On my return toward LA, I decided to take a couple scenic 4wd trails. The first was Papoose Flat. I've only driven it once before. In my old Acura MDX. It was the hardest road I ever drove in that Acura. That was the first time I ever stopped to inventory how much food I had in the car, in case I had mechanical problems or got stuck.
This is a great trail. This time, I didn't go to "The Narrows" section to the east of the flat. I encountered 5 other trucks up there, so it wasn't very crowded. The SoCal Land Rover Club recently trekked up there for a camping adventure. I saw their photos and decided I needed to return.
In case you're not familiar with the location, here's a google map centered on Papoose Flat. It's around 9,000 feet elevation southeast of Big Pine and offers a stunning view of the Sierra mountains across the valley. The trail appears in all of my 4wd trail books. Mitchell rates it a class 3. I agree, but that only applies to a very short section.
At one point I was blocked by a truck with 3 older geologists. They'd done field work up there some 25 years ago and were visiting the site. They didn't expect to encounter anyone else. One kind gentleman was describing the formations that were embedded in the trail. I told them I just call those the tie-rod-bending formations. They all laughed.
Taking the direct route from Death Valley Road, this is the most difficult section. It's short.
Here's a shot looking north over the valley I crossed. That's Death Valley Road in the distance.
Here's my first glimpse of Papoose flat.
It was a fun drive. The sky was clear. It wasn't hot. With the windows down I could hear the birds. Much nicer than taking 395 south.