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Death Valley in the Springtime!

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Death Valley in the Springtime!

Postby balzaccom » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:46 pm

Just back from a few days in Death Valley, hiking but not backpacking. This was perfect weather, with lows in the sixties and highs in the eighties. But Death Valley is a different kind of National Park. There are very few serious hiking trails (perhaps the most clearly marked is the Golden Canyon trail, which we loved) but visitors are encouraged to explore the park at their own risk. Adventures up interesting canyons often lead to spectacular beauty—but also to dead ends at dry waterfalls or steep cliffs. And yes, we saw at least one person free climb the cliff like it was a staircase, and just keep on going. But we’re not quite that agile.

And yes, there were tons of wildflowers. Perhaps not like the great displays in some other parts of the state, but you have to make allowances for the fact that this is one of the least hospitable places on earth…and then appreciate how really wonderful the flowers are.

Having said all of that, Death Valley isn’t really about the flowers, it’s about the rocks. This is what Mother Earth looks like when she is stark naked. Unbelieveable. Without plants or even soil to smooth out the rough edges. If you’ve ever wondered what rocks look like underneath it all, Death Valley shows it to you like an x-ray. And it is stunning stuff.

The photos are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/balzaccom/DeathValley#

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

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Re: Death Valley in the Springtime!

Postby TahoeJeff » Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:35 am

Oh yeah, my family and I just spent 5 days there. You have to love Titus canyon, Mesquite Flat dunes, Badwater, Dante's View, the Pupfish in Salt Creek etc. etc. We saw a lone Desert five spot, and my son found a good size scorpion under a rock he flipped. The swimming pool at the Furnace Creek resort was a welcome relief from the afternoon heat. I would recommend the park to anyone this time of the year, not so much in a month or two.
“Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher's salary.”

RIP Patrick McManus
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Re: Death Valley in the Springtime!

Postby badtux » Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:38 pm

Death Valley is one of my favorite places. You definitely want to have a copy of Michel Digonnet's books Hiking Death Valley and Hiking Western Death Valley. A lot of interesting hikes there. But yes, many require some free climbing or scrambling on loose side-slopes or other such risky activities, you'll have to determine your own comfort level and turn back if the route exceeds it. Regarding formal trails, it has always puzzled me that there's few officially maintained trails in DVNP, especially since the CCC actually put some in during the initial creation of the Death Valley National Monument. But I suppose given the realities of the terrain, formal trails would be either in canyon floors and thus swiftly washed out or on scrambly side slopes and swiftly covered with slides anyhow, so it'd be pointless...
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Re: Death Valley in the Springtime!

Postby hikerchick395 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:47 am

I went on a day trip to Death Valley on the 19th of April, trying to beat the wind and storm predicted for the rest of the week. I got a bit of a late start into the valley as I took an hour or so the enjoy sunrise in the Alabama Hills.
DV was so hazy it looked like smoke, so not optimal for flowers photos. Yes, the valley was covered with Desert Gold but not so thick as I've seen in years previous. (I'd be delighted with the flowers normally, but just had experienced a couple of weekends at the Carrizo Plain and a tremendous floral display, so I was expecting...hoping for more. Glutton.) I made a big loop drive to the south, east, out of the park and back in. Did see at least two dozen varieties of blooms (multiple five spots and beavertail cacti blooms) and found quite the gardens at about 3000'.
Completing the loop, I decided to explore a couple of the narrows. One, I didn't get too far before arriving at a fall. I could've climbed it but it would be difficult to get back down. I thought I'd wait til I came back with my husband.
The next wash, I got pretty far, comparably. There were lots of little climbs but I looked at each one carefully and determined that I could get back down. It was a lot cooler in there and I was treated to golden vertical walls as I made my way up the wash. This trip ended when I came upon a chockstone blocking my narrow path. Actually, there was a small opening at the right bottom of the stone that I could squeeze through, but it appeared that there was another chockstone just beyond the first, so I called it quits. Made my way back down, having to figure out some of my routes that I thought I'd remember from ascending. I noticed so many rocks that were just hanging on overhead, with cracks between them and the canyon wall. Cracks that have been there "forever" or for days? Wow, would not want to be here during an earthquake.
Made it out to 98* at the Subaru. With a stop to look at the "improvements" at Texas Springs campground (I liked it before...) I started on my way home.
Anyway there are still blooms in DV...hopefully they didn't get too beat up with last week's storm.
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