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September 20, 2010


This Is Death Valley?


Death Valley National Park is easy right?  North America’s lowest point, hot, and dry.  Maybe worth seeing, but probably not going too far out your way.  Sound about right?  It’s certainly what I thought until the day before.

Empty Road In Death ValleyEmpty Road In Death Valley


Empty Road In Death Valley


I opened my National Park Guidebook and the first thing I find out is that Death Valley is the US’ largest park outside of Alaska.  Next, they have a peak of 11,049′ towering over Badwater Basin at 11,329 feet below its summit.  Huh, well that’s interesting; intriguing even.  It wasn’t that long ago I was summiting peaks in Canada.

The ManThe Man


The Man


All day I was trying to work my way south to Death Valley, but I had lots to do.  Get my Burning Man posts uploaded, sort and upload the pictures, and grocery shopping the usual items plus one unusual.  Sitting in the public library of Coleville California a guy came up to me in a hurry.

“You’re the guy traveling on the motorcycle?”

“And you went to Burning Man, right?”

“Can you come give a presentation to my 2nd grade class on Burning Man?”

All the dirt and dust on the bike gave me away.  I was sorting through my pictures when he came up so I gave an impromptu 30 minute talk on Burning Man to 10 2nd graders.  They loved the pictures and had plenty of questions.  Plus I got a school lunch out of the deal surrounded by the class while I filled the teacher in on the event more.  He’s in for next year, just needs to convince his wife 🙂

With my delays I made the decision to ride at night to get closer to Death Valley.  Just the third time I’d ridden at night all trip and the first voluntary time.  Sometime in the first half hour of this the liners of my bike pants blew off the bike and a 75 mile loop looking for them was unsuccessful.  So much for that idea.

Still I got close to the park and pulled off at a dirt road where I threw my mat a sleeping bag on the ground to stare up at the millions of stars and best view of the Milky way in my life.  Incredible!

I was up at first light heading into the park as the sun came over the horizon.  The desert sunrise was only slightly less awe inspiring than the star gazing the night before.

Even with a few photo stops and breakfast I was at the parking lot for Telescope Peak by 9am for a 7 mile hike (one-way) to the summit I spoke of earlier.  I had to keep telling myself I was in Death Valley.  Not what my impression of the park had been at all.  Sure it was dry, but the elevation took care of the heat and plenty of shrubs all around.

Telescope Peak 11,049 FeetTelescope Peak 11,049 Feet


Telescope Peak 11,049 Feet


All my hikes throughout the summer have added up and I was at the summit over an hour before I expected to be finding three others there already.  We had a nice chat and I was able to get a picture taken before they left when I laid down for a short nap.  My motorcycle had started acting up the night before and now I had time to hustle down and take a look at it.

Brian At Telescope Peak SummitBrian At Telescope Peak Summit


Brian At Telescope Peak Summit


It was a troubling problem as all my top end power was gone.  Hit the gas at 5,000 rpm and the bike would totally bog down.  I keyed in on the air supply and spark plugs primarily because these were the two things I could actually work on where I was.  The air filter wasn’t bad, but the spark plugs were past due and I put in the new ones.

A quick test drive felt promising and I was rather pleased with my day until I discovered I’d lost my camera case.  The case was broke, but my spare battery and a (thankfully) empty memory card were in there.  I fumbled through all my stuff 5 times before finally giving up on it.  Two items I’d liked gone in two days after losing nothing for months.  Not a good way to end the day.

Death Valley Collage

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mark Dekruyter
    Sep 20 2010

    A picture of the Burning Man from the top of Telescope Peak would have been awesome. The 14 mile hike must not have been that easy.

  2. Sep 20 2010

    I really love this blog, it reminds me that once I’m back in North America there are still so many amazing things to see.

    • Sep 20 2010

      Thank you! Sorry to hear that you had a rough time the last couple of days. It happens to everyone at some point either at home or on the road. Things always come back and the good outweighs the bad.

      I’ve been so happy with my decision to travel in/near my home country this year. There is a ton of it for me to see still. With that said I still am looking forward to getting outside the borders and exploring elsewhere too!

  3. Mark Dekruyter
    Sep 20 2010

    Sorry, I guess the Burning Man is a little too far from Death Valley to see from Telescope Peak…… bad.

    • Sep 20 2010

      Yeah, it is a little too far. Surprisingly I cruised right through the hike, almost an hour faster than I expected to get up. I took an hour nap at the top and coming down was easy.

  4. Sep 20 2010

    Been following you for the last few weeks now and am really starting to look forward to your next entry. I got to do a short 10-day US roadtrip last year and would just love to be able to visit some of the places you’re getting to see – one day I’l be back!

    Happy travels ;o)

    • Sep 20 2010

      Nice to hear from you. It’s always a rush to hear from someone totally new (especially when it’s good 🙂 ) I’ll keep trying to live up to my past performance. Took a quick look at your blog and will be going back for more as South America gets closer to my plans.

  5. Sep 20 2010

    Hmm Burning man just doesn’t seem to be something that I would explain to a bunch of 2nd graders. I hope you left out the clothing option part, lol.

    • Sep 20 2010

      Luckily I stopped one short of the body paint picture when I did my presentation. The last thing they saw was the cupcake car. I think the request was as much for the teacher as the kids.

  6. Sep 22 2010

    Beautiful photos that bring back lots of memories. I love Death Valley. Such a cool place. I’ve climbed that same peak as well and backpacked into Marble Canyon which is just incredible. So much to see and do there. Would love to go back soon as last time was in 2000. I look forward to following your journey.

    • Sep 22 2010

      Great to hear from you Matt, especially since you like the post 🙂 I found way more here than I expected and could easily have spend a few more days bouncing around there if I had known. Being on the motorcycle was great there and really would have let me get to some out of the way places. Maybe next time…

  7. What a great blog Brian! You share a lot of really great info on here! Thanks!

    We actually posted about Death Valley on our blog page because we think it is definitely one of the best places to ride a motorcycle! You should check out our blog sometime, we blog about all kinds of motorcycle-related stuff that we think you would really enjoy! Here’s the URL:

    And, if you like what you see, spread the word! We’ll definitely be spreading the word about your blog! Thanks again!

    Play all night….Ride all day!

    • Oct 27 2010

      Glad you enjoyed and thanks for spreading the word. Death Valley is a worthy journey with great riding and sites to offer. I’ll be checking out your blog today and will add you to my links page if I like what I see. Ride safe!

  8. Nov 2 2010

    What an incredible trip, thanks for sharing! I hope to make it there someday as well.. Loooove riding out west, my heart aches for it the rest of the year.. Great work, looking forward to more!

    • Nov 30 2010

      Thank you Kathleen, I’ve been on a bit of a break from the bike aside from a couple weekend trips here lately. It’s been great getting out even that little bit again to see what is out there and remind myself how much I enjoy it.

  9. Jan 1 2015

    Our life is too short but we can make it very nice and most enjoyable to tour nice places in the world, Thanks for your good post and some nice photos! have a enjoyable life!


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