Live from Death Valley

By December 27, 2019 January 19th, 2020 Campsites, Excursions

It was just a couple mountain passes from our view of Mt. Whitney to Badwater Flats, the lowest point in the US.  We spent the night at a chain-up area due to an iced-over pass, but as soon as the sun was up, we were bound for Death Valley National Park!

Up and over the passes into the Saline and Panamint Valleys, then further and ever lower as we dropped into the bowl of Death Valley itself.  The 5000′ drop into the hardpan alluvial fan was incredible, and after another hour’s drive, we arrived at the primitive Texas Springs Campground.

I lit out immediately with Denver in tow to Titus Canyon Road, a currently closed canyon path in the park’s northern reaches that afforded a chance for the dog and me both to stretch our legs (a rare commodity in a national park).

The view from the Titus Canyon trailhead, looking south towards Furnace Creek.  Our canyon walk offered a break from teh incessant winds that blew over the desert that afternoon.  I still had an hour’s ride to get back to the camper at this point, since the park is so vast (at 3,000,000 acres, it’s America’s largest).

The next morning I left the crowds behind (as well as the wife and Denver), and began the trek up Hanaupah Valley.  Some 20 miles down the dirt West Side Road, this was the view when I turned off the feeder and onto what was the roughest path yet I’d pushed the Titan down.

The road grew considerably rougher after dropping off an incline and onto a boulder-strewn wash.  Still 6 nerve-wracking miles to go to the trailhead

With 2 more miles indicated, I decided not to venture further down this ever-more challenging path.  It took me 20 minutes to spin around so I faced the proper direction.

Hanaupah Valley closed in as the road upon which I walked wound its sinewy path towards the terminus.

Saw this furry feller slow-rolling down the trail past me.  He actually smiled for the macro shot!

Finally, after a strong hour of hiking, I turned a bend and there she was – Telescope Peak!  Tallest point in Death Valley at just over 11k’, the high winds whipped the snow from the pinnacle and doubtless would have made for treacherous climbing.

The canyon petered out, and closed in on a high mountain spring.  I kept climbing the slope until I was at the snow line, looking for an abandoned mine in the area.

I turned around and saw the mine opening across the brush on the opposite wall.  That’s going to take some bushwhacking to reach!

It took 15 minutes and me getting knee-deep in a desert spring, but I finally reached the mouth of what must have been somebody’s dream of a way out of it all.

In order to keep my promised return time, I turned around and jog-walked the 4 miles back to where I had parked the truck.  Evening was falling fast, and Badwater Flat (at -282 ft) lay below me.

With the waning rays of the setting sun , I snapped the final shots and slowly crawled the two hour path back to paved surface, and thence the trailer.

We were done with Death Valley and California, but more adventures awaited around the next turn!