Death Valley

We’re in Las Vegas, we left Death Valley yesterday. We’re doing some bike maintenance and there’s a change in plans, so will be here for a few days.

We were in Death Valley for a week, riding up from Mojave, to Ridgemont, and then to Panamint Springs for a night. After that night, we camped at Mesquite Spring Campground, until we left for Vegas.

Ride from Mojave to Panamint:

Wow, the roads, again… and the wind! It was a little intense, to say the least! Red Canyon was pretty amazing, we didn’t stop, but it was very beautiful. The winds, gusts, pushing around on the bikes was a bit hard to take. That and some of the shitty drivers passing at the absolute wrong time, and then tailgating like a very huge *rsehole… was not a relaxing ride… But, the scenery entering into the Death valley area was stunning. At Ridgemont, we stopped for gas and met Chris, from Fernwood, a shop teacher at Monterey Middle School. He’s on spring break, buzzing down to SFO, sleeping in his SUV, and generally enjoying things. After parting we got on our way to DV. The landscape is so hard to describe open, arid desert – mountains in the distance…

As we entered Death Valley, heading to Panamint springs, we approached via some elevation seeing the valley below. Past some little mineral town, that seemed to be very busy at some point, but certainly isn’t now. So, unbelievable. We stopped for a few pics along the way. 

We got to Panamint Springs around 2:30-3:00 ish, and while the scenery is amazing, PS campground is a bust. $50 US for a tent over a pad, and seriously crappy bathrooms and showers. We did make do, had an amazing dinner of Thai jerkey turkey, rice and veggies. Then, retired to bed. We both woke around midnight it was very windy and the tent very noisy; and Lars was cold as he did not put his mat under his sleeping bag as someone suggested. I was cold underneath, and hot on top. Did not sleep well, at all.

The next morning, we had a $3.00 coffee x 2, at the bar/restaurant/ pit at Panamint Springs, and then headed towards Stovepipe Wells to secure a campsite. All campsites except Furnace Creek are first come, first serve, so we thought Stovepipe was a good option.

The road from Panamint Springs to Stovepipe Wells was unreal. From 2000 feet at PS, to 1500 metres at the summit. It was cold and very windy. Or very windy and very cold. Beautiful again… Like the mountains were puckered like a piece of fabric. 360 degrees. We got to Stovepipe Wells, and there were many campsites available, and almost set up. Then we met Ray, from Nanaimo, who gave us a primer on the area. He said that Stovepipe Wells was a zoo, packed, and that we might like Mesquite Springs a little better. So, that’s what we did. It’s not a small jaunt to Mesquite Spring, but we got there for noonish, and found site 24. It’s beautiful, but the winds were oppressive! On the way there, Lars was cornering left, but leaning to the right! 

The winds that night were just bonkers, we’re guessing the gusts were up to 70kms/hr. Ironically, I slept like a baby! The winds also brought in a large helping of fine dust into the tent. I was crunching it in my teeth for the remainder of the stay.

Tuesday,  March 27

We wanted to pick up some online maps of the area, and we could not pickup a signal so, it was a ride to Beatty Nevada seeking in addition to wifi, veggies, and beer. This was the day we started to love Denny’s Restaurant.

The road to Beatty is like most of the others in the area, absolutely stunning. We had to wait for a pocket of road construction, but otherwise it was smooth sailing. Corkscrew Peak 5000’+ Daylight Pass, 1400 metres. We were unsuccessful on the  veggies and beer front, but we did find wifi, while dining at Dennys in the Stage Coach casino.  Lars’ first Nevada casino experience.

On heading back to Mesquite Springs Campground, it was even more amazing on the way back. It was evening light, baking hot, but breath takingly beautiful.

Wednesday, March 28

We did a very hot hike to Ubehe Crater along the wash.

The walk was 14 kms, but too long to get to the crater. Far too hot too! So we went out a ways had lunch and water and took photos and our time returning. Stops in the scant shade, and water breaks. We estimated the temps to be mid 80’s to 90 fahrenheit. Baking hot.

Took some photos, from the little ridge we hiked up, still just amazing scenery, landscape, and breathtaking views of this valley of death.

Thursday, back to Nevada, Pahrump, this time.

We had planned to go to Furnace Creek, Zabriskie Point, Artists palette etc, but we ran out of fuel for the camp stove. So, got to the Stovepipe Wells general store to find tourist kitsch, overpriced ice-cream, and no fuel 😦  The next likely candidate was Pahrump, Nevada. About two hours from Mesquite Spring, and more than an hour from Stovepipe. It was baking hot, almost 100 degrees fahrenheit there. Off we went, to Nevada again The road is very beautiful, from very below sea level at Furnace Creek, to 3000 feet above at the pass over to Nevada. The cool at the elevation was a very welcome respite The mountains still persist, craggy landscapes, some snow in the higher mountains. Pahrump is in a high valley, we thought we might want to stay there m but. ..nah.  a very uninspiring town. We got to the Walmart to get the fuel and non perishables, then we went to… Denny’s! Had lunch a salmon platter thing and fired up the GigSky. Got on to airbnb and after what seemed like a painful eternity, we secured accoms and bike storage for the time we want to spend in Mississippi. Great!

We got gas and headed back to Mesquite Spring. Gas at Furnace Creek was $5.00 a gallon,  $3 at Pahrump.

What a ride that was, wow. 93 degrees fahrenheit as we descended into the park, and Furnace Creek.

As we headed back the sun was beginning to set and the colours were incredible. The orangy pink of the setting sun was tickling the undersides of the clouds, as the almost full moon rose in the sky. The light on the mountainsides showed off the contours of the hills. It was all around us, 360 degrees of beauty, and it was changing by the minute. I was like a bobble head doll on this ride, taking it all in.

Death Valley is almost indescribable in its beauty, vastness, and physical effect.

It’s spiritual in a way, as the environment has such an impact on all the senses. I thought it was important to hit all the must sees that have been written of; now seeing those things does not matter one bit. Being here, and being present is more than enough.

The people we’ve met in Death Valley

  • Ray, from Nanaimo who put us onto the Mesquite Spring campsite. This set us up so well, I don’t think this would have been as wonderful an experience at any other campsite in the park.
  • Sharie, from San Jose state University, natural history museum, who gave us tips on pup fish, showers, and shared some rations with us.
  • Rich, the TW200 rider, who lives in Pahrump, and had some good tips for us in Las Vegas.
  • Rose-alba, who is passionate about Ubehebe and Death Valley. From what I could understand, she is studying the crater floor at a micro biology and geology level,  She shared some tips with us on hiking the crater,  and a story about a lost dog she found and helped rescue in the crater.
  • Rick, the camp host who shared the forecast with us every day, and always took time to chat with us.

Here are some links to our photos:

Donna’s flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shorncliffe/albums/72157694376535494

Lars’ iphoto: https://photos.app.goo.gl/9bjPOzsHXauDQprh2

Finally, we have a change in plans too; we’re bailing on riding to Mississippi; we’re going to take a break and fly from Vegas to New Orleans instead. We’re moving a lot more slowly than we anticipated, and the interstate riding doesn’t look to be so appealing to us. We’re in Las Vegas to get the flights sorted out.

Next post, will be Lars Vegas, it’s his first time here!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s