2016 Feb 10 – Day 31 – California and Beyond – Death Valley

Day 31 – February 12 – Stovepipe Wells (Death Valley National Park)

We had a lot to see today so we rose early and we on the road by 9 am.

IMG_7589 IMG_7590 IMG_7591 IMG_7592 IMG_7594 IMG_7595 IMG_7596 IMG_7597 IMG_7598The first item was Mosaic Canyon which was accessed via a 2 mile gravel road and a one mile hike.  You can walk 4 miles if you want to go to the far end of the Canyon but we didn’t do that.  (There are so many things we would like to see and do on all of our road trips, but we are pretty good at picking the must-see items and adding others if time permits.  We always say, “It gives us a reason to come back.” I have already begun compiling my list of things we will do the next time we come to Death Valley.)

IMG_7599You can just make out the settlement of Stovepipe Wells on the Valley floor.IMG_7610 IMG_7612 IMG_7615 IMG_7617 IMG_7618 IMG_7619 IMG_5669

Once again, some rock climbing was required.IMG_5670 IMG_5672 IMG_7620 IMG_7626 IMG_7627 IMG_7628 IMG_7629 IMG_7630 IMG_7631 IMG_7632 IMG_7633After we left the Mosaic Canyon we headed east and discovered the Mesquite Flat Dunes right beside the road!  We wandered around on the fine sand long enough to fill our shoes and got back in the truck for our trip to The Racetrack.

IMG_7642 IMG_7645IMG_7643 IMG_7647 IMG_7649Another roadside stop was Devil’s Cornfield where sand blown around the base of Arrowweed shrubs has caused them to grown higher on the hillocks and look like corn sheaves from back in the day when corn and other grains were harvested by hand.

IMG_7658 IMG_7662 IMG_7663 IMG_7664Not far past the Corn Field we turned north and drove almost 40 miles to the end of the pavement then began our 27 mile one-way trip to the Racetrack.  We had been told this would take 2 1/2 hours.  We engaged the 4-wheel drive and managed to do 30-35 kph (about 20+mph) so we made it in just over an hour and a half.

A jeep came up behind us so John pulled over onto a wide spot.  As he drove past us the fellow asked John what pressue he was running in his tires.  John told him it was high as we didn’t have a compressor with us to refill them if we let air out.  The fellow said he had his tires at 16 PSI and was driving 50 mph (80 kph) and the ride was smooth as could be.  Well, lucky him.  We were being bounced around on rough washboard and big rocks and dips and washes.  Not to mention the dust.  Our poor truck is coated in dust.  Even under the tunnel cover everything is covered in fine-grain grey sand.

We had a 56-pack of bottled water that we had removed a couple of bottles from.  During this journey the bottles broke out of their plastic wrap, bounced all over the back of the truck and sandblasted each other so the bottles are all rough and gravelly feeling.  One of the bottles even broke the seal on the lid and leaked under John’s box of beer.  He was worried one of the beer bottles had exploded.

Along the way we saw a few different flowers, a red-tailed hawk scouting for dinner, and drove up high enough to go through a Joshua Tree ‘forest.’  Not to mention the amazing scenery.

IMG_7681 IMG_7698 IMG_7695IMG_7696 IMG_7693 IMG_7683IMG_7673IMG_7688 IMG_7744IMG_7737IMG_7740IMG_7745IMG_7746IMG_7699 IMG_7701 IMG_7708IMG_7702IMG_7716IMG_7724 IMG_7714 IMG_7751 IMG_7756 IMG_7763 IMG_7765 IMG_7767 IMG_7768 IMG_7779IMG_7809

And this is a good part.IMG_7781IMG_7786IMG_7789 IMG_7792 IMG_7793 IMG_7795We arrived at the Racetrack to see a sign that said the Migrating Rocks (which we had come to see) are best seen at the south end of the dry lake – another 20 or so minutes of bouncing!

IMG_7812 IMG_7813 IMG_7814 IMG_7818 IMG_7819 IMG_7828 IMG_7829 IMG_7821 IMG_7823 IMG_7827 IMG_7830 IMG_7834We dutifully drove to the south end of the lake and wandered out onto the playa to see the tracks made by the rocks as they move. Really, really cool!

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Standing water here as well.  Very strange that it survives more than a couple of hours. The temperature was in the low 80’s (25or so Celsius).IMG_7836IMG_7838IMG_7841IMG_7843IMG_7849An intersection. The rocks will move in one direction, stop, sit and move again later in another direction.IMG_7854IMG_7855IMG_7858IMG_7860IMG_7863IMG_5827IMG_5828John made good time on some of the smoother (and I use the word loosely) sections and we made it back to pavement in less than an hour and a half from the south end of the lakebed.

IMG_7872 IMG_7873 IMG_7874 Inspired by the name of the junction people have adorned the sign with tea kettles.  Many of them had sealed plastic baggies with the donors name and address in them.IMG_7876IMG_7889IMG_7894We left the Playa at 3:09 and arrived at the pavement at 4:30. Not far along after we re-joined the pavement we turned off the road to the Ubehebe Crater which we had been able to see as we drove the last few miles of gravel road.


IMG_7901 IMG_7902What we thought was the crater was not in fact Ubehebe.  The black crater we could see was one of the smaller craters created by the explosion.  You can walk the rim of Ubehebe and hike to the smaller craters as well.  (This isalready on the next-time list).IMG_7906 IMG_7922 The late afternoon sun brought the orange out in the rocks.  It was truly beautiful.IMG_7928 IMG_7934 IMG_7941We arrived in Furnace Creek after the sun had set.  We are staying two nights here.  Tomorrow the adventure continues…..








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