Saturday, October 3, 2009

Death Valley NAtional Park, The Furnace Creek Area

Ever since I was a small child I wanted to see Death Valley and so the sign pointing out the borax mine road and the Twenty Mule Team road were both a sight that spoke of a wish fulfilled.
Soon after crossing into the park, and posing for silly pictures, strange wax like drippings painted the mountain walls. It turned out to be dried mud that had flowed over the canyon's rims, before drying in place and resembling, well wax drippings.
Our first stop was at Zabrinski's Point and we walked up and turned in a 360 degree circle taking in all the variegated rock formations. The rocks were painted with colors from volcanic deposits of ash and pumice. Death valley and Manly peak were in the distance.
Our first stop was at the Furnace Creek Visitor center and then the Furnace Creek campground where we found a bunch of nice sites for dry camping,(dry camping is when you have a campsite but no hookups, and carry your own water, verse boondocking where you just pull over where ever you can park).
Heading south towards Badwater, we stopped at the Devils Golf Course where I had to tee up a golf ball. Renita was amazed as each step on the salt encrusted spires gave off a metallic sound! The salt ridges were sharp and somewhat scary as we walked among them.
A little further we arrived at Badwater, and of course had to have a picture of us at the lowest point in North America. We couldn't launch the canoe and the salty water was to low and so we walked on the salt flat and posed for more silly pictures.
After eating lunch we headed back north. A sign told of a natural bridge and so we turned up the gravel road. What a mistake! The road was the worst gravel road I have ever been on and that says a lot as we have been on a lot of four wheel drive roads. The washboards on the road threatened to shake the canoe off and maybe even our heads! With no place to turn around we had to drive to the parking lot and the drive took 30 minutes for only 1.5 miles!
Vowing to never take a Death Valley gravel road again we next drove the narrow one way paved road Called Artist Drive. Renita took image after image of the multicolored formations as we played leap frog with other cars. The road had a maximum length restriction of 25 feet but we were easily under that at 22 feet and didn't have any close calls.
The drive back to Pahrump seemed longer as we had had a full day in Death Valley. We both could only imagine the feelings of the early pioneers, who braved such a crossing. Clear skies.

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