Death Valley

Trip Start Sep 25, 2012
Trip End Mar 01, 2013

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, September 27, 2012

Summary: Proper desert, absolutely huge, drove all day. Intense heat, barren, vast landscape of sand and rocks - a geologists dream.

Shrnutí v češtině: Údolí smrti je obrovská placka mezi dvěma obrovskýma pohoříma. Oficiálně je to nejteplejší místo na světě (56.7 °C v roce 1913), a také nejníže položené místo v Severní Americe (-85.5 m). V den naší návštěvy tam bylo příjemných 40 stupňů. První polovinu cesty jsme skoro nikoho nepotkali, ale u těch největších atrakcí bylo vždy plno turistů. Zajímavé je, že o 136 km (vzdušnou čarou) dále na západ je nejvyšší hora kontinentální části USA - Mt. Whitney (4421 mnm), ke které jsme nakonec dojeli a kde jsme v nadmořské výšce okolo 2500 mnm kempovali. Teda vlastně spali v autě. Teda moc jsme nespali, protože bylo asi 5° C...

The landscape changed once again and after a few hours driving we entered Death Valley National Park which is enormous. It’s really hard to describe the scale, silence and heat. The hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet were recorded here around 100 years ago where the mercury reached 56.7 °C. Again the roads were quiet although not just as empty as Mojave (which we felt we had just to ourselves).

We were expecting to be asked for our pass for the National Parks and we finally saw a woman along the big empty road wearing a high-vis jacket and driving a government jeep. We pulled over and flashed her our pass but she looked confused and told us she was just there marking road kill. It was over 40 degrees Celsius - what a job!

We drove lower and lower to Badwater, a flat empty area 86meters below sea level and the lowest place in North America. This was proper desert - no plants or vegetation at all, only rocks and sand stretching to the horizon. We really enjoyed Artists Drive, a rolling, curving, one-way drive through multi-coloured rocks. It was all dusty splashes of reds, purples, pinks, blues, oranges and brown caused by geological activity- really incredible and pretty. Then onto Zabriskie Point, another weird geological formation caused by water running over soft rock. This area is known as ‘The Badlands’ and the view was amazing. We drove down into a little town called Furnace Creek for a great lunch in a ranch style saloon. Next stop was Salt Creek which was a long boardwalk over an area of supposedly salty marshland where you can see endangered fish called Pupfish that live in the very saline conditions. We walked a mile but no water, pupfish or other people to be seen although the walk after lunch was nice.

At sunset we drove north for 2 hours up crazy mountain roads from Lone Pine to our first campsite called Whitney Portal – 8000 ft up in the Inyo National Forest, on the edge of Mt Whitney, the highest mountain in the 48 mainland states. The smell of pine was so intense. It was 10pm and pitch dark with no other people in sight. There were loads of posters about bears and it was freezing (5 degrees) so we pushed down the back seats and decided to sleep in the car. Neither of us slept hardly at all- we were badly prepared for the cold and our sleeping bags were crap. We got up at 7am and drove into the sunshine to thaw out- the views were spectacular. Onwards north to Yosemite.
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