Rant n' Rave – Piss n' Moan

June 22, 2009

Charlie Manson and Me – part 5

Filed under: Charlie Manson and Me - part 5 — Tags: — Bob @ 9:19 am

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Charlie Manson and Me – part 5

~Goler Wash to Mengel Pass~

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We turned the van around and went back to where we turned off Coyote Canyon Rd. in Goler Wash.  I guess this is where this sign is today:

Goler Wash sign.

We went to the right, heading toward what we would later find out was the Carl Mengel cairn.

Memories have faded over the 33 years since then, but I do remember 2 spots that took a bit of nerve and a lot of luck to drive past.  They were both what I now know are called dry waterfalls,  sometimes referred to as dry falls.  They might be the places named Hubcap Falls and Oilpan Falls, but I am not sure about that.

The first challenge would be Hubcap Falls, where it was very rocky and the rise may have been about 4′ high.  Again, no pics, and faded memory.  I just proceeded slowly and managed to climb it after moving a couple of rocks.  Here is a pic of what I think might be this dryfall: 

This might be Hubcap Falls.

It would have looked quite different back in 1976, with much less sand and gravel to fill in the spaces.

Or maybe this…? 

First dryfall - Hubcap Falls?

Our point of view is looking Eastward, the direction we were travelling, not coming toward the photographer, like these vehicles.

A while later we encountered what remains in my mind as a HUGE smooth boulder that filled the entire Wash from wall to wall.  It was maybe 10 feet high (…or 20 feet, or even 30 feet) and I couldn’t see what was on the other side, so I got out and climbed to the top, (it took maybe 2 minutes to climb up there  *not really!*) discovering a fairly smooth, sandy stretch beyond with an easy trail running through it.  This next pic might be the spot I am writing about, and when I recently discussed this particular hurdle with Barbara, she recalls that it was ‘only’ about 3 feet high!  Wellll, SHE wasn’t driving!  LOL 

Oilpan Falls?, facing East, the direction we were going.

I know…  it’s not smooth, and it certainly isn’t 30 feet high, which is exactly why I don’t believe this is the Dryfall I am talking about.  The rock (boulder, fall, whateverrrr…) that I recall was definitely smooth, with no loose stuff around it, and sitting in the van you absolutely could NOT see what was on the other side!  Barbara does agree on that!  And the boulder was at LEAST twice the length of the van from the bottom to the top!  So, to continue…

I slowly put the front wheels up on the dark gray boulder and as the van raised up, Barbara expressed her fear that the van would tip over backwards if we went any farther.

The rear wheels started spinning a bit as they reached the bottom of the boulder, so I backed down a short way to make a run at it.  For peace of mind, and safety’s sake, (…more like for quiet-sake-so-I-could-pay-attention-to-driving-sake) Barbara and Danny got out of the van to watch.

I hit the boulder at certainly under 5 mph, and climbed up and over with barely any wheel-spin. *woo-HOOO!*

I still haven’t found a picture that even closely resembles what I remember of that second big hurdle that we drove over.  I will continue ‘Googling’ and ‘Binging’ for images of Goler Wash, etc. to try and find one.  I am convinced, however, that due to time, weather, and what I have now learned about the actual NPS or BLM or Forest Service or State or County maintenance of the trail going through Goler Wash, that, coupled with people actually moving rocks and shoveling sand and gravel, etc., has changed the look of the place that we remember.  There might have even been some BLASTING done to make the way easier! *…again, slapping my forhead for not taking more pictures back then!*

Once I crested that mountainous boulder, I got out to stretch my legs a bit and settle my nerves from the climb, and give the ol’ van’s engine and tranny a short break.  We looked around a while, soaking in the amazing experience of being where we were, and then Barbara, Danny and I got back into the van to forge ahead to who-knows-what?

I seem to recall that the area right above the big boulder we had just climbed spread out into a small valley with low brush and a sandy trail.  There were a couple of dirt-bike prints, and some horseshoe prints, but we were leaving the only 4-wheel vehicle prints to be seen!  The sides of this valley sloped skyward with jagged tops, but the path was slowly angling upward as well, so they weren’t as high as when we were in the deep wash.  The feeling was as if we were on a different planet!

[I have been advised by David A. Wright that the previous  pics of the dryfalls are not as I described. These are the dry falls in the lower part of the canyon below the Newman Cabin.  There is nothing remotely approaching the confining canyon walls on the upper canyon.”  Oh, well, so much for continuity and verification!  LOL]

 

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Good video of Goler Wash:

(Note:  I do not recall the ‘roadway’ being so well-packed and smooth as this video shows, but it gives some of the feeling of the height of the  canyon walls and the area.  We did not drive as fast as these guys because we were enjoying the scenery, and the trail was much rougher.)

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Here is another good video of Goler Wash, Newman Cabin and on to Mengel Pass.

(Note:  Most of the pics and videos I have viewed of Goler Wash have had some amount of water on the trail, especially at the West end.  I do not think there was any water at all when we were there.  Also, in this video, it appears to me that the trail has been built up with sand and gravel to make it more passable, but it does show how the trail can drop off on one side while hugging the wall on the other.)

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[David A. Wright advises about this section: “Yes, about 1998, Inyo County really went in and made the main canyon portion of the road much smoother and filled in the area of the falls that you named Oilpan and Hubcap.  The roadway within Death Valley National Park has changed little.  As for the water, there’s almost always water running down the roadway below the Newman cabin from a spring.  Most times I’ve passed by, you drive through water for about a third to half mile.”]

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Charlie Manson and Me – part 6

~Carl Mengel Pass~

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