LooseCrew-JeffO: Death Valley - Day 1


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Death Valley - Day 1

Our first day in Death Valley, Sunday, began before the sun came up. After two blissful hours of sleep under the stars, we headed into the Park.
Unlike nearly every other National Park, Death Valley is very loose. Because the valley blocks too much of the region, they decided not to close it to general traffic. This makes enforcement of park use impossible. You can drive through without a park pass. Because National Park budgets were cut, you probably won't see any rangers patrolling for violators.
Paul G had signed up for a bike clinic. Along with that came a free 7-day vehicle pass.
Paul wanted to sleep in the campground across from Furnace Creek, but instead he found that you have to make reservations many months in advance. We found a place just out of the park that was legal, even though we could have gotten away with bootlegging a camp in a canyon. From our camp, we had a much better view than any place we could have paid for. If I ever get my butt back to DV, I hope to stay the same place.
Camping would have cost us $18/night. Without that cost, our trip cost even less.
Gas in Furnace Creek was $4.01/gal. Ouch. I ended up buying $25 worth. The pump claimed I bought 5.25 gallons, but my fuel gauge only registered 3-4 gallons.

Sunday was spent biking. Paul's group biked 84 miles. I mountain biked 26 miles.

I won't say I'll NEVER buy a road bike, but here's my philosophy...
Road biking on highways with very little or no shoulder is nothing short of Russian Roulette. You can argue until you're blue in the face about the way things "ought to be" and about "laws" and "rights", but there's only one law I care about: the Law of Physics. I've seen a crushed skull (inside a crushed helmet no less).
I've been at the scene of one motorcycle accident and two bicycle accidents. The bicyclists always get CREAMED! Even with safety equipment. It happens so extremely often reporters don't even bother reporting it much anymore unless someone famous is involved. So I don't think people realize how frequently this happens.
To each their own. My "own" is to ride a mountain bike and every time I hear a car - from either direction - I ride off into the dirt and rocks. If I'm hit there, the driver was crashing anyways.

I rode to Artists Point. That has two killer climbs. I spent a lot of time in my lowest gears. The temps were in the 80's, especially hot in the wind-protected areas.
The scenery was very interesting. I got to see things I've never seen before. Plants, landscapes, rocks.
Salt was everywhere. What I couldn't figure out was what types of salts I was looking at. There was often salt in the dirt on hillsides - not even down on the valley floor - and the pockets of salt were not crystalline. It was as fine as talcum powder. How can surface salt deposits which have contact with humidity and rain be so powdery fine?
I had a bad habit of tasting everything that was white. I kept spitting it out - there's lead in some parts of the Valley.
Near our camp at 4000 feet, I found some very ancient salt canted at an angle. So even long before the Valley was created, there were other valleys and salt deposits which are now lifted high into the sky and eroded away and sometimes obliterated by volcanic activities.

At the end of my first day, I found a Beck's Dark in the General Store. AHHH!!! Who woulda thunk they'd have such a great beer in Furnace Creek?
Paul came in soon after and we headed off to view the sunset at Zabriske Point.

This formation reminds me of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup.


At 12:38 AM, Blogger Meghan said...

Beautiful photos, JeffO!

Perhaps you were looking at borax, a mineral compound that often presents itself in powder form?

Have a nice day!


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