Per our plan – such as it was – we left the road just outside of Trona. We drove on an historic route used by the Bennett- Arcane party, led by William Manly, as they escaped from Death Valley in 1849.
As an aside; after the Bennett-Arcane party stalled out in Death Valley – which they had sort of wandered into by mistake, but were unwilling to head south to get out of – William Manly made a 500 mile round trip across the unexplored desert to get help and then came back to save their lives. Years later, Manly came back with Bennett to look for silver and, after splitting up, Manly failed to meet Bennett at the rendezvous. Even though Manly had saved his life once, Bennett left him to die. But Manly got out again, and returned to his farm near San Jose; end aside.
Almost all roads that transverse a mountain range in the desert, start by going up an alluvial fan to a canyon into the mountains. The Escape Trail, as this road is sometimes called, is no exception. Gaining elevation as we drove up the alluvial fan; we started to run into more flowers, and get better views back into the Searles Valley and the town of Trona. There were several side roads, but we had no problem finding our way with all the great signage.
As we continued to climb towards the ridgeline of the Slate Range, we started seeing more flowers. We drove by a blooming creosote – the creosote, Creosote larrea, is a nasty plant and a worse mother: the plant secretes creosote juice, or what ever it is called, which is the same stuff used to protect telephone poles, and it drizzles to the ground; killing anything, like baby plants, that is near the mother plant – next to a gorgeous, purple desert lupine Lupinus sparsiflorus.
Higher, when we looked back, the Searles Valley had finally disappeared
but we were now high enough to see the Mojave Aster Xylorhiza
tortifolia. As the road got higher, it got steeper and rockier. As
we got to the pass through the Slates and started down, we could see
11,049 foot high Telescope Peak in the background with a dusting of snow
Almost all the way down to where we are going to camp, we have a great view! And warm weather with no wind. (Be sure to stop and double click on the panorama below.) At camp, we barbecued chicken thighs, potato slices and fresh asparagus. A very nice day.
To be continued here