lol.
You can follow the exact took using Gaia Gps at:
Starting out from Lone Pine, California, and headed for the metropolis of Darwin, CA, we ran into a bit of wind as the front passed through the area….yet the scenery and history kept us engaged even through the stout wind…
Like many trips through an unknown area, our entire group was eager to learn about all the things were seeing. The cool thing about this trip is that we had a guide….someone in the “know”. Del has been coming to this area for many, many years…and his friend Tom Severin also provides a ton of knowledge and information when it come to the Death Valley Experience! We were all tuned in to a special radio frequency to hear the history from someone that had many stories to share will us all! In fact I should shout out again to Rugged Radios for making this possible!
As we made our way into Darwin, CA, it became very apparent that we were in fact coming into towns and areas that most people have never…ever…been to. Yet, there are folks that have been living here and working here for a number of years. Rumor has it that a local mine, the Anaconda or Darwin Mine, may soon be coming back to life! By the end of 1875 this town boasted two smelters, twenty working mines, 200 frame houses, seventy-eight business establishments, and a population of 700!
Such a cool…and mysterious place. While we were there, a group of 10 rigs for about an hour, I never saw a single other person. Hmmm.
We made our way through Darwin, out west, towards China Garden Spring, Darwin Falls and towards Millers Spring. The scenery of this place is just incredible. The twisted rock is unbelievable! Traveling along the Darwin Wash past Millers Spring and into China Garden is just something you have to experience for yourself.
When Del mentioned that we might be able to see some fish out here in this desolate, spectacular area, we were skeptical to say the least! But, Del is a man of his word. And once we arrived at China Garden we understood! Not only were there fish, but goldfish!
In the middle of the desert! Such an unexpected treat! I don’t know what else to say, I tried to google some information about this amazing place…but info is limited…and you know what? I think thats ok. This is a special place…and I feel weird about even sharing it with our readers…but many have come through this special place…lets just hope it stays that way! In it’s day, China Garden was a zinc ore processing mill…today there’s not much left standing…
History states that this old dirt road was part of the original Toll Road built by Bob Eichbaum which led to Stovepipe Wells. Also this area was first visited by Dr. Darwin French, who established a base camp when he led his first prospecting expedition into Death Valley in the 1850’s.
As we dropped down into Panamint Springs, it was a reality check to think about where we actually were. There’s not much out here…but to come across a “resort” out here was truly a good feeling! There is a gas station, restaurant and campground (more on this place in Trip 2, Day 3), with friendly folks and a good supply of “stuff” that you may need. Check out Panamint Springs
After grabbing some “stuff” and knowing we were close to arriving at our destination for the evening, the sunset and lighting kept on providing us more photographic opportunities! We headed West for a few miles before turning South on Panamint Valley Road. Our plan was to head to a place called the Minietta Mine…which made sense when we turned onto the Minietta Mine Road! And as we worked our way up to this spectacular place…everything began to make sense. All of the “why would anybody come out here” questions would be answered…
Stay tuned for day two as we explore more of the Minietta Mine!