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CA4WDC's 35th annual Panamint Valley Days took place from November 13 to November 15, 2020, in beautiful Panamint Valley, located in California's Mojave desert, on the extreme western border of Death Valley National Park.  I attended PVD for the first time since 2010, and as always, I enjoyed a great time in beautiful Panamint Valley, enyoing breathtaking scenery, good food, along with good company.

Photo:  The cover of the hand-out each registered vehicle receives after checking in at base camp.  All registration for Panamint Valley Days, and other CA4WDC events is done in advance, on-line.  Walk-ups are usually accepted, but you won't receive an event t-shirt, as they're always sold in advance.

Panamint Valley Days has is held the second weekend in November, and is one of the premier CA4WDC events of the year.

Photo:  I arrived to Panamint Valley late Tuesday afternoon, November 09, 2020, well before the PVD event began, as I wanted to spend as much time as I could in this beautiful desert valley, enjoy the scenery, and just kick back and relax.

Naturally, the first thing I accomplished was to set up camp, which was completed about the time darkness arrived. In mid-November, the sun sets around 4:30 in the afternoon, and it's dark and time to use your lantern by 5.

My first night's dinner, cooked by lantern light was fried shrimp, jasmine rice, stir fried veggies along with artichoke hearts, cooked on my plow disc wok, over a large turkey fryer burner.

On this trip, every meal was cooked using this combination, which worked out well.

Photo:  I got up Wednesday morning, November 11, 2020 just before the sun rose over the Panamint mountains, got the coffee going, and started breakfast.  Camping in Panamint valley really builds up an appetite!  At 06:15 in the morning, when I got up, the temperature was 37 degrees, which was the coldest temperature that I encountered on this amazing trip.

Photo:  When I camp in one place for a week or so, I set up a complete camp kitchen, which allows me to enjoy gourmet food as I'm camping.  Breakfast on this Wednesday morning was bacon, a two-egg cheese omelette, stuffed with vegetables, a hash brown patty, along with one of my camp-biscuits covered with sausage gravy.

Photo:  After enjoying breakfast, I could not resist playing on a nearby dirt mound.  On this Wednesday, I had the whole PVD base camp to myself, but that would change tomorrow.

Photo:  Thursday morning, November 12, 2020 proved to be a bright and beautiful morning, and what better way to start the day by cooking a fine Mexican style breakfast on my plow disc wok?

Photo:  My breakfast on this Thursday was chorizo, refried beans, garnished with diced onion and jalapiņo pepper, eggs garnished with shredded Mexican cheese and Valentina hot sauce, and fried corn tortillas on the side.

Photo:  After breakfast, I took a drive over to the nearby ghost town of Ballarat, and stopped to admire the view of the Panamint mountains, framed by the ruins of a Ballarat building.

Photo:  By the time I returned to camp, things had changed, as the PVD committee had arrived, set up base camp, along with registration.  I no longer had the place to myself, but that was what I wanted, as I love the company of fellow four wheelers, along with the camaraderie and atmosphere found at all CA4WDC events.

For the last 25 years, Panamint Valley Days base camp has been located on Slate Range road, about a mile east of Nadeau road.  The GPS coordinates are 36.07.772, 117.20.509 with an elevation of 1429 feet.

Photo:  The run board lists each run offered during the event.  You sign up for the run(s) of your choosing when you pick up your registration package.  The difficulty of each run, along with a description of each run is on the PVD web site, and it's also available from the committee person at registration.  Each run is color-coded as to when the line-up is, and each line-up point, there is a sign letting you know where you are.  

If you have questions about your run, or anything else, just ask one of the friendly PVD committee members or assistance, either in person, or over the CB radio.  The friendly staff is eager to help.

Photo:  This gentleman is picking up his registration package from the PVD committee members at the registration table.

Photo:  Later on this Thursday afternoon, registration became a busy place, as more people pulled into camp.  The runs actually start on Friday, but the biggest day of the event is on Saturday.  Most participants are from the greater Los Angeles and Inland Empire areas, so showing up Thursday seems to work for most.

Photo:  Base camp is beginning to fill up with four wheelers on this late Thursday afternoon.  The mountains in the background are the Argus range, which make for the western boundary of Panamint Valley.

Photo:  My camp, not far from registration, with Telescope Peak in the background.  Telescope Peak is the highest peak in the Panamint range, and you can hike to the summit via a trail that begins at Mahogany Flat campground, high in the Panamint mountains at about the 8600 foot level.

Photo:  For dinner, I enjoyed fried chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken gravy and stir fry vegetables.  I confess the mashed potatoes weren't made from scratch, and the vegetables were frozen, but the meal was certainly delicious. The chicken was battered with masa harina, which added an "earthy" taste, and the gravy was made from pan drippings, with masa harina for thickening.  Rustic dinners definitely work well in Panamint Valley.

Photo:  Friday morning, November 13, 2020, with a nice "reverse sunrise" as the sunrise reflects on the clouds to the west.  I'm no longer alone, as there are a group of campers across the wash, behind my camp.

Photo:  Friday morning and things are getting active in PVD base camp, as four wheelers are getting ready for the day's runs.

Photo:  The flag proudly flies from my truck, with Slate Range Road in the foreground, and the Argus mountains in the background.

Photo:  I chose not to go on a run today, as I've been on all of the "easy" runs - my truck is only suited for very mild runs - so I chose to remain in camp and enjoy the beautiful day.

Photo:  Friday night dinner worked out to be delicious!  I enjoyed carne asada, cooked in ranchera sauce, chili beans, camp-made salsa cruda (fresh salsa,) along with corn tortillas.  Can you say Mexican food?

Photo:  After dinner, I lit the campfire and enjoyed a cheery fire, to ward off the chill of the 40-something degree evening.  This time of year, it's pitch dark by 5 in the afternoon, and when the sun sets, the desert gets chilly, so an evening campfire is most welcome.

Photo:  Saturday morning, November 14, 2020, I started the day out right with a breakfast of chorizo, scrambled eggs, topped with shredded Mexican cheese, chili beans, sliced avocado with onion and cilantro, and lightly fried corn tortillas.  When I camp, I LOVE to eat!

Photo:  Rather than participating on a trail run, I went into the nearest town - Ridgecrest - as I was running low on beer, ice and fresh meat and vegetables.  

On returning, I paused on Slate Range road to take a photo of PVD base camp, along with a few vehicles returning from one of the day's runs.

Photo:  Two Jeeps return to camp from one of the trail runs on this mid-Saturday afternoon.  At CA4WDC events, the vehicle of choice is a Jeep, particularly the Rubicon variety, but you'll see a smattering of other well-equipped 4wd vehicles, ready for the trail.

Photo:  Close-up photo of tonight's dinner, cooking in my wok, made from a plow disc.  The plow disc was given to me by my friend Dan Weir, and it's well-seasoned, just like a cast iron frying pan.

Photo:  Tonight's dinner was stir fry all the way, including pork, jasmine rice and veggies.  I couldn't resist topping the pork with some leftover barbecue sauce, as an added bonus.  Like the chicken I enjoyed a couple of nights ago, the pork was dredged in masa harina before frying.  My oil of choice for frying EVERYTHING is olive oil.

Photo:  Sunday morning, November 15, 2020, and I'm cooking breakfast on my plow disc wok.  I have bacon, a biscuit and hash browns frying on the wok.

Photo:  Today's breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs topped with American cheese, hash brown potato, along with a camp-made biscuit topped with sausage gravy.  Valentina hot sauce adds to the flavor.

Photo:  My camp on this mid-Sunday morning in mid-November, with Telescope Peak in the background.  PVD camp is located on Slate Range Road, about a mile east of Nadeau Road, near the center of Panamint Valley.

Photo:  Yesterday when I went into town for supplies, as I was browsing the Mexican food section of the supermarket, Goya green pigeon peas caught my eye to enjoy for dinner.  I've already made the fresh salsa - salsa cruda - so all I have left to do is to fry the peas and the bratwurst.  Tonight's dinner was definitely "multicultural."

Photo:  I've finished cooking, and I'm ready to enjoy tonight's dinner, by the light of the propane lantern.  Normally, I use solar-powered lanterns for after dark lighting, but during late fall and winter, I switch to propane as there simply isn't enough daylight to efficiently charge the lanterns, and due to the early darkness, each lantern is lit for at least six hours each night.

Photo:  Tonight's dinner of Mexican pigeon peas, bratwurst and fresh salsa.  Like most of my meals, there's a generous helping of Valentina hot sauce, as it's my "go-to" variety of hot sauce.

Photo:  Monday morning, November 16, 2020, and the coffee pot is beginning to perk, which is a welcome way to get the 39-degree morning started.  The coffee pot is small, so I had to set it on a cake rack to it would fit on my burner, but the high temperature seems to be overwhelming the flimsy rack.

Photo:  Today's  breakfast is frying on my plow disc wok.

Photo:  Monday morning breakfast of chorizo, scrambled eggs topped with Mexican cheese, hash brown potato patty, fresh salsa, along with toasted corn tortillas.  Between this hearty breakfast and the pot of coffee, this really got my chilly Monday morning off to a good start.

Photo:  Tuesday, November 17, 2020 and I woke up to an absolutely beautiful morning, which bathed the Argus Range in a mellow light.  Everybody has left, and I have the whole area to myself, and probably most of Panamint Valley.

Photo:  Slate Range Road, with the Argus Range in the background, on this beautiful Tuesday morning in mid-November, 2020.

Photo:  Today's breakfast cooking on my plow disc wok.  I'm enjoying bratwurst, bacon along with corn tortillas, as I'm out of just about everything else!

Photo:  I give a "thumbs up," as I relax around my camp, as I enjoy my last day camping in Panamint Valley.

Photo:  For my last dinner in Panamint Valley, I opened a can of menudo, but I "doctored" it with green onion jalapiņo pepper, and garlic to make it more to my liking.

Photo:  Tonight's dinner of "spicy" menudo, was absolutely amazing!  Menudo is a soup, and normally served in a bowl, but my plastic plate had raised edges, so it worked perfectly for the menudo.  Too bad I didn't purchase more tortillas when I was in town, as I found myself out of corn tortillas.

Photo:  Wednesday morning, November 18, 2020 and I've already taken down the tent and packed it into the bed of the truck, and all remaining is to pack up the last of the camp kitchen before heading home.

For more information about Panamint Valley Days, check out the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Club web site at https://cal4wheel.com.  Great four wheeling!

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