FKT: Tom Afschar, Alexia Joens - Saline Valley Loop (CA) - 2020-11-14

Route variation
Standard loop
Gender category
Mixed-gender team
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 13h 22m 2s

Tom and I came up with the idea for this adventure a year or two ago.  We were running in Saline Valley with a couple of friends and thought this would be the perfect place to have an adventure run.  We talked a little about the possible routes and left it at that.....Just an idea.  When all of our races were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, Tom got to work on SARTopo and created this fantastic route. 

Then the planning started.  How would we resupply our food and water? Where would we stay? How would our crew get to us?  The course runs through a very remote location in Death Valley National Park.  Some parts of the loop are only accessible by foot and others only by 4 wheel drive with high clearance.  The nearest store or town is hours away.  It was decided we would need buckets with food and water for resupply and a few crew aid stations. The weekend of October 23rd Tom, I and another crew member drove the route to stage the food and water buckets.  Each bucket contained canned water, gu, gels, chips and other rations.  The buckets were concealed under brush, behind rocks and in ravines so they would be out of the view of the public.  The buckets were staged at approximately miles 6.2 (Aid 1), 15.0 (Aid 2) , 24.2 (Aid 3), 37.6 (Aid 6) 46.7 (Aid 7), 55.5 (Aid 8), 66.1 (Aid 9), 73.3 (Aid 10), 83.2 (Aid 11), 92.1 (Aid 12) and 99 (Aid 13). 

November 12th - Tom and I drove to Lone Pine with a few members of our crew members.  Our crew stayed at the Dow Villa in Lone Pine and we drove to Saline Valley Warm Springs, set up camp and slept in our tents. 

November 13th at 0500 we started the run.  We ran up the canyon towards Steele Pass.  We ran past Marble Bath, through the canyon and traversed Eureka Dunes. Our first crew aid station would be Eureka Dunes Dry Camp at Mile 28.  The plan was for our crew to give support for the next few aid stations. Our crew decided to meet us at the rest of the aid stations which were accessible by 4 wheel drive.

Part of this route takes you on a section of Death Valley Road which is a small two lane highway.  This section was slightly uphill and seemed to go on forever.  At night this section is super dark.  If you run this portion at night, it is recommended you wear a safety vest and flashers.

The night was cold.  Due to the change in elevation and, therefore, the change in temperature, you will need lots of layers......gloves, beenie, thermal top and bottom, Houdini, Thermolball, etc.  

Part of this route is completely off trial and requires route finding.  Make sure to download maps before you go.  Gaia and MyTopo work well.

Saline Valley - 1100 ft
Steele Pass- 5,100 ft
Eureka Dunes - 3000 ft
Highpoint - Peak before we dropped onto Waucoba Saline Road - 7,800 ft.

Sunrise: 0623
Sunset: 1629

The moon November 13th was a waning crescent moon with only 4% lumination.  We needed bright lights, especially for the off trail sections.  We used a combination of headlamps and the Kogalla Ultra Trail Light.

The scenery is incredible on this route.  You run through gorgeous rocky canyons, traverse Eureka Sand Dunes, pass mines and old mining equipment, run through a forest and all with the Inyo Mountains in the background.  To top it all off, you end at the hot springs.  Not a bad day!