Saturday, May 5, 2018
|Periwinkle with variegated leaves|
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Death Valley Part 4: Badwater Basin/Mojave National Preserve/Joshua Tree NP/Salton Sea/Anza Borrego SP
|Sunrise on Telescope Peak|
|Badwater Basin Salt Flats|
|Mojave National Preserve|
|Full Moon Over the Mojave|
|Joshua Tree NP: Wonderland Ranch|
|Fantastic trees just before the Salton Sea. These trees appeared to be very old, although I don't know for certain.|
|Anza Borrego State Park|
We woke up on April 29th to our moonscape campsite overlooking the Badwater Basin, just below Telescope Peak. We had a steady warm breeze the night before. On this particular morning, the breeze stopped just after the sun came up over the mountains. Suddenly we were swarmed with noceum type gnats that bombarded our heads and faces. We quickly packed up the car and drove down towards the valley. 30 minutes later, we parked the car along the salt flats, and enjoyed a peaceful, warm, sunny breakfast in the shade of the car. Our goal for the day was to check out the Badwater Basin, and then head towards Mojave National Preserve and spend the night there.
After breakfast, we drove to the Badwater Basin parking area. It's a popular spot, and the lot was already filled with other tourists walking out on the flats. It was also getting hot quickly. Moosie, Camo and I spent about an hour walking out onto the flats and then back to the car. We then began driving towards the Mojave. First, we stopped in the small desert town of Tecopa for a refreshing lunch.
We arrived in the Mojave Desert Preserve in the late afternoon. This was a place I would love to spend more time some day. Gone were the hordes of people, and at this time of year, the desert was greener and appeared more diverse than Death Valley. We found another campsite off a rugged jeep road and were able to enjoy the peace and solitude of the area. After spending the late afternoon and evening exploring the granite mountains nearby, Moosie, Camo, and I enjoyed a fine dinner and campfire. The full moon rose over the mountains. I cowboy camped another night on the desert floor. This was also our last night camping.
The following morning, I went for a short hike up the granite boulders while the sun came up. I could see Moosie and Camo down below beginning to wake up, so I returned to our car. Our goal for the day was to drive through Joshua Tree NP, the Salton Sea, Anza Borrego on our way home.
It was a full day of driving but scenic. We stopped briefly in Joshua Tree NP and did a hike near the abandoned Wonderland Ranch. It was Easter Saturday and the park was filled with tourists. After leaving Joshua Tree we stopped by the Salton Sea, first stopping to eat lunch in a raggedy canyon area filled with free public campsites. In the canyon were these fantastic trees that appeared to be very old, judging by their twisting gnarly trunks and branches. Eventually we reached the Salton Sea, my first time seeing this odd lake. The surrounding area was much greener than I imagined, all types of successful agriculture taking place. The water of the sea looked heavy and unhealthy, the body of water much larger than I imagined. The apocalyptic neighborhood we stopped by added to the strange effect, a local resident blasting industrial rock music out of his run down shack.
Finally, after leaving the Salton Sea, Moosie, Camo, and I drove through Anza Borrego State Park on our way back to San Diego. We had one more thing to do, and that was to stop by the Pacific Crest Trail at Barrel Springs and give some beer and snacks to any possible thru hikers that may be there spending the night. The area near the PCT is beautiful, giant old oak trees dotting the landscape. We reached the PCT just before sunset. Sure enough there were a couple of German women spending the night there heading north on the PCT and one man heading south on a section hike. After gifting the beer and sharing in some trail talk, Moosie, Camo, and I finished the final leg of our journey in the car in the dark. We stopped by a small market that sold pies from Julien. Camo bought one and feasted in the back seat of the car. Another great trip had come to an end...
Sunday, April 15, 2018
|Hiking out of Marble Canyon|
|Sign at Stovepipe Wells|
|Getting hot in Death Valley|
|Salt in the Badwater Basin|
After our rest, we drove back to the Stovepipe Wells visitor center to clean up, rehydrate, and buy a few resupply items. There, we found a nice bench in the shade and enjoyed sandwiches for lunch. After maximizing our lunch break, the sun forced us off the bench and back into the car. We drove to the Furnace Creek visitor center and checked out a few exhibits, and then hopped back into the car and did the Artists Drive.
Once we finished the drive, the full moon began to creep up over the mountains while the sun was setting in the west. We drove across the Badwater Basin and started looking for a place to car camp. We eventually found a road that led up into the mountains below Telescope Peak. We found a flat spot halfway up in an exposed, moonscape. There was a steady breeze, but nothing too extreme. We cooked dinner in the dark under the full moon. Camo put on some tunes, Moosie pulled out the folding chairs and we all popped open a few more beers. I have to say it was a surreal night. Warm breeze, full moon, moon rocks everywhere, and the most expansive view of the Badwater Basin all set out before us. All of this enjoyed in a folding chair pretty much made the night...
Thursday, April 12, 2018
|Sunrise in the Panamint Valley: Just what the doctor ordered.|
|Moosie, Camo, and I leave the Panamint Valley and head for Marble canyon after stopping by the Stovepipe Wells visitor center.|
|Moosie drove her car as far as her vehicle would allow. An entrance to the canyon, but a couple miles from the Marble Canyon trailhead.|
|We begin hiking the hot, exposed jeep road towards Marble Canyon|
|Camo enters Marble Canyon.|
|Interesting spots on walls.|
|Near the camp for the night.|
We picked up a fellow hiker who parked his car several miles from the canyon and saved him a few miles under the intense sun and uncomfortable heat. Moosie drove her car and bottomed out a few too many times so we decided to park the vehicle right at the canyon's entrance. After packing up our packs carrying close to two gallons of water each, we still had a couple miles to hike before we reached Marble Canyon's trailhead. It was hot and exposed, but overall not too bad.
Once we reached Marble Canyon, Moosie, Camo, and I entered and enjoyed walking in shade when the opportunity presented itself. We tried to make sense of the canyon, the geology, the strange shapes in the rocks, the lack of fossil evidence. We took our time, stopping often, having no real destination, mileage or schedule to maintain. The highlight for me was the narrows and the interesting light from the afternoon sun on the canyon walls. We only hiked a handful of miles before setting up camp just after the narrows. We hiked a mile or two up the canyon in the evening after setting up camp since we had time to spare. By evening, bats were flying overhead as we made our way back to camp.
A near full moon rose over the canyon and we enjoyed the sound of crickets in the evening. Once again, it felt great to just throw the sleeping bag down on the ground and cowboy camp for the night. Stars were dimmed by the light of the moon, but I enjoyed watching a few satellites fly overhead.