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  1. #1
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    Death Valley, Epilogue

    “Where the salt flats come closest to the base of the eastern mountains, at 278 feet below sea level, lies the clear and sparkling pool known as Badwater. A shallow body of water, surrounded by beds of snow-white alkali. According to Death Valley legend the water is poisonous, containing traces of arsenic. I scooped up a handful and sampled it in my mouth, since the testing of desert waterholes has always been one of my chores. I found Badwater lukewarm, salty on the tongue, sickening. I spat it out and rinsed my mouth with fresh water from my canteen.

    From here, the lowest point in all the Americas, I gazed across the pale lenses of the valley floor to the brown outwash fan of Hanaupah Canyon opposite, ten miles away, and from the canyon’s mouth up and up and up to the crest of Telescope Peak with its cornices of frozen snow 11,049 feet above sea level. One would like to climb or descend that interval someday, the better to comprehend what it means. Whatever it means.

    I have been part of the way already, hiking far into Hanaupah Canyon to Shorty Borden’s abandoned camp, up to that loveliest of desert graces, a spring-fed stream. Lively, bubbling, with pools big enough and cold enough, it seemed then, for trout. But there are none. Along the stream grow tangles of wild grapevine and willow; the spring is choked with watercress. The stream runs for less than a mile before disappearing into the sand and gravel of the wash. Beyond the spring, up canyon, all is dry as death again until you reach the place where the canyon forks. Explore either fork and you find water once more- on the right a little waterfall, on the left in a grotto like glen cascades sliding down through chutes in the dark blue andesite. Moss, ferns, and flowers cling to the damp walls- the only life in this arid wilderness. Almost no one ever goes there. It is necessary to walk for many miles.”


    -An excerpt from The Best of Edward Abbey, 1984.



    Death Valley, a land of contrasts and extremes. It is one of the hottest places on the surface of the Earth with summer temperatures averaging well over 100° F. It encompasses the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level, and it is the driest place in North America with an average rainfall of only 2 inches a year.

    This valley is also a land of subtle beauties: Morning light creeping across the eroded badlands of Zabriskie Point to strike Manly Beacon, the setting sun and lengthening shadows on the Sand Dunes at Stovepipe Wells, and the colors of myriad wildflowers on the golden hills above Harmony Borax on a warm spring day.

    Death Valley is a treasure trove of scientific information about the ancient Earth and about the forces still working to shape our modern world. It is home to plants, animals, and human beings that have adapted themselves to take advantage of its rare and hard won bounty. It is a story of western expansion, wealth, greed, suffering and triumph. Death Valley is a land of extremes, and much more.

    Located in central Death Valley, Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the western hemisphere, lies at 282 feet below the level of the sea. The water there is heavily salted, about 8% saline, and the area around it is a salt plain. Surprisingly, despite the heat and salt there are small shrimp living in the water. The flats are a glaring white salt pan; the surface salt crystals eager for you to be so stupid as to fall or not wear shoes so they can shred your tender flesh.


    Death Valley is also known for the mountain that towers over the valley. Telescope Peak, in the Panamint Mountain range on the western side of the National Park, is 11,049 feet above sea level and the highest point in Death Valley. The elevation gain from the valley floor to the summit is over 11,300 feet. This extreme elevation change is exceeded in the U.S. by Mt. Rainier at 11,600 feet, Mt. Fairweather in Glacier National Park at 15,300 feet and Mt. McKinley’s North Slope at 17,000 feet.


    “All the instruments agree that DV remains the hottest place on Earth, the driest in North America, the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Of all deathly places the most deadly- and the most beautiful.” -Edward Abbey
    There's a world out there full of color, dreams, and imagination. What are you waiting for?

  2. #2
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    All true........and well written.....



    but how was the hike??
    Something about the wrinkle in your forehead tells me there's a fit about to get thrown
    And I never hear a single word you say when you tell me not to have my fun
    It's the same old shit that I ain't gonna take off anyone.
    and I never had a shortage of people tryin' to warn me about the dangers I pose to myself.

    Patterson Hood of the DBT's

  3. #3
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    The TR with pictures is coming. Just getting pics together and writing it up.. It'll be a lot of reading so i'm breaking it up. It was one of my favorite adventures of all time to say the least and most epic
    Last edited by Stoysluttie1; 03-14-2008 at 08:37 AM.
    There's a world out there full of color, dreams, and imagination. What are you waiting for?

  4. #4
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    Sounds like you found some real adventure out there. Looking forward to the TR.

    Just curious about your description about elevation gain from valley floor to summit on Telescope at 11,000'+. I understand the verts you mentioned for Ranier and Denali, but 15,300' on Mount Fairweather in Glacier NP? That can't be in the US, but I thought Glacier was a NP in Montana. There is no peak over 14,000' and no spot lower than sea level in Montana. I guess I should google it...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Thumbs up

    I have always wanted to do this climb and ski although your last attempt planted a few seeds of doubt in my mind!

    Looking forward to this one.
    "Nothing is funnier than Hitler." - Smokey McPole

  6. #6
    AlpineJunkie Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra Cement View Post
    Sounds like you found some real adventure out there. Looking forward to the TR.

    Just curious about your description about elevation gain from valley floor to summit on Telescope at 11,000'+. I understand the verts you mentioned for Ranier and Denali, but 15,300' on Mount Fairweather in Glacier NP? That can't be in the US, but I thought Glacier was a NP in Montana. There is no peak over 14,000' and no spot lower than sea level in Montana. I guess I should google it...
    Glacier Bay National Park IS in Alaska.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2006
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    Awesome looking forward to the TR. The wife and I are planning a trip down there in April.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    What I have heard so far made me never want to do this. It did make me interested in picking up some snowblades for summer expeditions, though.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hutch View Post
    What I have heard so far made me never want to do this. It did make me interested in picking up some snowblades for summer expeditions, though.
    Wait till you see the full TR and pics!
    Check your gmail.
    Last edited by Buzzworthy; 03-14-2008 at 01:22 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    29,384
    Good to hear you finally hit that sucka, Stoy!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    California Desert trips are the main thing I miss about Cali despite having surfed 5-6 times a week for 20 yrs. Utah deserts are awesome as well but it's amazing how different such arid landscapes can be.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    I thought Mount St. Elias was 18,000 feet in 10 miles, tis true no?

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