Death Valley Days

6:30 p.m. on October 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Two of my Seattle friends came to visit and we drove over to Death Valley to hit some of the high spots (and low spots) and it would help me find out the lay of the land for future adventures.

So we loaded up ACE the Super Pilot and hit the road on Saturday morning and drove up I 95 from Vegas to Amragosa. Before heading into the park, we stopped at Ash Meadows Wildlife refuge.


This are is a wonderful spot for a quick sandwich while you are on a road trip. I would come here again and will when the pup fish are out in abundance in the spring.


We enjoyed the quiet walk along the boardwalk that takes you through the marsh.



The Mesquite trees had these ball like elements that at first glance appear to be some sort of nest. In fact, they are a growth that appears to be completely different than the structure of the rest of the tree. Solve that mystery for me?


The pool furthest from the parking lot was awe inspiring. It had the clearest water I've ever seen:



And with that it was time to head on out to Death Valley.


Our first stop was to drive to Dante's View at 5,700 feet. We parked and then hiked the small distance to the peak. Very small walk...but I was wearing flip flops.

Here is the view from the top.

Then on to Furnace Creek area where our first stop took us to that point where you go from above the ocean to below it without even getting wet. Well, aside from the slight perspiration of a warm day.


Onward we went to see the Devil's Golf Course.


This was big chunks of rock and salt deposits that were treacherous to walk through and astonishing to look at.


We headed down this road (reminding me of North by Northwest with Cary Grant) toward Badwater Basin for our next stop.


Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. From right here, I would seek that low point of 282 feet below! Seems we are always looking to go, I was going DOWN DOWN DOWN!


So out on the salt we went where the temps were over 100 on this fine October day.


And with that, I had stood at 282 below and 17,600 above during 2012. not a bad spread of altitude for an old chubby girl!

Next, it was off to the SAND DUNES!


We were beginning to lose light and didn't have time to go all the way out on them. Next time, I will go in the wee early morn so that all the and is blown to a smooth naturally rippled surface rather than a cacophony of shoe prints from the myriad tourists. Can I use the word cacophony that way?


Above you see my own Columbia hiking shoe.

The next place was a nice little slot canyon Mosaic Canyon.


WHAT WAS THAT???? The ravens were plentiful!


This was to be about a kilometer in to the back of the slot. I don't know how far a kilometer is but the European guy at the car park told us that was how far it was. Turned out to be just right as we were losing sun and got in and out in just enough time to drive back down the rather un-road like road to the man drag. Sit back and enjoy a few pix of mosaic canyon:


The picture below shows one of the strata in the canyon that had some event that PULVERIZED the rock....thus, MOSAIC.


The day was ending and we had to start heading back to Vegas.

But first, there were some Lights we had to see before we saw the Vegas Lights:


These two pictures are my first attempts at shooting the stars. Not a good job but I still like it. You cannot see 1/8th this many starts when in town.


That is the big dipper caught on the Canon 60D. It was ugly, but it was real.

So after 400 miles, 6 dollar gas, a few light hikes and a lotta fun in the sun, we had left Vegas at 8 AM and returned at 11 PM. My friends thought I was weird packing down coats and lights and first aid kits when we were mainly driving. I told them I had seen too many episodes of "I Shouldn't Be Alive" and did not want to be the subject of the next one when something unplanned happened. So we showered and headed to bed. We had to sleep fast because we needed to leave the house by 6 AM in the morning to launch our kayaks below Hoover Dam for a 13 mile paddle the next day. PLAY OUTSIDE!

10:54 p.m. on October 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Very nice TR. Nothing wrong with an exploratory walk. There are some beautiful spots there. I like the oasis feel of the water.

  1. FYI a kilometre is about 6/10ths of a mile.
  2. Re: the clump of brush in the tree, there's something similar found in pine and spruce called a 'witches broom'. Apparently it's a virus that causes a burst of uncontrolled growth in one spot. Could this be the same?
  3. 'Cacophony of shoes prints'? How about a 'cacophony of tourists'? Yup, that makes sense!
11:30 p.m. on October 15, 2012 (EDT)
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It's hard to tell by the photo, but that could be Phoradendron Fungus growing in the Mesquite tree.  It's relatively common type to Mistletoe.

11:56 p.m. on October 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks both of you. This was my most fun weekend since I got back from Nepal. The paddle yesterday was amazing and mynfriends have the bug. More people up an out the door!

8:04 a.m. on October 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Just to straighten out the "mysterious thing on the mesquite", I think it is neither virus nor fungus but a species of mistletoe. Jim is right in that it's a Phoradendron, but it's a plant, not fungus. Mistletoes are "hemiparasitic" flowering plants -- they have green leaves and can do their own photosynthesis but tap into the water transport system of a host plant to get water and nutrients. I have seen other species on desert junipers and some other conifers out that way.

11:24 a.m. on October 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Very cool trip! Did you find that there was more oxygen being below sea level!? I would like to see that area someday.

4:23 p.m. on October 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Rob...I was wishing, but couldn't really tell. Didn't seem to be any more o2 thre than elsewhere. But then, at 5700 feet above my sea-level dwelling friend said she could feel the lesser o2 up there.

And thanks, RED!

8:16 p.m. on October 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Cool exploratory trip Gift!

I love to do that too, these days it's mostly by boat but I've also used a 4X4 in the past.

Some really nice photos of the landscape & ground cover. Neat thing about the Mistletoe growing in the Mesquite tree. (thanks Red)

I also loved the shots of the sky, only problem is that over here on the East coast our big Dipper is turned on it's side, not like in your photo. Who do I call about fixing that?

If It's called Death Valley how high are your expectations to catch fish there? (just joking!)

Thanks for the TR,

Mike G.

7:56 a.m. on October 30, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey neat report Karen! I missed this one while out and about.

April 30, 2017
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