Sunday, May 13, 2012

Days 4&5: Death Valley; Falls canyon is Awesome (with a capital "A")

      I choose Wildrose campground because it is near  (in Death Valley scale) the trailheads for Telescope peak and wildrose peak. Now, Telescope peak is 14 miles and like 3000 feet of elevation change from the trailhead, which can only be reached by 4wd. This is according to the map, the website, and a hiking buddy who has been there. Without a high cleareance vehicle one has to walk an extra two miles each way from the normal road. I'd hoped to find SUV'd party going up from the campsite and hitch hike so would do at most 16 and miss the opening climb. Alas, there was only one other person in the campsite and his car was punier than mine.
     So resolved to do the lesser 8.4 mile/2000ft hike to 9000ft high wildrose peak. As I'm putting on my boots at the Charcoal kilns parking lot...

, a little Chevy Sonic comes roaring down from the 4wd only road. "???", goes my brain. The map may be wrong but Chris J has been there. If he says he had to ask people to hop out of this Saturn mini-SUV at portions of bumpy road, it's not passable for regular ol' cars. But... then I look again.. that Sonic is a new, domestic, sub-compact,... and it's white. It's a rental. When I was a consultant we had a saying, "Any rental car is an all-road vehicle".
     Wildrose peak is an good look down into Death Valley but the hike itself isn't anything spectacular and the visibility kinda sucked.
 I finished way earlier than anticipated so I struck camp and moved down to the real heat of the valley at Emigrent campground (which is a gravel parking lot with picnic tables besides the rest stop bathroom. Flush toilets! ... with bees :(  )

Then I went to Mosaic Canyon which is accessible to rank and file. It's pretty

 and filled with meat.
A bunch of Lutherans invaded the campground before I went to sleep. TIP: the stove pipe wells general store sells chocolate covered ice cream pops for $0.95!! not dove or B&J's but I'd have paid $0.95 for ice on a stick at that point.

Falls Canyon

6.5 hrs with not another person sighted. Part of that is great. Part of it is worrisome: when I'm scrambling on rock 10 feet above gravel 2.5 miles from the road in a place that will reach 105 degrees later in the day.

Many of the walls can only be appreciated while moving. Looking up while standing still presents a 2d effect of various facets of the walls. When the observer moves , it becomes clear that there are many different levels of heights and depth and texture. The walls range past at different rates. Its a little disorienting.
 Also disorienting: dehydration. Which I did not experience but which I had to be weary because that morning I discovered a leak in the bottom of my reservoir. Not wanting to truncate my plans nor die a withered dessicated husk, I decided to fill the entire 3L of the platypus and shove two 1L water bottles into the bag. My thought being that I can probably drink 2L of the 3 from the resevoir while another 1L leaks through the bottom of the bag onto my shirt tail and butt. Since this is Death Valley I don't have to worry about hypothermia from being wet. So 4L *should* be okay... and it was by about 300ml.
This was a real lizard:

The front part of my brain knows that it would be really bad to be in a canyon like this when it rains, but another part of me really wants to see what is looks like.
This is what I look like when I'm pretending that I'm going to run out of water and perish of thirst:

..and this is what I sound like.

Overnight at the Motel6 in Ridgecrest

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