Sunday, April 15, 2018

Death Valley Part 3: Marble Canyon/Artists Drive/Badwater Basin

Hiking out of Marble Canyon

Sign at Stovepipe Wells

Getting hot in Death Valley

Artists Drive

Salt in the Badwater Basin

Moosie, Camo, and I woke up around sunrise and ate some breakfast. The plan for the day was to hike out of Marble Canyon, do the Artists Drive, and find some dispersed car camping near the Badwater Basin. First, we wanted to explore a side canyon near our campsite. Our hike was cut short when the canyon came to a steep cliff where a waterfall would exist during rain or a flood, and there was no easy way to continue exploring up the canyon. We decided to turn around and hike the few miles back to our car. Again, it was warming up a little more, we took a couple short breaks but mostly hiked straight to the vehicle. Camo arrived first, and when Moosie and I arrived, he was already sitting in the shade under the canyon wall, resting and snacking. We had beer in the car, so the three of us enjoyed a nice long break, drinking beer, eating olives, and feasting on the desert view into the valley. Again, it was the simple joys of this trip that I appreciated the most, and this was a good break.

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...

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