This Is Death Valley?Share
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.