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Tag: death valley

Death Valley rock formations

Rock or Wood?

I just spent a couple of gloriously mild days in Life Valley, canyoneering and hiking, conversing with and admiring a lot of rock. The Valley also had quite a bit of water in it due to some recent storms, but this time of year the plants and animals have retreated and it’s time for the rock to shine. And there’s a lot of rock. The Valley’s valleys, as they show (or don’t show) themselves from the car, are enshrouded, modest, and less-than-tantalizing by reputation. If one is brave and stupid enough to venture too far from the road on foot and with rope, they open in dizzying, hypnotic displays of color and texture, enfolding you. It’s not so much that… continue reading

Living at Frenchies: Getting There

Between August 22 and September 6 I lived deep in the Inyo Mountains in an old mining cabin near the ghost town of Beveridge. This was an experiment in backpacking vs. thru-hiking. I’d realized that thru-hiking was a bit of a rat race, and decided to try an extreme version of backpacking. The difference? Backpackers tend to walk much shorter distances and often spend more time at camps. Backpackers had time to draw and read and sit around; thru-hikers do not. I wanted what they had. My plan was to hike in 12 miles to an extremely remote ghost town, and spend at least two weeks holed up at that cabin. I actually started my backpacking trip on the 22st,… continue reading

french spring trail flowers

Lonesome Miner Trail

I finished a solo tour of old mines in the Inyo mountain range of central California west of Death Valley. The “Lonesome Miner Trail” — what the late Wendell Moyer* called it — is 40-50 miles of rough, hard-to-follow disused trail involving somewhere near 17,000 vertical feet of elevation gain/loss. Because I didn’t have shuttles arranged, I added about 50 bonus miles (and 14k more vertical feet) to the route: I walked thru Death Valley to the Hunter Cyn trailhead. That was 18 miles with 7.5 liters of water on my back, only to experience torrential rain the first night in San Lucas Canyon. Ugh! I didn’t have to carry all that water! To avoid what was pretty heavy snow… continue reading

manly beacon view

Death Valley Victory Lap

“16 mile” (haha, not) figure-8 victory loop hike at Gowers Gulch, Badlands, Zabriski Point, Badlands, Manly Beacon, and Golden Canyon to celebrate a successful backcountry walk to Death Valley from Lone Pine without dying.

Pepperflake in the flowers

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Pepperflake and I left our “trusty” vans behind and walked 75 miles over the Inyo Range and through Death Valley to see the superbloom. We walked along a question mark route he only created and mapped the day before. A totally spontaneous and somewhat risky backpacking trip through usually unforgiving territory turned out to be wondrous in that old-fashioned hippie drifter kind of way. Because we were walking to see the flowers, mostly. After loitering over a few beers in Stovepipe Wells five days in to our hike, we hitch-hiked with a man celebrating his 30th birthday to Badwater to see as many flowers as we could. We slept in a golden canyon and spent the next morning desultorily hiking… continue reading

Lowest To Highest

GET L2H MAPS The Lowest to Highest Trail (L2H) is a challenging route that runs from the lowest point in the contiguous USA (Badwater, Death Valley, -282 feet) to its highest, Mount Whitney (14,505 feet), across 130 miles. This distance is achieved via the popular running/cycling route, run yearly as an ultramarathon, and also by an . There are also other L2H routes plotted by other parties — there are a lot of ways to get from Badwater to Whitney. Typically it is walked in the late winter (February-early March) or early fall (late September-early October); otherwise sweltering heat in Death Valley and snows in the Inyo and Sierra ranges can hinder completion. The hiking route is largely comprised of… continue reading


Summiting Telescope Peak, 11,043ft, highest point in Death Valley National Park. Yet another summit this year with less-than-desirable smoggy/smokey/not-sure-what-that-muck-was views, but totally worth every skipped heart beat and coughed-up lung. This mountain top is where we learned of the mysterious and illustrious Abram, of “the wind.” Thanks again Kevin for awesome photos. (We did 31 miles on foot that day!!!)

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